ALBION, Mich. (WOOD) - The Albion Public Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve a cooperative agreement with Marshall Public Schools and close its high school.
The board voted in May to close the doors of Albion High School. But that was contingent on a plan to send the high school students elsewhere -- ideally, 14 miles away to Marshall High School. The board was supposed to vote on an agreement with Marshall Public Schools last week, but tabled it so the public could get a better understanding of the deal.
Three hours into the Tuesday evening meeting, the school board unanimously approved the Final Cooperative Agreement with Marshall.
Under the agreement, Albion will become a K-8 district and send around 150 high school students to Marshall next year. Albion will provide transportation and Marshall will get student funding and take on test scores. The deal will be renewed year-to-year unless 30 days notice is given by one of the parties.
It was an emotional meeting. The superintendents from both schools made their case as to why the move is necessary. In the end, it came down to money. Albion has faced a budget leak of roughly a million dollars a year due to declining enrollment caused by schools of choice.
"Even if a million-one were to come into my hand tomorrow, that still only takes us back to barely square one," Albion Superintendent Jerri-Lynn Williams-Harper said.
But parents still voiced their discontent.
"I'm still very concerned that the board has taken a position to close our high school. It is not good for our community. It does make us a statistic," one Albion resident said.
"We're losing and I'm sad about it," added resident Rene Miller.
Parents also brought up cultural adjustments. Marshall's superintendent confirms Albion students will be moving from a district with a 60% minority population to the 90% white Marshall.
"I think both communities need an experience of a more global learning environment with more diversity," Marshall Superintendent Dr. Randy Davis said.
Students recently took a tour of Marshall and their feelings are mixed: Many were sad to see their high school close, but were looking forward to new opportunities.
"I honestly do think that if our kids do go to Marshall High School that we will have a lot more opportunities," student Brandon Womack said.
Under the agreement, all Albion students will be eligible for athletics at Marshall next year. The districts are working together to provide an after-school shuttle for athletes.
Normally, students transferring to other schools through schools of choice would have to sit out at least a semester. However, the Michigan High School Athletic Association said that since Albion will no longer exist next year, that policy will not be implemented.
Forty-two Albion students already attend Marshall through schools of choice.
Marshall High School, despite remaining under capacity even with the addition of Albion's students, will hire more staff, Davis said, and Albion teachers are welcome to apply for the open positions.
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