On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill (SB) 416, authored by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary). The bill would address several critical issues impacting the City of Gary and its school district. 

“I know we still have issues to overcome, but this is a major step to make our city safer, provide our students with quality learning conditions now and in the future and increase property tax values for our community,” Sen. Melton said.

“I want to thank Mayor Jerome Prince and special counsel Tony Walker for their support of my bill in committee, and I look forward to working with the administration as this bill progresses.”

SB 416 would allow the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC) to accomplish three specific goals: rehabilitate the schools where students are currently learning, demolish blighted school structures and properly secure vacant facilities. The proposal would also provide a pathway to build a new central middle and high school, a project that Sen. Melton has been working on since taking office in 2016. 

The debt the school corporation currently pays toward the Common School Loan would be suspended on a tiered structure for the next decade to free up $43.5 million for GCSC to fund these school improvement projects. 

“Our children deserve the very best opportunity to learn in a healthy and safe environment,” Sen. Melton said. “SB 416 is a win-win for our community as it funds urgent projects this year without creating any debt. I am pleased that the Senatev Appropriations Committee unanimously approved this necessary next step for the future of Gary and the school corporation, and I will continue to work hard to see its passage through the rest of the legislative process.”

SB 416 now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.