The TCAPS board will meet tomorrow night, March 7, 2016 at 6 p.m. at the Ida Tompkins Administration Building (corner of 8th and Boardman Streets in Traverse City). It’s an important meeting where TCAPS will decide the fate of three schools – Old Mission (OMPS), Interlochen and the International School at Bertha Vos.
Things got interesting recently when an Old Mission Peninsula resident offered $800,000 to $1 million to keep OMPS open. TCAPS officials have met with the donor, and TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma said they will review the terms and conditions of the donation, and determine how they relate to board policies. That likely won’t happen before tomorrow night’s meeting.
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At a January meeting, Soma recommended closing Bertha Vos and Interlochen at the end of the year and keeping Old Mission open for two years while Eastern Elementary is rebuilt to accommodate both Old Mission and Eastern students.
No one wants to close schools, but of course, it all boils down to money. Soma said the district faces a $1.2 million shortfall next year. He recommends eliminating that deficit three ways:
- Cut transportation and staffing costs by not replacing retiring employees to save $500,000;
- Close Bertha Vos to save $300,000 next year;
- Close Interlochen to save $400,000.
Closing Interlochen would also free up about $10 million in TCAPS’ capital plan, as reconstruction of the school would no longer be needed.
Vicki Shurly, director of the Peninsula Community Library (which is housed in OMPS), posted this on Facebook today:
Friends and neighbors. I need to ask for your presence once again at a school board meeting tomorrow at 6 pm at the Ida Tompkins Building on Boardman Avenue. Board members will be making a decision on school closings, one of which is our beloved Old Mission Peninsula School. If you are at all able, please please please attend.
If you wish to speak during public comment, you must fill out a card. If you are not comfortable speaking, your presence is also a statement. The game has changed with an offer from an anonymous donor. The opportunity to rewrite who we are as a community is a real possibility. Our voices must be heard. I will expect to see you all there!
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 like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like 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 of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my 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 Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb