UPDATED: Superintendent Paul Soma will meet with the OMPS Community Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria to discuss our enrollment issues.
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At last night’s DAC meeting (which I believe stands for District Advisory Council, but someone correct me if I’m wrong), it was announced that Superintendent Paul Soma will meet with the parents of OMPS on October 20 at 10 a.m. to discuss enrollment issues. A possible outcome could be the closing of OMPS. Not sure of the meeting location yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
From the OMPS PTO Facebook Page:
Please SHARE on Facebook and any other media you think will be effective. Communication with others is imperative so that everyone can be in the know and in attendance! It all begins NOW. NOW is the time to put our voices together and let them know how valuable our school is in our community. OMPS is the heart of Old Mission Peninsula.
I urge you to please invite all community members to attend this meeting. The future of our community school is at stake. We hope to see all people at this meeting who want a voice. Also, please invite all of our alumni who remember and value everything Old Mission Peninsula School represents. TRADITION STARTS HERE!
This is an issue that I believe goes back to the high cost of living on the Old Mission Peninsula. Young families can’t afford to live here because of high property taxes and housing costs. Thus, it’s becoming a mecca for retirees, vineyard owners, longtime farmers, and summer residents with second homes here.
And the longtime farmers are a vanishing breed, as well. As cherry and apple farmers get older and pass away, their kids have either moved away from the area to work elsewhere or aren’t interested in taking over the family farm.
And who can blame them? It’s a high-risk job at the mercy of the bad weather and low fruit prices, with no guarantee of steady income. And I say this as the daughter of a cherry farmer (Walter Johnson) whose brothers (Dean Johnson and Ward Johnson) still farm here. You have to LOVE farming to be a farmer. It’s not something you can just jump into.
Incidentally, my dad was on the OMPS school board back in the 1950s and fought against annexation/consolidation with the Traverse City School District. I believe – again, correct me if I’m wrong – that when the consolidation took place, that’s when OMPS dropped to 6th grade. Prior to that, it went to 8th grade. My class was one of the first to go from 6th grade at OMPS to 7th grade at the new junior high, now West Middle School.
So in my view, the declining population of school-aged kids and OMPS enrollment harks to a deeper problem of the high cost of living on the Old Mission Peninsula. Other areas in northern Michigan are facing similar issues. At the movies the other day (for that other site I run), an advertisement from the Suttons Bay School District played on the screen before the movie began. They’re looking to increase their enrollment.
Oh, and seriously? How much cash went into the remodel of OMPS just a few years back, and now it might be closing? This is a beautiful school with pumpkins growing outside the classrooms, a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater, a beautiful trail through the woods (named after Karyl Tompkins, a kid who passed away back when I was going to school there), a gorgeous pond with a boardwalk and seating where kids can learn about pond life (Elzer Pond, named after Carl Elzer, another kid who passed away back when I was there).
We need to figure this out, because it would be a huge loss for the Old Mission Peninsula community if OMPS were to close. Check out some photos below – taken today.
What’s the solution? I’m not sure, but I do know we have to do something to entice young families to live on the Old Mission Peninsula.
What say you? Sound off in the comments below. And be sure and attend the meeting noted above, 10 a.m. on Oct. 20. I’ll post the location as soon as I know it.