Students from Ann Arbor Technical High School, the Adult Education program and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District walked across the stage at Washtenaw Community College’s Towsley Auditorium the night of Monday, June 4. Continue reading
By Casey Hans
Ask Debra Destefani what high school program has worked for her. This 17-year-old Pittsfield Township resident has a ready answer.
She is enrolled in the WAY Washtenaw program, a 365-day, online countywide high school program that uses team leaders, mentors, subject experts and regular labs to teach students.
Previously a Community High School student, Destefani said this alternative approach is better suited to her needs, allowing her to do her project-based school work, studying in ways that work for her while she holds down a part-time job.
“I’m self-motivated,” she said. “I think maybe it’s all about mindset and attitude. I guess I can be myself – it allows me to focus on what I like and at the same time get credit for it. I felt like I would get swept away in a crowd (at a traditional school.)”
Widening Advancements for Youth Washtenaw is run through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, with individual districts participating by purchasing seat time in the program. In its pilot year in 2010-11, the program had 240 students from 10 Washtenaw districts enrolled; in the coming year, it will expand to a full program and add more students, bringing the total served to as many as 420.
There will be only one base lab for the program at Willow Run in the coming year due to budget cutbacks, but labs will also be scheduled regularly at public library sites around the county, including Mallets Creek and downtown Ann Arbor branches to accommodate students here.
The program must follow the same guidelines as traditional high schools in meeting the requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum. Team Leader Jennifer Hart – in a role that she said would be comparable to a principal in a traditional high school – said the alternative WAY is challenging.
“Projects are not easy – we want there to be rigor and relevance,” said Hart, a former English teacher and literary coach who oversees Destefani and many of the other Ann Arbor students in the program. “In order to receive a diploma, they have to prove they are proficient in all of the areas to pass.”
Students in the program are referred to as “researchers” and, in addition to team leaders and mentors, there are experts available in key subject areas and technicians who can help with the technical issues learning in an online, computer-based program. Before being accepted into the program, families must apply and home visits are conducted. The program carried a waiting list of students this year.
Hart said Destefani is a great success story of the program. She came into WAY Washtenaw having only earned four credits over two years, which is well below what is needed to graduate over four years. Destefani said she just didn’t go to class and fell behind. WAY Washtenaw has changed her approach and her attitude. She has already finished 6.5 credits since the fall – about one per month – and is moving along in the program so quickly, she will be on target to graduate in December 2012 – the year she would have graduated with her classmates at Community.
Hart said team leaders play many roles: principal, counselor and truant officer, among others. They are responsible for tracking students online and, if they have not logged in and worked in any given day, they are called and, sometimes, get unannounced home visits. Another team leader, Sean Fountain, said he is always on call and more often communicates with his students via cell calls or text messages.
At a recent information session for WAY Washtenaw, parents and students were eager for more information on this alternative program that targets students who either have already dropped out of high school, are at risk of doing so or are attending school but not on track to graduate with their class.
The program generally serves students who are 15 or older, and they must finish the program by Aug. 31 after they turn 20. Students who complete the WAY Washtenaw program receive a diploma from their home districts; this spring, three earned diplomas thanks to this program.
Monique Uzelac, director of instructional technology for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, has been one of the key persons setting up the program at the WISD and was involved with interviewing and hiring staff and interacting with families as they were interviewed to be part of the inaugural program.
She said the program is off to a strong start and gives students a solid approach for achieving the credits they need to graduate. Depending on the topic, in one collaborative project, students can earn credits toward English, social studies and science, for example.
“In Washtenaw County, almost 650 students drop out each year,” Uzelac said. “This program has been successful at pulling students up who are falling behind and becoming discouraged and also at returning students to the classroom who have given up hope.”
And what is Destefani’s future? She loves to write essays and plans to attend college, hoping to follow in her father’s footsteps as a writer and editor.
Vote results can be found at the Washtenaw County Clerk’s website
Voters in Washtenaw County have overwhelmingly supported a 7-year, 0.985 mill renewal for special education services.
The proposal was put on the ballot Tuesday by the Washtenaw Intermediate School district and covers all 10 of the local districts represented. The May 3 election saw 27,262 voters, nearly 77 percent of those casting ballots, voting yes on the measure, and 8,203 voters, or 23 percent, saying no, according to unofficial vote tallies reported by the Washtenaw County Clerk. Turnout was 13.47 percent.
