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Posted on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 6:19 a.m.

Ypsilanti Public Schools will close Chapelle, East Middle schools

By Tom Perkins

Chapelle Elementary and East Middle School won't reopen their doors next fall.

The Ypsilanti school board approved the district administration’s plan to shutter the schools this summer in a 5-2 vote, bringing an end to two months of intense debate within the district community over the fate of the buildings.

Chapelle PAB Members.jpg

Chapelle PAB members Karen Barren, Aris Woodroofe and Jill Clouse listen as the board discusses closing Chapelle. Tom Perkins | For

Trustees Kira Berman and Andy Fanta voted against the closures.

Berman pointed out that - according to John Fulton, executive director of human resources - the district lost 127 students at the elementary school level when Ardis and George closed five years ago.

She contended if Ypsilanti schools lost 63 students in closing one elementary school next year, it would lose roughly $472,000 in state per-pupil funding. That isn’t factored in to the administration's projected $1.3 million in savings.

“School closures only save money if you don’t include a loss of students in your budget projections,” she said. “No evidence suggests closing elementary schools are good or even neutral for children.”

Berman said she could support “restructuring” at the middle school level, but not at the elementary level.

Fanta followed Berman’s comments with an amendment to the original motion that called for closing East but leaving Chapelle open for another year. That motion was defeated 5-2, with Fanta and Berman casting the only “yes” votes.

After the board approved the closures, Superintendent Dedrick Martin said they're a “necessary evil” in maintaining the educational quality in the Ypsilanti school district.

“This is not something we relish, nor want to do,” he said.

The district must make $6.4 million in cuts by next school year.

Administrators are now faced with the task of redistributing students from Chapelle into the remaining three elementary schools and merging East and West middle schools.

Under the new plan, the district will:

  • Make Perry a pre-kindergarten through first grade school.
  • Make Adams Elementary grades K-6.
  • Make Estabrook and Erickson grades 2-6.
  • Make West Middle School grades 7-8.

No clear redistribution plan has been announced, but initial informational meetings on how the process will work are tentatively scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Chapelle and Monday at East Middle School at 7 p.m.

They will be followed with letters explaining parents' options and open houses in which families can visit each of the schools.

One of the questions Chapelle parents asked is how redistribution and priority in the schools of choice program would work in the event of the closure.


Dedrick Martin speaks at Monday's meeting.

Tom Perkins | For

According to district figures, 302 students are currently enrolled at Chapelle. Adams, Erickson and Estabrook are at 53 percent, 79 percent and 82 percent capacity, respectively. 

District officials have previously said Estabrook is in high demand and already has a schools of choice wait list.

Martin said Chapelle students will be given first choice on which school they attend over students who are new to the district. But he said no students attending Ypsilanti from out of district through schools of choice will be dislodged to make room for Chapelle students.

Martin said once a student is enrolled in the district, his or her address isn’t a consideration in the schools of choice program. He previously conceded not all families wil be able to place their kids in the school they prefer.

The roughly 20 parents and district employees who spoke asked the board to keep Chapelle open.

Maria Cotera, a member of the Chapelle Parent Advisory Board and one of the organizers behind the opposition to school closures, listed the programs unique to Chapelle.

“A special kind of momentum has been built at Chapelle that cannot be measured by charts and graphs,” she said.

She later accused the administration of manipulating and withholding data throughout the process.

“We no longer believe anything this administration says at this point,” she said.


Trustee Kira Berman opposed the school closures.

Tom Perkins | For

Karen Barren, a co-president of the Chapelle PAB, expressed disappointment in what she said was the district’s failure to be forward thinking or creative in solving the budget issues.

“We have just applied a Band-Aid to a gunshot wound and told the patient ‘Now, now - everything will be better. Just you wait and see,'” she said.

The board members who voted for the closures called the decision painful.

Trustee Floyd Brumfield said all 551 school districts across the state are facing tough economic times, and school closures are widespread.

“We have no choice but to do something,” he said. “If we were the only district undergoing such a plight, then we would seek immediate disclosure as to who the culprit or culprits were, and take the appropriate action.”

Board President David Bates said his choice was based on maximizing the available facilities.

“To me, it just isn’t right to take money to heat empty classrooms when that money could be used to put a teacher in front of a classroom,” he said.

Trustee Sarah Devaney said the deficit must be dealt with immediately, no matter its source.

“It is up to this administration and this board to come up with an aggressive way to get ourselves out of that deficit,” she said. “With that deficit being so large, this process is not going to be painless.”

She said the argument that closing schools won’t save enough money only serves to demonstrate the situation’s gravity.

“As painful as it is, closing our schools isn’t going to solve our problems,” she said.

Devaney’s comments took on a confrontational tone when she began addressing those on the board and the leadership in the community that opposed the proposal. At one point, she said she was there to not only serve one child of “highly educated” parents, but all the kids in the district.

The comments drew direct and indirect criticism from several district employees, one of whom called the comments “condescending."

In response to Devaney's remark, Chapelle Principal Joe Guillen said he was proud of all his parents. He added the outpouring of support and positive remarks from parents about their children's experiences at the school "puts you on a cloud."

Guillen said the Chapelle school is unique and connects early with families, leaving "lasting, important impressions.” He added he's disappointed the school must close.

“I’m not happy with it, I’m going to struggle with it and when I leave, it’s going to be difficult,” he said.

District officials said the schools, which were recently renovated with bond money, may find new uses. Administrators are exploring moving several programs such as adult education or the Forest School program to the schools.

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


Ypsi by Choice

Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 11:28 a.m.

"missypsi - first I've heard of the Drop-Back-In going to Chapelle - did you invent that one?" Have you been listening Eyeloveypsi???? No, it was not reinvented, it was mentioned to a few parents in January. It is very real, and I hope the students enjoy new improvements from the bond done on the school while it was an elementary.

