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Could Old Mission Peninsula School Be Closing?

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omp school, TCAPS, Revenue, OMPS, Old Mission Peninsula School, Township
Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

On the OMPS PTO Facebook Page, there’s a notice about a meeting that will impact the future of our beloved Old Mission Peninsula School.

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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. 

Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School Playground | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School Playground | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School Pumpkins | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School Pumpkins | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School - Outside the Peninsula Community Library | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School – Outside the Peninsula Community Library | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School – Shed Near Karyl Tompkins Memorial Trail | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School - Karyl Tompkins Memorial Trail | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School – Karyl Tompkins Memorial Trail | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School - Outdoor Amphitheater | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School – Outdoor Amphitheater | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School - Elzer Pond | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School – Elzer Pond | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School - Elzer Pond | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School – Elzer Pond | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School - Boardwalk Around Elzer Pond | Jane Boursaw Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School – Boardwalk Around Elzer Pond | Jane Boursaw Photo

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21 COMMENTS

    • Right – the library would have to moved. I think they still own the property on the corner of Island View and Center Roads (someone correct me if I’m wrong on that). When my mom was on the library board, they were close to building there, but that hasn’t happened yet. My niece, Heather Reamer, is on the library board now.

  1. As a former staff member at OMPS I am sorry to see this. You are wise to publish this Jane and it is imperative that people attend the meeting.

    If Superintendent Soma wishes to be “transparent” in this discussion he should be holding this meeting in the evening when the working parents can attend. After all, that who the outcome of this decision will affect. Also it might be wise to remind Mr. Soma of how supportive of the school district the Old Mission Peninsula community has been.

    OMPS I wish you the best with this endeavor but alas, I surmise that this decision has already been made.

  2. We switched our children from GTACS because of how amazing OMPS is! It would be tragic for the young families that live there to lose such an asset! I grew up on Old Mission and we have all stayed on Old Mission (my parents, brothers and their wives). We plan to raise our families here. It would be a shame for those of us who have grown up here to not share OMPS with our children!

    I agree that having a meeting at 10am is not helpful for those of us who work.

  3. Maybe if TCAPS hadn’t poured a small fortune into Bertha Vos for an IB school with a pitiful enrollment (10 kids in Kindergarten, a full time secretary for 60 students,) they could keep OMPS open. Which school would you close?

  4. OMPS is a very special school in the TCAPS system. This is one of the reasons we remodeled Old Mission first, of all of our elementary schools. The staff, students, parents and community are involved 100 percent in the well being of our students. Please do not close Old Mission.

  5. As a former teacher this saddens me deeply. Jane your pictures touch nicely on the very special and unique qualities of OMPS. I agree with Dawn’s point that to ensure transparency this meeting should be held when parents can attend to voice their opinions, concerns and suggestions. I hope it has been brought to Paul Soma’s attention and will be carefully considered. I will share this with all retired OMPS teachers.

  6. I went to 5th (76-77) and 6th (77-78) grade there as I moved to the Old Mission Peninsula August 1976. This was my 3rd elementary school in the state of MI and my most favorite. I remember when my daughter had a basketball game there and I saw my old school pictures on the wall. It would be a great loss to the community.

  7. You may want to remind the TCAPS board they are elected officials. They will not receive your vote if they are interested in re-election.

  8. As a child I went to Ogdensburg from K-5th grade, with Della Dohm and David Kroupa as my only classmates. We sent to OM for 6th grade as the Peninsula had consolidated, then to the “new” school for 7th and 8th. We were the first 7th and 8th grade students there. On to TC Central for 9th, and the “new” high school on Milliken Drive for 10-12 grades, again being the first full 3 year students to graduate from that school. To close the OMPS school seems like a poor decision motivated by what? Certainly not the best interest of the children. Today we forget the importance of aesthetics; the beauty of the view for children, the wonder of exploring the nature preserve, the pond environment, the trails, and the amphitheater. We are so lucky to have this school as an integral part of our OM community so well supported by those who live here. Don’t let it close. I returned to the Peninsula a few years ago.

