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12/5/2017 7:47:00 PM
Old Gary school center is a haven for illegal dumping, and cost broke district money
Gary Community School Corp. workers, in background, cleaned up a dump site Nov. 28 at the former central office building for the district. (Carole Carlson / Post-Tribune)
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Gary Community School Corp. workers, in background, cleaned up a dump site Nov. 28 at the former central office building for the district. (Carole Carlson / Post-Tribune)

Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune

The former central administration site for the Gary Community School Corp. is now a dumping ground that's costing the broke district money it can't afford to lose, officials said.

Emergency manager Peggy Hinckley said last week that Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson advised her of the debris that has filled up the eastern end of the shuttered school service center, at 620 E. 10th Place, that closed less than two years ago in 2015

Old magazines that contained names with Chicago addresses, furniture, cat litter bags, cabinets, siding, drywall and plastic bags full of trash were spread just north of the employee parking lot.

School district maintenance workers used an excavator to remove trash into a dumpster on Nov. 28. An employee said they had already hauled away 10 dumpsters.

Meanwhile, two other workers used a gas-powered auger to dig holes to install concrete barriers to keep vehicles out.

Hinckley said the city planned to keep personal items recovered from the trash and issue citations, if violators could be located.

Meanwhile, the school district is battling a $1.8 million monthly operating deficit and lingering debts of more than $100 million. Hinckley said she'll return to the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board in December and seek more money to stay afloat.

With dozens of vacant school sites, the school district has depended on volunteers to keep the grounds debris-free. A large group of volunteers, that included offenders in a Lake County Community Corrections program, cleaned up the closed Lew Wallace High School in August.

Hinckley said the trash cleanup is the district's responsibility. "It's just another thing we have to do," she said.

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