Maria Cotera

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:34 p.m.

Dear friends of Ypsi schools, I have been following these comments closely, and I have wanted to chime in on numerous occasions, if only to clarify my personal investment in the struggle to keep our elementary schools open and healthy. A few days ago I wrote a pretty lengthy personal reflection on all this, but it was apparently too long for this comment board, so I asked my friend, Mark Maynard, to post it on his wonderful blog: Mark If you are really interested in knowing how I, and perhaps others, feel about the School Board's decision to close Chapelle and East, then I invite you to check out the post:


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:06 p.m.

In fact this plan for repurposing Chapelle was shared with some parents at the first "community input" meeting. Since that time, the administration has remained very quiet about it.


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 6:56 p.m.

missypsi - first I've heard of the Drop-Back-In going to Chapelle - did you invent that one?


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

missypsi, I do hope you will go back and reread your remarks from yesterday. Did you mean to imply that our current high school students should not be given new options for educational success? Perhaps some of those students cannot read well, but they won't read any better if they drop out now. Yes, attention needs to be paid in the lower grades, but not at the expense of those who still need help. As for the Drop Back In remarks, those came off as fear-mongering to me. Is that really warranted? I don't know anything about these students, but I assume they have come back to school voluntarily and want another chance. Should they be denied that chance? Has the George neighborhood experienced any problems from having the program nearby? If they haven't, then why should the Chapelle neighborhood (or any other) be concerned about it? I appreciate your frustration with the Chapelle situation, but your angry words are making it difficult to believe that you really want what's best for ALL our students.

Dante Marcos

Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

The "Drop Back In" brand belongs to Alternatives Unlimited of Baltimore (


Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 12:36 p.m.

So let me get this straight... We are paying money to open a new high school, and we are closing a newly refurbished elementary school? Pay money for a program that MIGHT retain the high school students who are currently fleeing the district---waste money that has been invested in a highly-functioning elementary school and do so with the assumption that we will definitely lose (according to John Fulton) AT LEAST 50 students as a result? This is pure craziness. And moreover, it puts our resources and energy, and "forward-thinking" into one arena, high school, while ignoring another: our elementary schools. Its not that I think we shouldn't be concerned with our high school retention rate, or that we shouldn't develop innovative programs for our high school students, but currently the Michigan prison bed rate is projected based on the third grade reading level. Which means that what happens in our elementary schools REALLY MATTERS, and we shouldn't be throwing highly functioning elementary schools, especially those that serve at-risk students, under the bus to save a few dollars. As for those "homeless" YPS programs, I wonder how the Normal Park neighborhood association will feel about the Drop-Back-In Academy for Washtenaw County going in to their beautifully refurbished (complete with new turn-arounds built last summer to accommodate school buses) historic elementary school. You know, the one that sits right by the Recreation Park playground. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this administration (and now the school board) has demonstrated astonishingly poor judgment.


Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

To J. Clark again: OK, back to that for-profit concept, now that I'm fully awake. If YPS pays for the program from New Tech, in order to educate our students, how, exactly, is that different from paying for new textbooks? Surely the publishing companies make a profit. Surely Apple made a profit from selling us hundreds of computers, too. The architects and builders who built and improved our schools made a profit. Educational consults who train our teachers don't do it for free. My point, if it's not obvious, is that plenty of taxpayer money is going into private hands already, and always has. I'm certainly not ready to condemn this new school for the reason you gave.


Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

J. Clark, Your remarks are thought-provoking. I still wouldn't equate New Tech with a charter school, though. It is a part of the district. It will be staffed by YPS employees. Oversight will be provided by YPS school board and administration. It does seem to be a new educational "creature," though, and people have been saying we need to do things differently. I am hopeful this is successful for us. As for Chapelle, I don't see a charter school going in there when there are displaced YPS programs that still need homes.

J. Clark

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 : 3:47 p.m.

New Tech is owned and franchised/licensed by the New Technology Foundation of Napa, CA. Started by business leaders in Napa who were unhappy with the quality of future-employee the Napa schools were producing. YPSDcorrect me if I'm wrongpays for the New Tech program. So, while perhaps not a charter school, per se, it is a for-profit company that is now involved in the Ypsilanti school district. And the YPSD pays New Tech for the use of that program, i.e., New Tech corporation makes a profit off of public education. My guess is that there are charters that are eager to make a presence in Ypsi. I don't know that that's something the YPSD itself would want, as it would mean competition, but is there a chance a building like Chapelle's could be sold or rented to a charter company? It's a movement that's snowballing, especially with the help of the Obama administration which is pushing charters hard. For me, the "fruitful competition" of capitalism would in fact be (and already is) destructive competition if set loose on American public education.


Fri, Mar 26, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

Jason, I'm confused by all your talk about charter schools. Maybe I'm missing something really obvious to others, but I am under the impression that New Tech is going to be something of an alternative school--a magnet school, even. I believe the WISD is helping launch it, but it is a YPS school. While appealing to students who may learn differently (and might otherwise do poorly in school and drop out), it is also likely to draw students from many outside districts. This is how revenue is increased, right? Keeping the students we have and increasing enrollment otherwise? I know the New Tech concept was presented at the initial public presentations in January, and the board had been talking about it for some time before that. Are there other charter school concerns you have?

Sandy Castle

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 : 12:32 p.m.

