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Posted on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

Lincoln Consolidated Schools to vote on elementary reconfiguration

By Danielle Arndt

UPDATE: Lincoln OKs moving 500-plus Redner Elementary pupils to make room for multi-age program

Lincoln Consolidated SchoolsBoard of Education will vote to reconfigure the district’s elementaries tonight in an effort to find a permanent home for its multi-age program.


Redner Elementary School

Although two options have been explored and discussed, Superintendent Ellen Bonter said the majority of board members have ranked a proposal involving Redner Elementary School as their first choice.

If passed, the the proposal would require Redner pupils to join the multi-age program or enroll at Brick Elementary School.

A letter Principal David Northrop sent home to Redner parents and staff Tuesday encouraging them to “seriously consider” the newly formed school, enraged a small group of parents. Several met outside the school Friday afternoon to pass out additional information to moms and dads picking up their children.

“They are taking away the right of the parents to decide how they want their kids to be educated and are shoving this program down our throats,” said Kasandra Bastow, who has children at Redner.

“I like this school district but I don’t like what it’s becoming,” she added, citing an emphasis on special programs rather than on core curriculum.

Northrop said the multi-age program includes many aspects of teaching and learning that already are happening at Redner.

Holly Washington, a Redner parent, said the decision is being made hastily.

“Our (Redner) kids are feeling like they don’t matter,” she said. “I understand LMA (Lincoln Multi-Age) wanting their own building, but at what cost?”

More than 500 Redner pupils will be displaced in favor of moving about 250 LMA students from Brick to Redner.

Lincoln Multi-Age was founded nearly 17 years ago, said Principal Carol McCoy. After starting as a K-2 program at the district’s Model Elementary School, it was moved to the then-empty Bessie Hoffman building in 1997.

While at Bessie Hoffman, the program expanded to K-5 and grew to nearly 300 pupils. In 2010, Lincoln Multi-Age was moved again to 12 classrooms in the northeast wing of Brick Elementary.

Bonter said the purpose of moving LMA from Bessie Hoffman was to bring the program closer to the district’s main campus. Bessie Hoffman is in Wayne County, while the remainder of Lincoln's schools are in Washtenaw County.

Bonter said Bessie Hoffman would be used instead for the district’s career and technical education program.

All of Lincoln’s schools are open to enrollment from outside the district through Schools of Choice, including LMA. However, LMA operates on a lottery system. It currently has a waiting list of about 40 students, Bonter said.

McCoy hopes that once the program has a permanent home it will be able to approach the size of Lincoln’s other core elementary schools. She also said the district would like to launch a Spanish Immersion program and believes the LMA model would be the perfect fit.

There currently are not any Spanish Immersion programs on the east side of the state that Bonter is aware of. She said the closest programs are near Grand Rapids.

Model Elementary is being considered as the second option for housing the multi-age program. However, Bonter said there are some challenges with this option, including the size of the facilities.

Model is an early childhood center and contains preschool and kindergarten pupils. If the board voted in favor of using Model, some improvements would need to be made to the building to accommodate fourth- and fifth-grade students, Bonter said.

“Everything from the size of the counters to the size of the toilets was designed for small children.”

Some parents are upset that Childs Elementary School was not considered for the LMA program.

Childs enrollment never reached its intended benchmark, Bonter said, explaining Childs was constructed as a neighborhood school.

“It was designed when the housing boom was coming this direction,” she said. “They certainly projected there would be many new developments and then Childs would become a walking school, saving transportation dollars. … But since the developments never came, the board needs to come up with a way to increase enrollment.”

Bonter said the details of how to do that are still being worked out.

Bastow said the district must stop thinking of the school as a neighborhood school. She said using Childs as a marketing strategy to get people to buy houses is "useless" in the current economy. Washington added class sizes are smaller at Childs and there would be plenty of room for the LMA program there.

Lincoln’s Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. in the Community Center in Brick Elementary School, 8970 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti Township.

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


Mrs. Castle

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Part 2 of 2 Where exactly do we move? Not to the Childs building that we're unwelcome at. Possibly Brick that was inadequate for your children. Outside of the district which is absurd and awful. We, with a new found lack of faith and trust in the Lincoln district, have to worry about transportation to these other schools, school of choice applications, waiting lists, etc. There will be hundreds of us scrambling and competing for open spaces in traditional classroom settings for the 2012/13 academic year which is right around the corner. You have a small program that fights for you. You get to remain together. You get to continue on with the educational plans for your children in tact. We do not. What do we have? Attitude from you, disrespect from others and a whole lot of concerns and questions that we have to fight and search for.. on our own. We have children.. a wide variety with several different shades of eye color.. that identify themselves simply as Lincoln students, also.. that are now without an educational home. Bravo.

