Public schools and K-12 and Education & Workforce Development and School funding

Anderson superintendent proposes closing Wigwam

February 9, 2011

Anderson's school superintendent has proposed closing the city's most famous landmark — the Wigwam gym complex that is the world's second-largest high school basketball venue — as part of a plan that also includes cutting 65 teachers' jobs.

Closing and selling the iconic gym was one of the recommendations Superintendent Felix Chow listed at a school board meeting Tuesday, The Herald Bulletin reported.

The 9,000-seat Wigwam, built in 1962 on Anderson High School's campus, is the second largest such venue in the world, ranked behind the Fieldhouse in New Castle.

But the aging structure, which was mostly recently renovated in 2002, is also a drain on the Anderson Community Schools' budget. The district paid nearly $350,000 in utility bills for the gym in 2008, while it generated less than $8,000 from events, including a campaign stop by Hillary Rodham Clinton that attracted more than 6,000 people.

School officials have discussed closing the Wigwam before, but never received board approval. Supporters see the gym as a rich trove of Indiana basketball lore, and the gym even has its own fan website.

Closing the Wigwam is just part of the five-year plan Chow unveiled Tuesday. Chow's plan also includes cutting 82 jobs including 65 teacher positions, introducing all-day kindergarten and basing grade promotions on students' competence.

The plan is designed to meet school board goals that include eliminating the district's budget deficit by 2015.

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