Jason - I could be wrong about this, but I don't believe any school district is able to open charter schools. Any school that a public school district runs is under the same rules as all of the other schools, teacher contracts, etc. All of Ypsilanti's elementary schools were at one point "specialized" in some way. George Elementary was a Multi-age Academy, Adams was a Math and Science Academy, Ardis was a Renaissance Academy and involved teaching using theatrical methods, or something like that (or way off that). Perhaps Erickson and Estabrook were traditional as another option, I'm not sure. It was a way to offer something more along the lines of what charter schools offer, but under the public school umbrella. I think it was successful. The year before they closed George they did away with the multi-age concept and I believe this more than anything caused students to leave the district. We had a number of students from other local elementaries who really bought into that concept and fought hard to keep it. I believe the new tech high school is in that same vein. Perhaps it will offer more of a challenge to some of our higher achieving students and give one more option along with our current high school and the Early College Alliance program. Just my thoughts. I don't know anything about the new tech high school, other than running into another parent who was considering it for her daughter. She indicated that it had been in the works for awhile now. I think that's a productive discussion to have.


Fri, Mar 26, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

The new billboards for New Tech High on Michigan Ave are a reminder that charter schools are, or should be, a central factor in this whole discussion about whats good or bad for our schools. There is no way around the fact that charter schools are already having a significant impact on our schools, and are likely to have an even bigger impact in coming years. Charter schools come in many different flavors, and are created by a wide variety of institutions: for-profit, non-profit, private, public. One thing they have in common is an attempt to lure parents with a promise of responding to their needs and wishes for their children. We just opened a school (New Tech) that will be in direct competition with our high school. Is New Tech a charter school? It looks like one. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Is this something were not supposed to talk about? I do know that New Tech became a reality without a lot of (any?) local feedback or research. Our money problems are not going away and are likely to get worse. Charter schools, as a means of cutting costs by circumventing the Teachers union has got to be tempting to an administration strapped for cash with few other areas to look to balance the budget. Our administration is seriously considering opening more charter schools. Maybe they should be? Maybe they shouldnt? I have a feeling there are quite a range of opinions on this issue, and I think we should start to find out what they are, so that community input can be factored into a long term STRATEGY. Otherwise, how do we know if it is the right thing to do or not? Or, when the opening of the next charter school is announced, parents might find themselves feeling a bit like a Chapelle parent at a public input meeting ('we want to hear your feedback, but we've already made our decision'). Right - this comment board is not the best place for this discussion, but where and when WILL our community have a discussion about, for example, whether to open more charter schools or not? And if we do open more, what will they look like? who will they serve? and what will their impact be on the public schools that are left? Last Monday, a board member said he didnt even want to hear the word charter school. But didnt we just open one? Is New Tech not a real charter school? Is it a partnership? What sort of partnerships or other alternatives to traditional public education should we be pursuing to make our school the best they can be? I dont have the answers, but I would definitely like to hear feedback from ALL members of our community about what they want. The success or failure of traditional public schools as they increasingly have to compete with charters and other alternatives is fundamentally about what people want, because parents have more choices. I think it is better to find out what people want sooner rather than later.

Sandy Castle

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 : 8:50 a.m.

If you have questions to ask then the appropriate place to ask them would be to the YPSD BOE or the administration. Everybody at YPSD has an email, and you can reach all of them by telephone. In the 13 years my children have attended YPSD I have sent many emails and made many phone calls to administration and the board. When our elementary was being closed I had concerns about the process. I was able to get responses from everyone I contacted. Last year when recommendations were made to eliminate sports at the middle school level I shot off emails to every board member, most of the administration and the parents of every child I knew in the YPS system to let them know my feelings on the issue. I have always been able to get information from YPSD, sometimes immediately, sometimes not, but I received responses to my requests. Many of the people posting here seem more intent on creating dissension during a time when ALL schools are dealing with tough budget issues and major decisions that are affecting our children. For those of you new to the district, YPSD has been trimming the budget every year that my children have been enrolled. Every year they try to balance the needs of our children with the requirements and funding coming from the state. They obviously have not been tough enough over the years, but that benefited our children. Ypsilant does not have excessive administrative staff like other districts. We are a relatively small district and whether you agree with our board members or not, I find it hard to believe that they are deliberately making bad decisions that will affect our children. If you dislike what they have been doing, run for school board. But stop airing your problems with our school system on a public blog. It's immature, unprofessional and is not helpful to anybody involved. Disagree with the system, I have many times, but do so in a respectful manner. Posting questions here that none of us are capable of answering, or leaving nasty little side comments about YPSD or the people who disagree with you is an immature, passive-agressive method of communication. Trying to drum up dissension on a blog creates unneccesary drama and is not positive or in any way, shape or form nor can it be considered moving forward. AND, YpsiByChoice, I'm sorry I made that nasty comment about you going to back to your own district. It was rude and uncalled for and I'm very sorry. I'm blunt by nature and am often too sharp with it when I'm fed up.

Jason from all the meetings

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

Nobody wants to close schools, but when it comes down to schools or children, it's time for the school to go. Actually, if you look at enrollments, it appears that our administration and board have apparently been content to see schools AND children go. That is part of the problem, and partly why we are out of money. Unfortunately, so far our leaders have not been very successful at reversing this trend. I think that it might be time to stop blaming it ALL on local loss of manufacturing jobs, and consider some of the other reasons why parents might be opting out of Ypsi schools. I urgently plead with anyone who cares about our schools to join together with other parents and members of our community to support our schools. However, it seems to me that support for our schools will have to be both a) diverse, and b) tolerant, even supportive of dissent. We are loosing parents' faith in us, and to put it crudely that means money for the programs, and yes, the schools, that our children need. (Not to mention critical local and state political support.) We need to find out what parents dont like about our schools so we can FIX IT. I sense frustration on the part of some posters to this thread who feel that criticism of our leadership might be counterproductive. That's a valid point, and something we need to think about and take very seriously. But we should also take seriously the voices of dissent. Do you really want a school board that NEVER questions the administration, or a population that NEVER challenges its leaders when they disagree with them? How else will we know what we are doing wrong? Anyone who cares about our schools, please, lets get together and have a conversation about what we can do to support our schools moving forward. But ignoring legitimate concerns, or telling people that they dont have a right to their opinion is, in my opinion, not going to help us at all.