The millage will bring in $14 million per year for the county and about $5.8 million for the Ann Arbor Public Schools that goes toward the district’s special education services.
Failure of the millage proposal would have caused the district to take the money from its General Fund in addition to the $15 million deficit the district faces going into the 2011-12 fiscal year which starts July 1.
Voters first approved the millage in September 2004 for 1 mill; the millage rate has been reduced to less than the 1 mill due to the impact of the Headlee Tax Limitation Amendment. This renewal will run from 2011-17.
Board to host roundtable session with legislators
A session about state school funding with The Ann Arbor Board of Education and area legislators is scheduled for Thursday, May 5 Friday, May 6 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Pioneer High School cafeteria.
The sessions will include a history of AAPS budget, Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget implications, ideas for reform and public commentary. The event will be telecast and rebroadcast on CTN Education Channel 18.
Public comment time will be limited, so those wishing to speak are asked to sign up in advance by calling 734-994-2232.
From AAPSNews Service
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District seeks renewal of a special education millage on Tuesday, May 3. The renewal is for seven years and would run from 2011-17.
If approved, the proposal would renew a 0.985 mill special education millage. Voters first approved the millage in September 2004 for 1 mill; the millage rate has been reduced to less than the 1 mill due to the impact of the Headlee Tax Limitation Amendment.
The millage renewal would bring $14 million countywide, of which $5.8 million would come to the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. and voters cast ballots at their regular municipal polling places. Voters in Michigan are required to show photo identification at the polls.
To locate your polling place and review the ballot, visit online by clicking here.
Some facts about this millage renewal:
- Local schools are required to provide special education services for students with physical, mental or emotional disabilities up to age 26.
- Today, nearly 7,000 students or about 1-in-7 throughout the county, receive some kind of special education service, with most receiving help overcoming learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, and some having to cope with more severe physical, mental or emotional problems.
- In the Ann Arbor Public Schools this year, 2,093 students are receiving special education services of 16,569 total students.
- State and federal funding has not kept pace with increased costs, which means that mandated special education funding must come from a voter-approved millage or local school district general fund budgets, thereby reducing funding available for general education programs for all students.
- The May 3 renewal would help maintain programs for students with special needs, leaving more funds in the schools’ general operating budgets to provide service for all students.
Superintendent: An OK maintains services, defeat would affect General Fund
Below: Ed Foundation hosts budget information sessions
From AAPSNews Service
On May 3, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District will seek a renewal of .9850 of a mill for seven years to support special education services for students in the 10 local Washtenaw County districts that it serves.
Voters first approved the millage in September 2004 and the renewal is proposed to cover the years 2011-17. The millage renewal will bring in $14 million countywide, of which $5.8 million would come to the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
“If that money goes away, we will have to find another way to fund it and that’s through the General Fund,” said Ann Arbor Interim Superintendent Robert Allen. He has given presentations explaining the impact of the millage both to the school board and at a March 21 community meeting.
Allen explained that special education services are mandated by state and federal laws and local school districts are bound also by Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, which are binding legal documents between a district and families and determine how their children will be educated.
“We look at each individual child and say ‘what is the true need?’” Allen said. “We determine what’s in the best interest for the child.”
Money from the millage will be used to continue to reimburse local school districts for special education programs and to help maintain quality services for all students, said WISD Interim Superintendent Richard Leyshock,
“We’re seeking the renewal because the demand for special education continues,” he said “And, without adequate special education millage, local districts will be required to take increasing dollar amounts from their general operating funds to provide special education programs that are required by state and federal law.”
One in seven – or an average of three students in a classroom – receive some type of special education service. Of the 16,569 students enrolled in the Ann Arbor district, 2,093 students are receiving special education services.
These include 602 students with a specific learning disability, 241 with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 548 who are speech and language impaired and 124 who are emotionally impaired. Other students receiving services are those who have a cognitive impairment, severe multiple impairment, a visual or hearing impairment, some with physical or other health impairments and others who are developmentally delayed.
Last year, it cost the Ann Arbor district nearly $40 million to offer special education instruction and support services including transportation. About $20 million of that is reimbursed by the county and, of that $20 million, $5.8 million is represented in renewal being asked for on the May 3 ballot.
“It’s really an issue of what’s best for the kids,” Allen added. “The earlier you intervene, the less you’ll spend later on. And that person will become a productive member of society.”
