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Posted on Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Future of Willow Run, Ypsilanti school districts in hands of voters weighing consolidation

By Danielle Arndt


Students leave the Willow Run Intermediate School at the end of the day Friday.

Courtney Sacco I

After months of discussion and thousands of dollars spent on promotional brochures and fliers, voters will have their say on the question of merging the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.

Nov. 6 promises to be a defining moment for administrators at both districts. Regardless of whether residents vote "yes" or "no" on the question of consolidating the two struggling districts, the results of this election will have far-reaching effects.

If the unification passes, administrators say it will wipe the slate clean by giving them more time to pay off the districts' crushing debts and the opportunity to develop a new school system with more successful programs.

If it doesn't pass, both districts face a host of possibilities, including more cuts and state emergency financial managers.

Combined, Ypsilanti and Willow Run schools have more than $15 million in debt. Willow Run has been climbing in and out of the hole for the past seven years, whereas Ypsilanti’s deficit has grown substantially since 2009.

In the academic arena, both districts have graced several of the state’s “lowest achieving” lists, have below average graduation rates and are bleeding students and staff.

The teachers and students have the most at stake in the proposed merger, despite students not being able to vote. In total, there are 4,685 students whose lives will be impacted by the outcome of the election. Some may end up going to different schools and programming changes are likely if the merger passes. Teachers have been educating students on the potential outcomes of the merger, and some have used it to teach civic engagement and responsibility.

Fear of the unknown has plagued many stakeholders throughout the process and none have been more concerned than the districts’ teachers who could lose their jobs and endure cuts to pay and benefits, regardless of the election's outcome.

Campaign leaders have found people, and especially staff, in the Willow Run school district are more reluctant to support the merger proposal than people in Ypsilanti, although there is no organized opposition to the effort.

The ‘ugly stepchild’

For many voters and Ypsilanti-area residents, consolidation is not their first choice, but rather the best option they have.

“I’m a real advocate of public education. And for that reason, I don’t want to see either school district just go down,” said Lavada Weathers, a lifelong community member whose family has been in the Willow Run School District since World War II, when the Willow Run schools were first established to educate the children of workers at the Ford, B-24 manufacturing plant.

“All we can really do is vote and pray that it’s all going to work out.”

Weathers and her husband, E. L., are the perfect example of how the two districts are “a lot more intermingled than we think we are.” E.L. graduated from Ypsilanti High School in 1958, while Lavada graduated from Willow Run High School. Their youngest daughter went to Ypsilanti and their grandson went to Willow Run.

“It’s all in the family in Ypsilanti and Willow Run,” Lavada Weathers said.

Despite her concerns about the consolidation, Weathers has helped lead a group of parents and community members from both school districts in the campaign effort. She assumed the role of co-chairwoman for the Friends of Education Committee, a group that has existed in Washtenaw County since 2009 and has been active in other non-partisan, school-related campaigns, according to the county’s website. This election season, the committee has been working for the passage of the merger.

Recent campaign finance filings show the Friends of Education Committee received 25 campaign contributions, totaling $2,659. The filings also show the group spent $8,348.94 on pamphlets, fliers and mailings.

The committee had a balance of $6,447.69 from previous activity, so it currently has $757.75 in cash at hand.


Residents in the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts will weigh whether or not to consolidate the two struggling districts on Nov. 6. What will become of the districts' high school buildings, Willow Run at left and Ypsilanti on the right, will not be decided until after the vote.

Weathers has collected donations, made phone calls, met with neighborhood watch groups and given presentations at local churches on Sunday mornings.

“I tell people who are against it that the bad part about all this is, if we don’t vote to do it, it’s really going to be chaotic — especially if the state comes in and takes over,” she said. “If we go with consolidation, we still get to fight for what we want. The staff, the curriculum…

“We’re scrappers in Willow Run. We’ll get what we want,” she said with a chuckle. “But if we let the state take over, we’ll have no voice. We’ll be stuck.”

