As the weeks wind by, and numerous "lasts" at the Willow Run and Ypsilanti schools pass, I'm hearing numerous complaints about the development of the Ypsilanti Community Schools.
Now you might think that this really has something to do with the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. You might think that people are so sad to see Ypsilanti and Willow Run schools go, that they are having trouble moving on. But I don't think so.
Consider the fact that the people of Ypsilanti and Willow Run voted for the consolidation. I don't know if I would have, but they did--and that vote is a significant sign that there was a common belief that it was time to consolidate.
Yet today, if I had a dollar for every time somebody told me, "If I'd known X was going to happen I wouldn't have voted for consolidation," I'd have enough for some fine dining experiences.
I've talked to numerous people who desperately want the new Ypsilanti Community Schools to be successful. And yet, at the same time, since they are so unsure of what the future holds (and since they do not like some of the decisions made by the board) they are making plans to send their own children to other school districts, to charter schools, or to private schools.
I know that the new board, and the current/forthcoming superintendents, have a tough row to hoe. The consolidation is a big job with a very short timeline. Given that, there are bound to be mistakes made. Yet those very mistakes, at the same time, cut into the likelihood of the survivability of the district.
1. I was told that while the YCS board was meeting regularly, meeting minutes were hard to find. I asked the WISD where to find the minutes. First I got this response from Scott Menzel:
Until July 1st, there aren't separate minutes for YCS. Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Community Schools are operating independently and post minutes (I suspect these are available on each of their websites). The boards convene joint meetings when discussing matters related to Ypsilanti Community Schools and each district should also have those minutes recorded as a part of the record for the individual district. Once the new district starts, minutes will be posted on the district's website (ycschools.us).So there is a bit of a legal fiction here, because of course YCS doesn't exist yet, but the two boards (which are the combined appointed board for the new district) are in fact making lots of decisions that will affect the new school system. The good news is that when I asked again (because I actually had looked at the web sites and couldn't find the minutes, I got this response:
You indicated you were looking for the minutes for the joint board meeting (decisions made pertaining to YCS) and those can be found on the following site:(So apparently they are not on the Willow Run or WISD web sites, but at least they are somewhere! I suggest that you bookmark the site. The discussions/decisions affecting both school districts are called "joint meetings.")
2. I've also heard lots. . . and lots. . . and lots of complaints about the teacher hiring process. Perhaps you have heard them too. Maybe you read the annarbor.com article about how slow the WISD has been in getting information about their scoring process to teachers. Now, everybody knew that they couldn't hire all of the teachers (or all of the anybodies) back. Nonetheless, people are raising concerns that the system was in some way rigged. Why does this matter? Beyond the basic issue of equity, there is a lot of concern that certain people (say, for example, active union members) were kept out even though they were excellent teachers. I have never seen any of these teachers teach, by the way, so I am in no way weighing in on the hiring decisions per se, but I do know that hiring issues can potentially lead to a lot of expensive and time-consuming lawsuits. For instance, I've heard outrage about the fact that Krista Boyer (Ypsi Public Schools union president), Matt Kazmierski (Ypsi Public Schools Band Director and DTE 2013 Educator of the Year), and Aaron Rose (Ypsi High School principal) were not rehired. About Aaron Rose, on the Ypsilanti Community Schools Supporters facebook page, the authors wrote today:
More bad news: The well-liked and exceptionally qualified Aaron Rose applied for principal, assistant principal/AD, and assistant principal and has been turned down for all three. Given the remarkable job he has done working with a skeleton administrative crew at the high school, the award he was given by students and staff, and what our prior superintendent admitted was little help from him providing stability at the high school, this comes across as a particularly shortsighted and arbitrary decision by the district.And the Ypsilanti Community Schools Supporters are school boosters!
[Are you wondering why all of my examples are from Ypsilanti and not Willow Run? I know a lot more people there!]
People are wondering--why was an outside athletic director hired when most people seemed to like both the Willow Run and Ypsilanti ADs?
OK, so people are wondering...
Look for Part II tomorrow.