School board votes for Ealy’s end under consolidation plan
October 2, 2012
WEST BLOOMFIELD — Ealy Elementary School’s Eagles will fly away after the West Bloomfield School District Board of Education decided Sept. 24 to close the school in 2013.
At West Bloomfield High School, school board officials voted on several motions derived from a school enrollment and facilities report that was revealed in complete form in August.
According to school officials, the study was designed to adapt to projected enrollment declines, consolidate schools and keep the district financially stable.
The Board of Education voted 6-1 to close Ealy, a move that the study said could save around $685,000 annually, plus future maintenance costs. Trustee Carol Finkelstein cast the sole dissenting vote.
Board President Bruce Tobin said the board members have walked through and analyzed the buildings, and in the end, the decision was neither about politics nor having any side win.
“Each of us are torn because we have a community who feels that there is an emotional tie to a physical building,” he said. “At the end of the day, these are just buildings. What goes on in those buildings is what’s important.”
Although Ealy is now scheduled to close in the fall of 2013, officials said the district still needs to work more on a timeline, implementation and a communications plan.
During the meeting, Doherty Elementary was named as an alternative possibility for closure instead of Ealy, and Finkelstein thought Ealy would have been better suited to stay open in favor of closing another school. Finkelstein questioned whether Doherty’s parking lot and surrounding area could handle the extra traffic and demand created by consolidation. Trustee David Einstandig said people need to look beyond the “growing pains” and traffic issues.
“It’s an opportunity to be united,” he said.
In addition to closing Ealy, the school board voted to make Doherty Elementary a school for grades K-two and make Sheiko Elementary a school for grades three-five by the fall of 2013.
Rick Arnett, head of human resources, said staffing is unpredictable, but he didn’t anticipate a large number of reductions in teaching staff from the changes. “It isn’t like a plant closure, where everything is gone,” he said. “For the most part, we’re going to maintain and retain a vast majority of our staff.”
A proposal to close the Administrative and Community Services building by next June was set aside until a later time. Tobin said there is no urgency to make a decision, and officials said the building’s early childhood programs for non-district residents bring in revenue.
The school board voted 6-1 to take two other study proposals “under advisement” and wait on action for at least a couple of years. Those proposals were to someday close Roosevelt Elementary School and to integrate fifth-graders into the district’s two middle schools.
Finkelstein was the lone dissenter, adding that she disagreed with putting fifth-graders in the middle schools. “Every time you transition these children, you find that their test scores actually drop,” she said.
Find out more about the West Bloomfield School District at www.wbsd.org or by calling (248) 865-6420.
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