Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Willow Run Update & Can Consolidation Happen?

According to Dan DuChene of the Ypsilanti Citizen, tonight's emergency meeting of the Willow Run School Board was cancelled--primarily because the notice requirements for an "emergency meeting" are stricter than for a "special meeting." The other news is that the precipitating problem is that the Willow Run Superintendent, Doris Hope-Jackson, has been absent a lot. A new meeting will be posted.

The question that I have heard raised several times is, "Can the Willow Run school district consolidate with another district, or be split up among several districts?"

The answer, I think, is that there are several roadblocks to that, at least the way state law currently works.

First, the districts considering consolidation (or annexation) need to have their school boards decide it is worth pursuing.

Second, the voters in each district need to agree. Jack Lessenberry had a good essay about why the Montague and Whitehall districts (near Muskegon) voted no many years ago. And the moral is that both small and large things can deter people from voting yes. On the other hand, this seems pretty reasonable to me if a district is either merging or dissolving. The people should have a say. (Want to see what the county school district map looks like? You can find it here.)

Third, the way state law is currently written, the merged district gets the average of the per pupil allocations. And the districts don't have the same per pupil allocations.

So--last year, Ypsilanti's per-pupil allocation was about $150 more than the allocation for Willow Run, but they have more than double the population--so a merger would cause Ypsilanti to lose quite a lot of money. In this climate, that is likely a major deterrent. For Ann Arbor, it would be a much much larger loss.

On the other hand, Lincoln's per-pupil allocation was about $500 less than the allocation for Willow Run. In a merger, Lincoln would gain. So would Plymouth-Canton and Van Buren schools, although not by nearly as much.

So--that's the quick lesson of the day. The explanation (if it seemed at all clear) is due to the clear explanation of Todd Roberts, Ann Arbor superintendent, in response to a question at one of the informational meetings about the millage. I hope you'll vote yes on Tuesday.

And--errors of fact will of course be corrected. Tell me.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Sorry, I hate to remove comments, even if I don't agree with them. In fact, this is the first one I've removed! But comments that say things like "screw you" are beyond bad taste.

  3. In case you didn't catch these:

  4. Thanks Dan--I hadn't heard about the superintendent's car accident. I will look forward to your article following tonight's meeting. I thought I would leave stuff about the millage up for the rest of today, in the hopes that it will get people to go out and vote.