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Published: Friday, 1/17/2003

Adrian ponders school options

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ADRIAN - As community members yesterday began tackling the chore of rating options of which elementary school to consider closing, the lists of disadvantages for each option seemed to attract the most ideas.

That was to be expected, Adrian Public Schools officials said. After all, no one wants to see his or her neighborhood school closed.

But as about 180 people delved more into the budgetary problems facing the district and the money-saving options presented, many said they felt more a part of the process.

“It's helped me to understand a little better, but I feel like there's a lot more I'd like to know,” said Laurie Kemner, 45, who has two children at Prairie Elementary. “I feel they will take our suggestions into consideration. Before tonight, I felt that they had their minds made up.”

The meeting was a chance for community members to offer input on five options being considered to help the district alleviate its financial woes. The suggestions will next go to a facilities committee that was created to explore the option of closing down one of the district's six elementary buildings.

Breaking down into tables of about six people, community members considered five options, including option one: do nothing.

The second option involved closing Prairie Elementary, the district's smallest building, and moving those pupils to another building. A third option also involved closing Prairie Elementary, but three of the remaining buildings would be made into K-3 schools while the fourth and fifth-graders would be sent to the two remaining elementaries.

Option four entailed closing an elementary building - Garfield, McKinley, or Lincoln - and shifting those pupils into the remaining buildings. The district also would create a fifth and sixth grade or “lower middle” school at Springbrook Middle School and a seventh and eighth grade or “upper middle” school at Drager Middle School.

The final option involved closing an elementary building - which one would be determined - and moving those pupils to Springbrook Middle School to create a K-6 building. The seventh and eighth-graders would be concentrated at Drager Middle School.

“I don't really know what the solution is,” said Elaine Kaiser, a parent of two middle school students and a member of the facilities committee. “I definitely feel Adrian Public Schools needs to do something, they need a change.”

Closing one school was suggested last year when officials asked for input on how to solve their financial deficit. Though not pursued then, the district kept the option in mind.

The school district is predicting a $1.3 million budget shortfall next school year. That could be compounded if the state takes money from the schools in order to solve its own budget deficit.

The input gathered yesterday will add to that garnered from school administrators and staff and melded into one option to be presented to the Board of Education Feb. 3.

“The process was good. I think the more informed we are, the better we all will be to make some decisions,” said Terry Reishus, 52, father of a high school senior. “But I am concerned that we don't just look for a short-term fix and not look at our long-term problems.”



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