Weathers said she found while out educating people about the merger proposal that the teachers and community members in the Willow Run district are less supportive of the merger than those in Ypsilanti.

People cited reasons such as rivalry between the schools, concern about Willow Run’s new “beautiful” high school and middle school being closed, and a belief that the unified district will not be able to “work quickly enough” to improve student achievement and attract more families.

Blake Nordman is one Willow Run teacher who lives in the district and will be voting "no" on the consolidation Nov. 6, he said.

For him, the biggest factor is the difference in Ypsilanti and Willow Run’s debt. He said Willow Run’s deficit in the beginning was about $4 million. It is now about $2.8 million. Ypsilanti’s deficit, on the other hand, has grown from about $4 million to about $13 million, he said.

“Our finances are actually getting in order. We did well on the state testing this year. We’re in safe harbor in comparison to Ypsilanti,” Nordman said. “…(Ypsilanti’s) projections are going up. … They are the ones really, really in fear of being taken over by the state.”

In Nordman's 14 years as a teacher at Willow Run Community Schools, he said he’s seen frequent turnover in teachers, principals and superintendents, and some “very poor, top-down financial decisions” be made.

While Nordman said Willow Run is far from perfect, he believes the district is finally on the right track. And in part, he credited former Superintendent Doris Hope-Jackson.

Hope-Jackson’s leadership was “combative” and not exactly a “shining moment” for the district, Nordman admitted. But he said she came in focused on balancing the budget, made some “drastic, crazy cuts,” closed several buildings and established the primary, elementary, intermediate and high school programs the district has now.

“It cost us a lot of students probably, but in the long run it’s made the difference,” Nordman said.

He said there is a longstanding rivalry between not only the students, but also the adults in the Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts. He said mostly the rivalry is just talk, and while there have been a few fights, most were a “long time ago.”

“This community is very tight-knit and family-oriented. We have a long and proud history from the Willow Run plant being built here in 1942, the B-24 bombers and Rosie the Riveter. We just celebrated our 60th-year anniversary a few years ago,” Nordman said. “There are adults in the community who feel like we (Willow Run schools) have always been the ugly stepchild of Ypsilanti’s.”

Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel said he is aware that some among Willow Run’s staff share Nordman’s attitude toward the merger. However, he said when making an argument about the district’s deficits it is most accurate to look at it in terms of percent of the overall operating budget. Menzel said Willow Run’s deficit is about 14 percent of its budget and Ypsilanti’s is 17 percent of its budget.

“So when you frame it from the point of expenditures, they’re really not that far apart,” he said.

Fear, denial and life lessons

For Ypsilanti New Tech teachers George Lancaster and Christa Dolan, the reality of their own fears about the merger did not sink in until they were forced to address their students’ concerns.

The two educators led their 11th-grade CiviStat class, a hybrid course that combines government, economics and statistics, in a research-based project on the consolidation.


Students present their project weighing the Ypsilanti-Willow Run merger proposal at New Tech High in Ypsilanti in early October.

Courtesy photo

Divided into small groups, the students were required to take a stance: for or against the merger.

At the start of the effort, before information had been thoroughly and repeatedly discussed, all of the 24 groups were decidedly anti-consolidation.

Most of the students in the class knew nothing about the merger proposal. Bree Marich knew the idea had come up and that both districts are in debt, but the extent of Ypsilanti’s money problems shocked her, she said.

“We heard rumors about combining Ypsilanti and Willow Run,” Marich said. “But I thought they were rumors. My first thought was ‘I don’t want this happening.’ We’re rivals.”

Fellow New Tech student Shelby Olvera said when she heard teachers and staff at Ypsilanti might not be paid due to the district’s budget deficit, she immediately became worried.

“I was scared because I didn’t know who would teach us,” she said. “…If I wasn’t going to get paid, I wouldn’t go to work.”

“It was jarring,” Dolan said of her students’ reactions to the news of the possible merger and the districts’ financial problems. “Some of them really freaked out on us. There were a lot of questions.”

