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Posted on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor student: 'Without Roberto Clemente I would be dead'

By Danielle Arndt


Ashley Brann, 15, and Nicole Rocha, 17, hold up signs at Wednesday's Ann Arbor school board meeting to encourage board members to listen to students and families and to spare Roberto Clemente in the budget cuts.

Danielle Arndt I

Related story: Painful choices: Ann Arbor school board wrestles with need to cut at least $7 million

More than 170 people filled the fourth-floor meeting room of the Ann Arbor District Library Wednesday to fight for school programs and services that are on the chopping block as Ann Arbor school leaders look to address a $17.8 million budget deficit.

The overwhelming majority of the standing-room-only crowd at the Ann Arbor school board meeting was made up of students, parents and educators, donning white and black T-shirts and speaking out as members of the Roberto Clemente family.


Kalob LeHuray, a student at Roberto Clemente, speaks about how the alternative high school has helped him succeed at Wednesday's Ann Arbor Board of Education meeting. He wears around his neck medals he was awarded for improving his GPA.

Danielle Arndt I

The district has proposed closing the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center for a budget reduction of $508,000, and that possibility stirred a hearty helping of emotion among audience members Wednesday.

Of the 34 individuals who addressed the board, 25 pleaded with trustees not to close Roberto Clemente.

Other proposals residents vocally opposed were eliminating transportation for Ann Arbor Open school and slashing the district’s $60,000 contribution to summer band camp.

But these proposals just begin to scratch the surface of the administration’s three options for reducing the deficit.

The first would require $7.364 million in cuts and using $4.436 of the district’s $19.7 million in fund equity. The second calls for $9.759 million in cuts and $2.041 million in equity, and the third would favor $13.455 in cuts while restoring $1.65 million to savings.

Six million in estimated revenue from Schools of Choice, Medicaid reimbursement and Gov. Rick Snyder’s Best Practices and proposed funding to offset teacher retirement costs also would contribute to reducing the deficit.

Chris Miller, a Roberto Clemente parent, said Wednesday the idea of AAPS closing Roberto Clemente and merging the program with Ann Arbor Technological High School concerns her. She said the small class sizes and dedicated staff at Clemente continuously challenge her son to do more.

“My son deserves a chance,” she said. “He is not a number. He is not a statistic. He is not a dollar sign.”

Roberto Clemente teacher Mike Smith shared with the board and others in the community a brief history of the program. He said the Ann Arbor school district originally named the program The Alternative School for Disruptive Youth. School leaders worked tirelessly to have the name changed, he said.

The name Roberto Clemente was selected after the famous Puerto Rican baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Smith said. Clemente died during a rescue mission on New Years Eve in 1972 when his plane, which was delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, crashed.

“That’s what Roberto Clemente is for its students — past, present and future — a rescue mission ... for the students who were lost and forgotten by this district and this community,” Smith said. “So this program should not be shut down, but others should be started to help do what it is we … claim we do, which is educate all of our children.

“Because the dirty little secret is we do not care about educating everyone. If we did, I wouldn’t have a ninth-grader reading at a fourth-grade level and a 12th-grader reading at a second-grade level. … The real question is: Is the district sincere about equality, equity and closing the achievement gap, or are these just buzz words for public consumption?”

A number of students gave emotional appeals before the board about how their lives have been impacted by Roberto Clemente. They told stories about how they were able to improve their GPAs from less than a 1.0 to a 2.5 or a 3.7 or better.

Alexzandra Botello, a freshman at Roberto Clemente, said if she had stayed at Pioneer High School, she probably would have dropped out of school by now. She was getting straight Es, she said.

“My test grades are now in the B-range and — I still have a long ways to go — but the Roberto Clemente family has made me realize how important education is and what could happen if I don’t get my grades up,” she said.

Marcus Buggs, who watched his father get shot when he was 9 years old and whose mother is in jail, said he owes going to college and a whole lot more to the alternative high school and especially to Principal Ben Edmondson.

"I'm going to get straight to the point: I would be dead or in jail if it weren't for Roberto Clemente," he said, repeating it. "I say that twice, once so you can understand how devastating it would have been for me to be a statistic and once for myself because I need to know I am past it."

