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School board backs ISD millage proposal

August 22, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - The Houghton-Portage Township Schools board voted Monday in support of the Copper Country Intermediate School District placing a millage request on the Nov. 6 ballot to fund BRIDGE Alternative High School.

"I don't think we should be pre-empting or making this for the electorate," board member Brad Baltensperger said.

Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Schools, which had been running the alternative high school, ended its oversight after the 2011-12 school year. Last month, the Copper Country Intermediate School District proposed funding the school's budget shortfall with a millage.

Before the millage could go to a vote, districts representing 51 percent of the ballot would have to approve placing it on the November ballot. Of the districts who have discussed it so far, only Adams Township Schools and L'Anse Area Schools have publicly supported it.

"It's extremely disappointing what's happened," said board member Nels Christopherson, who also sits on the CCISD board.

During the last three or four years, the CCISD was in charge of BRIDGE and it ran a deficit of about $130,000, Christopherson said. Control of the school subsequently went to Dollar Bay, which would allow it to capture more money.

However, Christopherson said, declining enrollment has meant less state funding for the school, which has been a sticking point for some districts.

"I don't think anybody's against it, the concept of BRIDGE school," Christopherson said.

Last year, the school had 41 students, BRIDGE director Trish Sherman said.

Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil said the district had nine students at BRIDGE last year, two of whom graduated. Sherman said the school's graduation rate is about 80 percent. She has been meeting with students to encourage them to stay in school.

Board member Buck Foltz said he had worked with many of the students.

"From my own perspective, the saddest part of this is that we entered into a consortium two years ago, and we've seen very dismal cooperation," he said.

Christopherson said the amount of millage needed would be between .25 and .5 of a mill.

"It wasn't going to be a crushing amount of tax money," he said.

However, Christopherson also said it was unlikely the millage would get enough support.



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