1. mSS
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    google “sudbury valley school”. Creative, and cheap.

  2. mSS
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    “…the “projected savings” numbers in the YPS plan are highly suspect.”

    Like they would keep all the staff on payroll and claim that there were no savings? Yeah, I could see that happening.

  3. Kim
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Could someone help me with the concept of a magnate school? Does that mean that they could attract kids from Ann Arbor and other school districts, the way that a charter school does?

    If so, my concern is that it would take too long to build the population of students to really help with the budget now.

  4. Kim
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    It just seems to me like the kind of thing the Board should have suggested four years ago, when they saw this budget crunch coming.

  5. TB
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    When schools were closed in the last round, did their closings result in the cost savings anticipated by the school board?

  6. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Hi Kim,
    As far as I understand it, Magnet schools are created from existing schools. Basically, the grants can pay for equipment, instructional professionals (teachers, teacher’s aids, curriculum specialists) and additional staff. The idea is to create a coherent curricular objective along with a set of educational attainment goals, and an enrollment plan (usually a lottery system) to transform a school that has a demographic imbalance (or one that is failing) into the kind of school that can attract parents from all over the district, and yes, that might include Ann Arbor, Lincoln, Willow Run, or anywhere, but that would be up to the folks who write the grant. While Chapelle is not a “failing” school, far from it, it does have the highest percentage of poor and minority kids in the district.

  7. Bob
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Since McKinley Properties (a pretty-big, multi-state, company) spent so much money to defeat the school funding issue, that only means they must have plenty of ideas of how to fund the schools. On their webpage (www.mckinley.com/about-mckinley) they state their “Core Purpose” is to “To enrich the quality of life in our communities”.

    Hey, got a few minutes? Contact them at http://www.mckinley.com/about-mckinley/contact-info and ask them what their solution is to the Ypsi school funding problem is since they spent their funds to defeat school funding.

  8. ELT
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure what it means for Ypsi, but here’s a recent CNN news update:

    Obama to promote more education spending in State of Union speech… President Obama will propose a major increase in funding for elementary and secondary education for the coming year in Wednesday’s State of the Union address, one of the few areas to grow in an otherwise austere federal budget, officials said Tuesday night.

  9. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    What about county wide districts? Keep the teachers, eliminate the administrators, who seem to be causing all of the trouble in the first place. I mean, does the Ypsi area really need three districts with three administrations?

  10. roots
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Oh my. Thank you for posting this information!

    So much of what Maria mentions hits close to home. These alternative proposals make far greater sense for the community! I will surely be at the Feb. 3rd meeting.

  11. Charles
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    It’s very important to understand that the $6.8 million dollar “budget shortfall” is not what YPS are running in the red for this year alone, but amounts to the accumulated budget deficits of the last ten years. YPS is actually running in the red 5.2% this year. It would make more sense then that the proposed cuts be 5.2% of the current budget, and that the correction of ten years worth of deficits be spread out.

    Although I fundamentally disagree with the idea that our public schools need to be run like profit-making businesses to be of value to society.

    What the School Board is proposing basically amounts to saying that the YPS has to pay off it’s credit card debt all at once, regardless of how it affects our children and community.

    I don’t buy that and it’s my opinion that the School Board administration knows what they’re doing is damaging to our kids and our community and doesn’t care, and this specifically applies to the Business Manager who wrote the Budget Deficit Proposal that the School Board voted on. In two years he’ll likely leave the area and get a job elsewhere doing the same thing, acting as a budget axeman for state. That’s his job.

  12. Aris
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Roots, thanks so much for planning to attend the meeting on Feb 3rd! Please feel free to join our facebook group, “Save Chapelle Community School” if you have not had a chance yet. The best help we can use right now is communicating about the meeting!

  13. maryd
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    YPS already has many out of district students attending our schools as we an open district. I heard a rumor that Ann Arbor is going to open up to outside enrollment too. It is too sad a story… AND all this seems a bit like “too late to the party” advice. This red ink has been looming for years. My family started with YPS in 1984 and have been attended meetings soliciting public input into how to best CUT the budget many times since then. There have been Blue Ribbon Committees organized several times by several boards to address the best way to CUT and includes the BoE recall when Fletcher School was closed (Closing the el. was only part of those reasons). Word was then that 2 more elementary buildings needed to close way back then in the 1990’s. We had more space than necessary but lacked the political will/nerve to downsize then. With the state budget as it is, with the Headlee rollback & Proposal A in 1994 did away w/ local funding of schools by cutting property taxes and raising sales tax and it was great for homeowners short term (why my prop. taxes are lower than my son’s though his house is much smaller) but once the economy tanked so did school funding. It is broke at the state level. This is tragic as our state legislature is basically dysfunctional. YPS has been cannibalizing ever since. CUT CUT CUT, and we are not alone, look north, west, east, and south and you see districts everywhere dealing with the same issues, we have just been poorer and cutting longer. When I moved to my neighborhood in 1089 50 children walked down the street to the local El from my one block alone. Now I don’t think one goes to the local el. down the street. They are homeschooled, charter schooled and cross town to Erickson or Estabrook or Chappell. There so many other choices now available to parents that was not 20 years ago. It makes it hard to compete. Ypsi has had magnet schools, had “creative fixes” all to no avail. Ypsi has great programs still. And consolidation has been on YPS minds for awhile, but there is that small ongoing snafu between city & township that seems to stand in the way. Willow Run resent us and Lincoln doe not want our “city kids” sad but true. Ypsi does collaborate with EMU and FORD Mo Co and U of M already. I knew we were down to cutting flesh and bones, but if I could, I would still pick off one or two admin’s to go…

