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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Op/Ed: Fallout of Ypsilanti-Willow Run Schools Merger Leaves More Questions Than Answers

Ypsilanti High School Phoenix logo
Ypsilanti High School Phoenix logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
IU News & Talk Op/Ed
by Monica RW

Periodically, we've been providing updates on the Ypsilanti Community Schools (the Consolidation name) merger process. Yet, today we're writing to fellow Alumni to take some time out of your schedule on Monday, February 25, 2013, at 7:30 PM to show up for the latest school board meeting. It's time for our voice to be heard and support the parents of former Ypsilanti Public Schools who remain in this school district.

If you have not heard, the merger is headed to a uncharted territory, literally. As most true BRAVES know, the pride of a school many of us fondly remember was lost when a school board decided to change our name from "The Braves" to "A Phoenix". Years following, the school continued to fail in total enrollment, academics and leadership skills necessary to operate a strong, vital and core school district within this community.

Schools were closed: Ardis, George, East Middle and West (Renamed to Ypsilanti Middle School), new but questionable "concepts" were tried like "new tech", along with re-organization after reorganization. Teachers, the central to the core of educating our next generation of leaders were demoralized, made the scapegoats of the failures and accused of "not caring" about the students within their classrooms.

Yet, the Administration is "in charge" of LEADING a school district. The Administration should have taken concrete actions to stop the exodus of parents and children to the next "fly by night" charter school claiming to provide a "quality education". Ypsilanti Public Schools was build and operated for decades on strong academic principles, obtainable to met EACH CHILD needs regardless of race, sex, economic or disability status. Recent administrators did not hold this principle in their leadership of these schools districts, and the exodus continued.

According to media resources before the Consolidation with Willow Run Public Schools, Ypsilanti Public Schools was $10 Million dollars in debt. Additionally, the State of Michigan cut off any additional "loans" to the school district. Willow Run was between $1.7-$4 Million dollars in debt as cited by similar resources.

Calls of the "debt" was made as justification why both school districts had to be "merged", or face state takeover by "emergency management" by the District Administrators responsible for at least some of the debt and exodus. Voters believed the calls that a merger was a fix for all things broken at YPS and WRCS, then voted for the consolidation, expecting and demanding change.

The latest news is that the "appointed" school board on Monday, is considering allowing both failed administrators to co-superintendent the new school district, "Ypsilanti Community Schools". Really? 

Wasn't the point of this merger to start with a fresh, new and strong vision to stop the deficits, exodus, falling test scores, out of date academic matrix's and ideas that failed miserably leading to the total demoralization of once mighty proud Ypsilanti Public Schools? If that is so, there can be no way either one of the former Superintendents can or should be considered to lead this merged school district. 

What's worse about all of this, appointed board member(s) who children up until the consolidation (it is unknown if they have changed this since) did not attend Ypsilanti Public Schools District WILL make this decision. Appointed board Member(s) that have disrespected (as reported by those parents) parents at recent school board meetings, WILL make this decision. Appointed board member(s) who is friends with one of the failed former Superintendents will make this decision. There was a election for school board members in both school districts on November 6, 2013, but the results were nullified.

Wasn't the former leadership a part of the reason both Ypsilanti Public and Willow Run Community Schools were in the "red" to began with? So, the residents of a community with two financially failing school districts are suppose to reward such failure by hiring back the Superintendents who were leaders during these failures? Really? What does this say to the children attending these school districts right now?

My children attended Van Buren School Districts for grades 5-12 and Willow Run School District up to the 3rd grade. I attended YPS for six out of my twelve primary school years and continue to be a PROUD BRAVE, as a graduate of Ypsilanti High School. Each of my older siblings attend or graduated from Ypsilanti Public Schools. WE DO HAVE a vested interest for how the new Ypsilanti Community Schools will operate into the future.

I'll be at Tuesday's School Board Meeting to express my voice as a alumni of former Ypsilanti Public Schools. My hope is that other alumni will join myself, along with current parents of former Ypsilanti and Willow Run Public Schools to make their voice heard Tuesday

Whether you have a child in either school district now, live out of the area or out of state, as alumni of Ypsilanti High School YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT. Please learn the issues that exist for yourself by reading any of the previous articles on Ann Arbor.com by Journalist Danielle Arndt, who has done a wonderful job of providing information on this process.

Also, if you're out of State or the immediate area and would like a letter to be read at Monday School Board Meeting expressing your voice as Alumni on this issue, feel free to email us.

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