Parents, community hope Howe Military can stay open

Howe Military Academy said it will be closing after 135 years because it doesn't have the money to keep the doors open.

Posted: Mar 19, 2019 10:36 PM

Howe Military Academy said it will be closing after 135 years because it doesn't have the money to keep the doors open.

One parent says she's doing what she can to help the school get it.

"I was devastated," said Kristen Thomas.

Thomas moved from Oregon just so her daughter can go to Howe Military.

Now the sophomore isn't sure where she's going to go to school for the next two years.

"My daughter called my crying. This was her school of choice," she said.

Howe is only one of two military schools in the state, the other is Culver Academies about 100 miles away.

For Thomas and her daughter, there's no other option.

"This is what she wants and she is truly thriving here. This is one the best schools you can possibly put your kid," Thomas said.

Thomas said the school needs $5 million to keep it open.

That will pay for much needed repairs and open as a charter school.

However, with declining enrollment, only 62 students were reported to the Indiana Department of Education in 2018, that money is getting hard to find.

"Kids need this; kids with discipline problems, with drug issues," said Thomas.

The school is not something people in town would like to see go.

Next week, the Lakeland School Corporation board will decide if Lima-Brighton Elementary just across the street will close.

"Losing both schools in town, we really wouldn't have many people coming to this small town and having families. That's what Howe is all about," said Timothy Johnson, who grew up in Howe.

Howe Military was in a similar situation about five years ago, but a graduate donated $2 million to keep it open.

Thomas is holding out hope something similar will happen again.

"If I was an investor that wanted to have a legacy that said 'I did something with my life,' this school will be a legacy that keeps giving," she said.

The school is expected to explain more about its situation during a news conference Wednesday.

Read the full letter below:

Letter to the Howe Military Academy Community and Friends

March 18, 2019

Dear Howe Military Academy Community and Friends:

Along with Chairman Phillip Malone and the Howe Military Academy Board of Trustees, I am writing today with some very difficult news. It is with deep sadness that I inform you that Howe Military Academy will not reopen for the 2019-2020 school year.

As you know and appreciate, since 1884, Howe Military Academy has shaped young men, and since 1988, young men and women, of the highest character. The integration and synchronization of a rigorous academic curriculum, a demanding physical readiness program, and the challenges associated with peer leadership and character development ensured each cadet departed from the Academy Howe Strong!

Unfortunately, such an educational opportunity is not without challenges, and through rising costs and declining enrollment for more than a decade, the fiscal requirements associated with operation and maintenance of HMA can no longer be sustained. While profound success has been achieved in recent months to advance the Academy, these achievements have not been realized in time to overcome the current financial shortfalls. Fiscal challenges associated with a vast, but aging, campus, small class sizes, highly educated and qualified faculty and staff, and robust programming and student opportunities come at a very high cost—one that our business model is not able to support.

The faculty and staff of Howe Military Academy have served with the highest levels of professionalism, integrity, and expertise, and we are so grateful for their commitment to HMA cadets. We will provide support and assistance to families, faculty, and staff in making alternative plans for next school year to ease in this transition, and all academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs for 2018-2019 will be executed as scheduled.

While this is a time of sadness as we come to the end of an era, we celebrate the success, camaraderie, and friendship that Howe has provided to so many. We are grateful to the surrounding community and LaGrange County, and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the many generous individuals, families, foundations, and corporations who have given selflessly and helped us faithfully serve our mission for 135 years.

Fides et Honor,

Dr. Thomas L. Tate
Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)
President, Howe Military Academy

Mr. Phillip P. Malone
Chairman, Board of Trustees

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