In a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, Buggs was depicted as slipping and was fearful he would not attend college after all, as his responsibilities at home mounted. He announced at Wednesday's meeting he will go to Western Michigan University on a scholarship in the fall and credited Roberto Clemente for his success.

"Without my Roberto Clemente family, coming where I come from where I don’t have any family — Roberto Clemente made me a man, helped me to take care of my family and now I can take care of other families because I have the opportunity to go to college and change the world."

Joseph Merrick, another student, said at his home high school, he could get away with not paying attention and with not learning the material. At Roberto, teachers have more time for one-on-one instruction.

In particular, Roberto is a positive place for African American males who are the primary students in the achievement gap, said student Xavier Lawson.

"Dr. E puts many successful faces in front of us. So we were a part of the achievement gap, but we are not any longer."

Macenzie Caddell and Tevin Cole, also students, said if Roberto closed and students had to return to Ann Arbor’s comprehensive high schools, many of their peers likely would fall back into the same habits of bullying, not paying attention, skipping classes, getting poor grades and having poor attitudes.

“A month before coming to Roberto Clemente, I thought of it as a punishment,” Caddell said. “Now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. ... My poor attitude was not tolerated, my disrespectfulness was not acceptable and I have realized my behavior was only hurting myself.”

Whenever a Clemente student came up to the podium to speak, Edmondson followed and stood behind him or her to show support.

“That’s how it is in our family,” he said after the meeting. “Nothing about that was for show.”

Student Meghan Lau fought back tears while speaking to the point that Edmondson took over reading her remarks for her.

“If you consolidate Roberto Clemente, it’s like closing the road to success for people who have finally found their way there,” she wrote. “It’s like someone shutting the door to your house and you never being allowed back in.”

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



Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Skigrl50: You could look at it that way: YOUR tax dollars paying for teachers to make home visits. The same way your tax dollars pay for teachers to shop at nights and week-ends to buy supplies, or take students to cultural events that they may not have the opportunity to attend. Or take them shopping for prom clothes. Or take phone calls & emails during off hours from concerned parents and students. The home visit philosophy strengthens the relationship between the parent, student and the school. Have you ever attended school conferences at Pioneer? Fat chance you'd get an opportunity to really sit down with a teacher to discuss issues affecting the students' success.

Monica R-W

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:55 a.m.

Well-rounded story Danielle. Thank you and enjoyed reading it. Darn shame Rick Snyder's stupid force cuts are hurting good schools for alternative education like Roberto Clemente in Ann Arbor.

Tony Livingston

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

I don't find any real discussion of combining Tech high with Roberto Clemente. What are the pros? cons? It should be discussed as both schools are extremely expernsive per student. If they could be combined and still serve the students well, then it should be considered. We all need to share the pain. Combining the 2 schools is not eliminating them.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 10:48 a.m.

That may or may not be true. Who gets to be principal? Who gets to hire staff? That would have to be figured out. If Clemente is doing a much better job with the kids, that shouldn't be ignored.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

I know a kid who wanted out of Roberto, so much so that he dropped out of school altogether. Once you're in they don't want you back in the mainstream schools.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

Mike, they won't let you back into the mainstream schools unless you have shown improvement. Someone who drops out of school evidently is not focused on suceeding as that is a ridiculous option to "freedom". To return to your home school Clemente requires a gpa of at least 2.7 and shown behavioral improvement. If this individual was doing well they easily would have been released from Clemente, believe that. It is not a prison, its a "Development Center" and if you're not developing why would they want to release you back into a situation where you could thrive on your negativity? Dr. E has removed students from his program so I find it hard to believe that someone was "held against their will". Sounds like they didn't like monitoring and discipline.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

Our son's failing academics were revived by his enrollment at Roberto Clemente. 2 years at RCDC got him on track to graduate on time from his original high school whereas he would have failed 9th grade...not because he wasn't capable or because of risk factors. The structure and attention he got at RCDC was what he needed. The teachers coming to OUR HOME for parent teacher conferences also contributed to his overall success. He discovered that he had a musical gift he didn't even know about.nor may he ever have discovered were it not for this program. He now has a degree in music production!


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:32 p.m.

