INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) had the following comments after Dr. Peggy Hinckley, Emergency Manager for the Gary Community School Corporation, recommended the closing of the Wirt-Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts at the end of the school year and to consolidate the school with the West Side Leadership Academy in the next school year.

“In learning of the closure of Wirt-Emerson, I join my community in disappointment to learn that another iconic institution will soon close its doors.

“The district continues to face a declining student population and fiscal issues with insurmountable debt of over $100 million. These obstacles have required the Emergency Manager to make some very tough decisions to ensure the district as a whole remains operational.

“I want to make sure that the students, parents and teachers of Wirt-Emerson know that I understand that this is a difficult time. It is my hope that the district continues to provide students with the quality academic, visual and performing arts programming that Wirt-Emerson has traditionally provided the City of Gary.

“While Dr. Hinckley is preparing to move forward, I hope that they ensure that future and existing vacant school buildings are adequately decommissioned and secured for public safety along with a long-term plan to address the many abandoned structures in Gary.”