What voters will see on the May 3 ballot:
WASHTENAW INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT
SPECIAL EDUCATION MILLAGE RENEWAL PROPOSAL
This proposal will allow the intermediate school district to levy the special education millage previously approved by the electors.
“Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by .9850 mill ($0.9850 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 7 years, 2011 to 2017, inclusive, to provide funds for the education of students with a disability (the above is a renewal of millage which expired with the 2010 tax levy); the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2011 is approximately $14,000,000?”
Ed Foundation hosts information sessions on April 15
Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation is hosting a 2011-12 budget presentation by Interim Superintendent Robert Allen from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and again from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 15.
Both sessions will be at the Ann Arbor Preschool & Family Center, 2775 Boardwalk, Ann Arbor, located north of Eisenhower. For more information or to RSVP call 734-994-1969 or e-mail: email@example.com.
UPDATE, March 21, 2011: The pool of candidates for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Board of Education superintendent was reduced by one today, when Big Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Thomas M. Langdon withdrew from the running and accepted the superintendent’s job in the Sturgis Public Schools. The interview scheduled has also been revised as noted below.
From the Washtenaw Intermediate School District
At a special meeting on March 15, the Washtenaw Intermediate Board of Education selected six candidates to interview for the position of superintendent.
The candidates are:
- Christine Beardsley – She is in her 10th year as superintendent of the Oscoda Area Schools. She received her bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University in business administration, her master’s degree in educational administration from Central Michigan University and is scheduled to receive her doctorate in educational leadership in May, also from Central Michigan.
- David J. Campbell – He is in his eleventh year as superintendent of the Olivet Community Schools. He received his undergraduate degree in education at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and his master’s degree in educational administration at Illinois State University.
- Thomas L. Goodney – He is in his sixth year as deputy superintendent and chief of staff at the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio in Columbus, Ohio. He received his bachelor’s degree in mass communications at Northern Michigan University, his master’s degree in speech at Miami University and his doctorate in educational leadership, also at Miami University.
- Beverly A. Knox-Pipes – She is in her ninth year as assistant superintendent for Technology and Media Services at the Genesee Intermediate School District. She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education at the University of Texas at El Paso, her master’s degree at Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass. focusing on computers in education and is currently completing requirements for her doctorate in instructional technology and distance education from Nova Southeastern University in Miami, Fla.
- Thomas M. Langdon – He is in his seventh year as superintendent of the Big Rapids Public Schools. He received a bachelor’s degree from Cornerstone University in biology and physical science and a second bachelor’s degree from Calvin College in education. His master’s in educational leadership is from Western Michigan University and his doctorate in educational leadership is from Central Michigan University.
- Scott A. Menzel – He is in his fourth year as superintendent of the Livingston Educational Service Agency. He received his bachelor’s degree in religion from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif., his master’s degree in philosophy and social policy from the American University in Washington, D.C. and is completing work on his doctorate from Eastern Michigan University.
Interviews are scheduled is as follows:
Monday, March 21, 2011
6:30 p.m. – Scott Menzel
8 p.m. – Beverly Knox-Pipes
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
6:30 p.m. – David Campbell
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
6:30 p.m. – Thomas Langdon
6:30 p.m. – Christine Beardsley
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
6:30 p.m. – Thomas Goodney
All interviews will be held at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, 1819 S. Wagner Road, Scio Township and are open to the public.
The Board is selecting a new superintendent to succeed Dr. William C. Miller who retired in December 2010. The WISD board is being assisted in the search by the Michigan Association of School Boards. The WISD is the intermediate district serving 10 public school districts in Washtenaw County, including Ann Arbor.
Lakewood Elementary School hosts its largest fundraiser on Friday, March 18 from 6-11 p.m. at Weber’s Inn Grand Ballroom, 3050 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor.
A social hour with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and preview of the auction items will take place from 6-7 p.m. with bidding starting at 7 p.m.
The event features more than 70 bidding lots with items including everything from soccer camps and yoga classes to a Detroit Tigers VIP package, Disney Park Hopper tickets and dinner at the Chop House. Click here for a full list of available bid items and list of sponsors.
“This is our largest fundraiser of the year and all of the proceeds go towards funding all of the field trips for all of our students throughout the entire school year,” said Principal Michael Johnson.
For more information, contact Leslie Rybicki at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sara Arsenault email@example.com with questions or contact Kelly Wang firstname.lastname@example.org to order tickets. Click here to download a PDF with a list of all auction items.