Congratulations. That's a great story. I wish all kids got structure and attention but I'm happy that at least the ones at RCDC do.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Really!! My tax dollars are paying for teachers to go to your home for parent/teacher conferences? I actually have to GO to my child's school to sign up for parent/teacher conferences, then I actually have to GO to my child's school again to go to the conferences. How does a teacher going to your home make your son successful? Isn't your child successful because they are GOING to class, doing the work and building a relationship with their teacher while they are IN school?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Why not discuss the real sacred cow in the AAPS budget...Community High. Why is the AAPSfunding an expensive private academy for the few at the expense of the every other AAPS student?

say it plain

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

Does anybody really buy the claim that they can't re-distribute the bodies, given that Skyline was allegedly built to *deeply* alleviate the overcrowding at Pioneer and Huron?! I'm thinking, um, not.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

Hate to bust your bubble, Ann Arborite are in the top 5% percent earners at the median at best. Having said that, the reason why they stay in Ann Arbor is because of the Pioneer\Huron Band, Symphony and the collective education environment that is generated. Clemente is a side not to benefit the less fornunate type. If the mains stream schools were not kept at the level they are at, you will not fund the clemente types. Remember, Ypsilanti and willow run already have kids on the caliber that attend Clemente - lets not kid ourselves with this. The rich fund the poor - AND not the other way around!!!


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

All kids should have small classes and dedicated staff. How can we go in that direction rather than destroying the best of what we currently offer?

say it plain

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

Well, for one, we could find out what that $5million discretionary fund Deb Mexicotte just learned about has in it?! A bunch of PEG-like consultants and what else?! If we value Clemente, why not drop some of the 'discretionary' funding we are directing toward serving students who are not being well served at the other high schools and use it so that they can stay the program they want to be? I'm disgusted to hear that we've been paying almost 250K/yr for busing CHS students to the big schools to take AP whatever. I'm not getting why nearby districts with similar numbers of kids can get by with 1 athletic director for 3 high schools, I'm not getting why we don't move to a totally pay-to-play system for Varsity Sports with the costs *honestly* delineated and covered by fees! Band camp is easy to lay into because it isn't so easy to hide in "building" costs as sports fields are...if we are going to ask that band camp fund itself we need to ask that the millions per year (versus 60K per year) that varsity sports costs us gets cut too...


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

We're all part of the educating body in this city. We create a city and a community which is our legacy. The youth which thrive with more individual attention will be winners and their families will benefit and continue that legacy. What we're dealing with as educators here, is the opportunity to fail to abandon hope on students which do not thrive on the cheapest per student expense plan. We provide a haven for them. This haven from drugs, gangs, and feelings of being a number in a crowd would not exist as a part of a larger entity unless that entity has the floorspace to separate this group from the rest. Can the Tech School provide that? If not, then we would be changing the program.

say it plain

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

Very nicely articulated @Hactin...


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

Hactin - They would have to share restrooms, hallways, a lunch room, and a library. The balance of the space could be completely separate.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

The plan is working, a vocal group eat up most of the meeting. No real alternate solutions were offered, so the district will proceed with cutting teachers and programs. At the same time they will keep PEG, and all the administrators. No substantial discussion on better places to cut the budget are taking place. Mr. Allan and the administrators 1, taxpayers 0.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

I always like to see the comments you guys post. Thanks.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 10:40 a.m.

Well Jack - Maybe you are right. I have the meeting on DVR and I will watch it when I get home from working tomorrow morning. My apologies if my premise is wrong, but the fact is, that I have not seen a true alternative discussed at the meetings. It may be that during the meeting there was a debate on alternatives. But so far, no article that I have access to shows any such debate.

Jack Panitch

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:51 a.m.

So, I went back and checked. Public commentary ended an hour and thirteen minutes into a seven-and-a-half hour meeting. It might actually have been longer than that. They were still meeting at 2:30 a.m. when CTN abruptly ended its coverage. Anyway, it looked to me as though the Board listened respectfully, as usual, and then went on to have the meeting it needed to have and conduct the business it needed to conduct.

Jack Panitch

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:13 a.m.

