L’Anse Creuse to repurpose Chesterfield Elementary

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 2, 2015

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CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP — Due to declining enrollment and financial constraints, L’Anse Creuse Public Schools officials have decided to close one of their elementary schools and repurpose the facility in an effort to garner much-needed funding.

During its March 25 regular meeting, the Board of Education voted to repurpose Chesterfield Elementary School for the 2015-16 academic year.

“After a very thoughtful, detailed and lengthy process involving district administration, the Board of Education, the Building Utilization Team consisting of parents and staff members, and other stakeholders, it was determined that we have more elementary schools than we need based on enrollment,” said district Superintendent Jackie Johnston. “Though no one wants to make a decision of this magnitude, we know this will provide us the opportunity to maintain the quality education all of our students expect and deserve.”

The next step will be a redistricting effort to place the approximately 370 K-5 students in other nearby L’Anse Creuse elementary schools, followed by relocating staff — including teachers, administrators, parapros, clerical staff and custodial staff.

L’Anse Creuse Director for Public and Community Relations Kelly Allen called the effort an intricate process and said there are moving pieces to the puzzle.

“There will be movement with our administration, with possibly administration back in the classroom,” she said. “This affects a lot of people.” Though all that is still undetermined, as much depends on contractual agreements across the board.

Chesterfield Elementary is located on 23 Mile Road in Chesterfield Township and closely borders Macomb Township and New Baltimore. LCPS currently has 10 elementary schools, but the closure of Chesterfield for repurposing will leave the district with nine.

According to Allen, the school has experienced a significant loss in student population in recent years. The fall 2014 count was 372, while there were 365 students in the fall of 2013. Allen said that in the fall of 2011, there were 420 students at the school, and there was a major decline the following year with 377 students enrolled at the school.

“There are a lot of factors (contributing to the decline),” she said. “Overall, throughout the state, enrollment is down because birth rates are down.”

Chesterfield Elementary School was constructed in 1954 and underwent taxpayer-approved upgrades 10 years ago, as did many schools within the district. LCPS is also comprised of four middle schools and two high schools, as well as two early childhood centers.

Allen said district officials will determine where each Chesterfield student will be relocated by the end of April.

She said the district has some options on the table for repurposing the building, including moving the Center for Lifelong Learning program from its Mount Clemens location on North River Road and inviting a Head Start program to operate within the building.

“We won’t just be closing the doors and leaving,” Allen said.

In addition to the funding acquired from potential space rental, the small savings from heating and cooling, and a reduction of two teaching positions that are anticipated, officials estimated that the move will save the district approximately $400,000 per year.

Johnston said Chesterfield families will continually be updated over the next several months on any new developments in the transition process.

“We know that Chesterfield Elementary School is a special place filled with amazing staff, great families and terrific kids,” she said in the statement to the entire district. “We are fortunate at L’Anse Creuse because that describes all of our schools, and I am certain that our students and community will continue to thrive through these changes. Over the next several months, I ask for your support in welcoming our Chesterfield staff and families into your schools.”

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