MARSHALL, Mich.– As students all across West Michigan started school Tuesday, two districts in Calhoun County kicked off the new year with a new plan. They spent all summer preparing for the change and finally got to put it to the test Tuesday.
After weighing several options, the Albion school board decided to close its high school last May. They were looking to cover an expected $1 million budget shortfall due to declining enrollment.
They decided to consolidate with Marshall, to send their high schoolers there and Marshall school leaders say they to needed the change too, after they started to see a decline in enrollment.
Marshall Principal Dan Luciani said the first day went well. “You have two students from two different communities that have to get used to each other, their traditions and habits. So there is going to be a getting to know each other.”
He says the biggest challenge so far, they actually got more kids than they expected. There were about 170 students at Albion High School and Luciani estimates they received around 150 from the district.
“It’s great news. It’s a wonderful problem to have nowadays to get more kids than expected. All that means is just for a little while we just have to readjust, figure out where everyone fits and do what we need to do make sure all the kids are taken care of,” said Luciani.
Sophomore Jontaj Wallace who made the switch from Albion to Marshall says he wasn’t nervous but excited. The biggest issue he had Tuesday was getting to his classes on time.
“I’m so used to Albion being a one floor school that we can just get there quickly. One of my classes is on the second floor and I came in late because I didn’t know how to get there, but it’s getting easier,” said Wallace.
Luciani says he can already see everyone in the school making an effort.
“All the kids in this building are our students, it’s not just necessarily Marshall-Albion; it’s just a matter of what bus you took and everybody is reaching out to lend a hand.”
The Albion High School building will turn into the district’s K-8 building. School leaders say they also plan on aligning their curriculum to match Marshall’s.