The Mount Clemens Community Schools Board of Education voted to close two out of the district's three elementary schools Monday night due to the district’s looming deficit.
Superintendent Deborah Wahlstrom told Local 4 that this fall Washington Academy (K-6) and Martin Luther King Jr. Academy (K) will not be open for the 2013/2014 school year.
"This is one of the hardest decisions a school board has to make," said Wahlstrom. "It’s just something we have to do, there is no way around it."
Mount Clemens Community Schools has been struggling to dig their way out of a deficit for years. Currently, the district owes $2.4 million and have until June of 2015 to pay it.
"Operating the buildings comes at such a huge cost, merging the students and teachers will help with our deficit," Wahlstrom said.
At this stage, kindergarten through third-graders will be transitioned to the districts only remaining elementary school, Seminole Academy.
The fourth and fifth-graders will receive their own floor inside of the Mount Clemens Junior High building.
Most of the teachers from the closing schools will move with the students, but there will be cuts in staff.
"Each building has its own security and custodial staff and unfortunately that’s where we’ll see most of the layoffs,” said Wahlstrom.
Information about the closures will go on the district's website this week and packets will be sent home with students this week.
This is the letter teachers received after the board made their decision:
Good morning, Staff Members!
At its meeting last night to finalize work on eliminating the deficit, our school board voted to close King and Washington, as well as cut funding for athletics and transportation. Additionally, the numbers of staff members in administration will be cut. We will roll out the details at a later time, but I know that each person in the district will feel the impact of this decision.
It is not a win for anyone.
I know our board members have given a great deal of thought to these decisions, including the impact on each of you. Their faces said it all. I know the decisions weigh heavy on their hearts, as they do mine.
With these decisions made, we are a step closer to eliminating the deficit.
Please know that we need you - our teachers - to continue to provide high-quality teaching and learning experiences for our students. If you work at King or Washington, you'll be in a different building next year. Which one? If you teach pre-K through grade three, you'll likely be at Seminole. If you teach grades 4 and 5, you'll likely be on one of the floors in the middle school. You see, our high school will really hold all of our students, but the board feels it is best to keep our youngest students in an early childhood school of their own.
Now that the board has made its decision, we will begin work on implementing the choices made. We will meet with our principals later this week to begin work on the overall implementation plan. We want you and our parents to know the details of where children will go to school and which bus routes they will take before you leave for your summer break. We will have a district-wide implementation team with representatives from each school.
I trust that you will let me know if you have questions while you are waiting for more information about implementing the board's decision.
I continue to be grateful for all you do each day - and know our board is, too.
Dr. Deborah Wahlstrom
Mount Clemens Community Schools
167 Cass Avenue
Mount Clemens, MI 48043