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Posted on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Report: Officials say moving Roberto Clemente to Pioneer is better than moving it to A2 Tech

By Danielle Arndt

Students at the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center could be shifted to Pioneer High School in the fall instead of Ann Arbor Technological High School.

The program relocation is one of many cost-saving measures the district is proposing to try to cut $17 million to $20 million from its budget for the 2013-14 academic year.

Last year, Ann Arbor Public Schools administrators recommended closing Roberto and merging it with the other alternative secondary program in the district, A2 Tech. Both schools are significantly under capacity, according to data provided by the district.

A2 Tech had a fall enrollment of 117 students, with the capacity for 298, making it 39 percent full. Roberto Clemente is 48 percent full, with a fall enrollment of 86 students and the capacity for 179.


Andy Thomas

School board members were not prepared to make a decision on moving the Roberto Clemente program last budget cycle. Instead, they directed district administration to evaluate the program's effectiveness and report back to the board. That report was presented at last week's school board meeting, but it was a disappointment to many trustees, who were dissatisfied by the lack of adequate data and the lack of parent involvement in the study.

"We asked for an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Clemente program, and I did not really hear that addressed in your report," said Trustee Andy Thomas. "What I did see was some data on (standardized) test scores and graduation rates, but I did not get a feel for what was the 'value added' of the Clemente program."

Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Alesia Flye said: "We do use our standardized performance data as way to measure the success of a program." But some board members questioned whether it was the most appropriate data to use for this type of alternative school.

The Pioneer Plan

When the idea to combine Roberto and A2 Tech under one roof was proposed last budget cycle, officials estimated it would save $400,000. The idea was one of three possible re-location concepts. Moving the program to Pioneer or closing Roberto altogether and developing ways to serve the students at their home high schools also were considered.

At the time, A2 Tech was deemed the best option. Now, officials say Pioneer is the best choice, and estimate the move could save a total of $200,000 to $348,677.

The cost difference would depend on whether the school board decides to keep Roberto Clemente's principal and office professional positions intact "in the transition" (for a year) or decides to eliminate both positions immediately and has Pioneer's principal lead the program.


Kalob LeHuray, a student at Roberto Clemente, speaks about how the alternative high school has helped him succeed at a school board meeting in April 2011. Program Principal Ben Edmondson stands behind him for support.

Danielle Arndt | file photo

The Roberto Clemente principal costs AAPS $156,272 in total compensation and the office professional costs $65,026.

Wednesday's presentation to Board of Education members made it clear the move to A2 Tech is off the table in administration's eyes. However, administrators acknowledged that those close to the program, including principal Ben Edmondson, would prefer moving to A2 Tech over Pioneer.

Flye said in an interview Wednesday, the task she was given was to look at moving Roberto to Pioneer.

"Last year, we had discussions with all of the secondary principals. At the time, … there wasn't a high interest in exploring that area," Flye said of relocating to A2 Tech. "There was a challenge in terms of physically locating both Roberto and A2 Tech in the A2 Tech building in terms of the number of classrooms that were available.

"As administration, we thought the best relocation would be Pioneer. Because again, we'd have the opportunity to keep the program in the place; (all the classrooms) would be physically located in the same area, the office staff could be in the same area; there are (separate) entrance and exit areas for families, as well as students, in terms of running buses in."

A2 Tech has other programs and adult education classes that also are run out of its building during the day, contributing to the lack of space for both alternative high school programs, Flye said.

Roberto would be relocated to six classrooms in D and E halls at Pioneer, which administrators said is how many classrooms the program currently uses. They also said there is a courtyard located outside of this wing of the school that could be reconfigured using bond and sinking fund money to create a separate entrance and drop-off area.

Bond and sinking fund money could be used for some interior improvements to the space as well, said Executive Director of Physical Properties Randy Trent.

It is not clear yet what would become of the existing Roberto Clemente facility.

Roberto would be moved to Pioneer by mid-August and the district would minimize energy use and maintenance trips to the former Roberto facility, which is at 4377 Textile Road in Pittsfield Township. According to the report, Roberto would still need to be maintained at safe levels, but the district would save energy costs of $22,000 and maintenance costs of $20,000 by closing the building.

