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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.

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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