  14. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Dear Bob, thanks very much for the link to the “contact McKinley” page. I sent the following message, which was very satisfying:
    Dear McKinley properties. Thanks very much for contributing to the destruction of Ypsilanti’s schools. The WISD millage, had it passed, would have prevented the closing of Chapelle Community School, which now seems likely. But I don’t suppose it matters to a company that will reap immense benefits once our neighborhoods are destroyed and our entire community is converted into one giant rental complex. Shame on you.

  15. Lee
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t aware that the proposed income tax would have offset the school budget deficit as well as the city’s other expenses.

  16. Aris
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Again, to Maryd and all the other families and community members with such a tenured experience into the situation, please join us on Feb 3rd.
    Your visualization of a block of children walking to their local elem warms my heart and crushes me at the simultaneously. Soon, with out the help of experienced community members like yourself, there will be no community schools to walk to.

  17. Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Lee – we’re not talking here about the city income tax, we’re talking about the countywide property tax just last fall (WISD = Washtenaw Intermediate School District). That money would have gone directly to schools, and McKinley Properties was the primary funder of the campaign against it.

  18. Aris
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Dont feel bad Lee, you were not supposed to know. That was part of the negative campaing against it. Again, thanks McKinley….

  19. mSS
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    So, have any of you who wanted the millage to pass sent a check in to WISD?

  20. Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Members of the community that want to continue to help classrooms while this goes on can adopt a classroom in the school district. You can go to http://www.AdoptAClassroom.org which is a national nonprofit that’s dedicated to helping teachers and the improvement of the learning environment for all students. 100% of the funds will go to the classroom and it’s also a tax deductible contribution. Schools in Ypsilanti are listed here: http://www.adoptaclassroom.org/adoption/LocatorCity.aspx?State=MI&City=Ypsilanti&Private=0&inter=0

  21. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Mark (or anyone), in your research, do you have any sense of the historical proportions of various expenses? What I’m getting at is: Surely something hasn’t taken its fair share of hits over time if we’re in such bad shape. It’s easy to say “off with the heads of the administration”, but are they historically bigger than they used to be?

  22. Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    If this represents 10 years of accumulated debt, why is the Board being forced to pay it off now? Was that always the plan, or did something happen to expedite things? I think paying off debt is a good thing, I’m just wondering why now, and why all $6.4 million.

    And thank you everyone for leaving these comments. As someone who wasn’t here in the 80’s, and didn’t pay attention in the 90’s, it’s interesting to hear the history.

  23. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Nancy, thanks so much for your post, and for your suggestion that we all “adopt a classroom.” What a marvelous idea! I think one of the major underlying issues behind this current crisis and those taking place all over the state and nation, is the gradual divestment of people’s money, energy, and interest in education as a “public good.” People care about parks, public transportation, museums, even public arts, but if they don’t have kids in school, its completely off the radar. I know that before we had a child in the public schools, we never thought about how our system was floundering. All of us, whether we have children or not, should strive to get involved in our public schools, they are truly the beating heart of our community.

  24. maryd
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Oops, typo, I moved to my neighborhood in 1989, not 1089 :)
    And many of those 50 kids who walked to our neighborhood school Adams, have kids of their own now, and some are finishing college. As is my youngest daughter. And though I would love to attend the Feb 3 rd meeting, I am out of town, visiting that youngest daughter at college for the week.
    Great idea Nancy! And I agree Maria, the public schools are the heart of our community and our hope the future. Participate, go to meeting PTO and BoE and Vote.

  25. Papa Smurf
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    As a father in the district and an ardent supporter of public education, I’m very sympathetic and, in principle, supportive of the goals of Maria C.

    However, we can’t let the immediate issue become clouded by past fiscal mistakes (such as, to be candid, raising teacher salaries or protecting publicly funded busing) nor current state initiatives beyond our control.

    It’s the policy making equivalent of blaming the Prop A and Water Street for our city finances while ignoring the fact that the if something isn’t done, we’ll lose firefighters and police, and pointing to unrealistic alternatives (aka regional cooperation, hypothetical grants, etc.) as solutions. We’ve been down the hypothetical road. It always leads back to reality.

    It is what it is. Meaning, we have to deal with the reality we have today, not what it could of should of been.

    Fact: The city is smaller. Our enrollment is smaller. The buildings didn’t shrink with us.

    Fact: The state limits our ability to generate income and has severely cut what we receive.

    Fact: We have less students. Less money. Something has to go.

    I would love to have a school on every corner. If state laws allowed, I’d pay for them. I’d far rather pay and extra grand or more a year for public education than pay for the elitist, escapist alternative. But it is what it is. Here we are.

    IF (if!) the choice comes down to smaller classes, more programming for arts and alternatives vs. bigger classes and less staff in more buildings, I vote for the former.

    I want teachers and teaching. Not building managers and buildings.