“We saw people mad and outraged more so than afraid,” Lancaster said. “It was definitely a challenge to get them to listen at first and to learn about it.”

Dolan said some students in the class had just left Willow Run this fall to come to Ypsilanti. “So naturally they didn’t want to go back when they just got here.”

The idea behind the project was to have students learn all they could about the potential merger and the arguments on both sides. Students then were asked to present their case for or against the proposal to New Tech’s underclassmen.

By the end of the project, just four groups of students retained their “no” stance toward consolidation.

Dolan stressed that she and Lancaster both encouraged their students to pursue whichever side of the merger proposal they felt most strongly about — as long as they could support their arguments.

Olvera and Marich said what changed their minds about the consolidation was the fact that programs and sports continue to be cut at Ypsilanti, and joining with Willow Run could mean more opportunities, better sports teams and the expansion of New Tech’s program, which they both love.

All of Willow Run High School currently employs the New Tech model. This curriculum was adopted at Willow Run after the high school found itself on the state’s lowest performing schools list in 2010.


Juniors at Ypsilanti New Tech High School present projects on the consolidation proposal to underclassmen earlier this month.

Courtesy photo

Tyrone Coleman said he has friends at Willow Run, so the idea of merging is not as terrifying to him as it is to some students. Dolan added many students from both districts attend the same churches, are part of the same Scout troops and play on the same Little League teams.

Despite intending the project as a lesson in civic responsibility for the students, it quickly became a learning experience for Lancaster and Dolan as well.

“We spent a lot of time talking to them about what could happen and what we knew and didn’t know. How as teachers, we had to do a lot of trusting. … It really became eye-opening for us, too,” Dolan said.

Lancaster said he has thought for a couple of years now that consolidation was something that would have to happen.

“I just didn’t think it was possible. That people at both districts would actually agree to it.”

The districts are small enough and geographically close enough that it makes sense from a location and capacity standpoint, he said, adding he always thought it “a bit much” that the community of Ypsilanti had two school districts to begin with.

“(The consolidation) doesn’t make me nervous, per say, but I also have questions about the programs and the buildings that will stay,” he said. And of course, job retention is a concern.

Teachers at both districts have been told they will have to reapply for their jobs, if the consolidation passes, and pay likely will be reduced. Teachers in Ypsilanti and Willow Run already have taken drastic pay cuts in the past few years. Nordman said he makes about $5,000 less than he did a few years ago.

Lancaster said he’s not going to pretend he hasn’t looked for other jobs.

“I would guarantee most of us at both districts have looked. We’d be foolish not to,” he said.

Dolan said these are the types of honest, raw conversations they’ve tried to have with their students.

“It meant something for us to say to them that we could lose our jobs. The fact that even the adults don’t have all the answers and don't know what's going to happen was somehow reassuring to them,” she said.

Lancaster added it’s a good life lesson for the students because soon they will be choosing colleges and choosing careers and making other tough decisions without always knowing precisely what the outcomes will be.

“We can’t always look at the big picture, at 10 years from now and know what's going to be best long-term,” he said. “Sometimes you have to just take that leap. … And if it doesn’t go the way you thought, you have to deal with it.”

Interest from afar

The consolidation proposal has garnered attention from educational communities across the state, as well as Michigan Superintendent Mike Flanagan and several local legislators.


State Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan came to town to praise Ypsilanti and Willow Run school district leaders for being trailblazers at a meeting in August at Eastern Michigan University: "I think you can be a model for the rest of the state," he said.

Danielle Arndt |

So as the districts enter the week before the election, the anticipation is mounting.

Menzel has said repeatedly, “This cannot fail.” He and other supporters are adamant unification is the only way for both districts to avoid an emergency financial manager and to secure additional funding to provide the best educational options for students.

“We cannot allow the number of students that have been unsuccessful at both of these districts to continue to be the case,” he said.

If the consolidation passes, it would be the first time in state history that two financially and academically struggling districts have merged in an attempt to solve both problems.

