As the Albion School Board prepared to finalize an agreement that would send the district's high school students to Marshall, the Albion community had one last chance to speak up and they took it.
"We don't fight for what we have," said one speaker. "Let's fight for this school."
The speaker was talking about last month's decision to close Albion High School in the wake of a projected $1.1 million deficit. Comments like the speaker's, however, were enough to get the final vote tabled.
It started with several community members who said they hadn't seen the final agreement with Marshall Schools, which they still had plenty of questions about. Board Member Sonya Brown agreed, she hadn't seen it either.
Board President Al Pheley says the decision gives everyone another week to look over the agreement and continue to look at all the options, including ways to keep the school open.
"I think the best decision, tonight, was to make sure we're giving time to the community to be able to express those concerns and figure out what options do they have that we may have overlooked in the past," he said.
However, even though no decision was made, the district is still facing major budget issues. Don Wotruba of the Michigan Association of School Boards, says if the government doesn't change the way schools are funded, more districts will face decisions, similar to Albion's, in the near future.
"If you're a larger district, you have a little more flexibility in cuts and reductions and building closures," said Wotruba. "When you get to a certain size, there's not much else you can do."
During the meeting, Derrick Crum, Principal of the Albion School District elementary school, introduced a five-point plan to help keep the high school's doors open:
1. On the upcoming school board agenda, make room for a discussion to reexamine the 5-1 vote to stop offering grades 9-12.
2. Give the community one year to discuss the issues taken in a December 2012 survey, including quality of education, curriculum, teachers, communication and discipline.
3. Give the community an opportunity to raise enough funds to offset the projected budget deficit.
4. Give the community an opportunity to develop a strategic plan to recruit students lost to neighboring districts.
5. Give the community an opportunity to develop a Deficit Elimination Plan to submit to the State of Michigan for consideration.
The next school board meeting is June 11 at 7 p.m. in the Albion High School Library.