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Posted on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Ypsilanti-Willow Run facilities: Elementary schools to stay open; secondary consolidations likely

By Danielle Arndt


Ypsilanti, at right, and Willow Run high schools are both significantly under utilized, operating at less than 40 percent capacity. Decisions must be made about which building to use when the two school districts merge in July. file photos

The board for the unified Ypsilanti-Willow Run school district decided Monday night to keep all of the currently used elementary schools open next fall, but officials warned the districts' secondary buildings are seriously under capacity and consolidations are likely.

This is the first formal facility-related decision the appointed board has made in its countdown to launch the new school district on July 1.

Before voting unanimously to keep the elementary buildings open for the 2013-14 academic year, the board reviewed functional capacity data supplied by Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel.

Menzel said eliminating the public's questions about the elementary schools will allow the working groups and committees the unified district is forming to focus on the middle and high schools where the new district "obviously has far more capacity than it has students."

Menzel's figures show the two main high schools are at less than 40 percent capacity this school year.

"We will need to determine which is the best facility for the programmatic decisions that need to be made at the middle and high school levels," Menzel said.

Willow Run High School has the functional capacity for 920 students. There are 307 students enrolled for 2012-13, making the building just 33.3 percent full. Ypsilanti High School has 567 students enrolled and a capacity for 1,500, making it 37.8 percent full.

Ypsilanti New Tech High School is 64.4 percent full with 290 students enrolled and the capacity for 450.

Ypsilanti Middle School is 60.5 percent full with 463 students out of a possible 765.

Willow Run's Intermediate Learning Center, which houses grades five through eight, has a functional capacity for 620 students with 424 students enrolled, making it 68.39 percent full.

Menzel presented the following capacity and utilization figures for the elementary facilities. He noted the figures represent functional capacity of the schools, not the architectural capacity.

  • Willow Run's Primary Learning Center (pre-K through first grade) has the capacity for 425 students and is 74.35 percent full with 316 students enrolled.
  • Willow Run's Elementary Learning Center (grades 2-4) is nearly at capacity, at 97.14 percent full. It has 340 students enrolled and can accommodate 350.
  • Ypsilanti's Erickson Elementary School (grades 2-6) has the capacity for 532 students and currently is 74.4 percent full with 396 students enrolled.
  • Estabrook Elementary in Ypsilanti also has a capacity of 532 students but is operating at 100 percent capacity with exactly 532 students enrolled.
  • Ypsilanti's Adams Academy (grades K-6) is 81.7 percent full with 389 students enrolled and the capacity for 476.
  • Ypsilanti's Perry Child Development Center (pre-k through first) is 84.4 percent full with 507 students and the capacity for 601.

Willow Run owns four school buildings that no longer are used by the district. Kaiser Elementary, Kettering Elementary and Thurston Early Childhood Development Center all are closed. Cheney Elementary is not used as a district school but is the current home of the WAY (Widening Advancements for Youth) countywide program.

The former Chapelle School in Ypsilanti also is closed and no longer used by the district. East Middle School is closed but is home to the Washtenaw International High School.

Also at Monday's board meeting, trustees authorized the new district, with the support and guidance of the WISD, to start forming a labor relations ad hoc committee. The board appointed Trustee Daniel Raglin and board Secretary Greg Myers to serve on that committee.

The committee is expected to have representation from both the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts, as well as teachers and other employee union members.

Part of the committee's mission will be drafting the hiring practices for the new district, developing some compensation guidelines and expectations and setting the timeline for making labor decisions, said board President David Bates.

Bates said all employees in both districts will have to be laid off and re-hired once the new district is official on July 1. Bargaining also cannot take place until that time. Legally, the new district does not exist until July 1, so it cannot enter into any contracts, officials said.

Bates said the committee will work with legal and human resource experts from the community, local colleges and universities and the state to provide as much information to the full board and public as possible about how the teachers and staff will be hired and retained for the new school district.

He said he hopes the ad hoc committee can come up with a timeline by the end of January.

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



Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

What a waste of space. Might want to close all the Ypsi middle schools and use the one in WR. Use that building completely for middle school. It was built for middle and hi school combine. So, combine all of these and use the Ypsi HS for high school. Close everything else. Very centrally located. Just a thought. Otherwise, looks like a church or another charter might take this one over. completely.

Dan r OBryan

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

so there keeping the elementary open that's good but where will the middle school be? If my child has to go across town then I will choose the school and district and drive him. schools are suppose to be in our neighborhoods not across towns so if willow run middle is not going to house junior high then I'm looking at neighboring districts.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Not going to happen in this area. They consolidated. So, by chance, WR HS and middle school become the middle school completely, then they might use Ypsi high school as such. Continue to use a building that is under capacity. Otherwise, school choice might become your other option and you will be driving unless you use AATA. Which is what I do now.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 6:31 a.m.

Understandable slightly that until a new contract is formed, exact numbers on teaching ratios can't be confirmed BUT, like Beardown said above they don't have a estimated number required to operate at least K-5 yet? Suggestion....waiting until July 2013 to detail projected staffing ratios for parents, will equal a further erosion of students in this "merger of equals".


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

"Menzel's figures show the two main high schools are at less than 40 percent capacity this school year." The underutilization of those 2 high schools is unconscionable. There is no reason that kind of underutilization should have been allowed to continue this long. Something is very wrong with this picture, and the waste of tax dollars keeping these 2 buildings open this long at those levels is inexcusable. Where is the accountability?


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

Do you suppose this is why they have been trying to get conversations going to combine systems for years?.. maybe?.

Ann Arbor Academy

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

I think that the adult education program run by the Ypsilanti Public School District that is housed at Chapelle School will be surprised to hear that the building is no longer used by the district.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

I wonder why bargaining can't start until July. If decisions about which buildings to use for students are being made in January, why wait until six more months have passed to determine the staffing? The community might lose some more excellent teachers if the new board puts off the decision for too long. My daughter's algebra teacher at YMS checks every single problem done by every student, on every assignment. She writes notes and clears misunderstandings. It must take her hours of her own time. I want my younger kids to have her for algebra, too. I don't want to risk her taking a job in another district because it's too uncertain here.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Take a look at your buses in that area. Gee, can you guess what this new district is going to be called? I was hoping for Ypsilanti Consolidated but I am thinking what Washtenaw Intermediate School District. What a mouthful.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

I think it is a good thing that WISD Superintendent Menzel is talking to the media on behalf of the board rather than having each individual trustee express his or her opinions to the public. Think about the debacle that we all witnessed going on in Washington last month. Politicians went in front of the cameras to express their personal opinions about the "fiscal cliff." It became a battle that was fought through the media rather than a group of responsible representatives who were willing to sit down and try to hammer out a mutally agreeable compromise. We cannot afford to have our board become openly divided. We already have a very short time line. A divided board cannot create a unified district.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

The new, whatever it will be called, school district is not an actual school district until July, it has no money and no assets or employees. They can make decions now about how they will proceed in the future, but they cannot actually enforce anything until July. It would seem that they could verbalize a plan, albeit one that is purely planned and not enforceable yet, for the teachers now to let them have an idea of what is going on, but they cannot actual hire or fire until July. If not, I cannot imagine how any teachers would want to risk not having a job next year while waiting for the board to create committee after committee after committee and not actually letting anyone know what is going on. That all being said, why is Menzel always the mouth piece for the new board? He is a very smart guy, very good at what he does, but it might make the parents and other tax payers feel a little more involved or that the board is actually doing something outside of playing parliamentary procedure games if they actually heard from the board itself.