Ypsilanti teacher's union president takes new job, urges unified district to start addressing staff questions
AnnArbor.com file photo
Siegel, an Ann Arbor resident, said it will be hard to leave Ypsilanti Public Schools and she will remain committed to seeing the new unified district succeed. Siegel said she is still a strong proponent of the merger between Ypsilanti and Willow Run.
“But I had to go where I knew I would have a job,” she said.
Siegel, currently a language arts teacher at the high school, became president of the YEA this fall, when former union president Kelly Powers was named principal at Erickson Elementary School.
The move to Plymouth-Canton and to the administrative position of visual and performing arts coordinator is a great opportunity for Siegel, she said.
Krista Boyer, a kindergarten teacher at Perry Child Development Center, will take over as YEA president on Monday.
As she leaves the district, Siegel had some urgent words of advice for the new school board. Since the merger passed Nov. 6 and the new joint school board was selected Nov. 19, Siegel has expressed concern for the teachers and staff at YPS, and has encouraged the new board to give some direction to teachers as soon as possible about what they could expect with regards to their jobs.
Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel, who has been integral in facilitating the merger between the two districts, previously said faculty and staff would be required to reapply for their positions and contracts will need to be renegotiated. There also likely will be a reduction of staff, Menzel has said.
Siegel said the board needs to give some clarification or confirmation of this information to both district’s staff. The new board has yet to address staffing assignments and it is concerning for teachers who need to make plans for their families, she said.
A process for selecting a superintendent for the consolidated district has been the appointed board’s first priority. The board began a discussion at its first regular meeting Dec. 3 about whether to hire an organization to conduct a nationwide search for a superintendent, or to select from one of the existing superintendents, either Ypsilanti’s Dedrick Martin or Willow Run’s Laura Lisiscki.
Siegel said this is a historic moment for the greater Ypsilanti community as a whole and the board needs to do due diligence and conduct a search.
“I understand (Willow Run) had some recent history where they had an outside superintendent come in and it was a very stressful time for them,” Siegel said. “And we do have two people who are viable candidates here now. But there is a good chance there are others even within this area who are just as committed to Ypsilanti and Willow Run and deserve a chance to apply, too.”
She said she knows a decision on a superintendent must be made quickly, “but if there is anything for the board not to mess up it should be that position.”
Siegel also said it would be a “slap in the face” if the teachers have to reapply for their jobs, but one of the superintendents is simply ushered in.
New board Vice President Don Garrett expressed some concerns about a large-scale search at the Dec. 3 meeting. He said the current superintendents have the community’s trust and have put their personal interests aside to work toward the merger. He worries about bringing in someone new that could hurt that trust and the mission, he said.
In an interview Friday, Garrett said he does want to do a search to be fair to everyone in both districts — both the superintendents and the other faculty and staff.
“I still strongly feel it should be between the two that we have, but I do also strongly agree that we owe it to the community to make sure we are finding the best fit and everybody is getting a fair shake,” he said.
The next Ypsilanti-Willow Run Board of Education meeting is set for Monday and will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Ypsilanti High School.
At the Dec. 3 meeting, the board heard a presentation about the superintendent search services that the Michigan Association of School Boards offers.
Richard Dunham, director of superintendent searches for the MASB, told board members Dec. 3 if they do have a strong internal candidate, whom the community is behind, they should not waste time or money doing a search.
This Monday, Garrett said the board will hear from the Michigan Leadership Institute, the other top organization for superintendent search in the state.
It is not clear when the board will make a decision on whether or not to hire a search firm. The cost of doing so is expected to be around $10,000.