Trombly Elementary School families hold “A Walk Thru Rush Hour” the morning of May 17 in Grosse Pointe Park. The event focused on the safety concerns that parents would have if the school district decides to close Trombly and the students relocate to Defer Elementary School.

Trombly Elementary School families hold “A Walk Thru Rush Hour” the morning of May 17 in Grosse Pointe Park. The event focused on the safety concerns that parents would have if the school district decides to close Trombly and the students relocate to Defer Elementary School.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Students, parents spread ‘Together 4 Trombly’ message

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 21, 2019

GROSSE POINTE PARK — With the possibility of Trombly Elementary closing prior to the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, families held “A Walk Thru Rush Hour” exercise the morning of May 17.

The event was designed to demonstrate to school officials the increase in pedestrian traffic that will occur along Jefferson Avenue if the Trombly students walk to Defer Elementary School should Trombly close.

Trombly is located at 820 Beaconsfield Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park. Defer is located at 15425 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park. The exercise also was scheduled to show school officials the length of time it will take for Trombly students to walk from their homes to Defer.

During the morning, the large group met at 7:30 a.m. in front of the Tompkins Center at Windmill Pointe Park in Grosse Pointe Park before the walk began. Carrying red-and-white ‘Together 4 Trombly’ signs and wearing T-shirts that read the same, the group walked down several side streets until it reached Jefferson. The group continued its walk north on Jefferson and then made its way to Defer. The participants then returned to Trombly to begin their school day there.

Parent Renee Jakubowski, who has a fourth grader at Trombly, a seventh grader at Pierce Middle School, and a ninth grader at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, was among the parents who participated. One concern Jakubowski has is an increase not only in pedestrian traffic, but also an increase in cars on the road if Trombly parents have to drive their children to another school.

“I was trying to get a perspective of what traffic will be like,” she said. “It’s not going to be safe. Nobody is willing to let their children cross Jefferson in the morning. We want to know our kids are going to be safe.”

“I don’t know if it will have an impact,” Jakubowski said of what school officials might think of last week’s walk.

She also feels like there is not a set plan for the Trombly community if it does close.

“If you are going to close us, have a plan in place first. Having the school right there is a big part of the community. We have a great school. We don’t want to be forgotten over here,” Jakubowski said.

Trombly is among four elementary schools that might close as the Grosse Pointe Public School System deals with declining enrollment and what school officials call a lack of public school funding from the state of Michigan.

The GPPSS Board of Education is scheduled to vote — at a future meeting — on a reconfiguration process that is designed to cut expenses in the district. The reconfiguration plan is to be implemented no earlier than the 2020-21 school year. Because of a steady decrease in student enrollment over the years, not all Grosse Pointe school buildings are being utilized to their capacities, which costs money that could be used elsewhere.

Districts also lose money when they have fewer students. Public schools in Michigan receive a per-pupil allowance from the state based on their student enrollment. When enrollment is down, the districts receive less money in per-pupil funding. District officials then have to find ways to cut expenses.

Districts are losing students because of charter schools, Schools of Choice, homeschooling and the fact that families are having fewer children than in the past. With the downturn of Michigan’s economy in 2008, there were families who moved out of the state, which also caused declining enrollment.

According to school officials, Grosse Pointe’s enrollment was more than 11,000 students during the 1975-76 school year. Enrollment projections for the 2021-22 school year are just over 7,000.

Because of the decline, the school board is considering closing schools and reconfiguring grade levels. The district currently has nine elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, one early childhood center and one administration building, known as 389 in the plan because it is located at 389 St. Clair Ave. in Grosse Pointe City. The grade configurations are K-5; six-eight; and nine-12, but those could change if a new district concept is adopted.

The reconfiguration plan has offered four scenarios.

Scenario No. 1 is to adopt a K-4, five-eight and nine-12 grade configuration while closing Trombly and Mason Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods. The move would save the district $1,348,340 and $9,503,690 in bond savings. The land value on the report was listed as $4,142,800.

Scenario No. 2 is to adopt a K-4, five-eight and nine-12 grade configuration while closing Trombly and Poupard Elementary School in Harper Woods. The move would save the district $1,098,340 and $11,114,333 in bond savings. The land value was listed as $3,954,200.

Scenario No. 3 is to adopt a K-4, five-eight and nine-12 grade configuration while closing Maire Elementary School in Grosse Pointe City and Mason. The move would save the district $1,348,340 and $10,530,830 in bond savings. The land value was listed as $4,106,000.

Scenario No. 4 is to adopt a K-4, five-eight and nine-12 grade configuration while closing Maire and Poupard. The move would save the district $1,098,340 and $12,141,473 in bond savings. The land value was listed as $3,917,400.

All four scenarios list closing the Pierce Middle School pool and the 389 building; the expansion of early childhood education opportunities at the Barnes Early Childhood Center in Grosse Pointe Woods; and possibly moving administrative services to Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe Woods.

The bond savings stem from savings that could occur from the district’s $111,040,000 bond referendum that passed Nov. 6. The bond issue raises taxes among GPPSS residents to pay for building improvements districtwide.

The board majority could vote to support one of the four scenarios, turn them all down or come up with a different plan.

A possible fifth scenario could be presented at the June 10 school board meeting. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Brownell Middle School multipurpose room, located at 260 Chalfonte Ave. in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Harvey Savage, who has a first grader at Trombly and a sixth grader at Pierce, was among those who participated in Friday’s “A Walk Thru Rush Hour.”.

“I am worried about Trombly closing,” he said. “We have a sense of community. Our neighborhood is very tight-knit. It will change our home dynamics. Who will want to move over here if there is no school? We run the risk of devaluing my home value. It’s just unfair at the end of the day.”

Savage also understands how public schools in Michigan are funded.

“We need to speak to the state,” he said.

Throughout April and May, GPPSS officials have held a number of town hall meetings at each school building to discuss the reconfiguration plan with the public.

There are two meetings left, and community members are encouraged to attend. Both meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be held May 21 at Pierce Middle School, 15430 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park, and May 22 at the Barnes Early Childhood Center, 20090 Morningside Drive in Grosse Pointe Woods.