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Fiegel Elementary to Close, Gallimore to Remain Open

Board approves just one of two school closures recommended by district.

Plymouth-Canton school board members voted Tuesday to close , but spared from a similar fate.

Both schools faced closure in a Tuesday meeting at in Canton after months of considering a variety of realignment plans in the district to make room for all-day kindergarten in 2012-13, save money and make best use of district buildings' available classroom space.

The proposed closures would have had a far-reaching impact on the district, with district lines mostly redrawn to shift students to different elementary and middle schools. Plans presented to the community at a series of public forums showed if the board voted to close both Fiegel and Gallimore.

Closing both schools would have saved the district an estimated $1.7 million in 2012-13 and $2.35 million in 2013-14.

The board voted 6-1 to close Fiegel. Board Vice President Adrienne Davis cast the lone dissenting vote.

"Cost savings and consolidation should not be the largest factor in a school closure," Davis said.

Barry Simescu, who had voted against , said that while he opposed closing the school last year, he felt it was necessary to close Fiegel this year, given its cost savings and under-utilized classroom space.

Trustees Mark Horvath and Mike Maloney were the only board members who voted in support of closing Gallimore.

"I think that’s best for us in terms of our long-term fiscal health," Maloney said of closing Gallimore. He said if cost savings don't come from closing the school, they could come elsewhere, either by cutting teachers or programs.

Other board members had reservations, though.

"I am concerned about closing Gallimore," board member Sheila Paton said. "I believe very strongly we need space to expand our programs."

Paton said she didn't feel the proposal to close Gallimore offered the ability to expand programming.

Vote leaves boundary questions

For administrators, it's now back to the drawing board. Phil Freeman, the district's assistant superintendent for facilities and operations, said the district had several contingency plans in place in case the board rejected one or both closures.

Administrators will work on a new district map that reflects the closing of just Fiegel, and the board will look to use its April 3 board meeting to discuss new proposed boundaries.

Superintendent Jeremy Hughes said public comment would be available at this meeting after the new maps are proposed, as board and audience members both would be seeing the maps for the first time.

Starkweather program to move to Fiegel

Board members unanimously voted to move into the Fiegel building.

"(Starkweather) is the only option for many kids, the only setting in which they can thrive and either move onto jobs, military or college," board member Judy Mardigian said. She said the new space will eliminate the school's waiting lists and provide a lower overhead price and more amenities, such as a cafeteria, for students.

Starkweather currently sits in a building in Plymouth's Old Village that was erected in the 1920s and lacks modern amenities. A school-of-choice institution, Starkweather can accept students from neighboring districts who might need the alternative education program. Hughes said the program could grow by as many as 50 students in 2012-13.

Hughes said the district would look for someone to buy the Starkweather property.

Board votes to implement Young Fives, pursue International Baccalaureate

Board members also unanimously voted to implement a Young Fives program at Plymouth-Canton in 2012-13 for students with later birthdays. Hughes said additional space, if available, could be filled with students whose parents are seeking a .

The board also voted to pay a $4,000 application fee for the district to pursue the International Baccalaureate diploma program, an option available at several neighboring districts, at Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.