Operating Roberto at Pioneer will give students more access to instructional and counseling resources, more rigorous courses, a broader range of electives and more technology, Flye said. She added the move would not decrease staff, but would keep the program intact, allowing for the same small class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios that leads to the children feeling they are supported and in a family atmosphere.

Class sizes at Roberto range from seven to 15 students whereas, at a comprehensive high school, they range from 25 to 38 students, administrators said. Flye said class size is what accounts for the high per-pupil cost at Roberto.

According to AAPS, it costs $18,941 per pupil to operate the Roberto Clemente program. A2 Tech costs $14,804 per pupil. Community costs $8,253 per pupil and Huron, Pioneer and Skyline cost around $5,000 per pupil, district information says.

The plan to relocate Roberto would have to be approved by the Board of Education, which would not take place until the budget is approved in May. Flye said communications from the district to Roberto parents and students also would not occur until after board authorization.

Prior to board approval, the administrative team will work together with both Edmondson and Principal Cindy Leaman at Pioneer to develop a communication plan and an action plan for relocating Roberto to ensure a smooth transition and so the teams are ready to go once the board gives its OK, Flye said.

Improvement vs. achievement

For the report to the board, administrative teams of two visited the school during December and January to observe the environment, curriculum and unique aspects of the program, as well as to speak with students, teachers, staff and Edmondson about the potential move. They also presented ACT composite scores, Michigan Merit Exam results, graduation rates and student demographics.

The report showed that Roberto Clemente has a higher percentage of special education students than any other high school within AAPS. The comprehensives and Community have 9 to 11 percent of their students receiving special education services, whereas 42 percent of Roberto's students have a learning disability or other health impairment. A2 Tech has a special needs population of 30 percent.

Seventy-four percent of Roberto's population also is economically disadvantaged. The percentages range at the comprehensive high schools from 18 percent at Pioneer to 27 percent at Huron. Community and A2 Tech are at 10 percent and 53 percent, respectively,

Roberto has the worst MME scores in the district. Of the 28 students who took the MME last year, just five students scored proficient in reading, one was proficient in math and zero scored proficient in science and social studies.

Roberto's average composite ACT score in 2011-12 was a 14.9 out of a possible 36. A2 Tech students had an average composite score of 16.1. At Huron, the average was 23.1; Pioneer was 24.3, Skyline 23.6 and Community 26.2.


Ashley Brann and Nicole Rocha hold up signs at a 2011 Ann Arbor school board meeting to encourage board members to spare Roberto Clemente in the budget cuts.

Danielle Arndt | file photo

But despite Roberto's insufficient test scores, its graduation rate is comparable to Huron High School's, 88.24 percent vs. 88.7 percent.

Thomas was critical of the data the administration presented.

"It's not all that surprising that Clemente's (test) scores would be very low when compared to the comprehensives, given the fact that the students identified for the Clemente program were struggling already," Thomas said. "… I was struck that the graduation rate (for Clemente) is not that far from what we're seeing in the comprehensive high schools.

"So if the end result is to graduate students, then Clemente seems to be very effective. If it is to obtain a certain standard of learning, the outcomes are not good. But are they any better or worse … than if the student were to go through their comprehensive high school? I had hoped we would have some idea of the impact on that."

When closing Roberto Clemente was proposed last budget cycle, past and present parents and students of the program came in droves to speak at Board of Education meetings and to rally for the program they hold dear. The students told stories of how Roberto Clemente saved their plummeting grade point averages, helped them get into colleges and gave them a place to belong. Students talked about having less than a 1.0 when they came to Roberto and how they were able to improve their GPAs to a 2.5 or even a 3.7 or better.

The report Wednesday did not present any information on students GPAs or student growth or improvement throughout their enrollment in the Roberto Clemente program.

The report did offer some observations from visiting central administrators on the topics of belonging and academic achievement.

