Escanaba Area Public Schools superintendent hopes for consolidation decision by fall

ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - Escanaba Area Public Schools are getting closer to a decision on whether or not to close one of the area's three elementary schools and consolidate students between the two remaining schools.

Upper Elementary is one of the schools that could possibly shut down. The other one is Soo Hill Elementary.

"We started looking at general ways to save money and be more efficient and one of those that we started talking about, is last year's consolidation, which just basically says if you're doing in several buildings what could be done in fewer buildings, you'll probably save a little bit of money by doing it in fewer buildings,” said Escanaba Area Public Schools Superintendent, Coby Fletcher.

One of the factors in the decision, Fletcher says, is building capacity and whether or not other schools in the district could take students from the closed building.

As of now, the district is looking into possibly closing either Upper Elementary or Soo Hill Elementary.

"If we close the Upper Elementary, we would fill Soo Hill and Lemmer School really pretty much to capacity with grades one through five,” Fletcher said.

He adds that there would be more room between Lemmer Elementary and Upper Elementary to take Soo Hill students and that Soo Hill would be an easier building to sell in the future.

"It's certainly much easier to sell a smaller elementary building. It's easy for those to be re-purposed. It's a little more difficult for something like this [Upper Elementary] to be re-purposed,” said Fletcher.

Discussions of the consolidation are ongoing, but there are still a lot of unknowns.

"For example, we don't know what busing would look like with the consolidation until we consolidated and looked at where students live, which changes every year, and sit down and plan the routes out. So you know, you don't know things like that,” Fletcher said.

He adds that no teachers will lose their jobs if the consolidation happens and that he hopes for a decision on the issue by the fall.

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