Community, school board members discuss Ypsilanti Community Schools at public meeting
Lisa Carolin I For AnnArbor.com
More than 45 people participated in Saturday's World Cafe format, which involved dividing into small groups and letting every person take a turn answering the same questions. Each table was led by a school board member from the Ypsilanti Community District or an administrator from the county.
Participants were asked to answer questions aloud, and also could write answers on a large piece of paper in the center of the table.
One question which prompted strong reactions was "What is your greatest fear in this process of transitioning to a united district?"
Ypsilanti High School junior Kate Mull said her biggest fear is that nothing changes.
"Kids will get lost because adults don't get along," she said.
Scott Heister said, "I fear that we won't be able to create a structure that will attract the best staff and keep them."
For parent Jason Evans, the fear is the short timeline.
"I don't want it to turn to making reactionary decisions that involve emergency management," said Evans.
Scott Menzel, superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, who helped lead the round table discussions, concurred that time is limited. He told participants, "There are 114 days until the new district starts, and we have a monumental task ahead of us bringing two different school districts together."
Other fears included the community being torn apart, a massive exodus of students, and an inability to sustain good programs.
"I want to make this district the best I can because my kids are going to stay here, and I don't want my friends and their friends to leave," said parent Michelle Tramp.
Tramp also echoed a popular sentiment from many of today's participants: The importance of being a part of the decision making process along with being kept up to date on exactly what decisions have been made.
"We need communication from leaders telling us what's going on se we don't have to just depend on word of mouth," said Tramp.
David Bates, president of the Ypsilanti Community school board, told the participants, "Our most important work is to let the community know they're players in the process."
One of the final round table requests of participants was to share one dream for the new district.
"My dream is that all of our kids can feel like they can achieve," parent Nancy Harvey said. "We have a lot of kids who don't have families there to help so the school has to do that."
The next opportunity outside of school board meetings for people to participate tentatively is set for Saturday, March 23. Information will be posted on the Ypsilanti Community Schools website.