Local school district could close one high school - WNEM TV 5

Local school district could close one high school

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A local school district was forced to cut millions of dollars from its budget and once again, they're talking about closing one of the city's high schools.

"We've got to get out of thinking in Saginaw we're competing locally, it's not, it's a global approach," said Saginaw Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins.

Jenkins put it bluntly Wednesday night at the district's board meeting; if the district wants to survive, it will have to pull the plug on one of the high schools in town.

The district is more than $7 million in debt.

As part of Jenkins' revised deficit elimination plan laid out to the board, by the 2015-2016 school year, he said the Saginaw School District needs to eliminate one high school.

While technically three schools are being considered, it's widely believed either Arthur Hill or Saginaw High will be closed before the 2015 to 2016 school year. Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy was  also included in the discussion, but many expect it will remain open.

"When you look at the operational dollars going out the window, to continue to have a family of two live in a five-bedroom home, it just doesn't make sense," said Jenkins.

He's referring to current capacity levels at the two high schools where Arthur Hill is at just 61 percent capacity and Saginaw High sits at 49 percent capacity. Back in February, a similar plan to combine high schools was discussed. The board voted to keep both open, but with a growing debt, the board changed course agreeing with Jenkins' plan.

"If tough decisions were made earlier, I might not be losing my job right now," said one teacher on Wednesday night.

As part of the deficit elimination plan, teachers and staff members will also take concessions.  Many were emotional as they addressed the board.

It's not clear which school will close. Jenkins said in the next year studies will be done to determine the district's best move.

Students and alums from Saginaw High shared their thoughts on Thursday after they learned their school might be closing.

"I always wanted to go to the high since I was little. So I don't know, that's crazy," Mike Galvin said.

Galvin is a junior at Saginaw High. The Saginaw public school board voted to close a high school by the 2015 to 2016 academic year. Now Galvin is worried he might have to spend his senior year somewhere else. Something he said he doesn't want to do.

"Just the people and how they take pride in their school. Everybody that goes here and the teachers and stuff and sports," Galvin said.

Saginaw Public Schools is trying to eliminate a more than $7 million deficit. As part of it's deficit reduction plan, one high school will close and teachers and staff will make concessions.

Freshman Christopher Vine would like to see the district find other ways to save money. 

"I don't think it should close though," Vine said.

He said he's concerned about what could happen if two schools become one.

"If these kids from the high go to the hill it will be a lot of, you know, mayhem, fights, and I don't think they should do all that," Vine said.

Jenkins said the district won't survive unless they close a high school. Trojan alum Delwin Tatum doesn't want to see that happen to his school or Arthur Hill.

"They should keep both of them open," Tatum said.

Tatum graduated in 2009. He said it would be hard to see his school, one that's been around since 1865, close its doors for the final time.

"I feel like it's wrong. I feel like they should keep it open because it's still a good building," Tatum said.

Meanwhile, Galvin wants to earn his diploma wearing the black and gold of the high. Until then he'll be like a lot of Saginaw residents and waiting to see what happens next.

"I hope they stay open at least until I graduate," Galvin said.

The district said it will conduct studies during the next year before making a final decision on which school to close.

"I don't like it," Desmond Hubbert said.

Hubbert is a junior. He thinks combining the schools is a bad idea.

"If they close one of us and mash us up together it's going to be a lot. Too much beef," he said.

Other students want to see both schools stay open.

"We got Saginaw High as our rivals you know. I don't have nothing against Saginaw High, but I like good rivalries in sports," Toryanno Brooks said.

It's no secret the hill versus the high is a hot ticket when it comes to city athletics. Brooks doesn't want to see this healthy competition end.

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