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

Willow Run eyes budget deficit

Photo by Dan DuChene

Willow Run Business Services Director David Houle presents the district's deficit elimination plan to the Board of Education Tuesday night.

School closings and teacher layoffs in plan to fix budget

By Dan DuChene
Mar. 4, 2009    ·    2:46 a.m.

The Willow Run Board of Education unanimously passed a deficit elimination plan Tuesday night which proposes closing an elementary school and eliminating 26 instructor positions.

The plan, required by the state, forecasts continued enrollment declines, which have already caused the district to operate on an unbalanced budget since 2006. The $2.7 million deficit is now expected to be corrected in five years.

“We’re here because we are loosing students,” Trustee Clifford Smith said at the meeting.

In his presentation for the board, Business Services Director David Houle said enrollment has been dropping an average of 140 students since 2000. He said these losses have lead to less revenue and the district’s current fiscal problems.

Because of the district’s budget deficit, the state has been requiring Willow Run to file a plan to pull themselves out of the red since 2006. However, the Michigan Department of Education rejected the district’s plan this year, citing unrealistic enrollment forecasts and a shortfall of the necessary cuts reflecting the situation.

The district’s new plan must be filed with the state by Friday. Houle said a draft of the plan has already been sent to the department for review.

“A couple years back we were hoping to grow the enrollment,” Houle said to the board. “If it didn’t happen, what then?

“A year later we were hoping to stabilize enrollment,” he said. “If that didn’t happen, what then?”

This revised plan forecasts further enrollment decline based on real trends for the district and the region, Houle said in his report. He said talks will have to begin soon on which elementary school will close next year, which will lead to an estimated $361,000 savings.

“Right now, this really sets the stage for us to begin that process.,” Houle said.

According to the plan, if enrollment falls below 1,840 this fall, another elementary school could close in the district. There are currently five elementary schools being operated in Willow Run, after Thurston was deactivated in 2008.

The district also evacuated and sold its administration building the year before, consolidating those services inside the secondary complex.

Aside from closing buildings, the plan also calls to move all of the district’s sixth-grade classes in elementary buildings. This would be coupled with eliminating 26 instructing positions in two years to bring class sizes in-line with enrollment.

The $1.3 million in savings would generate class sizes from 20 to 30 students per teacher.

Willow Run also hopes to save $111,600 by eliminating special bus routes required through open enrollment. This would require parents who want their child to attend a different elementary school than the one in their geographic area to provide their own transportation.

Other cost savings hope to be realized through eliminating the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s contract, re-organizing grant structures and freezing all wages and step increases in the district.

Many on the board looked to other districts in the state near the situation Willow Run has been in and saw that as a way their district is ahead of the curve.

“Hard to believe, but we are in a better position to move upward than those other districts,” Trustee Andy Blakita said. “We’re on the rebound.”

At the end of his presentation, Houle pointed to ideas to restructure the district as a more attractive package to increase enrollment. He highlighted gender and gifted student academies and more specific career-oriented curriculum.

Vice President Sheri Washington said she would like to see ways the district could measure how district programs are effecting enrollment.

“To a certain extent we can plan, we can manage that,” she said. “We have to find a way to gauge that.”

The only change made to the plan was to the language written where the district is asked to describe what factors caused the budget deficit. Several board members took issue with a line that read, “One factor may be how the ennui and rancor of a few teaching staff members can send a negative message that makes its way into a classroom and then to the community.”

The statement went on to read, “Tainting student classroom instruction with shades of labor discontent is unprofessional and destructive… This hurts the students, the teachers and ultimately, the community as the district suffers.”

Washington said the district should not make a statement that “singles out” a group of employees unless it can provide factual data to back up the argument.

Houle said, “From my own personal experience, I can substantiate that.”

Treasurer Dorothy Stewart agreed that other factors are involved with the district’s enrollment decline aside from regional and economic demographics. However, she said many factors were at play, and agreed that the language should be removed.

Though Houle said he didn’t want the district to “mislead ourselves,” by ignoring the issue, he conceded that the overall plan did not hinge on the statement.

It was agreed that the portion of the plan would be reworded before submitting it to the state.

Trustee Harold Wimberly was absent from the meeting.

The Rocket

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