The term gets thrown around a lot, but a few key decisions made by East Noble in the last year that have paved the way for the community to score two big wins.

Last year, East Noble faced a decision about what to do with the former East Noble Middle School building in the heart of Kendallville’s old residential district. At first, the school rejected an offer from a non-profit to turn the building into senior housing, with a first-floor community learning center. The building was on the path for demolition.

Local leaders in Kendallville didn’t give up, and rebounded with a plan to use all three floors as a community learning center, serving everyone from youth through seniors with various education, enrichment and job-training programs.

It took some convincing, but ultimately, East Noble reversed course and decided to turn the building over, paving the way for the community learning center. Right now, the old middle school is being renovated and work continues to plan programming for people in Kendallville and the wider county.

That was a win.

By not tearing down the building, East Noble saved the $750,000 it had set aside to pay demolition. Remember that number, because it’s going to come back into play in a second.

Earlier this month, East Noble Superintendent Ann Linson gave a presentation to the school board about an innovative new preschool program, where students learn in a setting more like a children’s museum than a typical classroom. About two-thirds of students arrive in kindergarten without the baseline skills they need to learn what they need to learn as 5-year-olds.

Linson’s hope was to not only create a new, exciting preschool program, but also expand a low-cost, standards-based program to even more families in the community.

After doing more investigation into the idea, the district got a cost estimate for what it might take to create six themed preschool classrooms in this new style.

You probably guessed what the number is — $750,000.

Now as East Noble moves forward, it won’t have to borrow or cut into other programs to establish the preschool. It will utilize the money the district didn’t spend on knocking down its vacant school building.

That’s another win on two more levels, by saving taxpayers expense and potentially being able to expand early education to more students.

Choosing to give up the middle school was a tough choice. It was a risk. It was a risk that East Noble ultimately decided to take.

And while hindsight is 20/20, East Noble’s leaders have to be looking backward and feeling pretty good about their decision to take that risk. Because of it, East Noble has now created two new, innovative, exciting opportunities for the community, whereas playing it safe and knocking down the middle school would have created none.

As we’ve said before, communities in northeast Indiana aren’t going to advance by maintaining the status quo and doing what’s always been done. It’s going to take new ideas, new energy and new risks to make the region attractive to families, workers and businesses.

East Noble is proving that now, taking some calculated risks and notching a win-win for its community.

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