    It doesn’t make fiscal or environmental sense to me to heat and fund partially empty buildings. Folks in the Middle East need to move past property concerns for human concerns. So do we with our middle and east. (For heaven’s sake, the whole town is a few square miles.)

    Buildings do not deliver education. Buildings house education. Buildings do not provide educational options. Educators do. We have to move past our fixation on property. Many locations can house no choice. Many choices can be housed in fewer locations. Mega schools can offer mega choice. Tiny schools can offer tiny choice. Compare the large schools in vibrant urban settings to the small schools in isolated rural areas. Which would you choose? Of course, it’s not that simple. Neither is it as simple as “more locations equals more alternatives.”

    Education, not location, should be of central concern. Do you agree? I challenge Maria C. to imagine a system that offers attractive, innovative education in fewer locations. Can’t be done? Why not?! Expand your imagination! Let’s be creative.

    I sincerely hope that Fly Art, 826, UM, EMU, parents and educators are devoted to our children’s future, not some plot of sacred ground. I sincerely hope parents make choices about education based on what is provided in the classroom, not if that classroom is located X miles from home. The Willow Run students who cross distances to attend our schools don’t come for schools close to home. They come for the quality of the educational experience … provided by educators.

    By your logic, if location is primary, why would anyone ever leave their district?

    The funding crisis is real. It couldn’t be anticipated anymore than any of us could have anticipated the decline of our property values or retirement funds.

    It is what it is. We should strive to change it. Until then, let’s be honest. We have to consider renegotiating contracts, privatizing some services, and reducing overhead.

    In the same way Mark has been trying to save a hundred thousand to save a firefighter’s job, we HAVE to realize the million (plus or minus) dollars saved by closing a school in terms of teachers jobs.

    The question isn’t as simple as “How many people will leave the district if a school closes.”

    The questions are: “How many people will leave the district if a school closes versus… losing 20 teachers, losing an alternative high, and so on…”
    It isn’t enough to say “this will hurt.” You have to show it will hurt more than the alternatives.

    In conclusion. Can you offer concrete numbers to your alternatives? If the ultimate goal is enrollment producing revenue, how much will be lost if we cut high school sports, for example? Have you calculated that? Why or why not?

    And yes, fuck McKinley. If, like me, you’re looking for the individual who paid thousands to see our public schools are underfunded, the U.S. Supreme Court says you can find him here:


  26. ypsidad
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Lets do a fact check for all you comparison shoppers…
    Average elementary school capacity in Ann Arbor: 350
    Ypsi elementary school capacities range from 375 to 625:
    Perry Child Development Center: 625
    Estabrook: 550
    Erickson: 525
    Adams: 425
    Chapelle: 375
    Not a single elementary school in Ann Arbor has a capacity greater than 450. Only two of the elementary schools in our district have a capacity SMALLER than 450. Those are the two schools that the YPS Administration is considering for closure.
    Enrollment in small elementary schools in Ann Arbor ranges from 70% to 100%. The Superintendent in Ann Arbor believes that this capacity range is satisfactory, and is not proposing any elementary school closures even though they are facing a $20,000,000 budget shortfall.
    Our enrollments range from 57% (Adams) to 83% (Chapelle):
    Perry 400/625 = 64%
    Estabrook 444/550: 80%
    Erickson 431/525: 82%
    Adams 243/425: 57%
    Chapelle 310/375 : 83%
    Which school system is considered more functional? Ann Arbor’s or Ypsi’s? Which one has the smaller schools? Which one is considering closing its highest enrolled school using the rationale that it should be closed because it’s the smallest. You are right Papa Smurf, great education is not about “sacred ground” it is about rational choices for our district. Some kids thrive in “mega schools” others absolutely flounder. A “one size fits all” educational model is not the answer. This is not about wanting “extras” or parents not wanting to compromise, we have compromised and compromised for the last 10 years now, as the district’s educational quality has been driven into the ground, and more and more schools have closed (Fletcher, George, Ardis), and all the while who has born the brunt of these “compromises”? Our children. Enough is enough.
    Here’s an idea: maybe if we follow Ann Arbor’s lead, and stop closing schools, and finally demonstrate some FAITH in our public education system, people might start keeping their kids in district, or even choosing Ypsi over Lincoln.
    And by the way, this “budget crisis” could go a long way toward being resolved if the teacher’s union would consider “compromising” for once, but I guess their leadership believes in mega schools as well….

  27. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Papasmurf, You make some great points, and I’d like to thank ypsidad for addressing some of them much more cogently than I could have.
    I do appreciate your insight, but I think we have to understand this whole phenomena in a broader context. Over the last few decades, the “school consolidation” movement has pushed for closing smaller schools especially in rural, semi-rural (for example suburban developments) and mixed rural districts (small towns like Ypsilanti) and consolidating them into bigger, regional schools. This movement has been successful largely because it falls into line with a general trend in business and government towards consolidation, a trend that has contributed to (if not caused) the current fiscal crisis our nation finds itself in. We can and should see the school consolidation movement as part of a larger neoconservative zeitgeist (smaller government, bigger business). One might think school consolidation makes economic sense, that it leads to smaller, fleeter, administrative structures, but studies have shown that this is not the case. On the other hand, some might argue, as you have, that because students have more options in “mega schools” they are more likely to succeed academically. Studies have also shown that this is not the case. Ultimately the “school consolidation” movement represents a push to move our schools from their original model (as places where all children are educated according to their needs) to a corporate business model that provides an inexpensive product to the largest possible market. Moreover, with the rise of for-profit charter schools that siphon off tax payer money form our public schools, we must be extremely wary of plans that diminish the choices we have as consumers of education. Indeed, some have argued that the leading proponents of the school consolidation movement are not disinterested parties.
    If you would like to read one of the studies that I refer to above, you can go here:

