December 18, 2014

AE, AGS consolidation talks still pending

By Tim Barnum
Staff writer
Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — The discussion of the Arenac Eastern (AE) and AuGres-Sims (AGS) school districts consolidating has been up in the air since a member of the public commented about it at an AGS Board of Education meeting, but as of now, no major steps have been made to pursue the option.

However, both district Superintendents are doing their homework.

“Gary (Marchel) and I are doing some background work,” said AE Superintendent Rocky Aldrich. “There’s a lot involved.”

“We’re really just kind of plugging numbers into spreadsheets,” Marchel said.

Both superintendents said consolidating wouldn’t save a great amount of money if both buildings, Arenac Eastern High/Middle/Elementary School and AuGres-Sims High/Middle/Elementary School, remained open.

Marchel did say, though, that some savings could be incurred in the areas of Transportation Director and Athletic Director, as both districts have one, but only one would be needed if the districts joined together.

For now, Aldrich says the districts are working on a time that both Board of Educations can hold a joint meeting, preferably with Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District Superintendent Mike Dewey in attendance. Aldrich said no date has been set, but is currently targeting mid-January for the joint meeting.

But even if both boards like the sounds of consolidation, another party will ultimately make the decision – the communities of the existing districts.

“This is up to the communities,” Aldrich said. As reported in “The Arenac County Independent,” on Oct. 22, the members of the communities would have to ultimately vote on whether or not to consolidate. “I think it’s wise that we listen to the communities and the parents.”

But in the case of AE, Aldrich says no community members have been vocal for or against the idea of consolidation.

AGS held a town hall meeting in October to discuss the issue, but Marchel says he thinks most people are staying close-lipped for now.

“They’re (community members) withholding judgment until they see the facts,” he said.

And Marchel hopes that when a joint-board meeting is held, attendance will be high, since it will be conducted as a public meeting.

“It’ll (meeting) be open to the public. That will be the whole purpose,” Marchel said.

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