Maddiex March 28, 2012 at 11:48 AM
I will mention that Board of Education members do not receive a salary. However, just like last year when they kept Fiegel open, the money to make up for this huge goof will come in the form of layoffs, cuts to food service people, secretaries, security, classroom aides, etc. There has already been a hiring freeze in some departments, and as they say, $1 million = 20 teachers.
Kate March 28, 2012 at 12:06 PM
They would have repurposed gallimore anyways. Savings would not be there.
A parent March 28, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Thank you Maddiex, I stand corrected.
concerned parent March 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I am disappointed in the boards ability to make the tough fiscal choices. As far as Gallimore being repurposed, that would be a separate vote. If it is not about the money then I hope I don't hear about any funding issues, at least not from Ms. Davis. There were other options and there could have been more savings. Now we continue with many schools operating with unfilled classrooms and a declining student population.
Hairman March 28, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Lets sell the Boaed of Education Bldg. and relocate them. The Bldg. is in a Prime downtown location and could bring in some needed revenue. There are many other buildings available for those that use.
frank March 28, 2012 at 12:38 PM
The building is for sale, has been for a while. No takers.
Frustrated Parent March 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM
We would've done the district a favor by not doing the study and invested in a district wide bullying program! People are leaving because of this and everytime it gets mentioned everyone on the board looks the other way! Lets do things to keep people in our district instead of having them look at other options!
dswan March 28, 2012 at 01:04 PM
The administration and board had an opportunity to save $3 million in next year's budget (and future budgets), correct the splitting up of kids when moving to middle school, and redistrict in a way that would have minimized future school closings. The opportunity was lost and we can look forward to more painful cuts and school closings in the years to come.
dswan March 28, 2012 at 01:07 PM
There are other buildings besides Fiegel that qualify as Title One schools, many of the former Fiegel students will be going to these schools. Where ever the 'those kids' comments came from, doesn't make any sense; as the remaining schools already have this demographic and do well.
Jennifer March 28, 2012 at 01:30 PM
It's funny that people don't realize that Fiegel's boarder is sporadic. I live on the boarder of Fiegle, Erickson, and Field. We live 5 minutes from Eriksson and Field but 20 from Fiegle. I live in a really good neighborhood so it's not because of where we live it's because the school district didn't care about the school in the first place and let it go.
Concerned Parent March 28, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I agree with you Katie. They should be using those funds to lower class sizes!!
Mom2two March 28, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I agree with the Board’s decision whole-heartedly. While closing two schools might have saved some money in the short term, like Davis said, there are a lot of other variables to consider. Including the fact that the population will not decline forever. When the school population starts increasing again, which will likely be soon, PCCS will have the room to accommodate them. That would not have been the case had a second school been closed down, and repurposed. There are pros and cons to every decision and situation, we all know that. At this point in time, a weighing of those factors dictated closing only one school at this point. That doesn’t mean we cannot close another school in the future if necessary.
Mom2two March 28, 2012 at 01:52 PM
This seems unnecessarily harsh. Most of the boundaries for elementary school in Plymouth-Canton are sporadic and abitrary, most people aren't going to know the exact boundary of every school.
DG March 28, 2012 at 02:06 PM
"The reason is because it was all a coverup." "But usually people who are ignorant and make such terrible comments aren't very bright." Funny these two statements coming from the same person.
Maddiex March 28, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Very true, concerned parent. The next few months will be all about budget, and you can bet the issues of privatizing food service, clerical, and maintenance will all be on the table again. So many people were concerned that "outside" bus drivers would be driving their children to school, and now these privitized employees will likely be in the offices, cafeterias, and custodial positions across the district. The money lost will have to come from somewhere. Positions like school library employees, learning aides, etc. will have to be cut yet again, not to mention teacher layoffs. And by the way, Ms. Davis knew full well that the other board members would vote to close Fiegel, and her lone dissenting vote was obviously to win favor for the next election cycle.
pad March 28, 2012 at 03:12 PM
this entire thing is upsetting. I applaud the Fiegel staff, who's only concern has been the children, where they may go and if they would be "accepted". They did not once think about themselves or their jobs. It is heartbreaking to worry about being "accepted" in a community such as ours....
Jerry Grady March 28, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Please feel free to follow my Journey....http://canton-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/bullying-a-familys-journey
Jerry Grady March 28, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Can we please stop the Bullying.
Mom2two March 28, 2012 at 04:09 PM
No one here is judging anyone related to the Fiegel school. Your repeated comments on the matter may be of more value where this is actually an issue.
DG March 28, 2012 at 05:22 PM
What offends me is that parents, in a supposedly educated community, abandon all rational thought and reasoning as soon something they don't like directly affects them. Now apparently bulling include pointing out baseless paranoia posted in a public forum. Like trying to reason with a kid 3 hours past bedtime. Your just tired. " No, I'm not ….Its not fair… You always… You never…. your just being mean….." If people express their feeling thats fine by me. They want to state their point of view find. I'm not going to "bully" them for that. But when they start throwing out baseless accusations they had better be ready to take a little heat for it. If they are being hypcritcal I'm going to call them on it.
Matthew March 28, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Please clarify how you know these students are "unwanted". Have you talked to any staff in the buildings who will be teaching these children? I don't think that part of your comment is fair, I think a small part of our community has made very degrading and disappointing comments about these innocent children and it is very sad.
Jerry Grady March 28, 2012 at 10:04 PM
DG, comments were reserved to those who are throwing around insults and such. It just looks like it was meant to you because of the way Reply works it goes last. My apologies if I offended you.
DG March 28, 2012 at 10:04 PM
The truth about Katie Bell is she is posting these little anti IB adverts for her Wacko website in every patch article nation wide. Tell us Katie do you even live in this state? Internet rule number one. Any website with the word TRUTH in the URL is someone pushing a political agenda via lies and deceit.
Jerry Grady March 28, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I will need to study this further as what I read from the students comments in your website as well as what I read from teachers enlightens me more to further understand how well this could be for our community. If there are any teachers who are responding to Patch please do so and let me know your viewpoints on the IB as I find it very challenging. Katie thank you for pointing this out to me to further educate myself on the good IB could be.
DG March 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM
@>Jerry No problem, I understand, this forum is a bit limited in its capabilities. Good to know bullying hasn't been expand to encompass opinions. Sorry for jumping to conclusions. Guess theres a little paranoia in all of us.
Deanna Willis March 29, 2012 at 02:24 PM
My family is sad that the school is closing, We hope everyone knows what a wonderful staff fiegel has. They care about the children and never gave up on any of them. Now for our new adventure, new schools.
PeteKautentayle March 29, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Ms. Davis needs to look someplace very personal to see if she can find the million dollars they'll need. Because it ain't coming from the state. Perhaps one of the district's fine educators can explain to her that 1 + 1 will not equal 3 no matter how much you beg the numbers to do that.
dswan March 29, 2012 at 04:16 PM
One of the reasons cited for keeping Gallimore open was lack of space in the future as a result of population growth. Is there a reliable source predicting a significant increase in population? The declining birth rate is evident when looking at the differences in student count between high school and early elementary. Looking at a map, one can see the availability of large plots of land for development is minimal. And two additional charter schools are opening this year. It would seem the trend of a declining student base will continue, if there's data that supports the growth concern; please share.
DG March 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I don't know how the numbers are sorted or broken down. They sited Wayne County trends, however I suspect a fair portion of the children in the district were/will be born at St Joe or U of M in Washtenaw county. Birth rates for Washtenaw county look pretty consistent, actually a small increased in 2010. My personal observations is that families in this area are seem to be having 3 kids rather than the standard two of a few years back. That is strictly an observation. I have no statical data to back that up.
concerned parent March 29, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Data was presented to the board on population of the PCCS and how it correlates to birth rate in Wayne County. The data showed an expected decline at PCCS in the future. If they had concerns for population growth, why didn't the board ask questions about the statistical data they were presented that showed the opposite of their concern. No one likes to close a school, but when there are so many open classrooms in the elementaries, it seems like a logical place to find savings. Now that this opportunity has passed by I wonder where the board will find the savings? I am afraid it will end up being found in teacher layoffs and teacher concessions. I thought class size was a priority with the board? Their citing of potential population growth when data showing a decline was presented seems irresponsible. I would rather have my children move schools (and I was previously affected) than to attend a larger class with less resources.

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