Community High teams do well in mock trial competition
Two teams from Community High School participated in the Eastern Regional of the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament on Saturday, March 12.
Team A will advance to the state finals tournament in Lansing on March 26 and will defend their state championship title. Members include: Shadi Ahmadmehrabi, Cooper DePriest, Michelle Grifka, Max Lewis, Michael Savage, Tressa Stapleton, Eli Sugerman, Elise Wander and Garrett Wood.
Team B won an honorable mention award, finishing in the top 15 of 37 teams. Members included: Galen Burrell, Isaac Fink, Gabe Hillebrand, Rianna Johnson-Levy, Julia Karr, Leah Penner, Dan Roy, Jeremy Simon, Kelsey Teribery and Yasaf Warshai
Timers for Saturday’s event were Preston Horvath and Nate Porter. The teams are coached by teacher coach Cheryl Grace, drama coach Billie Ochberg and attorney coaches Griffith Dick and Robert West.
Pittsfield hosts all-school read-in, welcomes state rep
On March 4, Pittsfield Elementary School kicked off March Is Reading Month with a visit from a special guest reader, State Rep. Jeff Irwin. The whole school gathered in the multi-purpose room to hear him answer questions about his job in government and listen as he read “Wild About Books,” written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown.
Afterwards students relaxed on blankets, munched on popcorn and read their own books for an all-school read-in. The Pittsfield Penguins have an active student council with representatives from every grade, including kindergarten, so a visit from a state legislator was an especially meaningful way to reinforce the lessons of our system of elected government.
For the remainder of the month students will be reading to earn colorful stars which will decorate Pittsfield’s halls. To cap off a successful month in pursuit of literature, Ann Arbor storyteller Barbara Schutzgruber will bring words to life during a school-wide assembly program on March 30.
Robotics competition to be hosted at Skyline March 25-26
The First Robotics competition season is under way and Skyline High School will host a district event on March 25-26.
The goal of teams registered for the competition is to qualify for the Michigan State Championship April 7-9 at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation in Ypsilanti. From there, 18 teams will be eligible to advance to the international First Championship in St. Louis, April 27-30.
The 2011 Ann Arbor FIRST Robotics District Competition (aka Logo Motion)
has 40 teams registered, including teams from all three comprehensive high schools in the Ann Arbor Public Schools:
• SRT & Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, Team No. 1076 (Pi Hi Samurai.)
• SRT / Barton Malow Company / Aastrom Biosciences / D. Loius Weir Law Firm & Skyline High School, Team No. 3322 (Eagle Imperium.)
• Washtenaw Community College/University of Michigan/Toyota Technical Center/BAE Systems & Ann Arbor Huron High School, Team No. 830 (Rat Pack)
All FIRST Robotics Competition regionals and tournaments are free and open to the public.
WISDPAC hosts talk about IEP goals
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District Parent Advisory Committee hosts its next meeting from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, where Kelly Orginski of Michigan Alliance for Families will speak about “Developing the Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) Statement, and Developing Individual Education Program (IEP) Goals and Objectives.”
Parents of students receiving special education supports and services are especially encouraged to attend. The workshop is designed to help parents understand the importance of the PLAAFP statement and how it affects the writing of measurable IEP Goals and Objectives and how to help children get the services they need to be successful in school.
The meeting will be at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Teaching and Learning Center, 1819 S. Wagner Road, between Liberty and Scio Church roads in Scio Township. To RSVP or for information contact Jeanne Brakhage at 734-994-8100, x1514 or email@example.com
Visit online for directions. Michigan Alliance for Families workshops are free and open to the public. MAF is funded by the Michigan Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education, www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org
WISD board to narrow the field Tuesday in superintendent search
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting at 530 p.m. Tuesday, March 15 to select superintendent candidates to be called for an interview. The public meeting will be in the Board Room of WISD’s Teaching and Learning Center, 1819 S. Wagner Road, Scio Township.
After all selected candidates have been contacted, the Board will set a public interview schedule.
A new superintendent will succeed Dr. William C. Miller who retired in December of 2010 after more than 22 years of service to the district, 12 of them as superintendent. Applications for the position closed on March 10 at noon.
