1970, Recession and population decline
The baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s went “bust” when it reached its peak during the 1970s and school enrollment began to decline rapidly. A severe economic recession in Albion during the 1970s sparked high unemployment, and tax revenues for the schools greatly reduced. As people moved away, the number of students declined.
As a consequence the school board decided to close AustinSchool. The school district’s central administrative offices were moved out of Harrington School, and into Austin School. The sixth grade students from all elementary schools were moved to the Washington Gardner Junior High School beginning with the 1967-68 school year. Vacant rooms at Austin School not usedfor administrative purposes became alternative classrooms for special education and problem students.
In an attempt to save the district $135,000 due to millage failures and the loss of state revenues, the school board laid off a number of teachers, custodians, and otherpersonnel in November 1979. This was a drastic cut which produced much controversy. Class hours at the junior and senior high schools were reduced to five-hour days. The Austin School, which was beingutilized as the administration headquarters was closed permanently at the end of December 1970. Administrative offices were relocated on the third floor of the east wing of Washington Gardner Junior High School.
In an effort to save money and after much controversy, Crowell School was closed for the 1980-81 and 1981-82 school years but reopened for the 1982-83 year and thereafter. Dalrymple school, built in 1916 and plagued by maintenanceproblems that would have cost $554,000, was closed permanently in June 1982. To accommodatestudents from Dalrymple School, Crowell School was reopened in September 1982.
It should not be thought that the 1960s and 1970s were disastrous periods for the Albion Public Schools. Rather, they were times of great changes and readjustment for the school system. Many new programs were added during this era,such as bi-lingual education, computer education, the open classroom, adult and community education, the program for academically gifted enrichment (PAGE), and others. These programs have steadily grown since then and were significant factors in turning the image of the Albion Public Schools intoa positive one as the district moved into the 1980s and beyond.
Source: Frank Passic. A History of the Albion Public Schools. Albion, Michigan: E. Weil Publishing Services. 1991.