In less than two weeks, the future of a long-standing LaGrange County fixture will be decided as the Board of Trustees for the Howe Military Academy will meet to discuss whether or not to close the school.
The trustees will meet June 2 to get data on the finances of the school and to discuss its future.
According to Col. David Douglass, superintendent at the school, enrollment is currently at 74 for grades 7 through 12. The school could accommodate as many as 300.
“It’s a matter of enrollment and cash flow,” Col. Douglass said.
Enrollment had been declining over several years, he noted, but the school did not adjust its overhead or cash flow. “They kept it at a level presuming enrollment would come back,” Col. Douglass stated. The school then had to dip into endowments to cover costs.
Col. Douglass felt that the school was on the road to recovery. “We don’t owe anything,” he stated. The school has enough money on hand that, should the decision be made to close, the school can cover employees’ unemployment, pay off its remaining contracts, handle grounds maintenance of the school and take care of security.
However, if the school stays open another year and then has to close, he pointed out, the school will be in trouble to cover those costs and could have to file for bankruptcy.
The school is currently looking to sell its summer camp on Cedar Lake and Col. Douglass noted there has been some interest in that.
The school grounds, though, can’t be sold as the school is a 401(c)3 not-for-profit. It could be transferred to another not-for-profit organization. “There are some irons in the fire in regards to an organization coming in to take over,” Col Douglass said.
But he noted, “Time is running out.”