Keeping the grass roots growing!!
LAPEER — Lapeer Assembly of God is experiencing growing pains, while Lapeer Community Schools in recent years has closed several school buildings due to declining enrollment.
In a case of one’s loss creating an opportunity for another, the LCS Board of Education on Thursday approved a $140,000 cash sale of the mothballed Seaton Elementary School on Coldwater Road in central Oregon Township. The building was closed last June.
The district, under superintendent Matt Wandrie, has “rightsized” after a steady decline in student enrollment over the last 30 years, most notably in the last five years in particular, owing to a declining enrollment, birth rate and high unemployment that has forced some households to leave in search of work elsewhere.
At its peak in 1982, LCS enrolled nearly 9,000 students. That number is now around 6,000 and could in a few years bottom out as low as 5,000 stu- dents, according to district predictions based on current trends.
Lapeer Assembly of God, located at the southeast corner of Daley and Farnsworth roads in Mayfield Township, according to Asst. Pastor Vic Bass is a thriving church with an active congregation of more than 400 people.
“Our plan is to open a satellite church, a second church, to serve that area that doesn’t have many churches,” said Bass. “We’ve sort of outgrown this building. When senior pastor Dan Burger started the church 19 years ago there were only seven people in the church... We’ve expanded three times, and now we’re going to do it again.”
Lapeer Assembly of God is a Biblebased Pentecostal church.
Bass said an architect has been hired and tasked to transform the elementary school that’s located about nine miles northwest from the church’s present location. While preliminary in development, the area that served as the school’s media center in the middle of the building will likely be converted into the sanctuary. Bass doesn’t expect to start operating in the building until late in 2013.
“We obviously have a lot of work to do between now and then, but it’s very exciting. The Lord has made it available to us,” said Bass, who added the church had started a “Vision Fund” and members have been contributing to the fund that allowed it to pay LCS cash and enter the building debt-free.
When Seaton was closed the student count was 266 while the K-5 population in the LCS district was 2,386.
In 2004 the board approved a longrange facilities plan that called for K-5 elementary schools to have enrollment between 400 and 500 students, middle schools for grades 6-8 between 700 and 900 students and high schools for grades 9-12 with enrollment of 1,200 to 1,400.
The closure of Seaton saved between $225,000 and $250,000 in operating costs as well as reduction in school staff.
“We’re real happy with this deal, because like all our closed buildings our intention to was to sell to an organization that would continue to serve and enhance the community around it,” commented Kevin Rose, assistant superintendent and director of finances.
The remaining elementary schools operated by LCS include: Lynch on Roods Lake Road in Mayfield Township, Mayfield on Plum Creek Road in Mayfield Township, Murphy on Pratt Road in Metamora Township, Schickler on West Oregon in Mayfield Township and Turrill (now a yearround school) on South Elm Street in Lapeer.
In 2007, LCS sold the closed Attica Elementary School Building to Lapeer Community Church for $175,000.
Earlier this year, Hadley Township purchased the closed Hadley Elementary School building for $100,000. The township board has had several offers on the building, and is expected to make a decision when it meets Tuesday.
Elba Elementary was closed after the 2009-2010 school year partly as a result of a May 2007 bond election to remodel and reopen two middle schools, Rolland-Warner and Zemmer.
The Elba Road school building was purchased by Nicholas D. Burnett (NDB Investments, LLC) for $150,000. The building is currently being to converted into an assisted living facility for mentally impaired residents.
In other transactions:
• The district agreed to a 31-month lease of two-thirds of the Maple Grove Elementary School on Imlay City Road in Lapeer Township to Lapeer County Community Mental Health for the sum of $50,000 a year. Built into the agreement is a clause that would allow LCS to reclaim the space should it need it in the future.
Other than a few modifications to make the bathrooms in the closed school building compliant to the Americans With Disabilities Act, the building is ready for occupancy by CMH that will use the additional space to offer more programs to serve Lapeer County residents.
LCS also operates its Virtual Learning Center in the Maple Grove building.
• The LCS board also approved sale of a 1.5-acre lot at the rear of the Cramton Center Building on Lake Nepessing Road in Elba Township to Hilltop Campground for $19,630.
Proceeds from the building and property sales go to the district’s Sale of School Capital Project Fund, that can only be used toward new construction or renovation-to-new like the Rolland-Warner and Zemmer Middle School projects. Prior to Thursday’s action, that fund contained $295,000.