Everything flows from a faulty premise. In point of fact, a vocal group did not eat up most of the meeting. That's a simple non-truth used as a sound-bite to step up on a soap-box. Do you even know what time the meeting ended? I'm sitting there watching the ISD providing the busing report at, maybe, 12:00 a.m., and my DVR says I have reached the end of the scheduled recording time, so I have to manually override to keep recording. 1:00 a.m. was well in the rearview.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

I have to say I am continuously impressed with Marcus Buggs and how far he has come. His statement to the board was succinct yet powerful and I imagine there are other students that feel the same.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

It isn't just a program but rather in some cases the student's home AND their family. Those students need their consistent home!! Offer it as a school of choice if necessary for other districts as the model to give kids a chance they might never get anyplace else.. THAT'S the AAPS way!!! Otherwise watch as another charter school springs up in the neighborhood.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 5:08 a.m.

Charter when they sell the building!!

Tony Livingston

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 1:43 a.m.

A charter school for these kids? Dream on.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

As others have said, why is it an issue to move the program to another school? Does Sonoflela have any evidence that if the program is moved, it will be closed soon after?


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

Well...if that is how everyone feels...let's take Burns Park Elementary, close it and move those kids/teachers to Carpenter and share that building. Same teachers, same resources. I'm sure it will be exactly the same experience. A building is just a building...right?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Thanks for your response, Sonoflela. Now that I know your association with Roberto Clemente, I can appreciate your responses more. As a AAPS parent, these financial issues are always so tense and upsetting. Didn't we go through this last year? Why do we have to cut $14 million again, didn't we do that last year? No one wants anything cut from their programs, but I think the solution will need to involve everyone giving something up. This goes from the top down. My (limited) take on the RC issue was that it would be better to move the program to another building vs. other types of cuts, possibly risking the loss of the program in total. I wish you and all the staff and students at RC the best.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

No offense taken, I am well connected to the program and have been since it's conception. I am merely pointing out that we as a family have been fighting with BOE for years. Every time budget cuts are mentioned our program is always the solution to correcting the mismanagement of funds or relating the importance of our students education to a dollar amount and not equity within the AAPS. I do not see anything positive about the proposals on the table regarding Roberto. We also can not prove that there will be a positive resolve to the AAPS budget shortfall and the loss of a proven institution.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

I'm sorry if my question offended you, Sonoflela. You stated multiple times that the program would close if moved, I was merely asking if you have facts to back this up. By your posts, you seem to have information about Roberto Clemente that others wouldn't. Sorry, I can't give you evidence that the program would NOT close. You can't prove a negative.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

The proof is in the pudding (AAREADER). Do you have any evidence that it will not? I kept a close eye on the board members reactions to the students fighting for what is important to them. Compared to their plausable reaction to Mr. Browning's award and recognition for his gifts and hard work within the AAPS for which he absolutely deserves, The few remaining students that wanted to speak were met with a very disdainful tone from the board president. I dont know if she needed to get home early or maybe time constraints were relevent to those students not being heard. That being the case, why was the Superintendents $250,000 salary voted in at midnight. Maybe all of us tax paying citizens were asleep. We are not alseep on the issue AAREADER. Since when has the board start requiring every person that wants to speak do so through confimation? Our students had to. Did the band camps have to do the same?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

I am so proud of the students at Roberto who came out to fight to keep their school open. Its no different if Community was on the chopping block that parents and students would fight to the end to keep it open. If the administration and board is sincerely about making cuts, let them start at the administration level and examine where those cuts can began. I know one administrator whose major accomplishment is to brag about how proud she is about owning a BMW. I've never heard this particular administrator brag about her educational accomplishments. Start by cutting the salaries of the overpaid under producing administrators. Don't worry, you won;t lose any of the them


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

To me, the shocker in the article is that we are spending $60k/year on a band camp? Really. Band camp? Let that one sink in, and multiply by all the other band camp type $60k expenditures out there we don't know about.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Programs like the summer music camp can be very hard to re-establish once they are cut. At the very least the school board should allow the Music Associations could come up with extra money before cutting this program.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Band Camp at Interlochen is a Huge undertaking for those organizing, teaching and leading this incredible experience for the students. Students gain tremendously from this experience . Parents contribute a lot financially to this special week . We are blessed in this education community to have such teachers/leaders willing to make this music camp happen .


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Agreed, Dave Baum. As usual only part of the story is tols, and people jump to conclusions. The music program is very enriching, the PARENTs carry most of the burden of the costs with these programs. Maybe it may be time to cover the rest , and let the naysayers cry about the "so called rich" - actually the parenta who care enough!