  9. This school is one of the main reasons I chose to continue to live here, there is no other school like it in the world and there is nothing more I want than to have my children experience OMPS as I did. It can not close.

  10. OMPS is the most unique public school I’ve ever seen. It is in the coolest setting & has more to offer than most others.

    My mom & my best friend’s mom (Carole Siegle Brinkman & Jean Cole Nelson) taught there for years & I got to be a part of it. It was like none other.

    Please don’t close it! We need to teach our kids real life … It has much to offer.

    Prayers for those trying to save it.

  11. I attended OMPS from 1970 until 1977. This school shaped me to be who I am. I grew up with many of the farmers kids including one of my closest friends,who sits on the school board today. To lose this school would mean losing one of the most unique schools in Michigan.

  12. If there are enrollment issues, make the school 0-8 or 9 grades instead of closing. Bin my day I went through 8 grades there. Went to junior high in town in 9th grade. Broadening the scope of classes would add pupils. I suspect the School Board is eyeing the sale proceeds of the real estate, so they can continue the spending levels they have achieved.
    School Boards are the worse Govt form we have, they are mostly incompetent you just have to read the yahoo stories almost daily concerning School Board decisions across the country. They would be better vetted and better qualified if they were appointed by the county.

    • What impact does that have on the few 6th, 7th & 8th graders that would go to school there? They would not have the same opportunities for instruction or extra curricular activities as the students attending a middle school.

  13. I’m going to wade in deep in this issue. My children, both teens now, are the third generation of our family to attend Old Mission Peninsula School. I have served as president, Vice President and treasurer on the OMPS PTO during the years that my two children attended elementary school. I volunteered with many amazing involved parents who love our community and school family as much as I. We worked diligently to make the school nature area even more student friendly. Fundraising to benefit not only the students and the surrounding school areas, but also updating and advancing the grounds for all to enjoy.

    Peninsula Community Library:
    My grandmother, Mary Johnson was an integral part of the Peninsula Community Library. Sitting on the elected board for over 20 years. I was honored to take up her torch and carry on the tradition of being secretary on the Peninsula Community Library Board of Trustees. I am secretary at this time and hope to continue on as long as the peninsula community will have me. Peninsula Community Library, or PCL, is an integral part of our community. We are a community center with an amazing library director and staff to assist you. PCL does own 5 acres of land on the north west corner of Island View Rd and Center Rd. It is a hope to someday build an expanded library and welcoming community center for the Old Mission Peninsula. I will admit, I am a stout supporter of making this dream happen. Yet, I love the dynamic that PCL has with OMPS. The co-mingled services to the community and school are by far more beneficial to all parties involved, than any other school in the nation. PCL, it’s director and staff, go above and beyond to accommodate and support our community, residents and children. OMPS is a historical legacy that cannot be forgotten.
    The Old Mission Peninsula dynamic has changed over the years. But with change brings growth. TCAPS is a strong teaching institution that, I hope, will recognize the value in our school.
    I believe, if student enrollment is waning, that our school can be repurposed within the system. Superintendent Soma is a smart knowledgable man. I hope that he and his board will see the truth of our dedication and community and do only what is best and wise for all.

  14. I have to say a great deal of credit goes to the staff of OMPS (Mrs. Casey! Yeah!) for the fact that my sons have grown to be such kind and responsible adults. It was truly a magical experience for our entire family to have had the privilege of being part of the beautiful school on the hill overlooking cherry orchards and blue bays. There is truly no school like it in the world!!! Save OMPS!

  15. Ultimately, what happened?? It seems to me that, if it’s funded, keep it open; and lower classroom sizes benefit those enrolled…. but I’m only speaking as someone who only recently fell in love with the Old Mission Peninsula. That being said, I’m considering moving our family there. I agree with the others that’ve posted; its an incredibly unique place and would love for our children to have it their setting. It would be the idealic childhood, assuming there’s a school. (We’re a young couple from CA with a two and three year old)

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