"It is clear that Clemente is a safe haven for students who have not been successful in larger environments," the report says. "And the attitudes displayed by students were that of respect for staff and the school. There is a sense of spirit and family in the building. Academically, the environment is conducive to achievement and the attention placed on student success by staff and administration is evident. We were unable to determine the level of rigor of instruction."

A few board members also were critical Wednesday of the fact that no parents, alumnus or retired personnel were invited to give feedback on the program for the administration's report.

"We say we value the parents but then we don't even include them in the conversation," Trustee Simone Lightfoot said during Wednesday's presentation. "… To talk to the cabinet, it sounds like all is beautiful and rosy."

Lightfoot highlighted with the tough budget decisions that will have to be made this year, "we are going to need parents more than ever" — their support, feedback and buy-in, she said. Lightfoot added, the district administration has been working on this report for a year, "and I'm not at all satisfied we have the level of detail that we need to be making a decision like this. And I'm not sure we're even off to the right start if we haven't even talked to the parents … about the challenges at Pioneer."

Flye said the comments parents made during last year's budget discussions were considered by administration throughout drafting the report.


There would be a number of concerns to work out prior to the relocation of Roberto Clemente, such as:

  • Roberto's bell schedule. Currently, these students have five class periods a day. Pioneer has six with a seventh-hour option.
  • Roberto's trimester calendar year, compared to Pioneer's semesters.
  • Roberto students wear uniforms.
  • Where Roberto students would eat lunch and how elective options would work.

In the report, it was said Edmondson believes the uniforms are an added element of discipline and are integral to students' success. In an interview with, he also said there are too many "distractions" for Roberto students at Pioneer.

He explained Pioneer is right off the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus route, Briarwood Mall is around the corner and all of the old friends the students once were involved with, who were pulling the students' focus away from their studies, are all right there. He added Pioneer also is a very large school and if a student wants to skip class, there are many places for him or her to hide or escape to.

"I think the biggest thing is you can't send students back to a school where they already feel disenfranchised," Edmondson said.

The report says 40, nearly half, of the 86 students enrolled in Roberto Clemente were referred from Pioneer, 29 were from Huron and 17 were from Skyline.

Edmondson said he would welcome the opportunity to work with A2 Tech Principal Tyrone Weeks to develop a single alternative high school program for all of Ann Arbor's struggling and at-risk kids. Administrators said this is "contradictory" to what Edmondson expressed last year.

The administration will present its final recommendations for budget reductions to the Board of Education on April 24. Roberto Clemente will not be discussed again until that time. The board is expected to vote on a final budget for the 2013-14 academic year on May 22.

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



Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

This is very sad to hear about RC being moved. I was a student at RC from 1991-1993. I was a student when Joe Dulin was the principal and I was also the student council president there for 2 years. The sad thing to me is while I was the student council president myself and other student council members went to school board meetings and fought to not only keep the program there at the same location but also to get a new building built there. We got the votes to keep the program there and get a new building. Now its like deja vu its happening all over again. Why are people always trying to kill the success of students attending RC? Someone wanted to know if RC students could become successful enough in that school to return to their original high school. Back then I returned back to Huron High School my senior year had a 3.0 or higher g.p.a. had more then enough credits to graduate receivef a scholorship to college etc. It was the principals decision if we returned back to our home school as long as we improved while attending there. That school was really a successful alternative school. I'm pretty sure there is some other way for Ann Arbor Schools to save money other then closing RC. The program at RC is successful because its in its own building away from easy access for students to skip school and get back into things they were doing before. All people don't learn the same and some may have some problems more then others but why make the problem bigger by taking away a school that people faught to get and keep many years ago. How is changing this alternative program thinking about the students education. How would people feel if this discussion was about closing Huron High School Or Pioneer High School? These days saving money seems to be more important then education period. This school has been at its present sight for all of these years but now its a problem. Shout out to RC for giving me and many other students a second chance!


