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Options on deficit plan revealed

A special meeting of the Holland School Board on Thursday featured diagrams of possible building reconfigurations but offered little else in the way of details as to how the district plans on closing a potential $2 million shortfall by 2014.

More than 200 residents attended the meeting, the second in a two-part series confronting the district's declining revenue-to-expense ratio.

Scott Jones of Gordon W. Jones Architects presented the district with two options to address the issue.

In both scenarios, all three buildings would remain open with grades seven and eight moving to the high school at a cost of about $250,000. In option one, however, the elementary school would house prekindergarten through first grade only, along with the district offices. The back half of the building would be closed off or rented out.

In option two, grades five and six would be the sole occupants of the middle school along with the district offices. The second floor of the building would be essentially shut down.

Richard Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Financial Consortium, was hired to facilitate the meeting at a cost of $1,500.

At the last meeting his key role was explaining the district's and the state Education Department's finances. This time, however, his job was to field written questions from the audience following both the architect's presentation and the district's own finance committee's presentation.

But in the question and answer session, Timbs was unable to answer a number of concerns due to a lack of information, some as basic as which reconfiguration option would be the most cost effective. Enrollment figures, central to most reconfiguration discussions, were not presented Thursday, nor were savings estimates associated with the various reconfigurations.

Frustrations were evident when one submitted question he read aloud asked: "Why aren't you answering our questions?"