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TCAPS Board Decides on School Closures to Balance Budget

"We have outstanding schools, but we can’t continue to close them,” says one Traverse City area community member.

Monday night the Traverse City Area Public Schools board made some decisions on whether to close three low enrollment elementary schools.

The district has been debating the future of the schools for months now.        

The board decided Monday night to close the International School at Bertha Vos and Interlochen Community School. Old Mission Peninsula School’s future remains up in the air.

The district is trying to find ways to avoid a future budget problem.

Over the past five months, focus groups have met with the administration to give feedback. And Monday the school board voted on two of the three school closure options.

Community members and staff of International School at Bertha Vos, Interlochen Community and Old Mission Peninsula School voiced concerns one last time before the TCAPS board made a decision on closing the buildings.

One community member says, “There’s been a lot of time, research, discussion and soul searching that I’m sure that you’ve all put into this project and it’s been challenging for everyone here in the room.”

The board voted to close International School at Bertha Vos and Interlochen Community School.

An Interlochen Community parent says, “What you’re asking us to do is to either put our kids on a bus for an hour and a half up to two hours a day, get up an hour and a half before they already have to get up for those buses or driving them in which would cost $400 a month.”

The closure mean redistricting for Interlochen Community and for students at Bertha Vos, the K-5 International program will move to Traverse Heights.

“I think it’s win-win my primary concern is what could it do for the students of Traverse Heights and I think the IB program according to the research and the opinion of administration stands a chance of being an improvement,” says a board member.

So while many are unhappy to see their school’s go this fall, others are happy that their programs will be able to stay.

Community members in support of Old Mission Peninsula still have hope. The board delayed any decision to close Old Mission Peninsula School because of the $800,000 donation offer to keep it open.

Superintendent Paul Soma says, “I do not have a definitive answer on how this would impact the recommendation before you for those reasons I recommend that the board consider postponing discussion and remove this item from discussion.”