May 9, 2012 // Local

Monroeville Elementary School purchase by diocese hits hurdle

MONROEVILLE — The purchase of Monroeville Elementary School by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend from East Allen County Schools is facing a hurdle.

That hurdle is House Bill 1002, a bill that was passed in the 2011 Indiana General Assembly. The state law says that if a school district closes down a school building, then the unused building should remain on a list maintained by the Indiana Department of Education. The building is to be available to charter schools for up to 48 months.

The law says the charter school could then purchase the building for $1 or lease the building for $1 per year. After the 48-month waiting period, if no charter school is interested, then the building can be sold or disposed in any manner the governing body considers appropriate.

Monroeville Elementary School closed last year as part of the East Allen County Schools redesign plan and the building sat vacant this school year. The school was added to the Indiana Department of Education’s list at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend offered to purchase the 63,000-square-foot school building for $189,000 with the intention of relocating St. Joseph School, operated by St. Rose of Lima Parish in Monroeville, to the Monroeville Elementary School building. St. Joseph School is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The East Allen County Schools Board of Trustees, at the public meeting on April 17, unanimously approved the sale of the building to the diocese.

The Indiana Charter Schools Association sent East Allen County Schools and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend a cease-and-desist letter the week of April 30. The letter alleged that the sale violated state law under House Bill 1002 and Monroeville Elementary School has not been on the unused school building list for the required 48 months.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has not yet closed the deal on the purchase and was using the 90-day due diligence window to investigate the property. Various options are being explored presently in order to find a solution to the issues regarding the sale of the Monroeville Elementary School property.

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