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Posted on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 : 6:05 p.m.

Ypsilanti school district releases redistribution plan for school closure options

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti Public Schools has released its plans for redistributing students and staff under two different school closure scenarios being considered.

The plans are both based on student enrollment projections for the 2010-11 school year. John Fulton, executive director of human resources, estimated the district will have 3,761 students next year - 50 fewer than this year.

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Parents packed an Ypsilanti school board meeting Monday to learn more about the proposed school closures. Tom Perkins | For

Under the first option, two elementary schools would close, which district officials have publicly confirmed are Adams and Chapelle.

Erickson and Estabrook elementary schools would remain open and house grades 1-4, with projected populations of 468 and 474, respectively. Erickson has a capacity of 525 students, and Estabrook can accommodate 550.

Perry Child Development Center's capacity is listed at 625 students and would contain 459 kindergarten and first-grade students in the first option.

The middle school grade structure would be reconfigured so one building housed grades 5-6 and the other had 7-8. The district projects 544 and 510 students in each building in option one - building capacities for the middle schools are 680 and 620 students.

Option one would allow the district to cut six teachers.

In the second option under consideration, one elementary school and one middle school would close - though the district has insisted no decision has been made on which elementary school is being considered.

The plan includes creating a K-6 building, along with two schools housing grades 2-6.
The K-6 building would have a population of 412 students, while the other two buildings would have populations of 508 and 509.

Although the district hasn't said Chapelle is slated for closure under the scenario, data it provided lists the school’s capacity at 325 - meaning it couldn't accommodate the number of students required for redistribution. But district officials are adamant no decision has been made on which elementary school would be close in that scenario.

One middle school would close, and the remaining middle school would house 510 students in grades 7-8.

Option two would allow for the elimination of nine teachers.

Under both options, the student-to-teacher ratio at Perry would be 24 to 1. According to a district contract, kindergarten classes are required to have a ratio of 23 to 1, but the school-wide ratio includes averages with the first-grade classes.

Ratios in the elementary and middle schools would average 28 to 1 and 30 to 1, respectively.

The teacher-to-student ratio at the K-6 elementary school in option two would be 27 to 1, while it would average 28 to 1 at the other two elementaries. The middle school and high school will both have ratios of 30 to 1.

Board President David Bates said he'd like to see how redistribution would look in other options under consideration, including one in which Estabrook would be a 5-6 school and one middle school would be closed.

Bates said he doesn't know what the fourth option being explored by administrators looks like. He added he'd like to see Monday's presentation again, but with building capacity information.

"Having the numbers provided last night does not make me feel any more confident," he said. "The concerns I raised have to do with building capacities. We need to leave room for growth in our buildings and work for that growth. If we don’t leave room for that growth, what are trying to accomplish?"

Trustee Kira Berman said the presentation helped in some ways.

"The presentation helped me understand in a more concrete way how our population might fit into those configurations, but there are other considerations when you think about closing schools in general," she said.

Berman encouraged the community to develop and submit suggestions.

"The more ideas we generate, the more creativity that we see, the wider range of options we have to choose from in terms of making decisions for the district," she said. "I think the creativity of the community is fundamental."

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



Fri, Feb 12, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

Ypsilanti Public Schools will host a Public Forum on Budget Reductions, 7 p. m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 in the Ypsilanti High School auditorium, 2095 Packard Rd. This is an opportunity for the community to provide the board of education with feedback on proposed changes. Detail...s: (734) 714-1218. Emma L. Jackson, Public Relations Director Ypsilanti Public Schools "Strong From Start to Finish" (734) 714-1202


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

There are alot of us out there who really take time and effort to research our children's school. As a school of choice parent in the Ypsi school district (remember there are over a 1,0000 of us), choice is the key word. I sat there at the school board meeting as the projected numbers for next year were laid out and I couldn't believe that the board didn't percieve that the radical changes being recommended would not have a greater impact on next year's enrollment numbers. The possiblity of parents making a change to a different district or school is greater when children are a required to move from one school to another. Statistics show that parents jump ship after leaving Perry, and again after completing elementary. The best scenario says that we will have at least 300 families (Chapelle)revaluating rather or not their educational needs are being met. The worse case scenario is that we have nearly a 1,000 families put in flux as a result of the planned changes. It really makes me scratch my head that the board thinks only 50 student will not be returning next year. As a school of choice parent with a child in an affected school (Chapelle), the day that the decision comes that my child's school is being closed is the day I'm out on the hunt again for another school. I pray that my decision leads me to another Ypsi school, but then again it might not. Please keep in mind that there are 393 school of choice families who currently attend Perry and the four elementaries. Rather we consolidate down to 3 schools or 2, we now have less choices. The information handed out at Monday's school board meeting clearly indicates, not matter what we choose we will be looking at a 30:1 ratio in the class rooms, and schools that are at full compacity, where my child and your child are at greater risk of being lost in the cog work.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Can you provide some documented research to back your claims? Have you personally been talking to parents? Are you going to board meetings? Maybe you are and your part of the administration, that's why your so quick to be defensive? Thanks.