David Baum

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

EyeHeartA2: To be clear about the $60,000 spent on music camps for the band, choir, and orchestras district-wide -- that money goes directly to pay the teachers who work at these week-long programs. In other words, it is another week of work for music teachers outside of the regular school year. These camps are not an "extra;" rather, they are a foundational part of the year-long music curriculum, which enables students to study and perform music at nationally recognized levels. More than 850 students across the district participated in the summer music camps last year. The families pay $300 out of pocket for each student who attends, and parent-run music booster organizations raise additional money to cover the rest of the expenses (room and board, camp staff, transportation to and from the camp, etc.). All told, the families of music students contribute more than a quarter of a million dollars each year for these camps. So, again, the $60,000 is simply the money provided by the district to cover compensation for the teachers who are putting in more than a full week of work (because it includes evenings and weekends) to provide intensive music instruction to their students.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Please look at trimming the nearly 100 AAPS employees who make more than 100 k/yr. Here is a 2010 report from Roberto is a necessity. Community is the luxury we can't afford anymore!


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

I don't believe you without evidence. But she should take a substantial pay cut. Also all administrators should take a 10% cut before closing down or moving any school. I'm not sure we should be paying high school athletic directors $120,000/yr.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

How about looking at one highly paid administer who only works in Ann Arbor 4 days, and then goes back to her home state of Pennsylvania for the weekend? So even with the substantial raise she received, she works only part time!

Anitra Gordon

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

I agree with the Roberto Clemente supporters. The school is helping to close the achievement gap as well as developing skills and confidence in many students who would otherwise flounder in their classes. Anitra Gordon

Jessica 'Decky' Alexander

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

As someone who does programming (along with our university students) in various A2 schools including Roberto Clemente, A2 Tech & Community, I cannot fathom why the school board would even consider shutting down Roberto Clemente. I assume that the majority of board members, even ones who have been on the board for years, have yet to actually visit or spend time at Roberto Clemente. If they had they would experience what I and many others experience when working and collaborating at Roberto Clemente - that Clemente is a school which engages rather than disengages young people whose paths to possibility have been full of struggles and failures. Candidly, when one enters the building its energy (somewhat unlike other schools in the district) is one of hope, energy, and optimism. Perhaps this data is hard to capture, but I challenge those voting to eliminate the school to spend an hour, a day at Roberto Clemente before making a decision that may negatively impact this community for generations.

Kathy Sabol

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Roberto Clemente is not a "program" it is an entirely different setting for the students to learn in, which you can feel the minute you walk through the doors. The students and staff truly work as one big family and there is an instilled feeling of hope, support and respect for all students that they were just not getting in the larger schools they came from. I know someone who was a former employee of the school and she did attest to the fact that some students do indeed go back to their old habits when they return to their "home" schools. As far as the old habit of going back to bullying; my daughter was the victim and is now safe from the bully she left behind at Pioneer. That is one of the reasons she is happy and succeeding now at Roberto Clemente. It seems there are some out there that think it is okay to judge others... One final note, Roberto is just as far from our home as Pioneer. It is in a nice central location because it is not just for those in the Ann Arbor school district. It would be an incredible loss for these young adults if the school was to close; it wouldn't have been open in the first place if it wasn't needed and clearly, it IS working.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

I would certainly hope that Roberto Clemente is JUST for AAPS residents seeing that there are many AAPS students that would benefit from the program but are not accepted due to 'space' limitations. It is NOT centrally located. I believe the district border is immediately across the street. Textile Road is not central to the district whereas A2Tech is very centrally located.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

I wonder if the "GREEDY" Teachers and Administrators would reduce their pensions to save ANY program? "offset teacher retirement costs also would contribute to reducing the deficit


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

xmo obviously not an educator this is not about teachers or benefits they have earned - teachers are dealing with cut backs all the time, including contributing more for health care costs/benefits . This IS about ensuring proper educational opportunities for children/students who deserve the benefits of a R.Clemente program , as well as other areas of the educational experience that are also on the chopping block ---

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

What is the cost per pupil? Student/teacher ratio?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

