2017-04-19 / Front Page

On the table: Duck Lake Center's fate

Officials discuss leasing space in center, other proposed changes as revenue generating/cost-saving measures
Aileen Wingblad
Special to the Spinal Column

Should Duck Lake Center be repurposed? 

And if so, how?

Huron Valley Schools officials have begun talking about leasing space in the Duck Lake Center to Community Sharing, moving Harbor High School elsewhere and other proposed changes to the building as revenue generating/cost-saving measures for the district.

While decisions on what becomes of the facility --- located on Duck Lake Road in Highland Township ---- are likely several months away, Board of Education members and administrators shared thoughts on the building’s possible fate at a board dialogue meeting April 18. Along with relocating the alternative high school and the district’s program for severely emotionally impaired students, possibly to the Brooks Elementary building, what’s also proposed is moving adult education, the medical assisting program, Huron Valley Youth Assistance and Lighthouse --- a program for expelled students --- elsewhere. Community Sharing would rent part of the Duck Lake Center, which frees up space in its current spot, the Apollo building, for the tuition-based preschool program HVS is planning. Both would bring in funds to the district.

Open Door Community Outreach, which is similar to Community Sharing but serves other Oakland County areas, is another potential tenant for the Duck Lake Center --- and therefore another possible revenue source.

Presenting proposals for the Duck Lake Center as part of the district’s cost containment and revenue generating plan, HVS Superintendent Nancy Coratti said having non-school related programs move into the building will satisfy the goal of “taking one building off-line…and lessen our footprint in the community.”

With a variety of options on the table, board members at the meeting seemed focused mainly on proposed changes to Harbor High’s location and how its students might be affected. Some said moving the alternative education program into one of the other high school buildings --- more likely Milford High, due to space --- could have undesirable ramifications such as increased drop-out rates, particularly for the alternative education students who might feel they lost the environment where they fit in.

“I’m concerned about putting (Harbor High) in a traditional building. Students left the traditional building for various reasons,” said Jeff Long, board president.

Long also said that while he is in full support of the Harbor High program, he expects pushback from some residents if the program were to be moved to Milford High School.

“I have no problem with Harbor High. I love it. But the community perception can be different,” he said. 

Board member Tom Wiseman said he’s “a firm believer that the alternative high school needs to be in a separate location…there’s a reason those kids weren’t successful.”

Having the program in a building distinct from the other high schools has meant markedly improved outcomes, he added.

“(Alternative education students have experienced) tremendous success” in a smaller environment, where interaction with teachers is more personal and accessible, Wiseman said.

Sean Carlson, board treasurer, noted that “alternative high school is part of the definition of a caring community” for teens who need a different approach.

“We’re helping these kids find their voice,” he said. “We’re helping these kids find their path. We’re helping them gain the confidence they didn’t have.”

And that calls for keeping the program out of a traditional high school, he said.

“I really do believe it needs a separate building or on a separate campus for that population,” Carlson said.

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