WISD and YCS approach terms on the future of the Washtenaw International Middle Academy

Remember how, this past October, the Ypsilanti Board of Education voted to give control of the Washtenaw International Middle Academy (WIMA) over to a consortium managed by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, and how Ypsilanti parents organized to block the deal from going through, concerned about what it might mean for both he local school district and Ypsi’s kids? Well, according to the following letter, which was sent out by Ypsilanti Community Schools this past Friday, it looks as though a deal has been struck between the various parties. [For those of you who are new to the issue, I’d encourage you to read my recent interview with WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel.] Here’s the letter.

…As an outcome of the current discussions between YCS and the Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium (WEOC), grades 6-8 of the IB MYP (WIMA) will continue to be populated, completely (100%), by YCS-enrolled students, either as residents or schools of choice students indefinitely. Consistent with the YCS board resolution passed on October 16, 2017, WEOC’s Joint Steering Committee is moving forward with plans to expand WEOC programming to unite WIMA and WIHI under a single governance structure, allowing WEOC to complete and maintain accreditation of a 6-10 IB MYP and an 11-12 Diploma Programme.

Because all pupils enrolled in grades 6-8 of the IB MYP will be YCS students, WEOC and YCS agree that the student achievement scores of WIMA students will be reported as YCS performance data. Likewise, we anticipate that all resources currently available to YCS students enrolled in WIMA will continue to be available. Transportation of YCS students by YCS will continue.

YCS will be responsible for developing and maintaining an enrollment plan for grades 6-8 of the IB MYP, subject to final approval by WEOC’s Joint Steering Committee, on which YCS’s Superintendent serves. For 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, YCS will continue to guarantee YIES student enrollment in WIMA. The YCS Board of Education will hear public comments and receive proposals on the enrollment plan for WIMA for 2020 and subsequent years on April 17, 2018, at a special workshop dedicated to this matter. The YCS Board of Education will vote on a final enrollment plan at a regularly scheduled board meeting occurring on a later date.

Through the spring, YCS will continue its negotiations with WEOC to finalize costs and lease terms for West Middle School. The final lease and Program Addendum to the WEOC Consortium will be made available for public review as the board considers their approval. These agreements will be approved at a regularly scheduled board meeting.

We deeply appreciate the hard work of all who contributed to the agreements that anchored this programming option in Ypsilanti, for our children, and the voices of our community who showed unfailing support for Ypsilanti Community Schools.

So, as I read this, going forward, both WIMA and the Washtenaw International High School (WIHI), the county’s Ypsi-based International Baccalaureate (IB) high school, will be operated by WISD’s Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium, which, based on what we’d been told, will make it easier for both schools to secure IB accreditation. Only, now, thanks to this compromise, WIMA will not open to students from the nine districts that comprise the WEOC consortium, as was originally planned, but remain open to just Ypsilanti students, and those from other districts who sign up to attend under “schools of choice”… While I still have a number of questions as to how this will impact Ypsilanti Community Schools, I think, at least on the face of it, this is an improvement over the plan as it was originally proposed.

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  1. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted March 12, 2018 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    Never trust Scott Menzel with anything serious… poor kids, they deserve better than this.

  2. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted March 12, 2018 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Scott menzel will simply rewrite a contract to avoid responsibility and/or put his head in the ground and play ostrich.

  3. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted March 12, 2018 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    I met Scott Menzel once, and he was pleasant, and endlessly evasive. That is his style.

  4. Anne M. Evans
    Posted March 12, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    My concern initially was how the YCS Board could make a unilateral decision so unpopular with the citizens of Ypsilanti. They had their reasons to be sure but the lack of dialog was disturbing. I feel that the WISD stepped up in listening to our community and proposing solutions that worked for most. It will now be up to the YCS Board follow through and truly represent our community. I hope the YCS Board got a take away from this.

  5. Gillian
    Posted March 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes–I see this as a good compromise. There were very real problems with having two administrations try to control one school building, but I was also deeply uncomfortable with removing WIMA from YCS’ control since it’s so essential to keep that option for our kids. (and because YCS board is democratically elected and publicly accountable unlike WEOC’s board.)

    There are still questions, like what the enrollment policy will be, which will be covered at YCS board’s April 12 meeting. There are also 80 (i think) third graders at YIES and only 50-some spots at WIMA, which makes a lot of parents understandably nervous. Part of the equation here is the Ypsi Middle School, which a lot of parents have valid concerns about. My hope is that by moving to a smaller, more middle-school-sized building, under the leadership of Principal Seth Petty, YCMS will be able to re-start its culture and become another great option for our kids as well. The IB curriculum is great but it’s not for everyone and kids need to have good options across the district.

  6. Gillian
    Posted March 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    My bad–that meeting discussing the IB curriculum is on April 17, not April 12. Time and location are not yet posted. I am assuming that it will be at 6:30pm at the Administration Building. Details here. I’d encourage interested parents and community members to attend! http://ycschools.us/board-of-education/board-meetings/2017-2018-meeting-packets-agendas-minutes/

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