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

Pioneer has the largest population of the three high schools. I have been wondering why we would move Roberto to the most crowded of the three comprehensive high school since I heard this news. The fact that they are talking about putting Roberto into E and D hall means that they have no idea how the building is really laid out. Most of E hall has been transformed into Rec and Ed offices. The rest of the hall consists of large classroom that seats 100 kids(this is used for the humanities and, trailblazer classes)Auto Shop, and specialized art rooms that contain equipment like kilns and welding/casting machines. D hall has the only two physics labs in the building. Yesterday, a district representative was on the third floor of Pioneer discussing the possibilities of putting Roberto there. This is hardly an isolated area with its own entrance. There isn't a gym, or cafeteria in any of these areas, so to say that the program is going to be isolated from the other Pioneer students is a lie. There are not 8 empty rooms in the building, so this move would require Pioneer teachers to share classrooms. When Roberto was built, Joe Dulin wanted a school off the major bus lines. Pioneer campus is encompassed by four roads, a;; of which have bus stops. Again, it is hard to see the rational behind the choice of Pioneer for the Roberto consolidation.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

I think it's interesting that most of the posters on here as well as many BOE (but not all, thank you, Glenn Nelson for your involvement and presence) and central administrators really don't have a clue about the student populations at our alternative schools and what they accomplish. And, don't get me wrong, I totally get and sympathize with costs and needing to reduce them in the most advantageous way possible for all (mostly students, hopefully, but I doubt that will happen). First of all, what you see on paper isn't reality. Yes, it "looks" like per student spending at these schools are way out of whack compared to the comprehensive, but what is the total operational cost in relation to the rest of the budget? Also, we aren't talking "factory widgets", we are talking individual human beings who all hail from a variety of circumstances and environments. A standardized method of measurement works for quality control in a factory that makes things. But these aren't factories and the products aren't "things". And someone commented that there is something wrong when RC students can't read or do math (according to test scores). I agree. But you can't blame RC. What do you do with a 17 year old who never did get the reading/math skills way back? And, no, I'm not blaming the lower grades, either. And, being held back till they achieve grade level mastery isn't the answer, either. We don't want teenagers still in an elementary building. I don't have an answer, but before you come up with what you think is best for these students, spend time in these schools and spend time with the students and staff (yes, volunteer and get to know them). I am all for education reform, but one size fits all never has been the answer and never will be. And while combining Stone (A2Tech) and RC might seem a good idea and practical, do keep in mind that their programs and populations are different, RC is younger, and when you double the size of at-risk schools,


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

If Clemente is on trimesters and being close to the mall is a concern.....hmmmm.............why not put it in Skyline instead of Pioneer? Why is that not an option? I think Principal Edmondson is one of the good ones, I would listen long and hard at what he has to say.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

This doesn't make any sense to me at all. A few thoughts: --If Roberto Clemente gives struggling students another chance in another environment, then why move it to the environment where they were struggling? --I've heard that if students are expelled from Pioneer or Huron, often they go to Roberto Clemente. So if you're expelled from Pioneer for breaking the rules (or the law), you stay on the premises, and get education in a class of only 7 to 15 students? (As opposed to those who have not been expelled and are following the rules at PHS and are in classrooms of 30...and I hear rumors that class sizes might hit 40 next year?) I apologize if I'm unfairly categorizing RC due to lack of understanding, but that's the word in the parent grapevine--that's where kids go when they're expelled. I consider myself a fairly laid back, open-minded parent. I know not all kids succeed in the megaschool environment like PHS and Huron, and many kids make mistakes and need a second chance and really do turn things around as they mature. But this just seems lunacy. I am very concerned about the judgment of our school board to make this move to save just $200,000 as my kids are headed to Pioneer in a few years...or not.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

Okay, something else that doesn't make sense here. Much ado about renovating to create a separate entrance, but RC and PHS kids take electives together? While the RC kids are wearing uniforms, singling them out? And back in very large classrooms with perhaps considerably more challenging environments than RC?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

Southsiderez - what I have heard is the class size in the comprehensive high schools is not due to lack of space but FTE cuts due to funding cuts. I thought that Rec & Ed had actually taken over much of the E wing space at Pioneer so I'm guessing they would have to find new space for them. They reconfigured the buildings after Skyline opened.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

Thanks for the clarification on expulsion. I would be curious to know what percentage of RC students had been previously expelled and returned after 180 days. Another thought; if RC would take over those wings, PHS then has less room, right? Word from some teachers there that they're looking at potentially 40 students per class if this were to happen.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

I believe the article states that the RC program would be operated in the D and E wings of Pioneer and would be kept as a separate, intact program but just operating in the same building. The students may have the opportunity to take elective classes at Pioneer just like they currently do by going back to their home high schools. In the state of Michigan when a student is expelled they cannot attend any public school in the state for 180 school days.