Undoubtedly, school officials from other deficit districts would be watching for signs of success or failure during the consolidation effort, waiting to determine if consolidation is in fact a viable option to solve their own budget or achievement woes, Menzel said.

“The pressure will not be off.”

But if the consolidation fails, people still will be watching, and those from the state perhaps even more closely.

Both Willow Run and Ypsilanti have far exceeded the state’s two-year timeframe for bringing their fund balances back into the black. In addition, Ypsilanti’s looming inability to pay teachers and staff could trigger a preliminary review by the state, the first step toward an emergency financial manager, according to Public Act 4.

Whether the consolidation passes or not, Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin has said he’s not sure how the district will pay its staff come January.

Martin Ackley, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, said in July that none of the steps required to appoint an emergency manager had been initiated with either Ypsilanti or Willow Run. However, financial reports for the 2011-12 academic year are due in November and further assessment of districts’ financial situations will be done at that time, Ackley said, adding “each case is determined on its own merits.”

Michiganders recently saw the Highland Park and Muskegon Heights school districts dismantled by emergency managers. Both were transformed into charter school systems, had their assets liquidated and buildings closed and watched as their financial managers selected the management companies to run the charter schools and established boards to oversee them.

Menzel said consolidation is the best way for residents of both districts to maintain control of educating their children in the manner they see fit.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Blake nordman

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Although I think Ms. Arndt article was well written, I do believe my statements about Dr. Hope-Jackson were taken out of context. Dr. Hope-Jacksons combative style made the necessary cuts difficult to make and were not made under her watch. It took the new administrations willingness to work with all parties that has brought Willow Runs deficit down. We have all sacrificed and worked together to bring Willow Run back. I am simply advocating for voters to let us finish the job we started.

Bridgit Johnson

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

I couldn't agree more that this is a political scare tactic and that the burden of eliminating the combined 15+ million dollar deficit will fall on the tax payers, as millages will be brought to voters time and time again. The City of Ypsilanti already has ridiculously high property taxes and I fear it will be our burden to take on this enormous debt as well. Maybe it is time for an EFM. We are actually considering a consolidation so that the same administration who got us in this financial mess will keep their positions? How about letting someone else try for a change. And, sorry, but Scott Menzel's numbers and percentages just don't add up!

Dan r OBryan

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

im voting no .the problems with these schools will continue.parents wont be sending their children to schools in their community . children will be sent across town . ,why ,because these two districts ran them in the GROUND. don't bail them out .no one said a emergency manager would step in ,if they don't find viable solutions ,a emergency manager could step in.The schools are looking for the easy way out..REALLY THEY NEED TO LEARN TO SOLVE THE ISSUES. if they merge ,my two children will attend Lincoln or Saline. If they give up ,so will i. Two broke cars ,don't make a new car . FIX THEM


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

continued... I took my son out and put him in charter for half a year before putting him back at YPS, why? Because I couldn't stand the feeling of guilt and loss and neither could he. Pride in my school, his pride in his school that he already felt at the age of 5 because I am instilling that in him, they brought us back. I don't want anything bad to happen to all the wonderful teachers but that's inevitable. If we consolidate what will happen to the schools I love? All the names will be changed, the landscape, the sense of history. This is just a no win situation, the only people benefiting will be the faceless people at the top who will have 20 years to pay off debts. I stood on Shadford field the other night by the water tower, looked up at the sign that still says Home of the Braves and literally started crying because I realized that no matter how we vote, the Braves are gone and never coming back.

Dan r OBryan

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 1 a.m.