  28. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    And here’s a link to the Chicago school system which has turned to smaller schools to increase student achievement: http://smallschools.cps.k12.il.us/research.html
    These links will soon be up on our website: sveypsischools.com

  29. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Umm sorry… That website is: saveypsischools.com
    And by the way, we are compiling an extensive list of resources on education research that demonstrates, without a doubt that small schools are better for educational achievement, especially when it comes to “at risk” students. Both large inner city school districts and smaller suburban school districts are moving toward a “smaller” school model. We, on the other hand, seem to be a decade behind everyone else.

  30. maryd
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    We are not alone in MI with being behind in the “small schools” movement. There is tons of good research about this; unfortunately the research doesn’t pay the bills. Ann Arbor has known for years that their Community High program has had wait lists and lottery for entry, being in great demand. When they finally got around to building another high school, did they follow the model in demand? No, they built Skyline another mega school (Along with most of the Southeastern MI school districts in the last 20 years). So much for Ann Arbor’s commitment to small schools. The research also tells us there is a bigger difference in quality between classrooms than between schools. It is the teacher and their interactions with students that matters most and along with that class size, as one teacher can only do so much.

  31. EOS
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    So since Ypsi Schools are facing a $6.4 million budget shortfall, and their standardized test scores rival the worst in the state, and school enrollment is not at capacity in any building, the consensus here is to create more and smaller schools with the money that you don’t have?

  32. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    EOS, what statistics are you looking at when you state that Ypsi’s “standardized test scores rival the worst in the state”? Please back up this claim with some facts. Are you talking about high school test scores? Middle School? Elementary? Are you referring to the MEAP scores? Please clarify with a comparison chart.

  33. STL
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Maria, in case you’re new here, I thought that we should tell you – this is what EOS does. He makes stuff up. I wouldn’t worry about him.

  34. Ale Roka
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know if this is really a choice between small class size and small schools or is Papa setting up a false dichotomy? It would be very helpful to know since small class size is shown to be a major factor in closing the achievement gap.

    Also, is there any reason why Chapelle would be closed rather than Adams (considering the enrollment numbers ypsidad posted)?

    Any reactions to the suggestions of renegotiating teacher contracts and privatizing?

    Thanks for any info you folks can provide!

  35. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    OK, I realize this is going to seem obsessive, but….
    I just ran some very basic numbers using the enrollment data provided by Ypsidad, and guess what? As a district, we are under capacity by just 437 students t the elementary school level. The state grants approximately $8,000 per student in funding. So, if we were able to boost enrollments in our existing schools to capacity, guess what would happen, we would be 3,496,000 closer to closing our budget gap. This doesn’t factor in the fact that Perry is underenrolled by 225 students. If that school was full it would bring in another 1,800,000. At full capacity (K-5), we would have 5,296,000 to work with. Just saying….

  36. Normal Pork
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Maria for passionately and eloquently unveiling so much useful information. Thank to you too, Mark Maynard, for hosting it all.

    Look, people: if an Ypsi school *absolutely must close*, it should be Estabrook, and not Chapelle.

    If you ask why, chances are you are whyte.

    I, however, have great faith that the school board is not going to allow any of our schools to be closed, nor any of our schoolchildren to be the ones to bear the brunt of this crisis.

    Maria, Mark, others: can you recommend things we can do right now, to let our elected officials and neighbords know we don’t want our schools closed?

  37. public schools
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Normal Pork,

    I hate to state the obvious, but “send your kids to our public schools” seems like a good way to let our elected officials know it. By “your,” I mean it in the plural sense, because you may very well have your kids in our schools. (If so, thanks!)

    School count day is Feb. 10. Not too late to enroll.

  38. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    What the hell does that mean: “If you ask why, chances are you are whyte.”

    Seriously, please clarify that statement. Seems awfully racially charged.

  39. maria
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you asked that Normal Pork! On our website, saveypsischools.com, we have a whole list of things citizens can do to take control of our educational commons, which is, after all, a public good. At the moment we are distributing fliers announcing our upcoming citywide community meeting this coming Tuesday (everyone is invited, not just people with kids in the district). We will bring a stack of fliers to your door to share with your neighbors and friends. Just send an email to sosypsi@gmail.com and let us know when and where we should bring them. You’ll notice on our website that we are asking volunteers to act as “Neighborhood Leaders” (who will get information out to their neighborhoods), “Parent Leaders” (who will organize Parent/Teacher associations in their school), and “Student Leaders” (who will organize their friends and students in their school). This is more than just about the schools, its about how we engage in civil society and about teaching our kids not to simply accept “conventional wisdom” and, most of all, to always remember, the world is what WE make it. Sure, we may not be able to shift the tide of entropy, but I’d rather try than not.