Sam S Smith

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Move Community to Skyline and open up its enrollment to take more students. Then move Clemente to Community.

Sam S Smith

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

Thank you for your posts. I was unaware that Community HS had so many students that could not be accommodated at Skyline. I know there's always a list trying to get into CHS so I thought this would also increase its enrollment and bring its model. I also know there's an attachment to the location and the building that Community is in but I think that Clemente's students could not only handle this transition better but would benefit from it. That's my opinion.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Yes, let's turn Community into a big high school and ruin one of the key principles that make Community work so darn well... NO!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Also, apparently RC students are easily distracted. So why would it make any sense to out them in the middle of town? No sense whatsoever.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

Community is by definition, within the community. If RC needs a school in the outskirts, send it to Skyline. Community functions well above capacity where it is.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Sam - there is not room for Community at Skyline. The point about moving RC to Pioneer is that they can have their own wing and continue to operate their program but at Pioneer.

Sam S Smith

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Open up Community's enrollment that way more students can get in it.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

"The cost difference would depend on whether the school board decides to keep Roberto Clemente's principal and office professional positions intact "in the transition" (for a year) or decides to eliminate both positions immediately and has Pioneer's principal lead the program." The board will take the easy way out and squander the savings by keeping them for a year.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Deputy Superintendent for Instruction was hired in at a salary of $140,000 and she cannot give the board a report of Roberto Clementes value to the district? Anyone can access the test scores and graduation rates. She was also responsible for the poorly designed and confusing survey about altering the school start times by 15 minutes. I am not impressed.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 3:09 a.m.

Well, sort of, Hazel411. Alecia Flye was the administrator in charge of the committee that looked at changing High School start times, but she did not write that survey. The overall committee did. The high school principals and coaches were much more likely to be the people who wrote that survey and wasted our time by insisting that the school day couldn't be changed by more than 15 minutes. What that committee should have done was ask the community about trading high school and elementary start times vs. moving to a unified bus route and starting all levels at approximately 9 am. Instead, once again, the high school sports dog was wagging the academic tail.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

I did not know she was responsible for that survey! It was so poorly written, but then they always manage to write surveys to get the answers they want!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Shhh.....we're not suppose to notice that, lol


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

The main physical appeal of Roberto is that it is relatively isolated, and away from other students. Moving them into the largest high school in the state would obviously negate that. Instead of closing Roberto, close down Balas, and place administrators in each school building, so that they can do real work and reconnect with students and staff.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

Yes, we know the point was that it is really big. But that's still using inaccurate information to make a point seem bigger than it is. Additionally, many people will read that sentence and then treat it as a true fact, and repeat it in this discussion and elsewhere. My point was not to say the argument was invalid, just that the one statement was incorrect.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

The details (as I got curious): According to MHSAA, of all member schools that fielded a football team last fall (so probably very close to all schools in state), Pioneer is only the 55th largest school in the state - fully 1100 students behind #1 Utica Eisenhower. It's not the largest school in the area, as Saline is #36. It's not even the largest school in Ann Arbor, as Huron is #40.

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

OK, fine, but I think his point was it's REALLY big.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

Just to clarify: Since Ann Arbor opened Skyline and it is now operating at (or near) its designed population, Pioneer is no longer the biggest high school in the state.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

Pioneer is no longer the largest high school in the state.

keeping it real

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

R u missing the point these kid don't need to p.h. no parent involvement. NEW FLASH! Single parents work and juggle teacher/parent meetings.stick my grandson in the back hallways of P.H is not rubbing me well. Unlike P.H these children in their small classes have a bond. Don't blow this off. Don't blow them off they been through too much. They came too far. These children have a dress code. You see they have getting pass BRAND NAMES. You see clothes don't validate them. You see these children have walked miles get to this school.

