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Posted on Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 10:08 a.m.

Ypsilanti school board opposes resolution to explain rationale behind proposed budget cuts

By Tom Perkins

The Ypsilanti school board opted not to take action Monday on a proposed three-point resolution directing administrators to explore more budget reduction plans and explain the rationale behind their current proposals.

Trustees Kira Berman and Andy Fanta co-authored the resolution, which was introduced during the board discussion portion of the meeting.

In the resolution, the trustees moved that before the board of education makes a decision on proposed budget reductions:

  • Administration fully outline a wider range (choice) of plans that specifies both the dollar reductions and how those plans specifically relate to the district’s core value.
  • Administration provide to the school board and the public the rationale (data-based) upon which their recommendation(s) is based.
  • Administration explain to the school board and public how the budget restrictions are linked to strategic decisions and an articulated vision that will help the school district to grow.

The board of education may hear the administration's official recommendations for school closures as early as March 17. The recommendations would be detailed at a public special meeting. 

A vote on the recommendations would follow at the board’s regular meeting on March 22.

The district is faced with the task of cutting roughly $6.8 million from its budget by the beginning of next school year.

Berman said the district must provide more thorough information on transportation costs, student enrollment projections at each school, changes in racial and socioeconomic make up at the schools, impact on schools of choice and other issues related to school closures.

“Until we have that information, I don’t think this board should vote on which schools to close,” she said.


Adams Elementary School is among the schools that could be shuttered in the Ypsilanti district.

Tom Perkins | For

Board President David Bates said an ad hoc committee comprised of himself, Berman and Trustee Floyd Brumfield was formed in late February with the intention of gathering that information.

He said the committee has only met once, and not all the information administrators provided was correct, so more time was needed.

“I find this resolution unnecessary,” he said. “These were sort of the reasons the board established the ad hoc committee.”

He later added: “I have not heard from administration that they are unwilling to address these issues.”

Several board members concurred with Bates.

Trustee Sarah Devaney rebuked Fanta and Berman for “bringing a surprise” to the table, which she said she was the first thing she learned she shouldn't do when she became a trustee.

“I don’t appreciate being caught off guard,” she said.

Brumfield agreed the information was needed, but also criticized how the resolution was introduced. He pointed out that similarly hasty resolutions in the past ended with negative results.

“That’s not how we operate, he said.

Berman apologized for the “surprise” but added, “I will say this - as a member of the ad hoc committee, if I thought we were moving in the direction of having all that data, I wouldn’t feel the necessity to make this motion.”

Superintendent Dedrick Martin defended the administration.

He said administrators have been responsive to all the board’s requests and listed the measures taken to ensure the community has been informed and had the opportunity for input. He pointed to online surveys, several public forums, an online question and answer page and a meeting with the ad hoc committee.

Martin added it has become evident there is an effort to strike down the administration’s plan before the formal presentation, and the district doesn't have time for further delay in providing recommendations.

“I’m not in support of us coming up with additional processes to make decisions we have to make soon,” he said. “I would caution the board before entering into any resolution to postpone a vote when we haven’t seen an official plan from the administration yet.”

Berman said the resolution’s purpose wasn’t to postpone a vote.

“It is a resolution to make sure we have the adequate data to make the decision,” she said.

Ultimately, the resolution did not move past discussion and wasn't voted on for lack of board support.

The discussion came after the board debated hiring an outside firm to help develop a strategic plan.

During public comment at the end of the nearly five-hour meeting, Jill Clouse, a parent of several kids in YPS, said she had been to all the meetings and forums and was “disgusted” by how certain board members reacted to the resolution. She said the resolution included everything parents have called for throughout the process.

Kelly Powers, Ypsilanti Education Association president, said she thought the resolution would have brought greater transparency to the process.

“I think sometimes you have to make decisions that come to you at the last minute, whether they are good, bad or indifferent, and as elected officials, that is your job,” she said.

Berman noted it appeared all board members agreed the resolution's content is necessary to make a decision. But she said those who didn't support it have placed a high level of trust in the administration to provide provide the information and explore all the options on its own.

“I hope you’re right,” she said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.


Ypsi by Choice

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 2:10 p.m.

There is no business or functional body of organization that would allow such drastic measures to be presented without insight into the blueprints. This is not a secret, and if it was, then the district should not have mislead the community with public forums that claimed we would get responses to our questions.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

Transparency is such an important word! If the "Final Plan" is what is best for the district, why not have full disclosure on how the decision was made. Why not take the time to explain why any alternate plans were shot down. Afterall, a bitter pill is easier to swallow if you know why you need it. I'm confused as to why the final plan hasn't been presented before this. The administration has complained about people wanting to shoot down a plan before its been presented. The public part of this process has been going on since January. Why only give the board five days to think over this plan. What about public response. Or are we just suppose to take our medicine and not say a thing?

Ypsi by Choice

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

Forgive me if I need some clarification on the timeline, but based on the article, there is no final product or "solution" yet to present. That was last night. Jump ahead quick to March 17th to present the plan. Then a quicker jump to the March 22 board meeting to have it voted on. Call me an all hands on deck kind of girl, you asked for community suggestions, we gave some, where are the numbers on that? There has been simple questions prosed to the adminsitration to clarify their strategy. Even simplier, to shed some concrete rationale on the throughts behind the previously presented two options. Is it that difficult to openly discuss how they came up with the options and better yet how they PLAN to execute those options once they are in place? People want to know where chidlren will be going. Yet, if no responses can be given, we are forced to be presented the information and then have 5 days for them to dissect it and then vote. My child's education deserves longer than 5 days to "sleep" on the choices, or at least to uncover holes in the systematic logic that apparently no one can disclose. Now, I know someone will say that we were given options, two of them. Well, my response to that is there has been a number of holes placed into those plans that negatively impact our community, and if they were only ever going to research the two options placed in December and ignore community feedback, then they should not have listed them as "options". For lack of a better example, did anyone ever run the numbers for closing Perry CDC as an option? Or other Ccnsolidation measures that do not disproportionally impact the community so severly? If it is in the works, if there is a pseudo product in place, it is impossible for them to share this with us? We have asked for this information, a month ago. No response yet. We have request insight into how to disect the school of choice district with two schools closed. Again, no response. If there is a third option being thrown around, no one would know. Or if they have come to the realization that one option is better out of the original two, that has not been disclosed either. Jump ahead to March 17th....presentation is presented, 5 days to disect the scenario and numbers run. That sounds like a challenge and I accept. If the adminsistration thinks that we can be side swiped with a 5 day timeline...they are wrong. You know what I tell someone that I owe something, yet have not properaly done my research or have an answer? It is in process.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

I think the headline is misleading. The board didn't oppose the resolution as much as didn't think it was necessary. I also think Berman and Fanta jumped the gun. Why don't they wait until the presentation to see what is there before assuming the information won't be. This smacks of grandstanding. @Forest City is right.

Ypsi by Choice

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

Since " measures taken to ensure the community has been informed and had the opportunity for input" can someone direct me to where the responses from the public forum of Feb 16th are?

Forest City

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

Does anyone else hear circus music playing in the background?