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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

Chapelle, East Middle schools to close

The Ypsilanti Public Schools' Board of Education voted 5-2 to close Chapelle and East Middle schools at the end of the academic year during their its meeting Monday night at the Ypsilanti High School auditorium. Photo by Dan DuChene

The Ypsilanti Public Schools' Board of Education voted 5-2 to close Chapelle and East Middle schools at the end of the academic year during their its meeting Monday night at the Ypsilanti High School auditorium.

Ypsilanti School Board approves plan to save $1.3 million

By Dan DuChene
Mar. 23, 2010    ·    5:58 a.m.

In a 5-2 vote, the Ypsilanti Public Schools' Board of Education approved a plan to close both Chapelle Elementary and East Middle School Monday night.

As recommended by the district administration, the move, expected to save approximately $1.3 million, will go into effect at the end of this academic year.

Board trustees Kira Berman and Andy Fanta were the dissenting votes during the regular board meeting held in the Ypsilanti High School auditorium. Approximately 100 people were in the audience at the meeting and more than a dozen addressed the board.

Most of the audience members spoke out against the plan to hold most kindergarten and first grade classes at Perry Elementary, second through sixth grade classes at Erickson and Estabrook elementary schools, combine seventh and eighth grade classes at West Middle School, offer kindergarten through sixth grade classes at Adams and shutter the two remaining schools in the district.

Among various complaints, most audience pointed to the effect closing district buildings can have on the district and community. Many criticisms pointed to the anticipated enrollment decrease the district could see after the closings.

Administration predicts a loss of 50 students next year, partially due to school closings, which could translate into a $400,000 drop in revenue. However, many audience members and the dissenting trustees anticipate a larger than expected enrollment decrease that could negate most of the anticipated savings.

One of the audience members who spoke out against the plan was Chapelle parent Maria Cotera. She said she feels district administrators manipulated data and withheld information to push through and sell a plan that had always included closing Chapelle.

“This administration has broken faith with us,” Cotera said. “We no longer have faith in this system.”

Another Chapelle parent, Charles Grace, suggested the board vote down the plan and refuse to close any schools in the district.

“The purpose of public schools is not to make money,” Grace said. “Run this district in the red and tell the state to shove it.”

The school closings come as the district needs to cut nearly $5 million from next years budget in order to continue its state-required four-year deficit elimination plan. During deficit spending, the state lends money to public school districts to cover expenses, but requires those districts to file a plan to eventually correct the problem.

Trustee Sarah Devaney presented three alternatives to the deficit elimination plan. She said the district could incur more debt, be forced to close district operations earlier in the year or eventually come up short in meeting payroll obligations.

Devaney said operating under deficit spending without correcting the problem would be “idealistic and not a realistic way to do business.”

Berman said she thought the enrollment would decrease much more significantly than the administration predicted and would negate any savings. She suggested the district continue with plans to consolidate its middle school buildings but wait a year to evaluate the effects before closing an elementary school.

“I'm not supporting this plan because I don't think it will save the district money and I don't think it will be good for students,” Berman said.

Fanta then made a motion to amend the resolution to reflect Berman's suggestions. However, the motion failed when it only garnered support from Fanta and Berman.

Several trustees and audience members suggested that whatever the outcome of the vote, the district move forward and continue with respect and loyalty.

“You elected board members that care very, very deeply about students, the district and community,” Board President David Bates said.

“Our decisions are based on sound, careful reasoning,” he said. “[The district] will move forward embracing the board's decision.”

Superintendent Dedrick Martin said administrators were going to begin informing the affected families early than planned.

During his presentation of the plan Thursday, Martin said the district would begin explaining the transition details after spring break. But after requests from the community, meetings will be held within the next two weeks.

A meeting for Chapelle parents is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and a meeting for parents of sixth and seventh grade students at East Middle School is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

Related article:
YPS to decide on closing Chapelle, East Middle Schools

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