October 25, 2014

Consolidation: Eastern says no, AuGres says yes

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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ARENAC COUNTY — The results of the consolidation surveys sent out to the communities representing the Arenac Eastern (AE) and AuGres-Sims (AGS) school districts have been tallied, and the communities are clearly split on the issue.

“We had 131 yes (votes) and 61 no,” said AGS Superintendent Gary Marchel.

“88 votes came in not to consolidate and 48 votes came in ‘yes,’ to consolidate,” said AE Superintendent Rocky Aldrich. “So with Arenac Eastern it’s a dead issue.

“I wasn’t surprised by the results. … I’m glad both communities had a chance to voice their opinions.”

While it appears consolidating the districts is out of the question, at least for the moment, the superintendents say the districts will continue working together to try to save money and offer more complete curriculum options to students.

“We’re still pursuing what we can do to share services,” Aldrich said.

“We’ve met with Allen Pauly, their (AE) counselor, to see about sharing some teachers. … They have a Spanish teacher and an art teacher, we don’t,” Marchel said. “We have a much larger band program than they do. … It might make sense for some of their students to come over here.

“Every year we look at sharing more and more,” Marchel added. “There’s still the possibility of sharing a superintendent. Everyone knows I’m leaving (retiring) after June.”

The option of annexation, which is one district absorbing the other, was also discussed during the original consolidation talks but Aldrich says he doesn’t know if that issue will also go to the voters of the community.

“My understanding is that this was going to be the only survey,” he said. “At this point it’s up to the boards (of education) as to which direction they want to go.”

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