December 5, 2022

News Photo by Alyssa Ochss
The Alpena Public Schools Board of Education returns after a closed session at Sanborn Elementary School on Monday.

ALPENA — Members of the Alpena Public Schools Board of Education voted on Monday to approve plans to have a health clinic — funded and run by Alcona Health Center — inside Alpena High School.

The board voted 4-2 in favor of the clinic with board members Ned Heath and Eric Lawson voting against it.

Board member Stacey Parr was absent from the meeting.

Lawson voiced concern about the clinic not having enough support outside the medical community — something he said has been shown during public comment at previous meetings.

“I guess one of my concerns about this is that based on public comment we’ve seen, I haven’t seen any community support except for maybe one person at one meeting, who is not already part of the medical community,” Lawson said. “And based on tonight’s turnout, my gut feeling tells me there is very little support for this in the community outside the physicians.”

Members of Alcona Health Center’s leadership team spoke in favor of the clinic, highlighting services it could provide to students.

Alcona Health Center CEO Nancy Spencer said the health center provides services that include, but are not limited to, immunizations, sports physicals, and help with chronic illnesses.

“Just to be clear, Alcona Health Center does not and would not provide services such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, gender transition counseling,” Spencer said. “Those require a comprehensive evaluation process by a specialist which requires parental consent.”

Spencer also said abortion services are “prohibited in the child adolescent health program.”

Parents and other residents voiced concerns about their parental rights being taken away, especially if Proposal 3 — which aims to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution — is approved.

Some called for the vote on the clinic to be postponed until after the results of the upcoming November election are released.

Eric Hansen, who spoke during public comment, said he knows Alcona Health Center provides excellent services to the community, but said that’s not where parents’ issues lie.

“The community’s concern stems not from what the clinic can provide but from a fact that as parents, they won’t be able to see exactly what’s going on in these clinics,” Hansen said.

Hansen also said parents know what the state laws are, but these laws are likely to change in the upcoming election, taking away parental rights. He said not being involved in that process is what he is concerned about.

Alpena Public Schools Superintendent Dave Rabbideau said, with the clinic officially approved, the next step is to figure timelines for the clinic’s construction as well as the services Alcona Health Center will provide.

Alcona Health Center will pay rent to use space for the clinic at the school.

“It’s approved officially at this point and then we just have to go through the paperwork of putting it in motion, I would imagine it would start fairly quickly,” Rabbideau said. “Construction, we have to go through design processes and all of that…as far as services, I’m not 100 percent sure on what their timeline is and how quickly they can start providing those services.


The Alpena Public Schools Board of Education on Monday also:

∫ voted to award a bid to Toolkit Technologies for the purchase of an Electric Vehicle Kit for the Career Technical Education in the amount of $59,558.

∫ voted to award a bid for the district-wide Roof Safety Project to Superior Service RSH, Inc. in the amount of $146,550 with 5% contingency included for a total of $153,878.

∫ heard a list of 16 new staff hires and one resignation.

∫ accepted several gifts, including gifts from MyMichigan Medical Center, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Fomcore LLC.

∫ approved additional fire suppression work to be completed by Phantom Fire Protection at Thunder Bay Junior High School in the amount of $214,750.

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