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Fri August 10, 2012
Ypsilanti and Willow Run schools to ask voters, "should we merge?"
Two struggling Michigan school districts will ask voters in November if they should merge.
Ypsilanti Public Schools has about 3,600 students; Willow Run Public Schools has about 1,600.
Both districts have serious financial problems, along with poor student test scores and low graduation rates.
Both districts' high schools failed to meet adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law last year.
Dedrick Martin is Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools.
He says he supports the plan, even though he could lose his job -- and at least some board members in both districts will lose their seats.
"This is a courageous step in terms of a lot of individuals saying, time out for cross-town rivalry," says Martin, "and time for us to work together, to create something better for our students -- because they deserve it."
Martin says state officials will give the districts additional time to pay off their combined debt if voters approve the consolidation.
That will enable the new district to avoid the appointment of an emergency financial manager.
But he says it's not clear how much money the consolidation will save. The school districts are so strapped for cash that commissioning a study of projected cost savings wasn't an option.
If voters approve the merger, it will need to be completed by July 1, 2013, says Martin. A new school board would be appointed by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.