Michael Emlaw, consultant for the Michigan Association of School Boards, is assisting the WISD Board with its search. He can be reached at 734-657.2425 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Washtenaw Intermediate School District
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District will seek renewal next May of a .9850 mill for seven years to support special education services for Washtenaw County students, including Ann Arbor. The millage – first approved by voters in September 2004 – expires this month.
The WISD Board of Education has voted to seek the renewal; the WISD will submit its request to the Washtenaw County Board of Election Commissioners for approval. If the request is approved, registered voters residing within the 10-district WISD service area would vote on the issue on May 3, 2011.
The funds will continue to reimburse local districts for special education programs and to help maintain quality services for all students in Washtenaw County’s public schools, said WISD Interim Superintendent Richard Leyshock.
“Seven years ago voters approved this millage,” he said. “We’re seeking the renewal because the demand for special education continues. And, without adequate special education millage, local districts will be required to take increasing dollar amounts from their general operating funds to provide special education programs that are required by state and federal law.”
Today, nearly 7,000 – or one in seven – students in Washtenaw County receive some kind of special education service.
For more information, call (734) 994-8100 or visit: www.wash.k12.mi.us
From the Washtenaw Intermediate School District
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District Board of Education has appointed Richard F. Leyshock as interim superintendent effective Jan. 1, 2011.
Currently the WISD’s assistant superintendent for student services, he will assume the responsibility from Superintendent William Miller who will retire on Dec. 31. The appointment will extend through the end of this school year or until such time that the district hires a new superintendent, according to information from the WISD.
Leyshock has been employed by WISD since 1977. In addition to his current role, he has served as a special education teacher, teacher consultant and special education director. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University and is a long-time Ypsilanti resident.
“I’m pleased and honored to serve WISD as its interim superintendent,” Leyshock said “And I look forward to advancing the district’s good work.” Leyshock said he is not a candidate for the superintendency and plans to retire at the end of August.
“We appreciate Mr. Leyshock’s ability and willingness to step into this role. He’s the perfect person to guide the district during this time,” said WISD Board President Mark VanBogelen.
Along with carrying out the duties of interim superintendent, Leyshock will support the WISD Board as it plans for the leadership transition. The Board will begin interviewing superintendent search firms on Dec. 14.
WISD is a regional, education service agency that works with the school districts and public school academies in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Lincoln, Manchester, Milan, Saline, Whitmore Lake, Willow Run and Ypsilanti.
A series of briefs from around The Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Board OKs participation in International Baccalaureate program
The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education on Oct. 15 approved the district’s participation in a countywide International Baccalaureate Program through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.
The college-prep program is based on an international nonprofit IB educational organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. The school would follow the Michigan Merit Curriculum, but also have written assessments evaluated by external IB examiners and focus on a globalizing world; a minimum level of attainment would have to be reached to receive the IB Diploma.
After studying the idea and surveying parents around the county, the WISD has proposed opening such a school in the fall of 2011. Washtenaw International High School would be housed at the former East Middle School in Ypsilanti serving grades 9-12. It would open in the first year for 150 ninth-graders with seats allocated by district size; Ann Arbor would receive about 35 percent of the planned 600-student total. Teachers would work for participating districts and a steering committee would oversee policy and budget.
There are currently 33 IB schools in Michigan, with another 101 in the authorization process. WISD research notes that 20 percent of students in IB schools were previously not enrolled in public schools, so this program is seen as an opportunity to attract more students. Around the world, there are more than 3,000 such schools for students of all ages in 139 countries.
An IB career certificate is also being pursued for the Washtenaw program. The organizing panel hopes to adopt the IB career certificate program in Washtenaw County when it becomes available.
Fundraiser is Monday for Hikone exchange students
Ann Arbor celebrities and local educators will serve as guest grillers at a fundraising event Monday in downtown Ann Arbor to raise money for eighth- and ninth-graders who are traveling to Hikone, Japan as student ambassadors this fall.
The Oct. 18 event for the Hikone Exchange Program will run from 6-9 p.m. at bd’s Mongolian Grill, 200 S. Main St.
Local celebrity grillers include local radio host and CTN Assistant Manager Lucy Ann Lance and Rec & Ed Youth Sports Programmer Seth Dodson. Angell Elementary School Principal Gary Court will serve as a guest griller for the third year, and he will be joined by Rusty Fuller, geography teacher at Slauson Middle School; Rick Dekeon, Northside Elementary School physical education teacher; and Jerry Kelley, retired Ann Arbor principal and teacher.
