Cash-Strapped Gary Schools Under Emergency Management

Gary’s public schools reopened last Thursday under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

The cash-strapped Gary Community School Corporation, burdened by debts of more than $100 million, had been struggling to make payroll and maintain schools.

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That prompted the state to take over last spring and at the end of July it appointed Peggy Hinckley, a former superintendent for three Indiana school districts, emergency manager.

It is the first time any school system in Indiana has been placed under state control.

According to WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente, the root of the problem for Gary schools is the decadeslong decline of the city due to population loss.

(Marc Chase / Chase /

Since 1970, Gary lost around 100,000 residents – well over half the city’s population.

That in turn has meant lower returns from property taxes, further undermining the city’s finances.

Puente reports that school enrollment reached a low of just 5,700 students last year, down from 12,000 just a decade earlier.

Puente joins host Phil Ponce to discuss the start of the new school year in Gary.

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