You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Washtenaw Association of School Boards forming new alliance with county superintendents

By Danielle Arndt

A new organization to better facilitate communication between school boards and superintendents is forming in Washtenaw County.

The purpose of the newly initiated Washtenaw Alliance for Education is to serve as a unified advocate for K-12 education and to provide a clear channel for discussing collaboration and shared services among the districts in the county.

The alliance will replace the Washtenaw Association of School BoardsLegislative Relations Network. The LRN currently is charged with organizing the Legislative Breakfasts with state senators and representatives, putting together agendas for the WASB and reviewing education policy coming out of Lansing, said Glenn Nelson, a WASB and Ann Arbor school board member.


Glenn Nelson

Nelson said if members of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District approve the alliance, the LRN likely will not be abolished but rather pushed “into hibernation.”

“I think we will leave the language for it in our bylaws so if we wanted to bring it back in two years we could,” he said.

Nelson said the LRN has been more passive and quiet in recent years as far as reviewing legislation and heading up the WASB’s position on policy. Most districts appoint the same representative to both the WASB and the LRN.

LRN committee members will have the opportunity to serve on the alliance. Two school board members and a superintendent for each district can be appointed to the alliance, although schools may choose to have a single board member, said Larry Cobler, current president of the WASB and Dexter Community Schools.

In total, the alliance could have 11 superintendents and 22 board members. But each district would have just one vote at the table, Cobler said, so the three members would have to agree upon how the district would vote.

Once established, in order to take an organization position on legislation it would require the districts reach consensus, Cobler said.

“If it wasn’t unanimous, we wouldn’t take a position.”

The alliance’s ability to take a position on legislation should not deter individual school boards from doing the same, Nelson added. He said the state needs as much feedback from schools as possible right now.

The next step in formally launching the alliance is for each district to pass a resolution supporting it.

WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel said the greatest benefit of having school boards and superintendents together in the same room is sharing services.

The WISD would like to implement a common software system for human resources and business operations throughout the county. Being able to better collaborate with school board members on how to best combine these services likely will increase support of the effort, Menzel said.

“It will help solidify the direction we take,” he added.

Menzel said having monthly conversations will help build the relationship and trust between boards and their superintendents.

“I think there will be a greater likelihood we’ll all agree to participate (in shared services),” he said.

He said these joint conversations could have benefitted the consolidated busing system the WISD tried to get off the ground in 2010, where eight of 10 districts originally were on board but only three went through with it.

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



Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

I've heard for years that the voters don't want consolidation, mostly from school administrators who would bet their left arms that the taxpayers prefer "local control" over the schools. Well, I'm a voter and I'm all for consolidation. Consolidating 10 school districts into one unloads ten smaller administrations in favor of one large one, results in increased per-pupil funding for more than 60% of the students in the county, and provides a more equitable distribution of resources for all students. With the decrease in administrative costs and savings through volume purchasing, the dollars directed into the classroom increase for everyone. Would consolidation make my school taxes go up? Probably, but if it also produces a net improvement in performance, then everyone wins. Why should taxpayers continue to spend money hand over fist on the public schools when only half of every dollar given to the schools actually makes it to the classroom? Enough is enough. If consolidation happened tomorrow, it wouldn't happen soon enough for me.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

jns131, This is about so much more than busing, which - incidentally is one of those expenditures that takes dollars away from the classroom. Consolidate all districts into one large county district. Consolidate e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

Ann Arbor will either take back what they gave away or give it to Trinity which already has a foot hold inside Ann Arbor. WISD will keep special ed and the drivers to go with it. There will be no consolidation with Ann Arbor. AAPS lost and will not be able to regain it back. So sad.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

I don't think anyone is on board with this. WISD totally failed in their vision and now no one to drive for them. So sad. A lot of us saw it coming and the top dogs said poo on it and now? Well, they have themselves to blame. WR and Ypsi will consolidate and Ann Arbor is left holding the bag. Again. Good luck with this one.

Dog Guy

Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Under attack by legislators, charter schools, parents, and taxpayers, public school lobbyists circle the wagons . . . er, busses.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

This sounds more like a political group than an educational group. Who pays for this group? The taxpayers? Sounds like one more way to insure that "BIG EDUCATION" gets more money for under performing!


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Something doesn't work? Rename it and have the same people run it! What a typical modus operandi.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

Hopefully, we hire some more administrators to facilitate the efficacy of the new alliance, and establish more forward thinking benchmarks and paradigm shifts, resulting in a greater hands on approach to portfolio assessments and rubrics. This will result in the alliance being engaged in an ongoing process of data gathering and anticipatory analysis, decision making, identifying preemptive actions, and assessing global impact around alignment and professional learning-based development focused on content, key instruction, and assessment. Awesome reports can then be done by consultants.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

Brilliant assessment antikvetch!


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

What's awesome is your grasp of administrative gobbledygook. Couldn't possibly have said it better. Thanks for my LOL for the day.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

...and aligned with the strategic plan.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

The big wigs have meetings and meetings while the teachers take courses, prepare lessons, teach, reach out to families, and teach some more. How many meetings does it take to teach the children?


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

So why not just consolidate the country's school systems in to one big one? Seems like that would maintain local control for the most part, be incredibly efficient from an administration perspective?


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

If you read the last paragraph, 8 districts were in on it and only 3 jumped on it. Dexter and Chelsea saw the writing on the wall and joined forces. This included Manchester. No one wants it. Keep the smaller communities together and the larger ones separate. Another reason WR, Ypsi and eventually Lincoln will consolidate. I am not sure what Whitmore Lake will do. They are keeping mum.