  40. Donald Washburn
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    I understand Normal Pork’s concern that Chapelle may be targeted, as opposed to other schools, due to race. It is an important question. But it seems very likely that it’s simply a matter of location and capacity.

    Erickson and Estabrook each have room for more than 100 more students. Adams could hold almost 200 more! Chapelle could only house 65 more and it is a stone’s throw from Estabrook.

    Closing Chapelle certainly seems to make the most “practical” sense. Perhaps these times should be driven by practicality. However, as others have well noted, what makes “practical” sense and what results in good education are not always perfectly aligned. Perhaps administrator’s need to look beyond the bottom line and consider educational impact on this one? One would hope that our school board and administration were focused on educational impact!

  41. Woody Lefurge
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    A little clueless on the topic … I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea that “school of choice” now means that in a city the size of Ypsilanti, there are white schools and black schools? If so, it puts a whole new topsy-turvy spin on busing for me.

    Can anybody with kids in the system tell me if I’m reading this correctly? Have we managed to use busing to segregate integrated districts?!

  42. maryd
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Wrong, there are no black or white schools. Back in the 1060’s Ypsi in all its wisdom closed Perry El. in an attempt at desegregation. Perry was the neighborhood school on the south side where most of the African American students attended. It became the one Kindergarten in Ypsi and all the African American children from the south side were bussed to the remaining elementary schools. While some race imbalances may exist, they are minor. The biggest difference is between east & west side students economically.

  43. maryd
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Dang I did it again, not the 1060s but the 1960s. It is this new 2010 business confusing my brain.

  44. Ed
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I feel strongly that if Chapelle was 80% caucasian not 80% african american and the school district considered closing it, there would be an uproar.

  45. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    So, this all slightly predates the Norman invasion of England? I hate inheriting old problems.

  46. Kim
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Clearly they’ll close the schools that are easier to close, where the parents are less likely to show an interest. So, yes, in that regard it will be a decision based on class.

  47. public schools
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink


    You may be right on the first point, but I’m not so sure about the second. The last time schools were closed (2005), Ardis and George took the hit while Chapelle and Adams survived. I don’t know what the demographics were, but Chapelle has often had a strong group of vocal supporters to plead its case.

  48. maryd
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Curt, I seem stuck in that century, not a good time for merry ol england…

  49. Maria Cotera
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Thought folks might like to know the actual demographic breakdowns as of September 30, 2009:
    Perry: African Am: 60% White: 28% Latino: 8% School Lunch: 65%
    Adams: African Am: 73% White: 22% Latino: 5% School Lunch: 86%
    Chapelle: African Am: 79% White: 13% Latino: 8% School Lunch: 91%
    Estabrook: African Am: 57% White: 34% Latino: 7% School Lunch: 63%
    Erickson: African Am: 58% White: 33% Latino: 7% School Lunch: 66%
    East Middle: African Am: 58% White: 38% Latino: 4% School Lunch: 74%
    West Middle: African Am: 70% White: 24% Latino: 4% School Lunch: 70%
    YHS: African Am: 66% White: 31% Latino: 3% School Lunch: 66%
    It is worth noting that Chapelle and Adams, the neighborhood schools that will likely be most seriously impacted by the options proposed by the administration both have very high proportions of children who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Also, Chapelle has historically served the southside community while Estabrook has served the Normal Parks area, and more recently, children from the College Heights area. All Ypsi schools are pretty diverse, because Ypsi is a diverse community, but Chapelle and Adams serve our city’s most vulnerable children, which is why it is deeply unfair that they will bear the brunt of the administration’s plan.

  50. public schools
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Permalink


    I don’t know that busing has kept schools segregrated. If anything, by having transportation available for any kid to go to any school, it may have kept schools integrated for longer than they may have otherwise been.

  51. Woody Lefurge
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Permalink


    So can we close Estabrook or Erickson, then? I’m getting confused as to whether this is about race (which school is closed) or small schools. I’m assuming that whatever school is closed, children will still be allowed to attend school elsewhere. If Adams is as under-performing as folks around town say, maybe it would be good for its kids to go to the other schools?

    And, I’m not too much in the know, but the comment by “public schools” and kim confirm the grapevine. Where are the voices to keep Adams open? Is there anyone out there that can defend what’s going on at this “math and science” academy as better then sending these kids to the other schools? All reports I’ve heard suggest Chapelle and the two Es have great programs and success. Maybe the closing of Adams would be a blessing to the children who are otherwise stranded there.

    I’m genuinely open to correction on this. Like I said, I’m just going on rumors. But if Adams has a couple hundred kids who aren’t being served by our busted system, maybe closing it would be a blessing for them. Or maybe infusing Adams with the kind of parental and community interest other school’s have would be a godsend.

    I just don’t see preserving “school choice” if it means the people with the least ability to make a good choice are sequestered in a failing school. From a relative outsider’s perspective, it seems like we have great educational opportunities for kids in the district, but school of choice is leaving some kids out of the loop.


  52. public schools
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Adams used to have voices, but that was a long, long time ago. They were chased out. Some joined the voices at Chapelle, and others gave up and moved on. They were never replaced.

