Local School Boards Talk Possible County-Wide Districts

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

After voting to close Albion High School, last month, School Board President Al Pheley doesn't want any other districts to go through a similar situation.

"It was a very difficult and emotional time to go through, but we had to look at the bottom line," he said.

That's why Pheley supports State Superintendent Mike Flanagan's call to centralize several school services.

"One of the studies showed it would save about $300 million dollars by doing this and that's a good chunk of change for the state," said Pheley.

On Monday, state lawmakers received a letter from Flanagan, asking for legislation to allow county intermediate districts to play a larger role in services, like transportation and food.

Lansing School Board President Guillermo Lopez says his district is ready to have that discussion.

"We've been talking about that for a while in our board, in our district. Busing, for example," said Lopez.

But Lopez says more concrete information is needed before any decisions are made.

"What would that cost the district because it's not going to be free. Is it cost effective?," he said. "We don't have any numbers and we don't have any of that information."

William Mayes of the Michigan Association of School Administrators agrees combining services should be looked at, but he also has reservations.

"One size does not fit all," said Mayes. "Not all intermediate districts can do all things. You have to look at the data and make sure there were actual cost savings."

In his letter, Flanagan claimed a county system has worked for other states. Pheley, who lived in Indiana, where such a system is used, agrees.

"The high school they had in the county I lived in was amazing," he said. "They were able to offer their kids all kinds of things beyond the core curriculum."

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