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

"R u missing the point these kid don't need to p.h. no parent involvement." I'm not sure what this means.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

I am very sadden to hear about Roberto being closed. This is the only school in this county to take in struggling-students who is given an opportunity of receiving a decent education that adhere to their complicated situatution. When the Board hired Pat my main concern was if she was going to be out of touch with our children and our communities. Pat have displayed one of her less endearing traits by the indifference she have shown by making a reckless and devistating decision to close Roberto. In this county, united, we work and invest for the progression of ALL our children. This decision demonstrate her subtle style of bigotry, and confirms that she is out-of-touch with the community and incompetent to hold such an important position in our schools where education and compassion towards our students and their needs has always been a priority.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2 p.m.

It's just the opposite. The ONLY students the district invests in are those struggling. If you're average or high achieving, you get nothing.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

This article discussed the possibility of RELOCATING the Roberto Clemente program, not ELIMINATING it. Did you even read the article?

Jim Mulchay

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

I'd have to agree with the school board that the information presented (graduation rates, ACT scores, Michigan Merit scores) does not really measure what success (or failure) Roberto Clemente may be having. The ACT for example - how many students took it? This is a college evaluation exam - were the students taking the exam taking college prep level classes? I would think that a better measure would be based on WHY the student was directed to Roberto Clemente and how their specific academic situation had improved (or not). Of course you cannot identify students, but you can give a more meaningful evaluation of student progress in a specialized environment.

Howard Beale

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

The AAPS can't even properly maintain their facilities that are in use...imagine what the Roberte Clemente property will look like if shuttered. Our school facilities are an embarrassment; on the few occasions they do cut the grass, they never bother to trim the weeds or edge; there is graffiti on structures, broken fences, dead trees, untrimmed hedges, litter laying all around. If facility maintenance is not already privatized, it should be. If it has been, fire the company and hire another one. I wonder how long before the Skyline facilities look like crap?


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Hire the kids to do the grounds work. I'm sure there are plenty of hard workers who would appreciate the money. That kind of work is also an education.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Getting rid of RC, Community and A2 tech would save a ton of money. I think it is time for some cold hard decisions to be made but that can't happen when you rule by committee. Moving RC to Pioneer is the first step in assimilating it with the mainstream schools. The other two should follow suit right behind.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

Um, no... let's not...


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

You will be assimilated... resistance is futile!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

I'm not hostile to RC, but I do think that some hard questions need to be asked of it: what, truly, is its specialized mission, and do its particular features achieve it? How do the persons in charge of RC set out to accomplish their mission, and do their objectives and/or methods require physical separation from other existing schools? Do its achievements justify the large extra per-pupil cost? If only a very small percentage of RC students are demonstrating proficiency in the areas tested on the standardized tests, as reported in the article, and yet the graduation rate is comparable to the rates at the comprehensive high schools, are large numbers of RC students graduating without having achieved proficiency, or is something happening between the time they're first tested and the time they graduate? If so, in what way is RC serving its students? Is the primary goal something other than academic? If the latter, can it be explicitly stated so that we can evaluate it? It may be that RC has goals, purposes, and accomplishments aside from (and perhaps more important than) preparing students academically, and it may be that those merit the costs the program incurs--and justify preserving RC in its current form--but we can't determine that unless we talk about them frankly.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

What about any benefits from moving RC to Pioneer? Maybe if the district is spending over three times what it spends on other students the RC students need to learn o be accountable? The advantages to putting RC at Pioneer- is there not a goal to return them to a mainstream high school? Could this be a possibility if they do well enough they could possibly attend at least one mainstream class? Use the pool? Participate in sports and clubs?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

So they could still attend clubs. And most are distracted for Pioneer anyways, correct? I believe 40 of the 86 are.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Danielle: since students can now attend Skyline, Huron or Pioneer regardless of where they live, how will that affect the "residence boundary" MHSAA rule?