Sandy Castle

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

ALSO, talk to parents with children in the Milan district, the Saline district, and in Chelsea. They all use the same system that YPSD is looking into. Where they group the same grades together at one school. I have talked to parents in these districts and they LOVE this system. In fact, one of the parents I spoke with said that more school districts are going to this system because it benefits the kids more than the traditional elementary/middle school set up AND it saves money.

Sandy Castle

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

Once again, HYPE from hypsi. Where is your proof that people are leaving Ypsi in droves because of the school system? These are more scare tactics without any proof given. People in other school districts choose other school options, as well. That's why there are private schools that are booming all over Ann Arbor and they're not filled with only Ypsilanti students. People, make sure you check facts and do your own research. Talk with people, from all over, who have kids in the YPSD and see what they all think.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:57 p.m.

According to the fourth Friday count in September: Perry is 49.9% full with room for over 300 more students Ardis was opened up for 50 culinary arts students, what logic is this? when the building could have been sold for 3 million dollars? Adams is 53% full (room for 250+ students) Chapelle is 78.3% full (room for 70 students) Erickson and Estrabrook are already at 80+% capacity (with room for 100 students more) Ypsilanti High school can house 1255+ students but only 1156 were present for the count. If Chapelle has 375 students and Adams has 253 students..and Estrabrook and Erickson can only logically fit 100 more students in their classrooms to be at max capacity, how does this all work? The numbers just don't add up. Even if you add the first grade into Perry schools (which on average will be possibly 200 kids?) Perry is still only going to be at 50 - 60%. Not to mention the cost of busing these kids all over the city and people wonder why their children are overweight when we have gotten rid of the "walk to your neighbohood school" schools. It's not just about saving "one" school, it's about saving YPS as a whole, making sure students are getting the best education (which 30 - 1 classroom ratios do not give), and making sure the neighborhoods don't suffer already more then they have. Yes, people with families have been leaving Ypsi in droves. Economy now, bad school districts later(if not physically moving then moving their children elsewhere) I have seen a school district shrink from 7 elementary schools(Fletcher, Ardis, Erickson, Estrabrook, Chapelle, George, Adams) to (possibly) two in the past twenty years, with declining neighborhoods around those empty schools as well. There have been many creative alternatives that provide cost saving measures brought up at the school board meetings, which don't involve closing neighborhood schools. If you care about your neighborhood, your public schools, and the education that your children will gain..please voice your concern at the next school board meeting.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

This discussion reminds me of Washington DC: mostly bitter comments and venting cross-talk with few constructive exchanges. "Free speech" allows them to "do their thing"... too bad it's not more constructive. By the way, kids who want an education receive a very good one in YPS. Elan

Sandy Castle

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

People are leaving Saline because of the economy and jobs. They're not leaving because of the way the schools are set up. And they won't leave Ypsilanti, either, at least not in droves. Where would they go? There are limited schools of choice in the area and most of those schools also have their districts set up by grade, not neighborhood. Now if you're talking K-8, you can choose a charter school, but unless you're willing to pay out alot of money to a private school you'll be back at the public school for high school because there are not charter high schools available, at least not that I'm aware of. There are alot of things being said to scare our residents and most of them don't ring true. Our school district needs everybody to work towards solutions that are cost-effective and keep the educating of our children a priority, not towards saving a school at the expense of losing programs that directly affect our children. Which building are kids are in has less effect on their education and well-being than the staff who are working with them. Having been through a school closure, which was done very effectively by YPSD, I would much rather see a school close than to have programs cut that directly affect the kids.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

Oh yeah..good luck putting your house on the market. What YPS doesn't seem to grapse is these changes are going to affect neighborhoods. You think the housing market is bad now...what till after these changes take place. What families are going to want to move into a school district like this!?


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 1:38 p.m.

YPS thinks the budget is in a crisis now? Give it 3 years after these new options are put into place. Saline just cut 6 teachers and are planning to elimnate busing, as well as thinking of closing 2 schools also, so maybe keeping grades together and not sticking with neighborhood schools, has been part of the demise of public education all along. Really 28 to 1 class sizes, 30 to 1 class sizes? What is the draw in that, Ypsi parents and school of choice parents are going to pullin their kids out in droves.

Ypsi by Choice

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

They are estimating for 50 less students. Which is safe to say with the number of transitions these students will go through in the scholastic career. It has been noted that students leave the district right after attending Perry. Seems like a dismal outlook for the district.

Sandy Castle

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

Ypsimom - Saline, Chelsea and Milan all have their elementary students grouped keeping certain grades together, not neighborhoods. This is not a new concept that YPSD is looking at. Better put your house on the market now, you may have to move out of the county to get what you want.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

YPS just do what you are going to do, so I can make my decision before the end of this school year. On where my kid will be finishing out his schooling!


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

So, under the first scenario a child who goes to YPS for K-12 would attend 5 different schools?? I think they need to increase their projection for how many students will leave the district. I think we are witnessing the demise of YPS.