Home All TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma Recommends Closing Schools

TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma Recommends Closing Schools

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TCAPS Board Meeting Jan. 25, 2015 | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Allison O'Keefe speaks on behalf of OMPS at the TCAPS Board Meeting Jan. 25, 2015 | Jane Boursaw Photo
Allison O’Keefe speaks on behalf of OMPS at the TCAPS Board Meeting Jan. 25, 2015 | Jane Boursaw Photo

More than 100 people crowded into the room at the Ida M. Tompkins Administration Building in Traverse City, where TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma gave his recommendations to the TCAPS board as to which low-enrollment elementary schools should be closed to meet budgetary demands.

Here’s the short version: Close both Interlochen and the International School at Bertha Vos at the end of the 2015/16 school year; reconstruct Eastern over the next few years to house 450 to 500 K-5 students; redistrict Old Mission and Eastern boundaries so that all kids in those districts would attend Eastern by the 2018/2019 school year.

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TCAPS Vice President Megan Crandall received a round of applause from the crowd when she suggested looking down the road ten years, noting that if the system shifted back to K-6 or even K-8 at the elementary schools, this would no longer be an option, as the schools would be closed by then and space limited.

Peninsula Township Trustee Jill Byron speaks on behalf of OMPS at the TCAPS Board Meeting Jan. 25, 2015 | Jane Boursaw Photo
Peninsula Township Trustee Jill Byron speaks on behalf of OMPS at the TCAPS Board Meeting Jan. 25, 2015 | Jane Boursaw Photo

Crandall also wondered how many of the students who moved to middle school for 6th grade have become more engaged in things like band or student council. “If we’re looking at a big restructuring goal, I would rather do it now than later,” said Crandall.

The TCAPS Board will present their final decision at the March 7, 2016 board meeting. Click here to read alternative scenarios recommended by the Old Mission focus group.

Let’s take a closer look at Soma’s recommendations. As you can see under the Old Mission section, by the 2018/2019 school year, both Old Mission and Eastern students will attend Eastern (which would be one district), but there was no discussion of what might happen to the Old Mission facility.

RECOMMENDATION – ISBV:

  • Close International School at Bertha Vos at the conclusion of the 2015/2016 school year.
  • Relocate Elementary (K-5) IB in 2016/2017 to Traverse Heights; maintain current Traverse Heights boundary.
  • Traverse Heights becomes the in-town option for IB program.

RATIONALE – ISBV:

  • Incorporates recommendation from the ISBV Focus Group.
  • Preserves IB programming and makes it more accessible to all students (in-town location).
  • Provides choice for those who desire the IB model of instruction, including students who are at-risk.
  • Allows TCAPS to redirect dollars to instruction.
  • Allows TCAPS to redirect capital dollars to facilities other than Bertha Vos ($350K).

RECOMMENDATION – INTERLOCHEN:

  • Close Interlochen at the conclusion of the 2015/2016 school year.
  • Redistrict current Interlochen boundary between Westwoods and Silver Lake.
  • Current Interlochen PK-3 students would be reassigned to Westwoods and Silver Lake for the 2016/2017 school year.
  • Current Interlochen 4th grade students would continue IB experience at West Middle School with current 5th grade IB at Interlochen teachers, to avoid two transition years for those students.
  • Classroom additions to Silver Lake will take place throughout the 2016/2017 school year to provide additional space to accommodate early childhood programming and 5th grade.

RATIONALE – INTERLOCHEN: 

  • Both Silver Lake and Westwoods are “high choice” schools.
  • Both receiving schools are high performing elementary schools.
  • Allows TCAPS to redirect dollars to instruction.
  • Allows TCAPS to redirect capital dollars to facilities other than Interlochen.
  • Classroom additions at Silver Lake (a one-time capital investment) will help preserve programming and accommodate growth.

RECOMMENDATION – OLD MISSION: 

  • No change at Old Mission for the 2016/2017 school year.
  • During 2016/2017, planning will begin for a reconstruct of Eastern Elementary School.
  • Eastern Elementary School will be reconstructed to house a capacity of 450-500 K-5 students.
  • Redistrict current Old Mission and Eastern boundary at the conclusion of the 2016/2017 school year to become one elementary school boundary.
  • Construction will begin at Eastern Elementary during the 2017/2018 school year.
  • All K-4 Eastern and Old Mission students (now one elementary school boundary) will attend Old Mission during the construction year 2017/2018.
  • All 5th grade students from Eastern and Old Mission (now one elementary school boundary) will attend East Middle School during the construction year 2017/2018 to avoid two transition years for those students.
  • By 2018/2019, both Old Mission and Eastern students will attend Eastern.

RATIONALE – OLD MISSION:

  • Allows TCAPS to redirect dollars to instruction.
  • Increases in-town capacity.
  • Allows flexibility to house students at reconstructed buildings.
  • Eastern Elementary (receiving school) is a high performing elementary school.
  • Eastern Elementary is a “high choice” school.

NEXT STEPS – FURTHER DISCUSSION: 

  • 1/28/16: Board HR/Policy
  • 2/2/16: Board Communications
  • 2/3/16: Board Finance/Operations
  • 2/8/16: TCAPS BOARD MEETING
  • 2/18/16: Board Curriculum
  • 2/22/16: TCAPS BOARD MEETING
  • 2/25/16: Board HR/Policy
  • 3/1/16: Board Communications
  • 3/2/16: Board Finance/Operations
  • 3/7/16: TCAPS BOARD MEETING (Target for Final Decision)

Thoughts? Leave comments below. 

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

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