Learning Center relocation pondered

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board discussed the possibility of partnering with the Delta Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) Learning Center by blending its students and staff into a current school building within the Escanaba district during its regular meeting Monday.

Superintendent Coby Fletcher said the idea spurred from different conversations with administrators around the district as a way to bring both Escanaba schools and Learning Center (LC) together. The center, which is attached to St. Anne’s Church in Escanaba, provides special educational services to children with mental and physical disabilities from 2.6 to 26 years of age.

If the concept becomes a reality, Fletcher said the LC could possibly make its home at Webster Elementary School due to its two-wing building concept.

The LC students would have five or six classrooms to themselves in one wing of the school and the other “wing” would house the Webster students, explained Fletcher.

By combining the two schools, Fletcher said it would make sharing services easier and bring financial benefit to both sides.

By absorbing the LC students, it could help bridge the estimated $900,000 deficit the district is currently facing. The current budget issue is due in large part to declining enrollment within the district, noted Fletcher.

According to Fletcher, the district is forecasting a loss of about 60 students for the next school year, adding the deficit is also carrying over other items included in the 2017-2018 budget that are attributing to the loss.

Right now, the task is seeing if the plan is a reasonable option for both parties involved, explained Fletcher, adding this topic will be further explored and discussed at future meetings.

“At this point, really all we want to do is explore the idea just to see how feasible it is,” said Fletcher.

In other business, board members heard from Spring Irving, the director of the Escanaba Student Success Center. Irving updated the board about developments at the alternative school and what services it provides students. Irving explained the school is seeing a higher graduation rate this year than in previous years, noting this is due in large part to a great staff and hard-working students.

At last week’s committee of the whole meeting, representatives of the Escanaba baseball program appeared before the board, asking for support to implement a junior varsity baseball team to create more options for those looking to play baseball in Escanaba. Board members unanimously approved the measure Monday.

The Escanaba School Board will host its next meeting on Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m. at the Courtyard Room, located in the Escanaba Upper Elementary School.