Ypsilanti Citizen Education Sidetrack

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

Willow Run's Kettering Elementary to close

Photo by Christine Laughren

The Willow Run Board of Education voted to close Kettering Elementary School at a special meeting held Thursday night.

Board votes 5-2 in special meeting

By Dan DuChene
May. 1, 2009    ·    1:03 p.m.

The Willow Run Board of Education voted to close Kettering Elementary School at a special meeting held Thursday night.

The decision was reached by a 5-2 vote of the board, with President Claudette Braxton and Trustee Andy Blakita voting against.

The decision to layoff a list of 18 Willow Run teachers was approved unanimously by the board. Kathleen Miller, president of the Willow Run Education Association, the labor union for district teachers, informed the board of the group’s intention to file a grievance against the layoffs.

“I know you guys have a huge decision tonight,” Miller said during the public comment portion of the board meeting, before Kettering was chosen.

After the meeting, Miller said the WREA is contesting the practice used to select the teachers for layoff. She said the teachers’ contract stipulates a very specific process that must be used when choosing positions to be laid off.

Miller said the contract states that the district must make sure that special certifications held by teachers are held by other individuals before selecting a teacher with less seniority for layoff. For instance, when considering first-year hires, Miller said no one that has a certification not held by a teacher with more seniority can be laid off.

“I want this resolved,” Miller said.

She said the WREA will file the grievance today, with hopes a meeting can be held to discuss the matter next week. She said she hopes the matter is resolved without having to go to arbitration, so those selected for layoff can get their notice by May 8.

Before the board made its selection on which school to close, each building principal addressed the board about the process used to select a school. The group had recommended closing both Kettering and Kaiser and re-opening Thurston, which was closed two years ago, at the meeting last week.

However, the second option presented last week, which was more based on the rating system developed by the group, pointed to Holmes to close this year and Kettering to close next year. The two schools were only one point away from each other.

The principals stood behind the data and the process used. Many pointed out that this was the first time such a process had been used, where they felt an impartial decision had been reached do to the consensus-driven point system used.

“When you make this decision, the charge is upon us,” Kaiser Principal Laura Lisiscki said.

“It is our responsibility to take away the fear of the unknown,” Lisiscki said. “No matter what school you go to at Willow Run, it will be your home.”

Willow Run expects to save $361,218 with the move. The district must eliminate its $2.7 million deficit in five years, according to the district’s deficit elimination plan. If enrollment drops below 1,840 in the fall, the plan calls for the closing of another school.

“I’m not for closing schools,” Trustee Clifford Smith said at the meeting.

“To me, in reality, I don’t think we’re going to get the bang for the buck that (the state) says we’re going to get,” he said. “They’re forcing us into this position.”

Smith said the process must be done fairly, and he pointed to the fact that Todd LaPrairie, director of buildings and grounds, received as much as 18 votes per building when all of the other administrators combined had contributed as much as 47. He suggested that the totals could have skewed the results.

When LaPrairie’s votes are removed, Kettering receives the most votes and moves past Holmes to be recommended for closure.

“I am a Kettering Cougar,” Vice President Sheri Washington said.

Washington pointed to the lower attendance numbers at Kettering and its proximity to neighboring districts.

“I don’t want to see my school close,” she said. “We failed Kettering by not putting together the proper strategies to keep those families here.”

However, she said she didn’t “have a problem making this decision,” because of its basis in facts and data.

“Look at the numbers,” Smith said.

“It’s just as simple as that people,” he said. “That’s all you have to do is look at the numbers.”

Trustee Harold Wimberly said the district must still address the problem of its perception in the community in order to start attracting more families to the district and increase enrollment. He said the problem isn’t as much other districts taking Willow Run students as much as Willow Run loosing its students.

“The change has to start with the seven at this table,” he said. “The start has to be that all of us are on one court.”

Wimberly said, “We have to get to a point where our number one priority is the kids.”

Related stories:
Kaiser, Kettering at Thurston recommended to Willow Run

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