DON'T GIVE UP ON YOUR BRAVES ,im a flyer .keep your schools and don't let them use scare tactics


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

This decision to consolidate is being packaged as a chance to really 'change' things. Yet YHS JUST changed the format of the high school when it split the school into two programs. Has that even had a chance to be evaluated? Residents of Ypsilanti are being told they are being given a choice but we really aren't are we? We are being told we can vote to consolidate otherwise everything will close, everyone will be canned and what will take it's place will be a big bad corporate charter system. Well thank you for the wonderful options! If we consolidate the same is true, all teachers and staff will be fired and then must reapply for positions because obviously everyone can't be retained. Schools will close either way, names will be dissolved yet again and renamed into who knows what. The truth is for many Ypsi Braves our vote and support were lost when they changed the mascot. Not because we base our support of our school system on whether or not we like the colors and pictures on bags and uniforms but because it demonstrated a lack of concern for tradition and pride. Because school pride, town pride, those things matter. They matter when it comes to attracting students and they matter when it comes to how students perform. When you have students and residents acting as a family they look out for each other, they make sure to work a little harder for the group. When you raise kids in a system and teach them they are Braves, they are Ypsi kids, they carry that their whole life, changing something so meaningful takes that all away. People don't have a problem leaving a school they aren't emotionally connected to. I am a born and raised Ypsi girl. I went to Ardis elementary, West middle and Ypsilanti High School. I went on to Eastern Michigan and the Wayne State. I have pride in my roots and I am raising my family here, my children attend Ypsilanti Public Schools.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

Wow, Greg how exactly did I turn my back when I live her still and my children go to school here still? Pay attention to what you are reading if you are going to comment about my 'qualities.' Please don't get it twisted, there is no need to be rude. Obviously if my children still attend school here it's because I want them to be here. although I will tell you that the rudeness of these comments and the fact that you are parents in this community makes me shake my head. Nothing that I said was in any way belittling to anyone, it was from my heart how I feel and wasn't meant to draw such ire. You should be ashamed of yourselves and your behavior. If you feel so strong make your own point don't try to come at me. I'm not your homegirl and don't worry my kids will be fine because I'm teaching them a little something called manners.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

The consolidation will happen and what they will do if they are smart about it, is intertwine students with these two hi schools. This way the problems YHS is having will subside a bit because some students won't see eachother. Now maybe it won't happen, but Canton does do this and even if you live next door to this person? You won't be in the same building as the other. Can't wait to see how this all plays out.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

Getting rid of the racist mascot was right and a good decision. GO ahead and turn your back homegirl because you cling to an offensive name and ignore the harm it did with your ignorance of the pain it caused. Teach your children well...

greg, too

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.

People such as Katie and others speak of pride and loyalty to their city and their school. And yet, when they need them the most, they turn your back on their school because they had the audacity to change the colors and the mascot and are planning on a needed merger to stop hemorrhaging money because a good deal of "loyal" graduates are moving their kids out of the district? I wasn't educated in Ypsi and I am not from here originally, but where I went I came from and where I went to school, those aren't qualities that you find in someone who is full of pride and loyalty. Does anyone really want to merge with WR? Nope. Does WR really want to merge with Ypsi? I would imagine the answer too that is no as well. And sure, an EM would probably do most of the same things that the new school board will have to do (fire most of the admins and teachers and make other tough, unpopular choices). But what other choice do we have? A merger is a chance to try and rebuild a school district that a good deal of "loyal" Ypsilantians left behind to rot, it is a chance to actually make it a district that people want to send their kids to. If you want no part in the school system, then just vote yes so the rest of us can pick up the pieces and make it into a school district our children can be proud of. It won't raise your taxes or cost you a dime and, maybe, when we finish, we might just let you come and visit.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

When I started subbing for WR 10 years ago and moved into another area of public school, I knew this would eventually happen. Everyone is all for it and everyone knows the good it will do for the area. Ypsilanti and WR will benefit over all for this entire area Been talked about for years and this is finally happening. Great news. This will pass and new teachers hired for the WR hi school. About time. I know a few teachers who should not be teaching at all.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

once again - I do not see the value of merging these districts. I am not a fan of charter schools but the question becomes: what is better for the students and tax payers. I will be voting "NO". I can't support enabling this continued mess. The new school district will still be hamstrung by debt and falling enrollment along with the resulting revenues. I have need new program after new program and yet poor academic results continue.