Mrs. Castle

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Part 1 of 2 To the LMA mother with her blue-eyed daughter's quilt at the Monday night Board meeting: The comment you made about how shocked you and your husband were at the lack of Redner response at some of the Reconfiguration Committee Meetings or other meetings leading up to this point was outlandish, crude and disrespectful. I have little doubt that all 274 of you at LMA were properly notified and informed on this situation. It is your program after all that has been without a home of your liking. You all have been pushing together to get what you want. Families at Redner were not notified. A small handful were notified of very little and they pushed to seek out more information and reach out to as many other families as they could. Our principal did not rally us together to fight for what was right. Maybe if he would have been allowed to under Bonter's ruling, we wouldn't be where we are now. How dare you address us in a forum we're unable to respond directly to you at? We at Redner do not have bad wishes for your children at LMA or their families. I, personally, can understand the need for a permanent, solid home for the LMA program. What I cannot seem to wrap my head around is why the permanence of your home is more important than the permanence of ours. You chose to enroll your daughter in LMA. I chose not to. We can agree to disagree on the type of education we want for our children. Since when do two wrongs make a right? Because LMA has been displaced before (together as a unit), it should be okay for the people currently at Redner to be displaced? I hope to make it clear to you just how different these displacements are. The current HighScope LMA program for your daughter has never been in danger. The education we've chosen for our children at Redner is now ending! There are 505 children at Redner that chose NOT to be a part of LMA. Now we are to be swallowed up by this program or move on.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Mrs. Castle- I also wondered why someone would feel the need to state that her daughter was blue eyed during her arguments of why LMA deserved to have the Redner building. As far as I know we aren't under the rule of Hitler and eye color isn't a determining factor for anything! I find it to be in very poor taste considering the make up of LMA is 75% Caucasian and it has the lowest diversity in the district! Not sure what point she was trying to make with her comment, but it didn't sound good considering the circumstances....

Mr. Penny

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

This was an injustice to every student attending one of the Lincoln Elementary buildings. One of the Board of Education's biggest failures is not having a plan for the 505 Redner students being misplaced. Fact.

LMA Parent

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

I empathize with the Redner parents this morning. Bessie Hoffman parents understand how you feel today. My family spent two years in the Bessie Hoffman program before we were forced to move. We voiced our opinions, argued, stood united, but ultimately were powerless against the choices that the district felt were best. We alienated peers and parents by displacing Brick students and teachers to make room for our program. We had to change our identity because the 'Bessie Hoffman Program' no longer applied. Our kids have faced ridicule and adversity by becoming the others at Brick. Now we are facing our second building change in three years (our third summer in a row of packing and unpacking). My third grader finds it funny that instead of Lower, Middle, and Upper House she's had Bessie, Brick, and now Redner. She has heard the negativity on the bus and playground. She's also learned the importance of speaking your mind and voicing your opinion. When we heard that Redner parents would be picketing the bus loop she could understand their anger and sadness about being moved from a building they loved. This is not a unique situation this morning. Parents, students, and teachers at Bessie, Brick, and now Redner have all felt the same feelings of sadness, anger, and betrayal over the years. We've felt powerless and devalued. I truly believe that this was not the intentions of the school board or superintendents. Like parents, sometimes they have to make choices that hurt but believe they are doing what is best for all with what they have available at the time. Change is HARD. It will take time for our district to heal. As an LMA (Bessie Hoffman) parent I welcome any Redner students and parents into the LMA program. Your dedication and commitment to your children's education is admirable. I do hope for those parents and students who choose not to stay at Redner that you find contentment in wherever you land. I, for one, know how you feel.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

The difference is that your children and teachers were able to stay together as a unit. They all moved together to each building and we would be happy with that answer. Our school is being ripped apart and we don't even know where our children will be placed next year! If we had a plan and we were together this would be a totally different situation- It would be hard but it wouldn't be ridiculous like our current situation. I am sorry but they are not the same. Our teachers may not even have jobs and our kids are terrified because they don't even know what building they will be placed at or if ANY of their friends will be with them! We are not looking at apples and oranges here.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

The board voted 5-2 to give Redner Elementary to the Lincoln Multi-Age program despite the community's questions, pleas and negative feedback! A board member stated that the only thing that matters was a promise made by the previous superintendent to the program! Not the current economic situation that the district faces, the 500 + students that they could lose to other districts or charter schools or the fact that there is no concrete plan of where are children will attend school next year!!! Redner parents and students are shocked and frightened about what will happen to our children now because the board is not giving us the answers that we need! I was proud at the way our parents and students handled themseoves tonight despite the outcome! I was proud to be a Redner parent tonight!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

We are afraid that our children will have no place to go as there is NO plan for them right now! We received a letter today stating that they are going to meeting in the near future to talk about options for our students. They are talking about having lotterys for our children into Childs, Brick and LMA. Again we are afraid because there is NO plan! And yes, sadly you could choose to go to Redner but only certain students are allowed to go to Childs. No one seems to understand how they select which students they go to pick up with their buses with one to two children per seat while the kids bussed to the other schools are crammed 3-4 per seat. We are afraid that our students are not receiving an equal education, your class sizes are smaller by 8-10 children in some classes while you sit with 6 empty classrooms at your school! We are afraid that we are going to lose even more students than the 20 +% that left last school year which will make all of our property values go down! It is easy for you to sit there and judge what our Redner family is going through because your school is not losing anything! But please know that that could change at any moment as it did for us!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.


