It's a scenario that's becoming too familiar for parents and students in school across Mid-Michigan. Now, declining enrollment and a decreasing budget has leaders of Bay Area Catholic Schools proposing to close Holy Trinity and St. James Elementary in Bay City, a move that would save the district more than $350,000.
Bishop Joseph Cistone of the Saginaw Catholic Diocese and other leaders held a meeting with parents Wednesday night to explain the proposed changes. The room was packed with more than 200 concerned parents, like Tyler Sutton.
"A lot of emotion, and there was a lot of controversy. There was a lot of information that wasn't provided to the parents of children in this parochial system," Sutton commented.
Students like Olivia Lopez, currently attending Holy Trinity and St. James, would attend class at St. John the Evangelist School a few miles away in Essexville, a move she isn't thrilled about.
"I don't want to switch schools. I have a lot of memories and friends there. So I just don't want to leave," said Olivia.
Many parents are also against the plan. But Sandra Lopez, Olivia's mother, understands the district's dilemma.
"It's about business. It's about money and what makes sense and to keep the good teachers and to keep a Catholic education," she said.
And after the meeting, school leaders hope more parents understand they simply can't afford to keep operating at the current level. Therefore, sacrifices have to be made.
"If consolidating our buildings allows us to pour more of the money into good teachers, to me that makes sense," said Cistone.
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