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

skigrl50 is correct about the sports participation violating the MHSAA. The Roberto students would have to be bused back, as they are now, to their home, or "residence boundary" high school to take part in after-school activities and athletics.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

If they are a Huron or Skyline student they could not participate in sports at Pioneer, that would violate MHSAA rules.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Doesn't moving Roberto Clemente to Pioneer defeat the main purpose of having the Roberto Clemente school to begin with? Also, what is there plan for the school building itself....sell it, shutter it? I don't think there is a big real estate demand for used school buildings. Sure some may say they could sell it to a charter school but why help the competition? The area is zoned residential, so that limits its use options. By shuttering it, it is going to be a magnate for vandals and soon become an eyesore which is not fair to the residents in the area. Pittsfield Township officials need to keep on top of this and work with the district so the residents in the area don't pay the price for a potential AAPS short sighted decision.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

Actually one benefit of moving the RC program is the physical building would not be bought up by a charter because the classrooms are too small and the overall capacity is also too small. It would be counterproductive to close one of our schools to have a charter buy it up to pilfer students away from AAPS.

tom swift jr.

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

"According to AAPS, it costs $18,941 per pupil to operate the Roberto Clemente program. A2 Tech costs $14,804 per pupil. Community costs $8,253 per pupil and Huron, Pioneer and Skyline cost about $5,000 per pupil, district information says." These numbers are suspect. If the foundation allowance for a student at Huron, Pioneer, and Skyline is over $9,000, what is happening to the other $4,000 they receive for each student. We can only assume that this $4,000 goes into administrative costs or underwriting the extra cost of a student at Clemente or AA Tech? I would love to see a building by building breakdown of costs, with central admin cost spread evenly based on enrollment in each building. That said, the reality is that the cost of educating student "a" may well be different than the cost of educating student "b" for a number of reasons including special education needs, language needs, behavioral needs, health issues, mental health issues, and social/cultural differences to name just a few. And, that's OK, each of these children deserve an education, and if we have to try a bit harder and spend a bit more money to educate "a" as opposed to "b", as the adults in this world we have a responsibility to do so. These proposed changes have nothing to do with what is best for your children. What you're seeing here is another step in moving from teacher based education to canned, online curriculum and computer based for-profit charter schools because it's cheaper and because Snyder's cronies in the new for-profit education world can sell equipment, curriculum, and set up ineffective, machine based charters in order to make money.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Tom Swift, Can you recommend any sources on the performance of charter schools? You clearly don't like them, and you may have good reasons, but I'd like to see some research before I come to my own conclusions. I've heard anecdotal evidence supporting claims that some charters do very well at educating students and preparing them for college, though I've also heard plenty of comments similar to yours. I've taught students who attended charter schools (as well as students who'd been home-schooled, graduates of private schools, both parochial and non-parochial, and of course graduates of public schools). I can't say that I've seen any evidence that the charter-school grads do worse than the others, on the whole, so I'd like to get some data. Thanks.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

Skyline shouldn't have been built but now that it has why don't you move RC there. Or better yet, close Skyline.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Let's keep Community where it is and the way it is. Community works just fine...

Sam S Smith

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

I agree with Basic Bob about moving Community to Skyline. That way you can increase the enrollment for Community. Then move Clemente to Community.

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1 p.m.

But you could move Community students into the beautiful new building.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Can we please stop with the "close Skyline" comments? Skyline is a beautiful, state of the art school. The kids are very proud to go there, and have a wonderful sense of community. The only negative that I see is the trimester schedule, which hopefully will be changed in the future. Why anyone would suggest to close a new, state of the art school over a dinosaur is beyond me.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

There isn't room in the other high schools to hold the Skyline kids. The buildings have been renovated and all of the portable classrooms are gone. Where would you put 1400 kids?

Chester Drawers

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

$221,298 to pay for a principal and secretary for 86 kids! Any wonder that the taxpayers complain about our out of control administrative costs?????


