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Posted on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 6:09 a.m.

Ypsilanti school board rejects proposed closure of middle school, waits for deficit elimination plan

By Kyle Feldscher

For years, Ypsilanti school board members have discussed when they might draw a line in the sand and refuse to cut services from the district’s budget.

They may have reached that point during Monday night’s school board meeting.

Presented with a proposed deficit elimination plan that included a number of drastic measures — such as cutting custodians' salaries by 12.5 percent, closing Ypsilanti Middle School and incorporating the seventh and eighth grades into Ypsilanti High School — board members said the plan simply isn't feasible.

“I can’t do it. I’m sorry,” board President David Bates said of the potential salary cuts for district employees. “I think it’s absolutely outrageous that the only way to balance the budget is to take away one-fifth of what everyone earns. It’s just obscene.”

Chief Financial Officer David Houle presented the board with a proposed plan to eliminate an anticipated $26 million budget deficit that could develop in the next four years.

031910_News_East Middle School_1.jpg

Ypsilanti's East Middle School closed at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. But school board members say the remaining middle school won't be shuttered. file photo

The proposal that rankled members of the community and the board the most was the idea of moving the seventh and eighth grades to Ypsilanti High School and closing the middle school. Houle said the move would save the district about $2 million in the next four years if the building closed before the 2012-13 school year.

The district closed East Middle School and Chapelle Elementary School at the end of the 2009-10 school year to save money.

Closing the only remaining middle school was a measure the board outright rejected.

“The closing of the middle school, that’s off the table,” Vice President Floyd Brumfield said. “We haven’t voted, but I’m just noticing the nodding heads and how people are speaking.”

Six parents spoke to board members during the public comment portion of the meeting, expressing misgivings over closing the middle school.

Daisy Mull, who has three children attending Ypsilanti schools, said her daughter, who is in fifth grade at Erickson Elementary School, looked at her “nearly with fear in her eyes” when Mull told her she might be at the high school when she enters seventh grade.

“If you do this, parents will leave the district,” she said. “I will pull her from the district. I have tried real hard to be a cheerleader for the district, and it’s really hard for me to say that.”

Maria Cotera said parents would begin pulling their children out of Ypsilanti schools at the beginning of sixth grade to attend Ann Arbor schools if the measure was approved.

She said the district simply couldn't continue cutting services due to the number of students who would leave and the amount of funding those losses could cost the district.

“We said it last year and we will do it again: The district is acting like the only strategy they can take is cutting essential services,” she said.

Among the other potential cuts in the deficit elimination plan, along with Houle's estimated savings: 

  • Eliminating athletics, which would save about $2 million over four years.
  • Eliminating transportation completely, which would save about $8 million.
  • Eliminating just one tier of transportation — either the secondary busing runs or the elementary busing runs — which would save about $4 million.
  • A number of cuts to benefits for administrators and principals.

Trustees asked Houle to present another version of the plan at a board district operations committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at the East Middle School building. The meeting is open to the public.

The district has to turn a plan over to the state by Jan. 25.

Trustee Andy Fanta said he would like to see a version of the plan that defunded athletics and did not close the middle school. He said the district may be able to go to community leaders and businesses to find sponsors to keep athletic programs in the schools.

He said it was no longer possible for the district to cut its way to solvency.

“We’re not asking the right kinds of questions when addressing this budget,” he said. “We’re focusing on cutting, cutting, cutting. We’re not focusing on what we’re doing and what kind of district we want, and we’re not answering the parents who are asking those type of questions.”

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at


Sandy Castle

Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

@jns, I hope it all works out for your kids. Some of the local school districts are starting IB type programs within their schools. It seems to be a very promising curriculum. But from all I've read grades are very important and their grading system is rigorous. Perhaps that's why they offer the summer programs, to keep the kids up to speed so they can keep up with the requirements. Ann Arbor schools don't offer entrance into schools of choice for the high school level, but once you are accepted into their schools of choice program in 6th grade, you are in until you graduate, should you choose to stay. There are many options for education in this area. Our children are very lucky to have so many choices.


Thu, Jan 13, 2011 : 10:15 a.m.

That is incorrect as to grades. I mean yes, they probably don't want a child who is an all D student. But someone who is really trying and wants to make a go of it they are willing to work with you. I went to that meeting last nite and I asked them specifically about grades and they said no. They have a summer school program to get children up to speed. What they don't want is a bunch of slackers like the ones you will find at Willow Run. Sorry, but from talking to their teachers? Sad disgrace. Those who do not want to work, do not apply. Those that do? Want to succeed? Do. I hope ours does get in. I think it is more rounded then public. IMO. Plus you get your degree from the hi school you are suppose to be attending in that district. As for opening up to the hi school in Ann Arbor? Won't see that coming any time soon. That is why they stop at 6.

