Au Gres, Arenac consider consolidation

TWINING, Mich. - About 200 people attended a community meeting to discuss combining the Arenac Eastern and Au Gres-Sims school districts into one operation, The Bay City Times reported.

Some who attended the meeting said that consolidation would be a way to continue offering a full program for students, compared to likely cuts if the districts continue to operate separately, according to The Times.

Each district anticipates enrollment declines that will mean less state revenue, The Times reported. Arenac Eastern enrollment now stands at 285 and Au Gres-Sims at 400.

"I want my kids to have the best classes available to prepare them for college," Brent Schutte, an Arenac Eastern parent, told The Times.

Consolidation would require both districts to dissolve their teaching staffs without promise of rehire, according to The Times.

''For us, it's about survival,'' Carla Fritz, Au Gres-Sims Middle School language arts teacher, told The Times. "It's going to get so that we can't offer the classes students need to graduate. Then what? I don't think inaction is an option.''

But teacher Pam Ostrander of Arenac Eastern said teachers want to see information on all options.

''I think we can maintain for a while yet," she told The Times.

The Bay City Times, "Arenac Eastern, Au Gres-Sims begin consolidation talks," Jan. 29, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Study: School district consolidation not a money-saver," May 24, 2007