Can merger of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Chambers be a model for public safety, education?
Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti became a little closer with the merger of the two chambers of commerce. The chambers joined and Ypsilanti’s chamber President Diane Keller became the president of the new group.
The benefits of merging the two chambers of commerce have no readily apparent downsides. With one complete chamber, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti can promote business between the two cities, and consolidate offices and departments for a more streamlined group. We hope.
We live in a precarious economic age. The foresight and vision created by the chambers created a model worth suggesting that other local groups, like local fire departments, police units and school districts, might consider. Evaluating the merits of what actions could be taken deserves consideration by the various boards and agencies that are responsible for fire, police and school units.
If Washtenaw County’s school systems were under one local group, educational expenses and jobs would be reviewed, rejuvenated. Perhaps, there could be one superintendent and one main office for all of Washtenaw County?
As it stands, the county has 10 separate public school systems. The Ann Arbor school district is proposing cutting 34 teachers and having pay-to-play sports in the 2010-11 fiscal year. The Ypsilanti school district must cut $6.4 million from its 2010 budget and is considering “repurposing” two schools.
If Ann Arbor’s and Ypsilanti’s school systems were to merge, or if all school systems in Washtenaw were to come under one central department, the schools would be able to eliminate a great amount of redundancy. Are we not seeking better and new ways top conduct our affairs?
Each school system in Washtenaw has one superintendent and a support staff, a total of 10 superintendents and staffs all responsible for the same basic activities.
When the chambers merged, it drew solid positive comments. It was a leadership step brought two very close communities together based on economic hard times and organizations that had grown unwieldy and redundant in some ways.
We as a community and a county should ask our boards and leaders at least to consider the message that merger created: visioning the future differently may not be bad after all. The public appears fed up with lots of issues across the country, and in our communities.
Adversity creates possibilities. We can turn them to opportunities and maybe some new realities.
Larry T. Eiler is co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Eiler Communications -- a new media public relations and marketing firm headquartered in Ann Arbor.