Two Carmel elementary schools to be closed and rebuilt

CARMEL, Ind. – Carmel Clay Schools will close two elementary schools and rebuild them.

The district announced Monday night that it will close Orchard Park Elementary and build a new elementary school at Clay Center Road. The new school will open in July 2021 along with a new Carmel Elementary facility built on its current site.

The district said the decision was a difficult one for the school board to make.

“It was a difficult recommendation for CCS Administration to bring to the Board and for the Board to approve since Orchard Park Elementary has been a special school in our community and big part of many students, teachers, and community members lives over the years,” the district said. “We are fortunate to live in a community where people are passionate about their schools and education.”

Officials say the recommendation was based on providing every student in the community, both now and in the future, a 21st century learning environment in the most efficient and fiscally responsible manner.

“It is now our task to design and build those special learning facilities and work hard over the next three years to make these transitions a positive experience for the students and families we serve,” said the district.

District leaders say all the schools on Carmel’s east side are under capacity and growth is happening on the west side.

“It will also place over 1,300 kids closer to their school than they are now,” said Roger McMichael, interim co-superintendent. “Which implies shorter bus rides and so forth.”

Some residents have been fighting to “Save Orchard Park Elementary” with signs in the Home Place neighborhood. Virginia Ranly is among them. She says she and her husband moved to this area with the idea of eventually walking their kids to Orchard Park, just a few blocks away. Ranly said the move will cause a significant disruption for families.

“There would likely be three different schools where the current Orchard Park kids would end up,” Ranly said before the board made its decision.

This plan will not raise taxes for any Carmel resident. No students will be moved for three years. And the process is set to begin in 2020.

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