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Posted on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 6:21 p.m.

Willow Run, Ypsilanti schools to pursue consolidating districts

By Danielle Arndt


From left, WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel, Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki and Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin announce plans Tuesday to pursue consolidating Willow Run and Ypsilanti school districts into one public school district.

Danielle Arndt I

This story has been updated.

Officials with Willow Run and Ypsilanti schools have announced an effort to consolidate into one public school district.

Residents of both districts could be asked to vote on the question of consolidation in an upcoming election.

A joint meeting between Willow Run and Ypsilanti’s boards of education is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. April 16. The location of the meeting will be established once both boards have had the opportunity to separately vote in support of the joint session. Ypsilanti is expected to do so at its March 26 regular meeting and Willow Run at its March 29 meeting.

The consolidation announcement was made late Tuesday afternoon during a meeting between Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki, Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin and Scott Menzel, superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, with select members of the local media present.

The decision to pursue consolidation was solidified Monday during a meeting of the Willow Run and Ypsilanti Collaboration and Communication Task Force.

The task force voted to place the consolidation proposal on an upcoming ballot, predicated on the development of a “solid, detailed unification plan with specific legislative and financial initiatives in place to support it,” Menzel said.

“The goal, looking at the economic realities and the achievement challenges both districts are facing, is to move beyond tinkering in the margins and to come together and unite under one new school system,” Menzel said.

The Willow Run-Ypsilanti task force was created in August to explore and recommend opportunities for collaboration and the sharing of services between the two districts.

Most recently the task force recommended combining the schools’ transportation departments, bus fleets and maintenance at one location, the current Willow Run facility.

Menzel said the most important component of the district’s consolidation plans would be securing some type of incentive from the state.

Willow Run Community Schools currently is operating with about a $1.7 million deficit, while recent projections show Ypsilanti Public Schools is about $9.4 million in the red.

Menzel said consolidating two districts doesn’t necessarily make that combined deficit any smaller. School leaders have been in communication with Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township, about legislation that would extend the debt repayment period for deficit districts that choose to consolidate. He said districts currently operating with a deficit have about two years to pay back debt.

In September 2011, Menzel, Rutledge and others meet with “key players” in Lansing to float the idea of extended repayment periods and were met with support at that time, Menzel said.

“The intent is not to forgive or eliminate (the debt generated by deficit spending),” he said.

However, the districts believe this is an appropriate, locally-generated response to having two struggling districts side-by-side, Lisiscki said.

Read the letter both districts posted on their respective websites about consolidating here.

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



Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

This is an attempt to get more funding from the state. Without extra state funding, the merger may not happen. I hope that the state insists that these two districts cut costs and be more efficient before considering taking funding from other school districts.

Chris Blackstone

Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

I wish this would be the first step in the consolidation of all Washtenaw school districts into one district, but that very logical step will never happen. I mean, why try to be efficient when we can have 12 school boards, 12 superintendents, 12 heads of instruction, …..


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

Maybe finally school districts, states and parents will realize that the entire funding system is broken. All stakeholders need to be held accountable. Throwing good money after bad is a practice that needs to change. More spending doesn't mean a better education. At least these two districts appear to be realizing that they must act to survive without being taken over by the state. It makes no sense to have such duplication of services so close to each other and this appears to be a logical choice. I sincerely hope this action helps these districts. But any change I am sure will have its share of issues.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Willow Run 1.7 mil. deficet, Ypsi 9.4 mill. deficet. this is not a merger it is a take over. It would be better to have a state takeover than to be taken over by Ypsi Schools. Willow Run would be gobbled up by a bigger loser.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 9:36 a.m.

This is just sad all around. Schools are defined by the community that supports them, and it seems as though the open enrollment process has redefined how schools serve the student population. I don't see things turning around for the two school systems, even after the consolidation.

Pixie Belle

Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 5:52 a.m.

Really Ypsilanti might not be the best but at least the schools are safe and produce literate graduates. The same can not be said for Willow Run.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

There is something called cameras and watchers. Doesn't sound like anyone is doing much if this is going on.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 9:32 a.m.

You obviously don't read the board minutes. A staff members car was stolen out of the parking lot, the liaison officer was assaulted, and a female student was stabbed all within the past 12 months. I would hardly call that a safe school.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

I applaud administration for their efforts, but until you can make parents accountable for their part in their child's education, you will still have mayhem at these districts. Period. I have seen what is happening at both Districts, and I am appalled. YHS pulled the plug on a program where kids actually had a chance to move forward--and they did this after Christmas break. These kids got put in to whatever classes were open, and it was too late to have the kids enroll at WCC to continue. And according to the PowerSchool I am currently looking can have 27 tardies and still get full credit in a class? There are deeper issues that need some looking in to. At another local District if you have 6 tardies you lose credit. End of story.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

I have talked to teachers at WR and they said it is like babysitting. If the children don't want to learn? They won't. Most are failing and the only thing they get credit for is attendance. Kind of sad actually.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 1:45 a.m.

This is welcome news.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

This is a good idea, it will make large wealthy district with much more resources. I wonder if they will make a brand new high school? If they do you will have a lot of jealous white people in Ann Arbor from Huron and Pioneer. No complaints from Skyline, that school is awesome.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

No to the high school. They will probably use WR and Ypsi. One north and one south. As for Ann Arbor? It might give them a run for the money, but I seriously doubt it. This will take time to really see if this consolidation really does fly.

joe golder

Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 2:10 a.m.

Public!!!! People will get it soon!!!


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

no one in ann arbor will be jealous of anything. our schools are strong and doing well. I really hope this works and the students from both districts can benefit from this.

joe golder

Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Why is this taking so long? Get this done as soon as possible! City and Twp should take notice!


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

Does this benefit the community.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

Two bad apples will spoil the whole gang homie!


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

As a parent who lives just inside the YPS district and sends kids to school in Willow Run, I'm glad to hear this. Maybe we can pull together and pool resources to make things better for everyone. I always thought it was dumb that the Ypsilanti area had three separate school districts (if you count Lincoln).


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

I don't see this as good news for the students or community stake holders where theses districts are. Combining two incredibly poor performing districts isn't exactly a strategy that will attract students. Or make these communities more attractive to parents with children. And it may increase the rate at which students leave these districts. Of course, at the state level, it would be one less poorly performing district.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

I think this is a great idea. This will blend two districts, one that is failing and that is recovering to help eachother to become one force to help the children that need the help. I'd like to see how the stats work out in 5 years if this does become a reality.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

Any basis for these predictions, or are they just made up?


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

You're just so positive!!.. shesh