Skip Cerier

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 5:47 p.m.

Being one of the newest business owners in the city, I find it comforting to see how much passion local citizens have regarding their schools. Certainly it is painful to have to shutter local school buildings where our children have gone year after year. However, in this economy, if families are leaving the area, the state is cutting back its payment to Ypsi schools, therefore schools have no other choice but to reduce costs... or face going into receivership, as several school districts have already experienced. The law (Proposition 'A') does not allow property owners to pass millages to pay for the "operation" of a building... only its construction or repair. That is why some school officials have had to think outside the box in order to raise funds for their districts. I am the owner of the firm which purchased the old Ave Maria school campus from Tom Monahan (of Domino's Pizza) on W. Forest Avenue. You may have heard our mayor speak about us in his "state of the city" address. We make our living by helping to fund education. By following our firm's mission these past 4 years, we have been able to raise $2.5 million for 180 Michigan schools. I would be happy to speak to anyone interested in an Ypsilanti company willing to help fund our local kid's education. Its like someone said above... its really all about the kids. My email:

Ypsi by Choice

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 4:43 p.m.

Yikes! Some of this anger is comical. Let the record show I have never aligned myself with any organization, but that is inconsequential. In addition, I have never made a direct negative comment in regards to the BOE. My concerns from the start have always been and always will be an inquisition into the facts and data, or lack of that is presented to the community. I will not apologize for taking the time to cross reference, research and ask the vital question that fellow community members have.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

Neo: You are familiar with: I think that you are arguing with people that would succumb to both. They are people that themselves want to have authority over other people, admire and esteem such power of office, and for that reason are drawn to following those parties who they feel are having authority or power over other people, whether it is teachers, supervisors, law enforcement personnel or elected officials. Regardless of how nice you are about it, if you are questioning authority, you are going to seriously offend those who have bought into that structure - this structure being the structure of a public school district, which is proving all over to be.....UNSUSTAINABLE. Welcome to the Matrix in which we reside. Morpheus

Dante Marcos

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

"We can't afford to be spectators while our lives deteriorate. We have to truly love our people and work to make that love stronger." Assata Shakur

Sandy Castle

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Alain - I live on the Eastside of Ypsilanti in what was once the George School district. My kids have attended Perry, George, Erickson, East, West, YHS and the ECA. My neighborhood, which was once filled with families that had lived on this street for years, is now filled with rental properties and there are for sale signs all around. Once again, the people are about pushing around bad information to scare people and to make others look like their points aren't valid. Support Ypsilanti Public Schools or go somewhere else. Ypsi BOE made the tough decisions that needed to be made and the majority of YPS parents know this. I commend them for being the first in the county to actually address school closures. Several other districts have now followed our painful lead. Nobody wants to close schools, but when it comes down to schools or children, it's time for the school to go. Chapelle was the obvious choice, just as George and Ardis were a few years ago. YPSD managed those closures very well and I'm sure those of you who have children moving will find they handle this one just as well. Ypsi By Choice and her following are making Ypsilanti Public Schools and our children bear the brunt of her anger that the BOE didn't choose a school over our children's education. If you truly are Ypsi by choice, then go back to your own district and make them miserable. We don't need your "help" or your bad mouthing our school district and us. It's time to move forward in a positive way and the YPSD parents that I know are going to do that by continuing to make our children's education a priority. We will accept these changes and help the district make the best of things in these tough economic times. Why? Because it will be our children who benefit from this.


Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

My children don't go to Estabrook and I don't live in Normal Park. If Estabrook were smaller than Chapelle, I would understand how Estabrook could be chosen to close instead of Chapelle. But it isn't! I still believe and always have, that the schools with the lowest capacity should be the first ones considered. Then, location should be considered. I'm sorry and I know it's unfortunate, but in addition to being smaller, Chapelle is also located less than a mile away from Estabrook and is essentially in the same neighborhood! In fact, Chapelle is so close that many children from Normal Park were assigned to Chapelle years ago. (I don't know if this is still the case.) I believe in doing what is best for the entire district as a whole. At this point, it includes closing Chapelle. There is no good fiscal argument to justify closing any other elementary school over Chapelle. I do have concerns over which students will be sent to Adams. I don't think it's fair to make all Chapelle kids go to Adams, especially when someone from the Adam's neighborhood could be going to Estabrook. The only fair way to do this will be to go back to in-district students going to the school that they are assigned. Some children might get "bumped" back to their neighborhood school. It is time to move forward and start working on a fair solution for the children that could be affected.


Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

"A group of parents put their heads together to try and find a solution to the YPSD budget crisis, that doesn't involve closing schools, and they're lambasted." I must have missed it. What was your solution? Or didn't you come up with one? This reminds me of the days when George was closed. We got through that and we'll get through this.

Ypsi by Choice

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

"Chappell has about as many out of area students as Adams" Yes, they do, 44% of them of our of Chapelle district. Yet that is now, it is not the reality for next year as we know. "It is a lie and race baiting to say they plan on filling Adams with south side children"....So Eastside, you must have gotten the street assignment last night as to where children will be going then? Lastly, even if the Chapelle district is completely seperated into even thirds, and each section of the area was sent to one of the three schools evening, it will create problems for younger siblings in the future. ALL lines should be redrawn into a pie of thirds. Chopping up an extint district evenling will only frustrate transportation time and costs.


Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

Alain Danielou, for your information, my child (who is in the district) does not go to Estabrook and I do not live in Normal Park. I also do not vote republican. Total silence? That's what I heard when I asked whether you were planning to run for school board this fall.


Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

ALL the children from the south side have been bussed (fairly evenly) to the elementary and middle schools ever since Perry Elementary School was closed (way back, before the 1980s) to serve the cause of desegregation. The neighborhood school from that community Perry was closed to become Perry Child Development Center. Along with closing that school, many homes were tore down to make way for public housing projects. It was called urban renewal, right or wrong, it is the story. It is a lie and race baiting to say they plan on filling Adams with south side children. Chappell has about as many out of area students as Adams. Neither are neighborhood schools anymore. The leader of the Chappell group that has been vocal in fact is in the Adams neighborhood. No one disputes that Chappell was a great community. Re-teacher pay. I sat in the same auditorium as last weeks meetings, with YPS parents filling it beyond capacity to support teachers who were on strike for better pay, we FILLED the room. The teachers had almost the full support of the community.

Dante Marcos

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.

The parallels in current affairs here are fascinating. A group of politicians put their heads together to effect some change, and the rightwing fringe goes ballistic on the lawn outside the White House, and on fanatic blogs and tv shows. A group of parents put their heads together to try and find a solution to the YPSD budget crisis, that doesn't involve closing schools, and they're lambasted. Castle, Eyeheart, Soccermom (!), Win: I'd love to have been able to hear you weigh in had Estabrook been closed, and a group of Normal Park parents organized against it. My hunch? Total silence.

Ypsi by Choice

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

Well the verdict is in for school designations, and I will present this information and let all of those that felt exploring social justice issues and fighting for the voices of those that dont have the means was a blatant attempt of self serving The South Side students are all being presented as students to default to Adams. Explore the street assignments for yourself, our district has been drawn into an hour glass tilted to the right. Now, I can say it is to immediately fill in the Adams population and vacancies and that is the only way to do it. Yet in a district that is struggling to find every penny, how do you think transportation is going to stay cost effective when kids from the Southside are bussed to Adams year after year? Also, ponder this, if the south side families are sanctioned for Adams, how silly is it for them to drive by Perry on their way to K-6? Sorry we asked the questions before so that we could painfully listen to the answers after the decisions had been made.


Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

I just read this article and these posts and couldn't help myself from replying. Some of you seem to think you know everything about running a school district and serving one. The superintedent position was just filled so you're out of luck there, but there will be openings on the board this year. Are you willing to run or do you not want to put your money where your mouths are? Well said Sandy Castle and wln15! And as eyeloveypsi has said let's make this work for our kids.


Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 8:08 a.m.

I attended one meeting to stay informed and it consisted of complaining and a large outcry not to close Chapelle. I felt like it was a waste of my time. I wanted to state at that meeting that if our only option is to close schools, then what other school did these parents actually think should close?? Chapelle parents don't want any closed. I get that. We all get that. None of us want schools to close! However, we have to cut costs somewhere and if our buildings are not full and we don't "need" all of them, then shouldn't our district be spending according to the basic principle that when you are broke you spend money on what you NEED, not what you want? As for the middle schools, I never had a strong preference for either one. Each building has its pros and cons. I stated above one thing I preferred about East, but I know that it is also convenient to have the middle school by the high school.

Sandy Castle

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 6:13 a.m.

This blog is mostly inhabited by a group of parents, from one school, who use the pretext of being about the district when they are really just about stopping their school from being affected. Something has needed to be done for quite awhile, but that doesn't mean that the action taken now is the wrong one. The reason others from the district didn't show up for meetings and forums is likely due to the fact that they didn't join the small group of people who didn't like the choices the administration presented. It's really quite simple. Most YPSD users support making the right choice for all of YPSD's children, not just some of them. You can all keep blabbing on this blog or you can actually work to make the transition easier for your child. Whether that's to another Ypsilanti school or another school of your choice. Frankly, I'm tired of listening to you all trying to justify why you think you were right AND trying to infer that anybody that didn't agree with you was a tea party follower or just plain stupid, or somehow connected to the administration. Move on or move out.


Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 5:31 a.m.

Maybe we're all the problem. Come on, everyone, it's time to work together - our kids (and grandkids!) deserve our best.

Jason from all the meetings

Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 10:37 p.m.

Wait a minute. There is something really scary going on here. All of a sudden the members of our community who care enough to: a) follow what the administration is proposing, b) educate themselves on the issues and plan, c) think critically and dont just accept anything they are told, d) sacrifice their time to go to board meetings, talk to any administrators and board members who will give them the time, e) raise legitimate questions, and politely request that their elected officials respond to their concerns, are the problem??? I want to suggest a problem: a) A community that doesnt care enough about their schools to participate in their governance. b) People that think we should accept whatever our administration and board tells us to accept, and that anyone who speaks out is the problem. c) People that think that the problems our schools face have nothing whatsoever to do with the leadership of our schools (over the past five, or more) years, a leadership that has led us directly into the situation that we find ourselves in: a crisis not entirely of our own making but entirely of our own design. d) A board and administration that has shown little interest in making any serious attempt to reverse declining enrollments (to do that they might actually have to admit that they are not responding to or adequately serving their diverse community). e) People that suggest that the problem is in fact members of the community who are so idealistic as to think that a long-term strategy is important to the long-term health of our schools. f) People who think that facts, data, and educational research should be ignored when inconvenient. I want to suggest another thing: maybe we might solve some of our problems if people would: a) educate themselves and learn the facts, b) speak out consistently and respectfully in public forums (instead of hurling insults behind the screen of some alias on a comment board). One more thing: those of you who have so much time and insight to spend piling criticism on to the only two board members that ever made any attempt whatsoever to respond to the serious and legitimate concerns voiced by a VERY diverse range of community members who objected to this plan, might let me know the answer to this: which one next, Adams, Perry, both? And how long do you think we have?

Dante Marcos

Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 8:16 p.m.