  53. Jason
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Ypsi desperately needs all four remaining elementary schools, including Adams, for a variety of reasons. First, if a school isn’t performing as well as it should, the solution is to fix it, not close it. Adams is already on its way, with a great new principal, which is where it all starts. Test scores and enrollments are already on the rise. However, if we close Adams (or Chapell, or either of the E’s) whatever challenges that school was facing don’t disappear, they just move, get bigger, and harder to solve.

    Another reason not to close Adams (or any of the others), is that our remaining three elementary schools will become overcrowded, and the quality of education at those schools will decline. Another effect of any closures will be that, with all our remaining schools full, we won’t be able to offer parents a choice about which school their child will attend, leading to parental dissatisfaction and defection from Ypsi schools. It will also mean we won’t have the capacity to attract students from out of district, cutting off a significant potential source of income.

    We need to be focusing on how to raise enrollments and prevent further declines!! That’s partly why the current closure plans seem like such a bad idea. It’s just totally going in the wrong direction. Well intentioned, perhaps, but backward. (I think Maria has already posted links to some of the many documented examples of the advantages of smaller schools over larger ones, and there is no reason why Ypsi shouldn’t be ready to adopt a forward-thinking approach to address its problems, rather than the failed policies of consolidation.)

    Of course, Adams and the others are also integral parts of great Ypsi neighborhoods, none of which would be the same without them.

  54. Posted January 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to mention that I added a bit more to the Q&A on the front page yesterday. So, if you’re interested, you might want to scroll up and check it out.

    And thanks again to all of you who are participating in this process. It’s greatly appreciated.

    And please remember that there’s a public meeting at Chapelle on February 3, at 7:00 PM.

  55. Posted January 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    It would be a shame if what ultimately saves Chapelle is the fact that parents at the other elementary schools don’t want their kids. I know it’s terrible to even suggest, but I’m sure there are some number of people out there who, for racist or other reasons, don’t want their schools to accept kids from these more economically challenged areas. It would, however, be interesting if it was these people who ultimately keep the other schools open. And I just bring it up because no one has yet.

  56. Posted January 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I was really shocked to read the demographic breakdowns Maria posted, which differ significantly for the demographics for the city as a whole; as of the 2000 census the racial makeup of the city was 61.40% White, 30.58% African American, 0.44% Native American, 3.18% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.32% from other races, and 3.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.47% of the population.

    There’s the answer to the question about segregated schools: not within districts but from district to district (isn’t that the whole reason the township has two school districts?).

  57. BB
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    After seeing the student enrollment numbers at each of the schools, doesn’t closing Perry make the most sense, if one assumes that a school must be closed to save money? Each elementary school could hold approximately 100 kindergarteners. This would solve various problems that YPS faces:

    -Parents would be more invested in their child’s elementary school, because they would start out there in kindergarten.
    -Parents would be less likely to move children from one school to another during elementary school (which happens frequently) because they wouldn’t have already seen their child “survive” the transition between kindergarten and first grade in different buildings.
    -The district wouldn’t be paying so much to bus students all over the city. If I’m in first grade and my sister is in kindergarten, two buses have to drive to our house (which, thanks to school of choice and the all-kindergarden building might be miles and miles from the schools we attend) to pick us up and take us to separate schools. Wouldn’t it make more sense for elementary-age children to attend the same school?
    -There are parents who don’t send their children to YPS at all because of Perry for various reasons (all kindergarten, etc.).
    -Its reputation is not what it was in the 1970s when it was founded. There comes a time when you have to make a change, even if it used to work.
    -Many of our families have children of many ages. Families with a child in K, elementary and middle school (not uncommon) have to keep track of three different schedules for everything from dismissal times to parent teacher conferences.

    Just some thoughts…

  58. Peter Larson
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    You should probably just close them all and let people find their own schools. End big government in Ypsilanti!

  59. Posted January 31, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been arguing for closing Perry as the most rational choice ever since I heard about the school closings. It wouldn’t impact any one community, it wouldn’t displace kids since kids in Perry this year will be going to a new school next year anyway, and kids coming in for the Fall, would just go directly to an elementary. Personally, I have heard several parents say that it (Perry) was one of the reasons they chose to send their kids to charters/privates out of the district.
    The idea of such a large school (625 capacity I think?) for kindergarteners seems illogical, also, when my kids went to Perry, I never felt the desire to get really involved with the school because I knew we were only going to be there for a year. I went to last week’s school board meeting when the trustees and the president of the YEA said that education was about more than a “building” it was about the teacher/student relationship, and that could happen in ANY building. So why are they so invested in keeping Perry where it is, when the “Perry” education, Montessori, etc could happen in any one of our existing elementary schools? After all Perry is a method, not a building right? It’s extremely illogical. Something else most be going on. OK all you citizen detectives, figure out why the district doesn’t want to make the most logical choice…

  60. Aris
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Ypsimama, I appreciate your insight on Perry as an option to explore more thoroughly. Before I become fixated on my agreement with your statements, let me just add that I do not want to increase entropy to the argument or seem hypocritical that any specific school should close…but, an examination of Perry is vital. Apparently the district feels that closing Perry is not an option and have put out a disclaimer that Perry is not a logical choice:


