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Monday, April 16, 2012

Op/Ed- As Ypsilanti, Willow Run & State Public Schools leaders move full speed toward 'consolidation'; public meeting is just a show

Photo Credit-Ypsilanti High
School 'Phoenix' Logo
ROJS News Op/Ed

Footsteps of 'Consolidation' are creeping its' way into two Washtenaw County public schools districts, Ypsilanti & Willow Run.

Members of the public can finally share their opinions after school district leadership has met in secret constructing a plan to sell 'consolidation is the answer 101'. This effort 'latest' plan at 'reinvention' for Ypsilanti and Willow Run Public School Districts.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 16th @ 7 p.m. held at Ypsilanti Township Civic Center located on 7200 S. Huron Drive. Effectively limiting time  for opposition of the 'consolidation' plan from parents and alumni, there will be a designated time at close of the meeting for public comments. Audience members would need to be quick with thoughts, as comments will be limited to three minutes, according to the agenda.

Photo Credit-Willow Run
Public Schools Logo

As alumni of Ypsilanti Public Schools, its' hard to imagine this once proud school district is on the brink of Emergency Manager appointment by no other than Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, unless they 'consolidate' with nearby Willow Run Public Schools. Equal shame should be shared by YPS leadership versions of 'reinvention' plans that never worked to stop parents and children moving out of YPS district over the last twenty years.

Remember when the Ypsilanti Public School Board voted in favor of doing away YHS logo and name of 'Braves', rename it a 'Phoenix' bird instead? This decision hurt YHS Alumni's school identity so much they build two rightfully named Facebook associations name 'Once a Brave, Always a Brave' and 'Ypsilanti Brave Memorial Group'.

Other plans include closing Adris and George Elementary, along with East Middle School. Next they turned West Middle into district wide 'Ypsilanti Middle School'. Those same board officials had the another bright idea of turning Adris into a selected 'district wide Ypsilanti Tech High', all while having well-known Ypsilanti High School less than 5 miles up the street.

Memories return of my visits to YHS, in the early 2000's era, stopping by to see teachers of my 9-12 grade years. The school had changed not in a good way at all. Students were openly fighting, cursing and shouting in hallways. A security guard was planted near YHS front door to 'check in' visitors before being allowed to enter the school. Only thing YHS missed was 'metal detectors' which are staples of Detroit Public High Schools.

Alumni heard about stories which the educational environment at YHS had grew out of control. For alumni that originally desired sending children to the High School, opted to avoid YHS altogether for their kids, regardless of its 'School of Choice' stance. 

Local news resource Ann verified a secret 'consolidation' meeting took place between Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel, Ypsilanti Public Schools Superintendent Derrick Martin, both school board presidents, Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki and State Superintendent Mike Flanagan last week to discuss the possible merger.
After the 'meeting' State Superintendent Flanagan forward a letter of support to the boards for their "visionary" and "trailblazing efforts" moving toward 'consolidation' of course. 
"At a time when many other struggling districts have relented to let the state sort out their concerns, you have taken active steps to ensure that your communities maintain local control, while recognizing that business as usual is not an option," he wrote.
Ann cites State Superintendent Flanagan would "favorably receive" an adopted resolution from the two boards requesting to "proceed with consolidation proceedings, per state law MCL 380.852."
"And, if voters in both school districts choose to consolidate, the Michigan Department of Education and I will commit to assisting the new district and its leaders in moving forward ... For example, I have the authority to extend the timeline related to deficit elimination plans and would be willing to consider doing so in support of your consolidation efforts," the letter said.
So basically, the decision has been made. Ypsilanti and Willow Run Districts will become what Ypsi-Willow, Runti or Phoenix-Flyers Public Schools? The public meeting today is basically a show.

No wonder these 'leaders' have taken steps to limit public comments to three minutes. The minds on schools administrators and the state are made up. Similar to forcing Adris Elementary to become 'Tech High', closing East Middle School to next sell the building to Washtenaw Community College's High School or changing the 'Braves' namesake into a Phoenix bird; this plan in the end will become another big failed experiment.

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