Ypsilanti-Willow Run school district eyes $6.5M of Gov. Snyder's $10M in grant money
Ypsilanti-Willow Run school officials have taken the “you have not because you ask not” approach when completing a grant proposal for a portion of $10 million in funds to help school districts consolidate services.
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
Ypsilanti and Willow Run certainly were incentivized. Officials with the two struggling districts have banked on receiving a large portion of Snyder’s grant money.
Currently, administrators with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, who will submit the grant request on behalf of the unified district, said they anticipate asking for more than $6.5 million in funds.
WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel, Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki, Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin and a number of financial and human resources staff from the ISD and both districts have worked steadily in the weeks since Nov. 6 to develop a budget summary for the grant proposal.
Menzel said the group wanted to crunch as many numbers as possible and to explain and support why it was requesting the funds.
He said the grant proposal is due Friday. It is not known how many other school districts also will be vying for money.
New board member Maria Sheler-Edwards said while she agrees with the approach the WISD has taken in asking for everything the unified district could possibly need, she worries the state may try to set a standard with its grant awards for how much consolidating two districts should cost.
Menzel said Sheler-Edwards’ concerns are fair and he hopes school leaders will be able to work with the Michigan Department of Education to prioritize what the unified district’s top needs are, if the full $6.5 million-plus cannot be awarded.
The consolidation budget summary that school administrators have developed includes:
- An estimated $500,000 for new athletic and band uniforms.
- About $20,000 to support Washtenaw Success By Six with flushing out a concept for an early childhood family development center as part of the new district.
- About $600,000 to bridge summer school programming from the old districts to the unified district, so at-risk students may still receive extra instruction through the summer during the transitional period.
- A total of $1.1 million in staff, administrator and board professional development.
- An estimated $250,000 in legal fees for attorneys to make sure the closing of the two individual districts and the launching of the new unified district is done by-the-book.
There also will be costs for conducting financial, curriculum and facilities audits of the two existing school systems.
Menzel said the appointed board must know exactly where it stands — and “put it all out there” — in order to evaluate assets, combine buildings respectfully and responsibly, and to develop effective and innovative programs for 21st century learners.
“Let’s not sugarcoat any of it,” he said.
The district also will need money for changing all of the locks and re-keying the buildings to create a single secure system.
Additionally, there is a significant amount included in the budget for integrating the two districts’ technical systems. Menzel said currently one district operates on Mac and the other on PCs.
The unified school system will need to hire a technology expert to determine which platform will best meet the new district’s software and instructional needs.
Download a copy of the budget summary the WISD will submit to the state here. The budget still is in draft form and the final amount the WISD requests could increase by Friday, the grant application due date, as administrators continue to analyze costs, Menzel said. The numbers of each line item also could be tweaked.