ALBION, Mich. — Cash concerns is forcing a West Michigan School District to downsize to get rid of its high school and to only service students in Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Albion School district was looking to cover an expected 1 million dollar budget shortfall, needing to cut more than 10% of its 2013-2014 budget, after much debate and looking at several models they chose to eliminate the high school.
Why? The school board president says a major loss in revenue from declining enrollment.
“I’m feeling really shocked I mean I wanted to graduate a wildcat ive been a wildcat all my whole education it doesnt look like ill be able to graduate as one.”
Raymond Stone has lived in Albion his whole life, next year he was supposed to be a senior at Albion Senior High, he already has is class ring and everything but now he doesn’t know what he’ll graduate as.“Un-certain, nervous its hard to explain, just the feeling of not knowing whats going to happen.”
Stone says he’s not upset though, he knows the board made the best decision they could.“I think we’re all shocked that we’ve gotten to this. We know we have issues we’ve been working towards them as we said last night at the meeting every year we’ve had budgets weve paired things down” said School Board President Dr. Al Pheley.
Pheley says 900 of the districts kids go other neighboring communities through school of choice. There are only 170 kids in the high school now, just around 40 in the 2013 graduating class. Pheley says there weren’t even enough kids to fill the high school football team. “The number of people living in Calhoun county has declined, birth rates have declined especially our share in Albion.”
Since last fall Pheley says they have been in talks with Marshall School District about collaborating with them, possibly sending high schoolers there.
“The idea was how can we come up with some ways of working together to have cost savings and efficiency for both systems. I know that this is a better option, we believe than what was available if we tried to keep it a K-12. We would not be able to offer a quality education to those students so hopefully everybody will keep that in mind.”
Students don’t have to go to Marshall since the Albion District does offer school of choice. But Pheley says they are looking into programs to make the possible transition to Marshall smooth, even setting up a few days for students from both schools to meet each other.