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Budget deficit forcing school officials to close Albion High School

The Albion School Board voted last night to close the district’s high school.

Beginning this fall, the mid-Michigan district will only serve students in grades K through eight.

Some students cried.  Others just shook their heads, after the school board voted 5 to 1, with one abstention, to close Albion High School.

School board members said repeatedly they didn’t want to close the school, but a projected million dollar budget deficit could not be ignored.

Left unchecked, school officials say the deficit was projected to grow to nearly eight million dollars by 2018.

“K-8 districts allow a little bit more focus of funding that’s available to the quality education for the students…its less expensive to run elementary than high schools,” Dr. Al Pheley, Albion School Board president said after the meeting.

Pheley expects other small Michigan school districts will soon face similar choices.

“We’re watching that happen in other school districts where they are facing the same challenges,” says Pheley,  “How do you provide the education that our students need on the amount of money and the declining population.”

There is no firm plan in place for where Albion high school students will attend classes this fall. 

Albion officials hope to reach a deal with nearby Marshall for students to attend high school there.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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