Dan r OBryan

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

i agree ,im voting no. they made the mess ,they want us to clean it up. both districts need to be held accountable for this mess,

Danielle Arndt

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Thanks all for the feedback and compliments! The magnitude of what these two districts face in the coming weeks/months was something that became so tangible for me as I talked to people in both districts for this story. As Paula mentioned, we attempted to do a "reaction" piece many times since this proposal was first discussed for the November ballot. Everyone in both districts was clearly aware that something needed to happen and that drastic change was imminent for a shot at survival. And as those in the story mentioned, this was always a possibility that came to mind. But in talking to people throughout the whole process, it really seemed that it wasn't until the election started looming that people's thoughts and emotions on the idea of merging and what it could mean started percolating. As a reporter, it was compelling to watch this transpire. And on a personal level, I could relate to that type of delayed reaction, if you will, to life-changing events.

Basic Bob

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

While I don't believe that private companies should be managing public schools, there is one advantage - accountability. School boards sign contracts with their superintendents and senior administrators that can't be terminated, and end up paying huge legal bills and buyouts to get rid of non-performing employees. Subordinates end up doing their bosses work while the position remains in legal limbo. Private companies can simply fire the bad administrator and replace them.

Paula Gardner

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Thanks to Tom Swift Jr. and PattyinYpsi for complimenting Danielle. We started talking about this story back in September when we felt some urgency to get the immediate community reaction to the approval for the consolidation vote. But as Danielle talked to people, we realized that the reaction story needed some time, since many people were just getting their bearings on what it could mean. She kept her attention on this story even as she reported many others in the interim. Another guiding force for us on this story was the fact that we felt that many of the 'incremental' stories on the consolidation weren't getting enough reader attention considering the magnitude of what it means for the Ypsilanti community. We took that as a challenge to tell a compelling story that elevated the issue. In the end, I feel like I learned something, too, about this process and what's facing the district. And I compliment Danielle as well for what she was able to tell here.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

An additional pat on the back to Danielle Arndt for a very well-written story. I learned a lot from this.

Danielle Arndt

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Thank you, I'm glad to hear it!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Am I really reading

tom swift jr.

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

"Michiganders recently saw the Highland Park and Muskegon Heights school districts dismantled by emergency managers. Both were transformed into charter school systems, had their assets liquidated and buildings closed and watched as their financial managers selected the management companies to run the charter schools and established boards to oversee them." That is the most troubling statement in this article. Putting education into the hands of private corporations is a road that this state, and this country, should never have started down. When the final goal of school management is profit, decisions made are not always in the best interest of students. Public education is one of the cornerstones of this country, a great equalizer. And, Danielle, this may be one of the best articles I've seen on, nice work.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

I agree. Michigans education system will be leaner and meaner then ever before. Why? Because of government reduction in spending on the system. We won't need to in source anything. Everything will be outsourced and this includes Balais. Keeping the spokes intact.

Danielle Arndt

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Thanks Tom! I appreciate the feedback. And it is interesting to ponder what public education could look like in our state 10 years down the road. The shifts that have taken place in the past year alone have been startling.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

While the Two Schools need to merge , one might look at the real cause of the problem. I suggest it has roots in the Michigan Education Association, they defined benefit plan is out of control, the State can not longer afford such costs. This union has driven costs out of control, they have lowered standards, by protecting inadequate teachers, this is the Bottom line!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The union is the real cause of this and every other problem facing every city, town, village, and burg in the country. From schools to taxes, from government scandals to prescription drug shortages, from gas prices to bad breath in dogs--it's the unions who are to blame! It must be comforting having such a one-track mind.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

jondhall Have you actually taught? Do you know anything about teaching or the MEA? You sound like you don't really know anything about the issues surrounding these two school districts. So you might start by educating yourself about the complex issues surrounding public education and about the economy. In reality, teachers and the MEA have raised the standards, not lowered them. Get with it! Don't just be a blamer, be part of the solution by learning about the complexities of the issues surrounding this proposed merger.

tom swift jr.

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Blaming teachers and unions for the problems in public education has become a tiresome argument.