Garden Goddess

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

Thanks for the info Sandy. Wondering when/if Ann Arbor is opening up HighSchool to those of us in Ypsi?

Sandy Castle

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

It's not difficult to get into the Ann Arbor schools of choice at all. You apply when they open it up and get the process started. You can request a certain middle school, but they are only taking certain numbers at each one so if it's filled you'd have to choose another one. The new high school being proposed for East Middle School is an International Baccalaureate School ( and there are strict entrance requirements, specifically in regard to a child's grades.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

For anyone interested? There is a new hi school forming at East Middle School called International Hi School. Go to WISD's web site and look it up. We are going to the parent nite tonight to check it out. I hope it is more then what regular hi school can offer. Just a thought.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

Steve? Ann Arbor opened up its doors to school choice for incoming 6 only. You have to have intra district approval from the superintendent to be allowed into their district. Currently school choice for Ann Arbor is I think 1, 3 and 6. So unless they know something we don't, you won't get in.

Garden Goddess

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

Good to know about alternatives for education. Our son would benefit from more challenging academics. I rarely see any homework, and have not heard anything about doing a term paper. Don't we all remember working a bit harder when we were in school? I know I always had school work or some type of project due. Our son was doing term papers in 4th and 5th grade at a Montesorri school. It has always bothered me when their is always $ somehow for buildings, ie bond funding or capital espenses. In these times it seems we should be puttting any $ available to academics and quality teachers, progrms that make our kids ready to move on as adults.

Sandy Castle

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 7:36 a.m.

@Steve, Ann Arbor has a limited school of choice program that starts in the 6th grade. Saline also has this type of program, but I believe theirs starts at 4th grade. Milan is a school of choice and they have a very good reputation for their academics AND they have some strong sports programs. We are removing our daughter from Ypsi's New Tech and starting her there for the second semester of this year. If you want to get your children into another school, it really isn't that difficult to manage.


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

@emma jackson... In all fairness, I understand that you are paid by Ypsilanti Public Schools as an administrator. In the interest of full disclosure, it would benefit the community if you had also mentioned that the teachers HAVE agreed to a percentage pay cut (as did administration) and all teachers are currently having pay TAKEN back from their check for days we also agreed to work "without pay" to help the District balance their books. (Not to mention that payroll "made a mistake" and admit they took more than agreed to from our checks.) I appreciate you trying to clarify for the readers some facts... I just wish that ALL of the facts were being reported. You have always been highly respected by everyone you work with, please don't let the need to make Administration look good change your past ability to be a fair reporter.

Steve Pierce

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

Maria Cotera said parents would begin pulling their children out of Ypsilanti schools at the beginning of sixth grade to attend Ann Arbor schools if the measure was approved. I didn't know Ypsi parents could send their kids to Ann Arbor schools. How many do that right now?

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

There's a typo in the first paragraph. You said Ypsi was "drawing a line" in the sand over the issue of salary cuts for union workers. I think you meant to write "their heads are" instead.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

There's a typo in the first paragraph. You said Ypsi was "drawing a line" in the sand over the issue of salary cuts for union workers. I think you meant to write "their heads are" instead.


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

David Hoyle and the Board have no easy task!!Should consolidation be the next consideration... it is looking more and more necessary.


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

I agree. Ann Arbor is also top heavy with over paid teachers and administrators as well. So to keep their paychecks they farmed out transportation and nearly cut in half the custodial framework as well. I wonder if the teachers are going to clean their own classrooms and toilets? I wonder if the secretaries are going to maintain their own supplies? O thats right, it is not in their contract to do this. Leave the custodians alone and start reducing the teacher and administration salaries. Good luck Ypsilanti. I hate to say it transportation first, then the custodians and what you do have left? MEA vs the board and teachers refusing to give in. Going to be a long remaining year.

joe golder

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

When I seen renovation work being done on the white house wasted millage money came to mind. Did the district even come close to recovering the millage money spent on fletcher when it was sold? How much of the tax payers money has been spent on closed buildings. It seems the tax payers payed to upgrade and make some buildings more attractive for a future sale. The writing was on the wall 10 years ago where the enrollment was headed. All you had to do was count empty class rooms. An ambitious agenda and over the top optimism led to a millage that will cost tax payers for many years to come. Ok! the economy failing and jobs disappearing in the area sure did play a role in families moving out. Having said that people have to realize major changes have to be made if YPS are to stay in business. I worked for YPS for many years and can tell you how important all the things their talking about cutting are going to affect the quality of education. This is a different world transportation of students safely to and from school, Clean lunch room tables, clean bathrooms, GOOD ADMINISTATORS AND TEACHERS, ect... the list goes on. I wish CFO David Houle, and the board my prayers and best wishes. Lets be honest the cuts will be deep.