I guess I was mistaken in thinking the Tea Party would never infiltrate Ypsi...

concerned parent

Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

Shame on you Andy Fanta (and you too, Kira Berman) for not supporting the board and helping parents with very hard decisions. Isn't that what we elected you to do? Thank goodness we can rely on Sarah Devaney for her sound judgement and commitment to the community.


Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 6:44 p.m.

I wasn't able to make the last few meetings (one because of conferences)but someone who was there told me that trustee berman specificaly said she has a daughter that would be going to chappelle if it wasn't closed. Is this true? If so, does snyone else question her motives on why she wanted to close east but not her daughters school? I know parents who are wondering this. Is that her personal agenda.


Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 4:59 p.m.

localvoice - I appreciate the frustration, I've been there too. Uh, what were those alternatives? The only ones I heard were: 1. Do nothing - sorry not feasible. 2. Close Perry - The administration handled this one with kid gloves. All I can say is, ARE YOU CRAZY? if you have to ask why, you do not understand Ypsi. 3. Make Estabrook a 5-6 West a 7-8 and close East. This was not reasonable because you would be not filling one of your largest capacity schools (Estabrook) and there would be little space left at the other schools - no growth possible. I don't know the current administrators personally, but their option looked well thought out to me and I believe they did consider the other options given to them. I'm also sure that if there was a choice that would please everyone, it would have been presented. Maybe it's time to move on and make this work?


Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

eyeloveypsi... It is not okay with me that Board member leave parents feeling that they were personally attacked. Denvaney's comments left more than one parent/community member with this feeling. It is not my concern with her intentions. These parents put in countless hours and their own dollars trying to productively present alternative. Their email and phone call were returned by some member of the BOE, and others (Denvaney) ignored them. Not impressive for an elected official.


Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

Alain Dantelou - I believe, and could be wrong, that Berman and Fanta are pushing for a "vision" just to stall any action on closing Chapelle (they are very willing to throw East under the proverbial bus). These decisions need to be made ASAP, vision or no vision. Actually, "suing the State" is a great idea, but not at the expense of doing what needs to be done. The State financing is the major part of the current problem, but so is the inaction of the board when they should have been making deeper cuts the last two years. I've heard this blamed on a retiring superintendent, but I believe he was acting on the Board's wishes. Yes, a vision is important, but so is complying with the demands of the State - especially when they hold all the cards. I believe in civil disobedience, but I also know my limits. When I had a wife and children at home who would suffer if I went to jail, I backed off a little bit on my protesting. The equivalent of civil disobedience for our Board would be to ignore the State. Unfortunately, that would result in the state aid being withheld and the district being unable to issue paychecks. Good idea, bad result. Why can't we continue our efforts "to sue the State" while we also comply with the law? Maybe it's because that was also stalling tactic that required no real action as long as deep cuts were delayed? Will there still be a clamor for a "vision" now that the cuts have been made? Maybe Mr. Fanta, using agreed upon procedure, could bring the legal action (isn't he a lawyer of some kind?) to the table and get the process started. And the beat goes on...

Dante Marcos

Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

County Kate, "I think you would agree that the ones who yell the loudest are not always the ones who are right." Often, "the ones who yell the loudest" are the ones fighting on the side of the disenfranchised. "I think you would also agree that blindly agreeing with the ones who yell the loudest is not leadership. That is what Berman and Fanta are doing and it's simply pandering to the audience." Let me make sure I understand what you mean here. Are you proposing Trustee Berman "blindly agree[s]" with the Chapelle grassroots group? If you are, let that go down on record, and let it demonstrate a center-right, rearguard sense of the possibilities of progressive politic struggle. "They have no better plan to present, as you'll have noticed." What I've noticed is that Berman and Fanta *have struggled to begin a process* by which other visions could be brainstormed. "And, as @eyeloveypsi noted, Fanta talked the board into not dealing with the issues a couple of years ago, while pursuing a lawsuit against the state. Where did that idea go, anyway?" In my book, this idea sounds commendable. Why? It's an act of resistance that says, "We'll do whatever we can to protect our children, schools, and teachers."


Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

Alain, I think you would agree that the ones who yell the loudest are not always the ones who are right. I think you would also agree that blindly agreeing with the ones who yell the loudest is not leadership. That is what Berman and Fanta are doing and it's simply pandering to the audience. They have no better plan to present, as you'll have noticed. And, as @eyeloveypsi noted, Fanta talked the board into not dealing with the issues a couple of years ago, while pursuing a lawsuit against the state. Where did that idea go, anyway? Sarah Devaney's comments - in their entirety - are not condescending, but well-thought-out observations of why and how she came to vote as she did. From reading this story, one cannot get a grip on all she said and it does her a disservice to form opinions based on those snippets quoted here. As a former Chapelle parent, I am saddened that the school is closing, while at the same time knowing the plan the BoE adopted makes the most sense at this time. If Adams had closed along with East Middle, the district wouldn't have had a presence at all in a large portion of its territory. Parents are now acting like closing these schools was the result of some mismanagement on the part of district leadership. But, when you see the same thing happening all across the state, doesn't that show no mismanagement is involved? People are leaving the state because the jobs are not here and they are taking their children with them. Because of the way we agreed to restructure school finances when we voted for Proposal A, the finances of the districts are now dependent upon their population. It didn't used to be this way. Before Proposal A each district got the taxes from their individual areas and we voters had a say in whether to up our support of the schools or not. Now, however, the schools aren't allowed to ask us for more money and everything depends on how many children are in the schools. This system is a lose-lose, but because Proposal A was a constitutional amendment, not just a law, we are stuck with it It is not the school districts' fault that we have shot ourselves in our collective foot, but they are the ones paying the price.