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Except for the building capacity issue, the same justifications and rationale for closing Roberto Clemente could be used for closing Community High School. And instead of savings of $200,000, the number would likely be much much greater. Additionally, the selling of the downtown CHS building would yield far more than selling RC. If the school board can ask for a study on the impact of closing RC, they can and should do the same for CHS. That they don't or won't has nothing to do with the population served at CHS, versus RC, does it?


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

I don't know what @skigrl50 has against Ann Arbor Open, but you say the same thing over and over. Are you upset because you couldn't get in or something? There are failing schools in this district that are at half capacity, and you suggest closing an at/over-capacity, successful school that has a waiting list to get in. That is backwards thinking. A better suggestion would be to convert the loser schools to the model of A2Open/Community, and open the enrollment. A2Open and Community are the schools that are most desired, use them as a model of how to grow enrollment and boost achievement, instead of trashing them and selling the buildings. The expression for the desire to cut A2Open/Community is "penny-wise and pound-foolish". And not even that penny-wise. There are better places to cut, believe me.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Sorry, don't know of any students who can afford the time or the $ to eat at Zingermans. You can't possibly compare RC to CHS. CHS is in high demand, and the ONLY reward high school in A2. So I guess the students you see at Zingermans must go to Pioneer or Skyline.

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

No! We can't deprive the students of lunch at Zingermans!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Community is one of the few things in the district that is actually working. In addition, it is in GREAT demand, and at capacity, something RC is lacking. Special Ed students are served at CHS, but I guess that's different since its not your student, right? Move RC to Skyline, which is underpopulated.

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

@skigrl50, Maybe you should. The elementaries are all under capacity and this would help control costs without redistricting.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

So why is no one suggesting that they close Ann Arbor Open at Mack? That is an old building, the transportation costs are high and those kids could fit at their home elementary school. I have never even heard that mentioned.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

$19K per student at RC versus $5K at the "regular" high schools? Wow.

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

@oxyclean, They may never go on to be rocket scientists, but odds are improved that they will be productive members of society.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

@Basic Bob: their future is still bleak as they can not read or do math (as evidenced by the test scores). $19,000 per student and they can't pass basic tests? Something is wrong here.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

good points Basic Bob.

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Most of that is due to two things: an underutilized building with fixed costs, and a low student-to-teacher ratio. These students are going to be high cost in any case. Most are low-income and special ed students. It's a big chunk of money, but the alternative is to put them on the streets with no education, no skills, and a bleak future. It might be a lot per student, but it's not so many students.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

Need to combine it with A2 Tech like the principal stated in the article. My guess is that it is a good idea and that it won't happen because it didn't get the blessing from Dr. Green. Don't put these kids at Pioneer, to big of a school with many issues that has them at Clemente to begin with. Make the transition to a combined alternative high school and let's move on. This should be an easy decision, but one the BOE won't make. Wake up BOE, it is time to step up and make some tough choices; choices that won't be popular with all, but are necessary.

tom swift jr.

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

A sad day for students that NEED an environment that is different than the mega schools... moving Clemente to Pioneer will destroy it.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

I could not agree more. Move them to Stone School where the programs are available already.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

Seems like I recall a statement in a article not long ago of Pat Green saying no buildings would be closed. So now you want to stick Clemente in the back and dark hallways of Pioneer. If you are looking to destroy the Roberto Clemente program this is a perfect way to do it. At least be honest about it and say so. You have a smaller alternative program whose capacity is only 39% occupied. So the problem of moving Roberto there, is what? Watch out A2 Tech. you may be next. These students have value Mrs. Green. Your failure to realize this is obvious.

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

I avoided D and E wings as much as I could. I was a B-wing type.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

I went to Pioneer and took a number of classes in D and E buildings and somehow survived to tell about it. We can't afford to run multiple half-empty schools.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

Time for the RC students to learn how to work - 5 classes a day? A separate entrance? Give me a break. The cost of renovations will wipe out any savings from firing the principal and staff. The lack of RC parent engagement mentioned in the article may be the main problem - why should students work and show up for class if there are no consequences?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

Reading the article accurately would help. The administration failed to invite parent feedback in their report. No surprise there.