Group ready to present plan to save a public school with private money

Aug 8, 2016

Credit Traverse City Area Public Schools

The group working to save the elementary school on Old Mission Peninsula is ready to go public with its proposal. They began planning after Traverse City Area Public Schools' board held postponed a decision to close the school because of a potential $800,000 donation. TCAPS officials were considering closing the school because they said it was losing the district money each year because there aren’t enough students.

The board will decide tonight if they’re willing to hear the proposal for the first time in a joint meeting with the Peninsula Township board.


The plan is to create the Old Mission Peninsula Education Foundation. The foundation would help Peninsula Township buy the school building and 15 plus acres of property from TCAPS, and it would cover the school’s annual operational costs. TCAPS estimates those costs at roughly $400,00 a year. TCAPS would keep running the school.

“We certainly don’t want to be in the business of education," says Allison O'Keefe. "We believe in TCAPS ... We want them to keep educating all of our children."

O'Keefe is a representative of the soon-to-be created foundation, head of Old Mission's Parent Teacher Organization and has two kids at the elementary school. She says this plan would make the school financially solvent. 

But, executing the plan requires TCAPS and Peninsula Township both sign on to it.

"And that’s part of the proposal," says O'Keefe. "We’re saying, 'we need these two public entities to figure out how to work together,' and then the foundation will help fund it."

O'Keefe requested the joint meeting between TCAPS and Peninsula Township so she could present the plan for the first time to both public entities, hopefully avoiding confusion.

O’Keefe says the foundation has the $800,000 from an anonymous donor as seed money, but they’ll need to raise a lot more money to make the plan viable. Buying the school alone could cost more than a million dollars.