I am definitely in agreement that Roberto Clemente serves a distinct need in the AAPS. I did not think that the program was on the chopping block, just the physical building. If the physical building is that important, then the program cannot be that valuable. The tenets of the Roberto Clemente program should be able to function in any space in the district. But why isn't this program running at capacity? Why less than 110 students if the building can hold more? According to the numbers presented, just by moving the program into another building and closing the physical building, the district will save approximately $4,600 per student. Why the building was constructed on the very edge of the school district where there is no public transportation is beyond me. By running Clemente and A2Tech side by side in the A2Tech building, the combined population is still smaller than almost every elementary school in AAPS. Seems very wasteful to have duplicate administrative and office staff as well as the many staff that have to travel between buildings because of the small populations.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

As teacher Mike Smith stated last night, the initial name of the program states why is was built at the edge of town. As well, at that time Ann Arbor wanted to maintain its phony pristine image, hence shoving the "disruptive" kids out of the mainstream. This information is available if you research the history of the school. As well, initially staff helped transport the kids by their own vehicles as well as vans. Clemente was not setup to be a thriving establishment but a dump. Mr. Joe Dulin took on the task of making it a great program and keeping it alive, thriving and continually developing.

Kalob Lehuray

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

I'm a student at Roberto Clemete. I just want to say last night's board meeting was the most fun I've had. I love Roberto Clemete, and I will fight for it until the end. I want to say, if you close this school Ann Arbor will not have a school for the kids who struggle with mastering their education. Through this school comes educated people that are ready for the real world. To conclude, Roberto Clemete is my home and Family and I will bring the pressure and fight to keep my family.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

Kalob, I am so happy to hear that you are thriving at RC. I remember you and your family from youth baseball. You were always a team player and hard worker. Best wishes!

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

"Macenzie Caddell and Tevin Cole, also students, said if Roberto closed and students had to return to Ann Arbor's comprehensive high schools, many of their peers likely would fall back into the same habits of bullying, not paying attention, skipping classes, getting poor grades and having poor attitudes." Not sure if I have an opinion in moving the location of this program but this reason for keeping the building open shows an appalling lack of self responsibility. So if we don't keep the building open, 'bullying' by the displaced/relocated students in being threatened? Nice.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

For starters Alan, neither of those students you named were the student quoted as saying that. As well bullying was at the bottom of the list of thing he said in his brief speech last night. It was not clarified if he was stating that these students were the bullies or the ones being bullied. However, the point he was making is that negative behavior that is grossly overlooked at the "comprehensive" high schools is not tolerated at Clemente and the students are more focused and behave better because of that. As well, I find it sad that out of this entire article you found one sentence to try and diminish all the good that this program has done.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

"The young man was simply giving his opinion about those behaviors and being in an environment that eliminates that behavior by fostering family values, responsibility and accountability for your actions." "many of their peers likely would fall back into the same habits of bullying..." So not a threat but a prediction of probable outcome if the building is closed and the program moved into another building then? Got it.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Shame on you, None of those kids threatened to bully anyone. The young man was simply giving his opinion about those behaviors and being in an environment that eliminates that behavior by fostering family values, responsibilty and accountability for your actions. The program works.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Clemente is one of the most important parts of our success rate in A2PS. There is plenty of administrative pork to trim. Get your priorities straight and stop threatening this critical program!


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

Kids just don't suddenly need to go there, they've been neglected by "the system" for years. It's not about trimming administration, is making the administration take care of the kids way before the high school years. That's what's would make the biggest difference of all. Talk to the BOE and see if they plan to continue Roberto the program at a different building, don't just assume everything will go to h&* because it's in a different building. Find out.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

I am currently a student at Roberto Clemente and have started a petition to keep it open. Please visit this site and and share with others.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

"Roberto Clemente" is a program, not a building. A solid, successful program should easily be able to withstand relocation. I support the "Roberto Clemente" program and its students. I also support a physical move, especially if it benefits the continuance of "Roberto Clemente," and another worthy program, Ann Arbor Technological High School.

Jon Saalberg

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

That would be the "Pittsburgh Pirates", not "Pittsburg Pirates".