Mr. Penny

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

We all should be afraid of the administration & board of education. They are failing the very children they are supposed to be protecting. Dading: Do you know they have no plans in place on what/how to transition the children from Redner. They put the cart before the horse & no one can deny that fact. They've talked about splitting them between Brick and LMA - that still leaves 71 displaced students. Not a rumor.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 8:47 p.m. what are you afraid of?


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Unfortunately Lincoln has had problems for many years. I was a student there. While I was there all children attended all three (what are now Model, Redner, and Brick) depending on age so all facilities and equipment was the right size for the age of the children. About 8 or 10 years ago they switched to make each building its own school. LCS doesn't care what the community wants, they just do their own thing. There have been so many superintendents over the years that I'm surprised anything has happened. LCS has often done things that seem to have no rhyme or reason and they rarely bother to attempt to explain why something happened. My sister was lucky enough to receive her special education services outside of LCS since the programs were so awful when we were there. Maybe they have improved since then, but I'm not holding out any hope of that. I know so many people with special education children who literally move out of the district, even taking an overall loss, just so their child have the free and appropriate education they're supposed to have in the least restrictive environment as prescribed by law. But LCS doesn't care. I would never send my own children to LCS. I would never recommend LCS to anyone. Yes, there are some wonderful teachers, but they can't fix what the administration has ruined and doesn't care enough about to fix. This is just one more example of an administration who would move 500 children to find a place for 250. What kind of financial sense does that make?


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

We have made a terrible mistake. We moved to this area and started a family knowing full well that Lincoln was not the most desirable school district to raise a family in. Our thoughts were that the area was growing, and with the influx of younger, higher educated families surely the pressure and family units would gain strength and help improve the district. Yet year after year, the standardized testing scores have declined. Even when there were glimmers of improvement it was so marginal that it was hardly worth mentioning. Each year, the schools spin that "we will adjust our curriculum" and continue working toward higher achievement. I personally was at board meetings and contacted the board regarding abuses of teacher attendance, and was told that one of the "initiatives" was to correct the abuses. Yet each teaching contract comes, with no changes, and teachers (at least my 2 kids) continue to not report to work for dozens of days per each school year. With this latest episode, it is becoming more apparent that this district is incapable of running itself. Whenever tough decisions are looming, the superintendent resigns or retires, and new management comes in. The pot gets stirred, but no improvement is forthcoming. All parents have vested interests. LMA wants what they want; Childs wants what they want, and the remainder want what they want. Nobody can blame them. There has obviously been promises and discussions that have occurred outside the eye of the public. Model has been invested in heavily for the migration of LMA - only now it sounds like that may not happen. I fear there has been deception regarding the bond renewal - again, the superintendent is gone and there will never be accountablity. Many are financially trapped - economical issues have prevent families from leaving. Those putting faith in the school system and not opting to put their kids in the charters are now paying for their mistake (me included). This district is failing in eve


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

I love how other parents comment on how we should just accept the Board's decision and give up our school for a program with half the student population! But in the same statement he says NO LMA at Child's meaning that his children's school shouldn't be affected but our school should?!?!?! I have to ask you sir why are your children any more important than ours? They aren't and we don't believe it is fair that our school is being taken away from us. Yes, we had ONE year of a negative AYP for the area of Special Education. The results for this year are not even in yet. We want answers before a vote takes place! Why do other schools have smaller classroom sizes and empty classrooms while our classrooms are full? How are the boundaries for schools configured and why is the staffing and student resources variable dependent on the school you attend? And no, it is not a small group of us! You will see tonight that we stand united and strong and that there are Many of us not happy about what is happening to our school!

Mr. Penny

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

Pretty sure they'll need to rezone. Childs would no longer consist of one socioeconomic class...

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.


dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

i just thought it comical that you allegedly attack my point, yet you are on, what appears to be the same offense as i alledgedly am. until this particular article appeared in the 'paper' (yes this very one) i was under the impression that childs was the ONLY choice. now, as for the 'neighborhood' school, lessee...charter, private, other schools of choice...? i chose childs because i can. maybe i should move my child to redner. would that make things better?


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

Yes, that is pretty much what you said- not at your school but okay for ours and you got your wish! You should be happy your school, your staff and your students are safe! Thank goodness you go to the "neighborhood school"!