Dante Marcos

Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

Eyeloveypsi: I think what's going on - and you're alluding, in a way, to it - is that community members believe the Board of Education is elected by them and serves them. At the very least, then, community deserve to be treated as constituents: a Board of Education should not only refer to community members, but should actively seek community input before forming opinions and then making decisions (Devaney, interestingly, when in an interview was asked why she was running for the school board, said she'd always wanted to be a part of a decision-making process, which I read as distinct from "I've always wanted to serve my community"). Yet when school board members *not only* refuse to respond to community member emails, but also chastise them for grassroots passion, I think it's safe to say they're not so much Board of Education trustee, as Central Office Cheerleader. But to move forward, to solutions and progress: if, come election time, Ypsilanti could elect a few more progressives to the board, so that Trustee Berman isn't going it alone, then this sort of proposal and its rubberstamping stand a much lesser chance of occurring.


Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

localvoice - I get what you're saying about Devaney, but what she said needed to be said by someone. Berman and Fanta have been saying whatever they want without backing it up and Sarah set the record straight. It's a shame, however, that all this posturing is going on by the board members. Most of them seem too concerned about what people think about them than making the right hard choices that will do the most for our kids. Oh, well, these blogs are sure easier than BOE jobs right now!


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 8:36 p.m.

Ann Arbor has the in on consolidation. If one district closes its schools? Ann Arbor will profit because Ann Arbor is not shuttering its doors, it is going with school choice. My word, Ann Arbor has it all figured out. Ypsi closes and looses two schools. What a concept. Too bad they are cutting out the essential services that need to keep the schools running. The children that left Ypsi? Went to charters. The ones out this year? Will head to Ann Arbor. They will have open seats.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 6:26 p.m.

The closing of Chapelle is just another step in the unraveling of YPSD. Again, the data was the administration presented only showed a piece of a long existing problem. The epitome of the evening was the inappropriate, unprofessional and altogether disgraceful comments from Devaney. To personally attack an invested parent should be grounds for a recall on her position. She should be ashamed of herself. It was embarrassing to me that she "represents" YPSD. It is time to move forward, for our parents, staff and most importantly our children. Chapelle will be sorely missed and never replaced.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 4:52 p.m.

DADING, Yes many local school districts are closing schools. Unfortunately the state of Michigan is losing population. But not only that, charter schools continue to open. Here in Ypsi I can think of at least three charter schools. So these two factors combined with "School of Choice" have lead to an ever depleating school population. Ypsi's student population is over 3000 of which over 25% are school of choice. More and more parents are opting out of there home district in favor of school districts that will better serve there needs. So if you are a school district that previously did not accept school of choice students, in light of school deficits you are rethinking your position and throwing open the doors to try boost your bottom line.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

Chapelle is a great school. I hope they know what they are doing.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

It's really too bad Mr. Fanta and Ms. Berman are so out of touch. I guess we should not close any schools or lay off staff - of course, then we are out of compliance with the State and will face payless pay days and have to shut down the district. That would be responsible stewardship by the board. We already took that approach a few years back when Mr. Fanta convinced everyone not to make major cuts, but to "sue the State!". Uh, how's that plan going? Now is the time to work together and move forward. We still have the great teachers from East and Chapelle and they will continue to make a difference.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

am i missing something? with chelsea, ypsilanti, saline CLOSING SCHOOLS, where are the students going? are any school districts growing in size? who's building? i was thinking this the other day w/detroit's problems. what's happening to the students? is there not the population of children there were when these schools were built? school budgets, staff, etc should be based on a per pupil cost. if the kids are going elsewhere, so should the $$ and staff (yes easier said than done). sounds like a $$ per pupil ANYWHERE in the state to me. should there be a state district?


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 1:54 p.m.

I find it funny that they say they can save money by closing a school that isn't heated and hiring new teachers to put in front of the classroom. Doesn't those two ideas defeat the purpose of closing a school? How can you hire in new teachers while closing 2 schools? Something smells fishy here.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 1:38 p.m.

And what gives you the impression (eastside mom) that Ms. Devaney was speaking for parents who could not make the meetings? Concerned parents organized at least one public meeting, and demanded a public forum. She couldn't be bothered to attend either one of these meetings (Fanta, Berman, Horne, and Bates did). She never expressed even the most minimal interest in what parents actually wanted, indeed, most parents I spoke to said she never even returned their emails. Sarah Devaney speaks for Sarah Devaney, and believe me, LOTS of other Ypsi parents feel the same way. As for the Chapelle kids being welcomed with "open arms" to Adams. Why should the most at-risk students in our district feel glad that they are moving from a highly functioning school to one that is "improving", and why aren't Chapelle kids from south of Michigan being welcomed at Estabrook, the school that is closest to their neighborhood? Why should they have to be bussed across town? I agree with win15, Ypsi should go back to neighborhood schools for the in-district children. Then, the out-of-district children could be placed by a lottery system among the three elementary schools. This is the only fair solution for ALL Ypsi's children. Any other solution is institutional racism, pure and simple.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 1:01 p.m.

I think Sarah was speaking for the plethora of parents not present at the meetings. Many YPS parents work nights or 2 jobs and could not be present. Sarah is the one of the most qualified BoE member to date. And Andy could have worked with the other BoE members in advance w/ his ideas, instead of his glorious last minute surprises he is so fond of.

Forest City

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

People may not have appreciated what Trustee Sarah Devaney said, but there have been many disparaging comments directed at the board in various meetings and in these forums.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 10:28 a.m.

Perhaps YPS should go back to neighborhood schools for the in-district children. Then, the out-of-district children could be placed by a lottery system among the three elementary schools. I would have preferred East to stay open over West, too. East seems larger and it is away from the high school. The middle school kids and high school kids wouldn't get to hang out or skip school together as easily.