    I am disheartened by all of these statements made by the administration, since they are complete contradictions to every statement they have made thus far:
    1. Perry, established on the High Scope teaching system, is an international renown program that has proven education track record.
    Yes, I wholeheartedly agree district…one point for you.
    2. Kindergarten class sizes are CONTRACTUALLY smaller, therefore requiring more space that might not be available in our existing elementary buildings.
    Sorry, 1st graders…you had it good at Perry, but if you could survive, perhaps shine, academically in the antithesis that would be great. Better yet, lets look at next fall being even more crowded! Apparently only smaller classrooms on the Kindergarten level are a species that will avoid the endangered species list. Also, the space for Perry’s student body might not be available??? This does not help our arguments, but the truth in numbers show we could put their 425 kids easily into the 447 spaces currently available. Perhaps the administration did not have Montessori math past kindergarten.
    3. The only public Montessori program in Washtenaw County is housed at Perry and many of our parents request this education method. It is critical to maintain the expansion and continuum of the Montessori school.
    Why? Why only here? Taking a method that explicitly provides “deep respect for children as unique individuals. And works from a deep concern for their social and emotional development” only at Perry. Perhaps the elementary school would all benefit from an outlay of nurturing foundation.
    4. Perry is architecturally designed for our youngest learners and to re-outfit the building for another use would be costly.
    Please picture the costly expense of the New Tech High students at Ardis (architecturally designed for the elementary level) or the expense of losing parents to other districts or means of education.

    Montessori perpetuates long term relationships between teachers and students, perhaps equating to long term enrollments. Hint hint… I am not leaning to the administrations device of cutting out our academic foundation, but I do not see the utility in exclusively reducing this pedagogy to only 5 year olds. Based on the district’s concept to cut under capacitated schools, being far from full by over 200, one would think that perhaps the most rational of strategies leaves something else undisclosed by the administration.

  61. BHC
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    The more we read the various conversations and threads, talk to people, study the facts, the more it seems clear to us that if schools /absolutely must/ be closed, it’s got to be Perry and Estabrook, with Estabrook kids being integrated into Chap, Ad and Er, and with each of them having K classrooms.

  62. Aris
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate the support for Chapelle, trust me I do…but even the thought of Eastabrook closing pains me. I do not want to see any of the schools close, but Perry was a nice fleeting moment, for a year and only a year. It can be adapted for other purposes and lend a financial hand for the rest of the community. Ypsilanti needs all four of them.

  63. Aris
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Riddle me this Batman, exploring further the administrations need to preserve just Perry, one needs to really dissect their favored Option 2. (Expand Perry to K and 1st, adapt 2 elems (Both Es) to 2-6, and keep the third elem (Adams) as a K-6).

    It does not make practical sense. Sure it would increase the enrollment at Perry, which is a positive aspect, but competition between parents who want to have their child at one location and not switch after only one year would be problematic. Perchance even Adams would grow. Or would it sway the parents to not attend Adams and chose Perry, ultimately polling into Eastabrook or Erickson? Would this mean that Kindergarten students at Adams do not receive the Montesorri learning that seems can only be offered at Perry? Because I am pretty sure that the methodology is transportable, even to ALL the elementary schools.

  64. Jim L.
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Privatize the buses. Private bus drivers and aides can’t possibly be any worse than the dimwits they’ve got verbally abusing and manhandling our kids now:


  65. Paula Strenski
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Numbers aren’t everything. Numbers should tell the hard truth, but measurements and glimpsed data points of gigantic, complicated, albeit shrinking, incoherent systems (are we struggling to grasp reality here or what?) are at best fuzzy still pictures of a dynamic, change-riddled equation. There is way more data. There is way more history. The hidden story of the former board’s rationale behind closing George Multiage Academy is a big part of the story of under-enrollment at Adams, and consequent surge at Estabrook and Erickson. Thank you Jason for speaking out in behalf of Principal Connie Thompson, who is a great boost for Adams, and very community-minded. If our district loses her, owch!
    Adams has terrific solar power potential, and the grant applications are in the pipeline.
    (By the way, Mark, can you correct the miss-spelling of “lose” on the SYS homepage? Near the bottom. It is bothering me.)
    My main point (before I start spewing green muck) is to echo how valuable neighborhood schools are to a vibrant community, and how ashamed I am to be part of a district that would choose to balance its budget on the backs of its poorest, weakest members (per school lunch subsidy data). This round of slash and burn seems to be a tipping point toward collapse, if we have not yet passed it.
    In the spirit of giving airtime to a silenced middle school student, my 7th grader said to me, “There’s gonna be way more fights if the secondary schools get any more crowded.”
    Does anyone remember when Kalkaska Schools chose bankruptcy rather than cutting a single program? They kept band and prom and the works, but the last day of school for the year was March 31st. I don’t think bankruptcy is a viable option for Ypsi Schools, but it is an example of a solution that affected all community members equally instead of a proposal that smacks of nimby-ism or a lifeboat mentality.
    The story of closing George is painful for me to recall. At least the current Trustees seem intent on not repeating past mistakes (among them, keeping community members largely out of the decision-making process).
    I am all for retaining the 5 elementary schools we have, and also re-opening Fletcher….Maybe EMU would let us rent Fletcher, and it could be the magnet 6th grade adventure school, with plenty of field trips to EMU chemistry labs, arts events, etc.
    Hey, maybe we could gift all our school buildings to McKinley Properties, and let them do all the repairs and maintenance for us!!! (Sarcasm–sorry!)
    Are we regionalizing transportation, so that we could share bus routes with Willow Run (and AATA)? At present, these routes overlap. I predict the opportunity for savings will continue to increase. Ann Arbor students use AATA buses.
    I think we should have a toll booth located in all the schools ‘ student drop-off/pick-up circle driveways as a source of revenue and a way to offset the hidden costs of awful air quality and asthma-related student absenteeism. Oh, no, here comes the sarcasm again…Or we could reinstate cigarette machines in the faculty lounges so that at least teachers could filter the air they breathe!

