Home News Peninsula Township Board Approves OMPS Resolution, Recommends Closing Eastern Elementary

Peninsula Township Board Approves OMPS Resolution, Recommends Closing Eastern Elementary

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Old Mission Peninsula School | Jane Boursaw Photo
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As noted in the minutes of the May 23, 2016 Township Board meeting, the Board approved a resolution regarding the Old Mission Peninsula School (OMPS). But in the resolution, the Township Board has a lot to say about TCAPS’ decision to put OMPS on the chopping block.

Specifically, the Township Board recommends that TCAPS save taxpayers dollars by “closing the obsolete Eastern Elementary School and redistricting students to the empty seats at the reconstructed Old Mission and Traverse Heights schools.”

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The resolution also touches on TCAPS’ preference for in-town schools, TCAPS’ “unwritten policy of centralizing and enlarging elementary schools,” and the fact that TCAPS renovated OMPS without planning for funds to operate it going forward.

Take a look at the entire resolution below, and leave thoughts in the comments section below this story.

Peninsula Township
Resolution Regarding Old Mission School
Resolution No. 2016-05-23 #2

At a regular meeting of the Peninsula Township Board, Grand Traverse County, Michigan held in the Peninsula Township Hall, located in Peninsula Township, Michigan on May 23, 2016.

Present: Correia, Hoffman, Weatherholt, Avery, Byron, Rosi and Witkop
Absent: None

The following resolution was made by Hoffman and seconded by Witkop, to wit:

Whereas: The 2015-16 TCAPS process to select elementary schools for closing departed radically from previous practice in such a way as to ratify original administration proposal.

Whereas: On March 20, 2006, the TCAPS Board of Education initiated a TCAPS Long Range Master Planning process. The plan was used to guide the elementary school closing process in 2007. (School Closing Recommendation 2007 Page 2-3) The current TCAPS strategic plan expires in 2016 and is thus inappropriate to guide the current school closing recommendations considerations.

Whereas: On May 21, 2007, the TCAPS Board of Education approved multiple criteria to assess which elementary schools should be closed, including the estimated cost of renovation in lieu of closing. (School Closing Recommendation 2007 Page 20)

Whereas: On May 21, 2007, the TCAPS Board of Education specifically excluded two recently reconstructed elementary schools and the four newest elementary schools from the closure analysis. (Old Mission was excluded due to recent reconstruction). (School Closing Recommendation 2007 Page 21)

Whereas: In 2007, TCAPS computed three different quantitative models using up to eight of the Board Approved criteria on the nine elementary schools under consideration. (School Closing Recommendation 2007 Page 23-25)

Whereas: In 2007, detailed redistricting configurations were prepared to reallocate students for each of the nine schools under consideration.

Whereas: In 2015-16, TCAPS employed the single criteria of “low enrollment schools” arbitrarily defined as less than 200 students.

Whereas: “Low enrollment schools” was purportedly a proxy for high overhead cost per student, yet the cost per student cut-off was between Old Mission and Traverse Heights ($150 difference); it should have been between Traverse Heights and Courtade (a $430 difference) (Strategic Financial Planning 2016, page 50). The unstated criteria, preference for in-town schools, were applied to exclude Traverse Heights from the analysis.

Whereas: In 2015-16, TCAPS reversed the overriding 2007 criteria designed to protect taxpayers investment in school buildings by excluding obsolete Eastern Elementary and including reconstructed Old Mission. The unstated criteria, preference for in-town schools, were applied to exclude Eastern Elementary from the analysis.

Whereas: In 2015-16, TCAPS specifically directed the Old Mission Focus Group that redistricting, even the simple inclusion of students in southern Peninsula Township, was not an acceptable alternative to closing Old Mission School.

Whereas: The 2015-16 process was driven by an unwritten policy of centralizing and enlarging elementary schools.

Whereas: The 2015-16 process was not informed by any formal assessment of the outcomes resulting from the 2007 closure process, nor the subsequent elementary school capital program that followed.

Whereas: The 2008 closures of Bertha Vos and Norris reduced TCAPS elementary seats by 650, (Glenn Loomis remained open). TCAPS subsequently added 225 seats to Courtade, 125 seats to Blair, 190 seats to Long Lake, and 150 seats to Willow Hill, for a total of 690 new elementary seats.

Whereas: The current administration plan to close the reconstructed Old Mission and redistrict students to fill a bigger Eastern Elementary (to be rebuilt from 300 to 450/550 seats) diverts millions in capital funds from other elementary capital needs, like the reconstruction of Glenn Loomis or Central Elementary.

Whereas: The 2007 option showing of redistricting after closing the aged Eastern Elementary is even more feasible in 2016. Eastern’s 300 students could be redistricted to Old Mission with 211 empty seats and Traverse Heights with 229 empty seats. Some students might also go to Cherry Knoll with the redistricting of some students to fill the 251 empty seats at Courtade, which currently is at 56% occupancy). (See Page 150-1 of the Annual Financial Report 2015)

Whereas: A new TCAPS strategic plan, coordinated with TBAISD and NMC, would likely find the Eastern Elementary site more useful for future second and post-secondary education.

Whereas: With a surplus of elementary seats in the district, it is wasteful use of taxpayer funds to close a reconstructed school and build new elementary seats at an obsolete school.

Whereas: The TCAPS board has approved a large sum of money to build a new administration building.

Whereas: TCAPS renovated Old Mission School without future planning to have funds available to operate it.

Therefore, be it resolved:

That the Peninsula Township Board recommends that TCAPS save taxpayers dollars to the operating budget by closing the obsolete Eastern Elementary School and redistricting students to the empty seats at the reconstructed Old Mission and Traverse Heights schools. Taxpayer capital dollars would be more effectively employed by redirecting the Eastern Elementary reconstruction effort toward other obsolete elementary schools, particularly Glenn Loomis and Central Elementary Schools.

Roll Call Vote:
Aye: Correia, Hoffman, Weatherholt, Avery, Byron, Rosi and Witkop.
Ney: None.
Abstain: None

School Closing Recommendation, July 9, 2007.
Strategic Financial Planning: Low Enrollment Elementary Buildings, January 24, 2016.
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, June 30, 2015.

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