S. Sharron

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

Closing and restructuring buildings will make for a rough road ahead. It is sad that there seems to be tremendous support for Chappelle and hardly little, if any for East. Logistically it may make more sense for West to be the MS but as far as facilities go in my opinion it should be East. With that being said we should all work for the best interest of the students, after all... isn't that why we are all here??? If their needs haven't been considered than maybe the choices made should were not the best


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 10:02 a.m.

The winner in all of this will be Adams!! They are setting half empty now, but they are getting this lovely group of teachers and kids. Just get ready for the Spelling Bee Season during the boring old winter and so many other nice activities that support the pleasure of learning. The building of Chapelle is pretty, but the people made it truely "posh". This is kind of the place I always wanted to work in! And now ironically, when the schools merge, the Chapelle long walkers will get a safe bus ride. This can be a win-win for all; just don't understand how you can save $ with all the buses, but it was voted...


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

No matter what, the fight had to be fought. Although, as in our case and that of Chelsea and Milan, schools will still close. We were fighting and yet encouraging the administration to think a little differently, to try and solve this problem in a less predictable way. I know that administrators were striving to make cuts that did not affect the classroom. However, closing 2 buildings and repostioning over 600 children with 23 less teachers, will of course affect the classroom. But now we move on and make the hard individual choices that need to be made. Of the 600 children that must be moved a decision must be made by their parents to stick with the district's plan or go somewhere else. Unfortunately, this shuffle could not come at a worse time, when so many other districts are also choosing "School of Choice" as a way to solve their district's money woes. Its so sad to see the situation the state has put us in. I feel as if each of our children have at least a $7,000 bounty on thier head.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 9:18 a.m.

I put the blame for the faulty decision making on Fulton and the majority of the School Board. I was there when Fulton propped up a school principal at Adams who alienated much of the neighborhood, and parents left our neighborhood school in droves. After the Adams' debacle, parents pushed for a more responsive and less obsequious school board; however, that hope was dashed when Cameron Getto and Amy Doyle resigned, and the County Prosecutor determined that they and two other board members had violated the Open Meetings Act. Now, another neighborhood school has been decimated.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 8:25 a.m.

All I will say is my son was in a great school! its name was CHAPELLE I will never forget the staff there and thanks to you all. He had a chance to experiance West Middle this year, and again I say thanks. Now we move on Hello Milan, or hello Ann Arbor. Charter schools have killed the public school system that is the real bandit, untill charter schools are stoped the matter will continue to get worst.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

Chelsea, Saline and now Ypsilanti have all closed schools for next year. Isn't Ypsi Lincoln closing a building? Losing students over closing schools doesn't make sense. Most Michigan schools are losing students. Is the percentage of students in private schools going up? Didn't a private school close on the East side of the county this year? Is the percentage of students going schools of choice going up?


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

Thank you for this report, and thanks especially for capturing the unbelievably condescending remarks of Trustee Sarah Devaney, who has never attended a community meeting or public forum in the run-up to this decision. Whether "highly educated" or not, the Chapelle parents who have been at the forefront of this struggle, were representing ALL Chapelle children, not just their own self interests. They have given their energy and free time to advocate for families that could not always be at meetings. I'll admit, I have watched from the sidelines for pretty much all of this, and while I have marveled at the deep stupidity of many on the Board (what an eye-opener!), I have been impressed and inspired by the dedication and eloquence of Chapelle parents. Trustee Devaney's comments were really unforgivable, and they add salt to the wound. She's not fit for office.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Yes, lets just keep going and give everyone what they want and make accommodations for everyone so no one will struggle and no one will be negatively impacted and no teachers will be laid off and no kids will leave and no schools will have to be closed and the board can come up with some theories on how more children can be brought into the district and everything will be rainbows and sunshine. Come on people, stop whining. It's going to be tough. It's going to be hard. It's going to be painful, and that is good. It is good so we remember not to act so foolish in the future. So we learn that competition is good. Schools of choice like Milan schools and the variety of charters are a good thing.

Dante Marcos

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

"[Devaney] is also trained as a Critical Friends Group coach. CFG is a professional development method used in the Ypsilanti schools. She is also trained in peer facilitation and is valued as a 'bridge builder' in team settings. Devaney said her ability as an 'active listener' helps her hear all sides before making a decision..."

Ypsi by Choice

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 7:33 a.m.

For a split second, there was a glimmer of hope that logical reasoning was on the table. During the amendment brought by Fanta, closing East would occur and Chapelle could be deferred for a year. With no contemplation, a resounding NO resonated through the board. This process was a cleverly orchestrated charade where the community were made victims and the democratic power proved to be nothing more than puppets. This will be a pivotal turning point in our community with irreversible consequences.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

Hey, I congratulate them on making a tough decision. There is a word in the dictionary called reschedule. I have never met a teacher who would not meet at a different time when asked. Next step is to work on staffing levels and pay. That will be interesting... Come on ann arbor. Ypsi was able to execute school closings this year. We are only delaying the inevitable. All of those wonderful meetings could come up with is pay to play and outsource services? That is the easy part and don't require meetings. The sooner schools are closed, the sooner parents can plan.

Ypsi girl

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 7:01 a.m.

Maybe that is why the informational meeting at Chapelle is on Thursday. In hopes of getting more parents to it that wouldn't typically come, if there wasn't another reason to be there?

Dante Marcos

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 6:38 a.m.

Are my eyes tricking me, or did Devaney say this: "As painful as it is, closing our schools isnt going to solve our problems"?

Meredith Schindler

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 5:49 a.m.

The restructuring informational meeting at Chapelle, if it's held Thursday at 6:30, will occur during parent/teacher conferences. So parents will have to choose between attending their child's conference and attending to their child's future in YPS. The administration and board are so out of touch that they have no idea what's going on in the buildings they do have. This whole thing smacks of rank incompetence.