District making progress toward goals

ESCANABA – The Escanaba Area Public School District, like many school systems across the State of Michigan have experienced financial challenges over the last years. Despite having fewer dollars to work with, EAPS has continued to provide a variety of quality programs for its students in both academic and extra-curricular areas.

The board of education’s strategic plan has four goals designed to keep the district viable and relevant to its mission to serve students: 1) Increase student achievement to exceed state/national standards; 2) Effectively communicate to its constituents; 3) Maintain/improve facilities; 4) Ensure fiscal responsibility. In May 2013, the board acted in a fiscally responsible manner and significantly trimmed its budget for the 2013-14 school year, while at the same time approved the establishment of partnerships and programs to stimulate the growth of the district.

At the October school board meeting, I gave a status update about the district finances. Our audit revealed the District ended the last school year in a better financial position than previously projected. In addition, our fall enrollment was also much better than anticipated. These are truly steps in a positive direction. The article in the Daily Press accurately outlined the report I gave to the board of education, however, the headline gave the impression that the school system was poised to sink into financial crisis. To achieve a solid financial footing for the long term, the school district will need to continue to be proactive, by monitoring all the facets of its demographics, its revenue, and spending. The report was presented to help the Board better understand the interplay of all of these factors so that the District continues to improve its financial standing. The board has made a commitment to steadily make progress, and it will, because each board member cares about the district’s future for our students.

State assessment scores show that Escanaba students not only exceed regional and statewide averages, but that achievement overall is rising each year. High-quality instruction, advanced/accelerated classes, and the additional academic support we provide contribute to this success. Further, in the Upper Peninsula, where else but Escanaba can students have the opportunities to participate in so many clubs, athletics, and in award-winning fine arts programs? We are so proud of what we provide! It is a testimony to the staff, to our families, and to our community that we are able to rise above the challenges we have encountered.

By strengthening our finances, along with our programs and offerings, we will have a bright future.”

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Michele Lemire is the superintendent of Escanaba Area Public Schools