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Howe Military Academy releases new details of closure

Howe Military Academy said the decision to close their 135-year-old school comes due to a decline in enrollment over the last year, despite seeing an increase over the last year.

Posted: Mar 20, 2019 7:50 PM
Updated: Mar 21, 2019 8:40 AM

HOWE, Ind. (WFFT)- Howe Military Academy said the decision to close their 135-year-old school comes due to a decline in enrollment over the last year, despite seeing an increase over the last year. 

"They've been talking about closing the school. It's come up two or three times in the past, just in the past four or five years," said Colonel Thomas Tate, the president on campus. 

Tate said the funding just isn't there anymore. They need at least $3 million to stay open, but it costs between $5 million and $6 million annually to sustain the school. 

"When they made that vote, and I said it was painstaking, it was painstaking. There was emotion, and after 135 years, about half of them alums. Several of them live and work right here in the community," Tate said. 

The colonel doesn't believe the closure is due to the cuts to the Department of Education on a national level. 

Kristen Thomas, a parent who spoke to FOX 55 Tuesday, said she wrote a letter to President Donald Trump to try to save the school. 

"I was given some great advice by somebody in the White House. We're inviting, making a formal invitation to Trump to come and visit our campus," she said. 

With 75 students enrolled right now, and tuition sitting at $37,500, the school is bringing in just over $2 million annually from students. Thomas wants to spread the word about Howe to get the numbers up. 

"We want the world to know who we are. We would like to have 170 students here next year," she said. 

That number would bring in the necessary $6 million to self-sustain. 

But Thomas said a lack of maintenance on historic buildings has also contributed to high costs. 

"If we had some insulation, then we wouldn't be paying like 20,000 dollars on the electric bill every month during the winter. And then the roofs, a lot of water damage was coming through. We had a 30,000 dollar bill, I think, for that," she said. 

Thomas said she won't take no for an answer, and a closure would leave some students who were court ordered to attend, or came from rough back grounds, with no where else to go. 

Tate is holding a parent meeting next week. The school is also making recommendations to students for other military academies to attend. 

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