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Parents on edge as district leaders work on fate of Covert Schools
COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The clock is ticking for a West Michigan school district to decide if it will open its doors next month.
Last week, Newschannel 3 was the first to break the news that the Covert School District was having dire financial problems and the entire district is in danger of shutting down.
Gary Campbell, the interim superintendent told us the hardships come from taxes not being paid by a power plant in Covert Township.
Next week, Campbell said he will make recommendations to the school board about how they should move forward.
And with school just a month from starting, parents in the district are desperately waiting for answers.
The possibility of the school district closing has been the talk of the tiny town of Covert.
I hope it doesn't. It will be a shame if it does because when I was in school, it was a great school, no problems, said Jessica Barnes, a 2002 graduate of Covert High School.
Now she's left to wonder what will happen when her 5-year-old daughter starts kindergarten in a matter of weeks.
I want her to go to this school because it is close, it's down the street. I don't want her to go to any other school, Barnes said.
Campbell said there are many options being explored.
One is sending students to a neighboring school district.
The South Haven Schools Superintendent told Newschannel 3 that while there haven't been any formal talks to take Covert's 408 students, a school board member has extended the offer.
South Haven isn't going to be able to hold all the students that would normally go to Covert, Barnes said.
The Bangor School District said it often accepts school of choice students from the area, but at this point, hasn't had any formal discussion with Covert about the possibility of the district's students going there, either.
Campbell said if the New Covert Generating Company were to pay a portion of the $9 million in taxes it owes, the school could stay open but would have to cut staff and slash programs.
In a statement, a spokeswoman said payments have been made based on current property assessments and how dividing payments are outside of the company's control.
She added "Recognizing the critical situation Covert Public Schools is in, we have been trying to reach out to attorneys for Covert Township since early July. We proposed a solution that would keep the doors open at Covert Public Schools for the 2013-2014 school year, but have received no feedback."
The amount of power plant pays in taxes to the township is currently being contested.
The superintendent said he will make recommendations to the school board on Aug 8 with an announcement on the future of the school district coming on Aug 12.
That will happen at a community meeting at the school, starting at 6 p.m.