Emma Jackson

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

Point of clarification to sad day: There was a bond update presentation at the Jan. 10, 2011 board meeting. The bond dollars spent on the administration building are within the amount that was allocated four years ago when the bond budget was established. New Tech H.S. did not exist in 2007 when the original district bond plan was implemented. However, because of cost saving measures, investment of bond dollars and other adjustments, funding was allocated for renovations to make the building suitable for high school students, this includes science labs which will be part of Phase IV bond work, commencing this summer. The investment in the administration building does not exceed the cost of work done on any of our school buildings. The schools in the original bond budget were always a priority over central administrative offices; this is the reason the building at 1885 Packard was placed in the third stage of construction.


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 11 a.m.

Cutting pay for just the admin and pricipals won't be enough. quite hilarious that they don't include cutting teacher pay in the above poll. Cut out athletics ( hurt the kids), cut the busing ( hurt the kids and parents), close the middle school (hurt the kids) but heaven forbid don't cut teacher pay. We all know where this school district is headed and that is insolvency. It should be combined with Ypsilanti and Lincoln into a new school district. Then perhaps that new school district could make it another 20 years or so if they got lucky.


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 10:12 a.m.

How much of this would have been avoided if Ypsilanti had voted for the county millage? (The one where they got $1.76 back for every $1 they put in?) This is only partly a snarky reminder that you get what you pay for; maybe not even that could have avoided Ypsi's troubles?

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 10:04 a.m.

@Justin- There were quite a few other cuts that were listed during Houle's presentation, but in the interest of space I only listed a few highlights. Among some of the other cuts proposed were five teacher reductions, a reduction in custodial health care cost and a cut in contracted food service.

Sandy Castle

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 10:03 a.m.

Ypsilanti's academics are below par. If these things are taken away, why would anyone choose to stay? They have nothing to offer your children. There are options that aren't too far away.


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 9:59 a.m.

Maybe my numbers are bad, but I see a $26M deficit, and potential cuts that only add up to $14M per year. I think the school board / Ypsi government needs to look a bit harder to find the money to run these schools.

sad day

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 9:55 a.m.

KUDOS to the board


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 9:43 a.m.

I knew it. After bringing in Trinity for transportation? They knew transportation was going to cost them even after the consolidation and they knew WISD couldn't handle it. Ypsilanti is spending $180,000 just to have Trinity in their system. If Trinity is replaced you can bet Willow Run and Ann Arbor will follow suit. Just wait. As for athletics? Do what Ann Arbor did. Pay as you go. I am going to pay thru the wazoo for ours athletics. Otherwise, they are going to really get the teachers union crazy with all of these cuts. But they have to do what they gotta do. As for removing middle school? Not a great idea. Glad to see the board is thinking with their heads for once.

sad day

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 9:39 a.m.

What a joke!!!!!!!! Reduce the salaries of custodians? These buildings are already working with a skeleton crew. They are over worked and already under paid, carrying the blunt of positions of jobs that were lost by attrition. When the high school was designed he required 22 custodians and has only 4 in place. The MSAB came in to the district and did a time study and the district is working with 12 custodians less than it should be...This district is extremely top heavy with administrators according to districts with the same amount of students, before you look at cutting support staff workers all the administrators should take a 12 1/2 percent pay cut and eliminate top heavy administrators. Look what happened when you farmed out the bus drivers!!!!!!! David Houle should be ashamed of himself for even suggesting the proposed cuts. The teachers and support staff working are holding this district together. Perhaps the entire Administration staff should be privatized. Just an FYI to the tax payers that approved the bond for upgrades and technology......The district could not complete work at New Tech FOR SCIENCE LABS because of all the money that was soaked into the Administration Building. There is more money in that, then in some of the buildings they remodeled. They think you are all are stupid. Go to a board meeting and hold them accountable.

Garden Goddess

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 8:11 a.m.

Yes my husband and I would definetly remove our child if the middle school was combined with the high school. We have been going back and forth already on this issue. I don't understand why the administration building had to be remodled this summer, how much did that cost? It appears the Ypsilanti School system has many empty buildings already, couldn't the administrative services been relocated to one one of them? I know that most of us don't spend money on a new addition or remodel of our own homes when we our broke.


Tue, Jan 11, 2011 : 7:25 a.m.

Sounds Great cut administrators pay and it will be a revolving door to likes we never seen. maybe we could it a certain felon who's currently in the local news.