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

I'm not a fan of more school spending and believe there is plenty of fat in the budget. That said, alternative programs like Clemente are critical. If we don't spend the $$ on Clemente, we'll be spending 5 times that for police, prosecutors and prisons. Let's help these kids while the opportunity still exists.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Yes I know. This was a general comment.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

This is to Harry. The amount that the district contributes toward the teacher's retirement plan is required by the state, and the state has been increasing the amount that the district must pay into the fund. The district has no control over this. Any change in the retirement fund will have to come at the state level.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Why don't we get rid of the Teachers retirement or at least fade it out to a 401K plan. This would more than pay for this. Teachers dont need to retire at 47 years and collect a monthly pension PLUS medical for the rest of their lives. Its not the norm among businesses and should not be norm with our taxpayer dollars.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

I thought they were closing the school, not the program. Won't these kids still get the same program, but at a different school? Anxious to see how school board addresses this. 17 million is a lot of money to cut and this could save money now and over time.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

Less affluent kids/schools are almost always the ones closed first and bussed or moved (while allowing the more affluent schools/kids to have virtually no change). There is a long history of this...starting with the school de-segregation movements in Ann Arbor in the 60's and 70's (Ann Arbor Public Library has the Ann Arbor Report on the History of School De-Segregration from the 1970s where they talk about this exact issue). It is about time we starting closing and bussing the more affluent kids/schools and see how we feel about it. It is a slap in the face to the kids at Roberto when we are not even considering the more affluent schools in this equation.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

"Just closing the building" is an excuse. The program was created to make smaller classrooms and a stricter more monitored campus. Moving it into a shared location sounds like an epic fail to say the least.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Once they close the school the program will follow soon after. "We will not fall for the banana in the tail pipe".

Vicki Shields

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:04 a.m.

I pray we turn this "dirty little secret" in to an opportunity to be the shining star, light and example to other districts and to the world. We all win we take care of all our family members. Ann Arbor Public Schools can do this, We have it in us. Roberto Clemente is a gem and maybe cuts can come from so called equity consultants that we have been making rich with no results. Whats total cost paid to Glen Singleton's company?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

Glenn Singleton and PEG is one of the many elephant$ in the room that AAPS doesn't want to talk about.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

No matter what, Roberto Clemente needs to be moved to a place in Ann Arbor, so that it's not dependent on bus routes. The big issue shouldn't be location, but maintaining support as the kids leave a building that is not even in Ann Arbor. Why can't the program be housed in a building in Ann Arbor, but let it run the way it's currently run?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

The School is located in Pittsfield Township. Scio Township Residents Have Ann Abor addresses, same difference. All public services to the school are provided by Pittsfield Township. Police, Fire, Etc....


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

The website for the school says it's in Ypsilanti


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Questions? Have you ever been to Roberto Clemente? The school is located in Pittsfeild Township. Carpenter Elementary is located in Pittsfield Township as well, should they close that school and move it to Ann Arbor also? Do you do know that the residents of pittsfeild Township attend the Ann Arbor Public Schools?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

We know the game plan, get them out of the building and the program will close soon after. Leave our kids and our building alone.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 10:56 a.m.

As much support as Community High has in Ann Arbor, Roberto Clemente deserves that support.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 10:45 a.m.

kalamityjane - The building that Clemente is in feels full, but the reality is the capacity of the building is a lot more than the number of people in it. The building is not the program. The program is the people and the people are NOT going away in this proposal. Stone is more central, closer to more bus routes from AATA and overall in better shape. Your comment about killing the program eventually may be true, but I think this is a way to keep both the AA Tech and Roberto Clemente program going and yet find some savings. Yes there are lots of other places to save money - starting with administration, and the discretionary fund. A real push on those areas would possibly make a difference.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

DonBee, when was the last time you visited Clemente? That building is by no means half full. Its a very small building for starters and fully occupied. Proposing to move the program to the A2 Tech location is just the beginning of phasing out the program. How many programs have been at the Stone School Road building since the elementary school closed ages ago? Numerous. However, only one program has been at the Clemente facility and continued to thrive with success stories over the years. The argument this is about transportation is an excuse. If transportation was a concern the facility should have never been placed on Textile Road. Clemente is not a program based on convenience.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

DonBee- I was not originally aware of this (the article made it seem like a complete shutdown, not just moving the program). If they are able to work out the logistics to where it is a win/win scenario for everyone, then I would support it.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

A2James - The original proposal was to move the program (and its staff) to Stone School to share a facility with Ann Arbor Tech. It cuts 1 FTE, which might be the custodian from the prior school. We have two half empty buildings that we are paying to heat, light and clean. Why can't two programs share one building? Stone also is on or close to several AATA routes.