While meals are being prepared, student ambassadors will share information about the exchange program and its benefits.
Slauson Middle School teacher Carol Mohrlock retired teacher Nancy Burke will serve as project directors this year, leading a delegation of 12 students representing: Ann Arbor Open @ Mack; Community and Skyline high schools; and Clague, Forsythe, Scarlett, Slauson and Tappan middle schools.
Questions about the fundraiser or general questions about the Hikone-Ann Arbor Educational Exchange Program can be directed to Larry Dishman at email@example.com.
By Casey Hans
Ann Arbor’s Stone High School is the proposed site this fall for a countywide cyber-school pilot program that would serve up to 180 high schools students who have either dropped out of school or who are at risk of doing so.
Called WAY Washtenaw, (Widening Advancements for Youth), the year-round secondary program is coordinated through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Inclusion U.S., a nonprofit that provides technology and program support for managing student projects.
“We found the kids are out there and they want to come to school,” said WISD Assistant Superintendent Rick Leyshock. “We want them to be in a safe learning environment where they can really develop and learn.”
The Ann Arbor Board of Education heard an overview of the program during a first reading on Wednesday night.
In the project-based program, students will be expected to learn and interact remotely in an online community, reporting to Stone twice each week where they can get help from on-site staff. They also will be in touch regularly online with mentors and project leaders to ensure they are making progress and meeting mandatory high school graduation requirements.
An estimated 600 students have dropped out of high school in Washtenaw County, officials said, prompting the desire and need for such a program. WAY Washtenaw will target students age 16-19 who have dropped out or who have disengaged from traditional high school.
Called “researchers” in the program, students are assigned computers and staff will do home visits to ensure there is an area in which students can work and be successful. Students will remain part of their home school district, so they can participate in sports, music or other extracurriculars at their home high school while enrolled in WAY Washtenaw. Their high school degree will be earned through their home district.
Stone High Principal Sheila Brown and Ann Arbor’s Director of Instructional Technology Monique Uzelac will coordinate the pilot.
Uzelac said a Washtenaw County curriculum team visited other cyber-school programs last December, which generated a lot of excitement and planted the seed for the Washtenaw model. She said 180 student seats were selected as a starting point for the pilot after the team reviewed county dropout rates, talked with area superintendents to gauge interest and estimated how many students might possibly enroll.
Although each district is assigned a number of seats in the program based on their dropout numbers, Leyshock said seats can be used by other districts if slots are not filled.
The program will have 30 part-time mentors, three full-time program leaders and two technicians. It is funded through state per-pupil foundation allowance money, Leyshock explained. Registration for the program is taking place now and will continue through mid-September, when the state’s official count of students takes place to determine the level of funding to school districts.
Parents and students interested in the program can apply online or call for information. They will then have a personal interview and receive full application packets. Once enrolled, staff conducts home visits to ensure there is proper connectivity for the online program and then students are assigned a mentor who will work with them on their projects, which will be reviewed weekly for progress in meeting Michigan high school standards.
Uzelac said plans include training counselors around the county so they can learn about the program and refer appropriate students to it.
Original plans called for piloting WAY Washtenaw in 2011-12, but Leyshock said local superintendents were so enthusiastic that the launch of a pilot was moved to this fall. “I feel there enough legs to this that we will want to scale up big for this the following year,” he added.
Washtenaw’s virtual school project is based on a program called NotSchool (www.inclusiontrust.org/notschool/) in the United Kingdom, which, since 2000, has engaged 5,000 teens who have been out of school in an online learning community. A program looked at locally was Wayne County’s Westwood Cyber School, which has had success since it launched in February 2009.
Glen Taylor is executive director of Inclusion U.S. that partners with districts in Clio in Genesee County and in the Upper Peninsula (www.wayprogram.net.) Taylor’s nonprofit handles the online learning community for WAY projects and will monitor and report upon student progress online.
“We are a nonprofit facilitating programs that are growing and working to create more options for kids,” Taylor explained.
Taylor, the former head of the Westwood Cyber School, said the cyber school approach is gaining popularity around the country including projects in New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Activity in Michigan comes after recently enacted state education reforms boosted the dropout age from 16 to 18 beginning with students graduating in 2016. Taylor said the Michigan Department of Education earmarked $650,000 last fall to address dropout rates and these types of programs.