  66. Posted February 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Paula, for pointing out that even one school closing can impact a community quite deeply. And especially, THANK YOU, for speaking up for the middle school (East) which will likely be “repurposed” if the district is able to sway the Trustees (which I sincerely hope doesn’t happen). I just want to make one final plea for everyone to come to our community meeting at Chapelle. The trustees will surely be there, and we need to have an excellent turn-out to show them that we care about our neighborhood schools. The meeting will be on Wendesday, February 3 at 6:30 (not 7:00) in the Chapelle Elementary multipurpose room. It is hosted by the Chapelle PAB.
    Oh, and I chnged that “loose” to “lose” – thanks for spotting that ;)

  67. Posted February 2, 2010 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    By the way, Normal Park Residents, at the first “community input” workshop, when I asked one of the administrators what he meant when he said that Chapelle would be “repurposed” for curricular services, he said that it would likely house the “Drop Back In Academy.” Well, I did a bit of research on this “curricular” program. As it turns out, it is basically a for-profit charter school (which means we get only %10 of the per pupil funding) run by “Alternatives Unlimited,” an outfit out of Baltimore, that serves 16-19 year olds from across Washtenaw County who have dropped out of high school. So we are jettisoning elementary children from Chapelle, to make room for teens who have dropped out of school? I’m not disputing the good work that such a program can do. I AM disputing the establishment of a for-profit charter school for teenagers in the middle of Normal Park.

  68. Jenny S
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    This is the first year for our kids at Adams and we are very happy with the staff. The kids are doing well and they have GREAT after school activities provided by the teachers and the Ann Arbor Y (thanks so much!). We actually tried to get into Estabrook, but decided to go to Adams because of the staff. I’d hate to see the school closed, especially after all the upgrades, which others have pointed out, make no sense if it’s just going to be closed.

    I give kudos to all who are helping to find solutions besides closing schools! I honestly don’t know what we’ll do if that happens.

  69. Posted February 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    A2.com has an article up on last night’s big meeting.

  70. Posted February 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s probably also worth noting that, while we’re closing schools here in the city due to lack of funds, the folks in the Lincoln school district have got money to burn on silly PR stunts. Here’s a clip from A2.com:

    The banner ad across the Lincoln school district’s website proudly proclaims it has been recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan.

    The criteria for Lincoln and eight other districts being selected?

    A $25,000 check.

    Nine southeast Michigan school districts paid $25,000 each to a Detroit-area public relations firm to be “named,” a top school district. That firm, in turn, bought airtime on a Detroit-area television station to broadcast a feature on the state’s best schools. A website – bestschoolsinmichigan.com – also features the nine schools.

    Mentioned nowhere on the videos or the website is the fact that the districts paid for the honor.

    Representatives from the public relations company, Sussman Sikes, did not return multiple messages from AnnArbor.com over the past week. It’s unclear exactly when the program first aired, but it has been featured more than once on WXYZ Channel 7…

    I get that they’re competing for students, but this is dishonest bullshit, and someone needs to lose their job.

  71. Posted February 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    For those who are interested, I’ve just added a new post on this subject. You can find it here.

  72. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I am voting for Karyn Goven, Tuesday, write in candidate for YPS Board of Education. I have known Karyn and her family for many years and feel she is very qualified for the board. She and her husband have donated countless hours to the children of Ypsi through girl-scouting, coaching and countless other volunteering. Please consider writing her in…

6 Trackbacks

  1. […] the district, but that doesn’t mean that a school closure won’t affect you. Read this entire interview with Maria. MARK: It seems we’re kind of in a no win situation. Sure, some of it may be due to bad decisions […]

  2. By Ypsi school closings, part II on February 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    […] conversation last week on the very real possibility that more Ypsilanti public schools may close was so fruitful, that I thought the subject warranted another thread. Here, to get the ball […]

  3. By Ypsi School Closings, part IV on March 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    […] For background on this issue, check out parts I, II and III, and the comments that accompany them.] This entry was posted in Education, Ypsilanti […]

  4. […] in with our friend Maria Cotera. As you may recall, Maria authored a series of posts on this site, starting in January of last year, on the subject of Ypsilanti’s public schools, and the threats posed to them by […]

  5. […] a few days ago, and my friend Maria Cotera, who has written here several times in the past about the state of Ypsi’s schools, attended… Following is her report. Dear friends of Ypsi Schools,Some of you who could not […]

  6. […] few years, been sharing reports with us on the status of Ypsilanti’s public schools. From the closing of Chapelle elementary to the the passage of the recent deficit elimination plan, she’s established herself, at […]

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