Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It Makes Me Appreciate James Hawkins

The times they are a'changing. Last year, Ypsilanti Public Schools Superintendent James Hawkins retired (for the second time), and now there are thunderstorms brewing.

Superintendent Hawkins had a lot of experience with the district, and while I'm sure nobody would say he was perfect, he did manage to facilitate the closing of two schools without a whole lot of fuss, and he did get a great deal of cooperation from the staff.

This year, YPSD has a new superintendent, Dedrick Martin, who got a big increase in salary compared to the last superintendent. This, I should point out, is not his fault. The school board negotiated his salary. Nonetheless, it doesn't sit well with teachers who have been asked to take pay cuts, and while the district is considering closing two more schools--along with a major reorganization of the schools.

It's not like I get a vote or anything, but if they do reorganize grades, I think they are likely to lose more families than they would if they can manage not to reorganize grades. The reorganization, though, I think is largely a way to reduce teachers.

YPSD-related people (students, staff, parents, district residents), you can take the district survey here. [I didn't take the survey, but I did look at it, and the choices are depressing--would you rather increase class size by x, or cut all non-mandated transporation? Etcetera.]

Read also these updates: reports this description of school closing options.
Opposition to the school closings is increasing. Read about Save Ypsi Schools here.
And WEMU reports on the trouble brewing between the district and the teachers union.
Did I mention that Dedrick Martin is completely new to the district? And that the assistant superintendent, who was a finalist for the superintendent job, is interviewing for other positions?



  1. Wow. You are really paying attention. Yeah, we are heading into our own perfect storm here.

    Does one look back at the missteps in order to prevent more of the same? or keep plowing ahead and hope for the best?

    - YpsiAnon

  2. A forum is now scheduled on Tuesday for feedback, for community members to meet with the Ypsilanti school board. Read about it here:

  3. Here is some of the discussion on (someone who, unlike me, actually lives in Ypsi).

    Part I

    Part II:

  4. You are right on target about Hawkins. He showed respect for people even when he was on the other side of an issue.

    Its troubling to read Mark Maynard's blog and find that Ypsi parents are beginning to turn against the teacher's union, unfairly expecting teachers to make concessions so that the schools won't be closed. If the teachers and parents are not united, the superintendent will be able to implement any cost-savings ideas that he wants to. I remember seeing some figures not too long ago showing that Ypsilanti pays a higher percentage of its funds to administrators than any of the other county schools. There is one source for cuts.

  5. Mark Maynard has posted a third post about the Ypsilanti schools dilemmas, here:

  6. And now is reporting that the Ypsilanti teachers' union is filing an unfair labor practices complaint:


    It will be devastating to the district, but it was completely foreseeable and totally avoidable. The biggest mistake the school board could have ever made was passing him up for superintendent. The second biggest mistake was not doing everything they could to make sure he was appreciated and still had a role here.

    Niles is lucky indeed.

  8. Anon, thanks for sharing the news about Richard Weigel. That is unfortunate for Ypsilanti.