FLINT TWP. — Faced with declining revenues and enrollment, the Carman-Ainsworth Board of Education last week approved “some very difficult choices’’ for the 2012- 13 school year including the closing of Woodland Elementary School, 3493 Beveridge Road.
The plan is for Woodland, opened in 1957, to be used instead as the new home for Atlantis Alternative High School, which Carman- Ainsworth has offered for the past 20 years in cooperation with the Bendle School District in Burton.
Similar to enrollment and economic trends that led to the closing and “repurposing” of Carman Park Elementary School in 2007, Woodland’s student body has dropped to about 190, a significant decrease from about 400 circa 2005, said Superintendent Bill Haley, in an advisory to staff outlining the changes.
Notification letters sent to parents of Woodland students included a map showing redrawn attendance areas for the districts remaining four elementary schools. Haley said the main concern expressed by a handful of parents so far is about longer time on the school bus for students being transferred to Dillon and Rankin elementary schools. Dye and Randels elementary schools are closest to Woodland. The district will continue keeping bus travel time below 45 minutes, which is as good as or better than the countywide standard, Haley said.
The other elementary buildings have space to accommodate Woodland’s students and class size limits will remain intact. It is also anticipated that the number of split classrooms will be reduced.
Haley also said that Woodland’s parents will be given preference in the long-standing in-district school of choice program, based on available space at buildings outside of a family’s attendance area.
Woodland staff, for the most part, will be reassigned according to the collective bargaining agreements and those not covered by a labor contract will be given first options to apply for vacancies in the district, Haley said.
Carman-Ainsworth overall has lost nearly 1,000 students and $12 million in operating dollars since 2006-2007 when Carman-Park was closed, Haley’s advisory stated.
Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed 2013 budget plan to make no further cuts to public school funding fails to acknowledge that it does not restore a $470 per student cut suffered this year, which totaled totaled more than a $2 million loss in revenue, Haley commented.
Based on projections of less than $47 million in operating funds for the 2012- 13 school year, the district has undertaken proactive steps by making significant adjustments.
The District School Improvement Team and the District Curriculum Council began meeting last semester to plan for changing circumstances.
“We are moving forward into very strong headwinds,’’ Haley wrote. “The surest way to fail is by failing to adjust.”
This plan to repurpose Woodland will save the district more than $500,000 to be allocated to maintain or expand other learning opportunities.
“Doing more with less, is obviously easier said than done. Yet to adopt any other attitude would be to shirk our responsibility to lead,’’ Haley wrote.
Atlantis High School, 1110 Eldon Baker Drive in Flint, is operated by the Bendle/Carman-Ainsworth Consortium and not funded by the general fund of either school district, Haley said. It serves students in grades 9 to 12 who need a smaller, more flexible learning environment. Current enrollment is now about 150 students but is expected to increase with the start-up of the more centralized location at Woodland.