Okemos School District to Close Two Schools

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

While the situation in Okemos may be different than other school districts, the story is the same.

"We have to expand the definition of neighborhood to include neighborhoods that go to a school instead of a neighborhood school because the state doesn't allow for that anymore," Okemos School Board President Jeff Theuer said.

Declining enrollment and state funding are forcing the district to make tough decisions.

"The school board has already made the decision to close two elementary schools," Superintendent Cheryl Kreger said.

It's all part of a bigger long term plan to Reconfigure the district in 2010-2011 to save money. Closing two elementary schools is just step one -- step two will be to make one middle school fifth and sixth grade only and another a seventh and eighth grade only school.

"In the next few years we're looking at significant shortfalls in revenue for our district," Theuer said. "So it's better to get in front of it now to make good decisions."

This is a decision the school board isn't taking lightly. After a regularly scheduled meeting last month that went well into the morning hours, the board scheduled a special meeting last week -- but they couldn't decide which schools to close at that time.

"We'll take as much time as we need to make the right decision," Theuer said.

The school board discussed all possibilities at Monday's meeting, parents made one final plea.

"When it comes to closing schools no one likes to see a neighborhood school close," one parent said Monday night.

But in the end, the school board voted to close Wardcliff and Central elementary schools at the end of the next school year.

This is a trend in Mid-Michigan. Lansing and East Lansing have decided to close schools, Saint johns is considering it.

Are Budget Problems Reason Enough To Close Schools?

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  • by Chris Location: Okemos on May 12, 2009 at 02:02 PM
    The worst leaders don't make a decision at all and close two schools by implication. That way they don't have to go on the record, and they don't have to be taken to task when they re-open Central as a Montessori school in 11/12.
  • by Jane Location: Okemos on May 12, 2009 at 12:48 PM
    It's kind of ironic. Wardcliff has always been the step-child of Okemos, however, ask any parent who's child attends there and they'll tell you how much they LOVE Wardcliff. It's warm and friendly, and the teachers really care about their students. Bennett Woods and Hiawatha may be shiny and new, but they lack the soul of Wardcliff. How sad that this terrific school will be closing. The school board certainly got this one wrong. Wardcliff was near capacity, while BW and Hiawatha's enrollments had plummeted. It doesn't make sense to punish the school that is flourishing. We can only hope the board reverses this ruling before it's too late.
  • by Laura Location: Holt on May 12, 2009 at 08:21 AM
    My nephew currently attends Wardcliffe and I am very sad that it is closing. The staff is absolutely wonderful with the children. I attended their spring concert last night and every year I look forward to not only seeing my nephew perform but also what the teachers have in store for us as they also perform every year. I can only hope that these teachers will be absorbed into the Okemos school system as it would be a shame to lose them.
  • by Anonymous on May 12, 2009 at 07:15 AM
    Good leaders are willing to make unpopular decisions for the better good. Poor leaders try to satisfy every for their own career advancement.
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