Ypsilanti Citizen Education Ypsilanti Cycle

Ypsilanti Schools accept transportation consolidation
By Adrienne Ziegler
Jun. 8, 2010   ·   3:07 p.m.

Connie Shelton, an East Middle School Teacher, speaks against the WISD transportation consolidation plan at Monday's special meeting of the Ypsilanti Board of Education. The board approved the motion to join the consolidation by a vote of 5 to 2.

"Shame on you" echoed through the audience Monday night after the Ypsilanti Public Schools Board of Education approved a plan to join a countywide consolidated...read more

Willow Run appoints new board member
By Adrienne Ziegler
Jun. 5, 2010   ·   8:16 a.m.

The Willow Run School Board looks on as Kristine Thomas, a district parent and previous board member, is sworn in as trustee on Thursday night. Thomas will take the position of Joi Jenson who resigned in early May.

The Willow Run School Board appointed a new, yet familiar trustee to the board of education during their regular meeting Thursday night.

Kristine Thomas, a Willow...read more

Willow Run approves county-wide transportation plan
By Adrienne Ziegler
May. 27, 2010   ·   2:09 p.m.

The Willow Run School District signed on to a countywide consolidated transportation plan at their regular board meeting last week.

The plan aims to save transportation...read more

Lincoln offers summer courses to area high-schoolers
By Mark Tower
May. 26, 2010   ·   7:49 p.m.

Students from Lincoln and other nearby districts are being invited to participate in Lincoln High School's Summer Academy this year, registration for which opened...read more

Willow Run terminates student services administrator
By Adrienne Ziegler
May. 26, 2010   ·   12:26 a.m.

Willow Run School Board President Sheri Washington said she didn't know if the district was going to press charges against former Student Services Administrator Laconda Hicks after the board fired Hicks during a special meeting Tuesday night.

The Willow Run Board of Education unanimously voted to terminate its contract with former Student Services Administrator Laconda Hicks Tuesday night during a special...read more

Andy Blakita

Andy Blakita, Willow Run board candidate in today's election. Photo by Dan DuChene

Andy Blakita, Willow Run board candidate in today's election.

Willow Run board candidate

By Dan DuChene
May. 5, 2009    ·    8:03 a.m.

Today will be the seventh election Andy Blakita has run in for the Willow Run Community Schools’ Board of Education.

Currently a trustee, Blakita has served on the board for 24 years. The Ford retiree has lived in the district with his wife Carol since 1971. His son Steve graduated from Willow Run High School in 1985.

“To me, this is the most important election for Willow Run,” Blakita said. “This one here has some real serious implications.”

Blakita said Willow Run has been plagued by infighting amongst adults in the district for some time. He said there are board members with personal agendas, as well as district employees and members of the community.

“I’m for the kids, what’s best for them.” Blakita said.

He said the board has been forced to make some difficult decisions to get the district out of a budget deficit for years. He said it bothers him when an adult stands up during a board meeting and asks, ‘What about me?’

“All these adults are compounding the problem,” Blakita said.

If the district were to focus more on providing the proper resources to children in the district, the rest of the problems should shake out. He said this “bottom-up” approach would eventually change public perception and lead to increased enrollment, which would lead to increased funding from the state.

“You have to have that core commitment to our students,” Blakita said. “Parents will recognize it.”

Blakita pointed to the campaign that led up to today’s election as a draw on resources and an increase in infighting among adults. He used the MEA’s endorsement of opponents Joi Jenson and Anglesia Brown as an example of a draw of resources and the conversations people in the district have been having about the election as source for infighting.

As far as the MEA’s endorsement and active campaigning for a Jenson and Brown victory, including the purchase of campaign marketing material and advertising, Blakita said the labor union, which serves as the umbrella organization for the Willow Run Education Association, may be gaining too much influence.

He said the influence on the election could turn into an influence on the board, which could give the teachers too much power over contact negotiations.

“The MEA is the most powerful labor organization in the state today,” Blakita said.

“They’re using precious resources to shore up an election,” he said. “If you believe the MEA is spending money all about the kids, forget it.”

Blakita said money could be focused on textbooks, support material, new curriculum programs and busing. However, he said Willow Run often has to pay to defend against labor grievances from the WREA that are often lost or pulled by the union.

“This is not about teachers,” he said. “This is about the strong unions.”

Blakita, who said he had been a UAW member for 41 years, said the teachers shouldn’t be blamed for the situation the district and state find themselves in, but they should operate around the scenarios, instead of insisting on increased wages and benefits in the midst of budget reductions.

“Give us a couple years of relief,” he said. “If we survive, you’ll benefit from it.”

Blakita, who was the only board member to vote against hiring Dr. Doris Hope-Jackson when she was hired as the district’s superintendent two years ago, said she has become under attack unfairly by employees and the community.

“Nobody deserves that type of abuse,” he said.

Blakita said Jackson had done a good job at restructuring the district to become more lean and efficient. He said she has been fair and honest and has been running the district to benefit the children.

“It’s power against a superintendent that wants accountability,” he said of the criticism she has drawn from WREA members.

“I’m running to support the district,” he said. “I support Dr. Jackson and the way she is running the district.”

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