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 4 p.m.

so it's ok for my kid's school, but not your kid's school?


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

"enraged a small group of parents." This statement handily trivializes the parents who "met outside the school Friday afternoon to pass out additional information to moms and dads picking up their children." That hardly seems like an action of rage, and the "small" group is small because most parents don't realize what is going on--hence the need for information dissemination. My children will go to Lincoln schools someday; most of the elementary-age children in my neighborhood go to Redner. I'm grateful that Redner parents are so committed to their children's education. If not for them, I would have never known about this "plan." I hope the school board will table this decision so more members of the community--like me--can become involved. Or that they will simply realize that displacing 500 students for 250 is simply illogical.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

It doesn't make sense to kick 500 students out of a school they are comfortable in to move in about 200 from another program. The remodel at Model was meant for the LMA program. If the community would come together we could all raise funds to change the old gym into two new large classrooms for the Fifth Graders with larger bathrooms. Too much focus is being set on the LMA program taking over another school, we are a community and all the children here deserve their own school. Children that attend Model for K-1st will end up at one of the community schools eventually and if anyone group of students should be moved it should be them, since they will end up in one of the other schools anyways. I also think the Spanish program would be a great way to fill Child's Elementary since that was mentioned in this article as well. It would be a great way to fill up Child's.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Lincoln passed a bond by misrepresenting the intentions to the voters. Nowhere were the voting public told improvements were being made to Redner to accommodate LMA. The changes for Redner were for Redner students. Now they may be kicked out? All of this fuss for what, about 4% of the entire Lincoln population? Let the lawsuits begin if this vote goes through.

average joe

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 10:59 a.m.

And, no where in the 2010 Bond proposal 'public information' was there any mention of sinking these same bond funds into Bessie Hoffman for a tech/career school. Every building and it's needs(or, wants) was listed except Bessie. It was however, included in the bond application materials forwarded to the State.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

One main point that's missing from this article is this: the main reason the school board is seriously considering Redner over Model is the fact that Redner is failing, and may be shut down by the state under the AYP program. The only way to 'save' the school is reconfigure it as 'LMA', not 'Redner'. (A copy of this letter is on the LCS website explaining this process). Didn't LCS just spend a ton of money for a brand new gymnasium at Model to accommodate the LMA children? If so, then the only logical reason the board is looking at Redner is because of the failing status under AYP. This whole process seems to be putting lipstick on a pig. Instead of addressing the failing teachers, move them to another school. Make them Brick's problem.

Justice for all students

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

First rule to learn is get your facts straight before commenting. Redner is not failing AYP. Redner made AYP the last three years except for the special education section did not make it last year. There is no fear of a hostile takeover from the state just the one where the school board plays favoritism. Everyone have the right to an opinion, but you should know right from wrong especially if your parents raised you right. You can tell a total stranger on the street the facts about the boards decision and they can't believe it. This decision will come back to bite board over and over again. This will never be over until justice for all students is reflected because all students matters! God bless.

Mrs. Castle

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Lipstick on a pig, indeed. According to a speaker and representative of LCS at Monday night's board meeting, all buildings will be failing AYP this year. Evidently, Redner failed AYP last year. Again, families weren't properly notified of this. It's sad that no real plans to rectify this were made and it only came to the surface as a factor now to help move LMA into Redner. It honestly seems that Childs being affected was removed as an option because their principal, staff and families cried the loudest. All of which seem to have been rallied together from the very beginning unlike Redner. After attending several meetings and being as involved in this as possible, I truly believe Childs housing LMA made the most logical sense.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

"Parents are upset that Childs Elementary School was not considered for the LMA program." where did this information come from? this is a false statement. as a parent, i have received many emails regarding LMA being considered for childs. i have them saved. we were also encouraged to attend the pto meetings there. the lincoln school board even held one of their meetings there. i think redner would be a best choice for logistics. if the current redner parents don't want their kids involved, brick is only a couple hundred yards (if that) from redner's front door. both share the same parking lot. no to lma in childs

Justice for all students

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:33 a.m.

You mention that you oppose having LMA at Childs. I respect your opinion, but open your doors for all of Redner students because we will be coming your way. Not all 505 of Redner students can fit in Brick so put out your welcome mat. We want the best for our kids just like you do. LMA deserves a home, but they shouldn't take other students home and call it theirs. If you stand behind what you say join together with our ALL STUDENTS MATTERS COMMITTEE and tell the board that their action is WRONG! If we give the board this much power just think of what they might do next and it will only be a matter of time before Childs and all schools be involved. You might be saying that it is not your problem because it is not your school, but it will become your problem. As I said before we all can't fit into Brick, and many parents don't like to be forced fed LMA; so we are heading to you way. We can all stand together true to our name Lincoln Consolidated, and face the board or we can all expect our world around us to start changing. God Bless.