WAY Washtenaw is one of several high school programs WISD is doing in education partnerships around the county. Other programs either in place or being planned include: an Early College Alliance with Eastern Michigan University, an International Baccalaureate program, New Tech High @ Ardis (a small, academy that uses technology in a project-based environment) and STEM, an academy that will feature a math, science, technology and engineering focus.
The Ann Arbor school board also heard a presentation on the Early College Alliance on Wednesday night.
Casey Hans edits this newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public Schools. E-mail her or call 734-994-2090, internal ext. 51228.
From the Washtenaw Intermediate School District
Washtenaw Intermediate School District will host a second Bus Driver Job Fair on Saturday, Aug. 7, from 9 a.m.-noon at WISD’s Teaching and Learning Center Building, 1819 S. Wagner Road, between Liberty and Scio Church roads, in Scio Township.
The intermediate district hosted a fair on July 31 as well, as it works to fill more than 100 positions for full-time, part-time and substitute bus drivers for school districts in Washtenaw County for this school year.
Pay starts at $13 per hour with benefits and retirement (and a lump-sum attendance incentive available) for full-time drivers. Part-time positions pay a flat rate of $15.25 per hour; benefits are not included.
“Free training will be provided. If successful candidates work for at least 90 days, they will receive compensation for the training,” said WISD Human Resources Director Winnie Garrett.
A valid driver’s license and a good driving record is required. Desirable qualities include confidence in driving large vehicles and ability to interact effectively with students and parents.
Garrett said applicants can also apply online.
For more information, visit www.wash.k12.mi.us and click on the school bus or contact WISD Human Resources at (734) 994-8100, x 1316.
The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education has approved participating in a consolidated transportation plan through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.
The school board voted to approve the change on June 23.
Half of public school districts in Washtenaw County will participate in the transportation plan including Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Willow Run, Lincoln and Whitmore Lake. Efficiencies such as optimized bus routes, collaborative purchasing, reduced wages and benefit costs and centralized overhead are part of the plan.
The consolidation plan will take effect this fall and school officials have said that most bus routes would remain the same, with the exception of special education services where routes will be reconfigured. Under the plan, drivers and transportation employees in participating districts would apply for jobs and work directly for the WISD.
The Ann Arbor district also obtained bids for privatizing bus service which was weighed against the consolidated approach. The change in transportation services is among many things being done by Ann Arbor in order to trim $20 million from the school district budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year which begins July 1.
For a detailed, downloadable presentation about the consolidated transportation plan by WISD Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Brian Marcel, click here and find it under June 4 on the meeting schedule. A substantial Q&A section is included in this presentation.
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District has begun looking at a model to consolidate transportation around the county. Teams representing local school districts will carry out the design work with help from consultants, according to information from the WISD.
Team members are charged with designing a more efficient student busing model that will generate an 18 to 25 percent cost savings by standardizing buses and fuel, centralizing overhead, optimizing bus routes and looking at budgets for compensation and benefits.
“It will be a multi-step process,” explained WISD Superintendent Dr. William C. Miller. “First we’ll determine our needs and design a model to meet those needs. Then the local school districts will decide if the model can be adapted internally or if it will need to be sent out for a bid.”
Consultants from the Xavier Leadership Center in Ohio and Transportation Strategies of Indiana will facilitate the teams.
Design of the WISD program will be based on countywide participation but each district will determine the extent of its participation. The Ann Arbor Public Schools is currently accepting requests for proposals for pupil transportation services for the 1020-11 fiscal year. The bid opening date is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 12 at 10 a.m.
Miller noted that Washtenaw County districts already share services in more than 87 different areas, including shared services for substitute teachers which is operated by the Professional Educational Services Group.
More shared services are being considered, Miller confirmed. There is a pilot project underway in the Ypsilanti and Lincoln districts – and soon in Willow Run – to look at sharing central office and administrative services. WISD already processes payroll for the Chelsea and Manchester school districts and provides full accounting services for New Beginnings and Washtenaw Technical Middle College public school academies and the alternative education program COPE.
“To be fiscally responsible, our schools must look at all possibilities,” Miller said, noting that the possibilities could be by district, region or county. “Each local district’s ultimate responsibility is teaching and learning. And, our goal is to help them manage scarce resources in ways that maximize programming and opportunities for students.”
From AAPSNews Service
Voters in Washtenaw County will consider a regional property tax for the county’s 10 public school districts Tuesday, Nov. 3. The measure is being put on the ballot by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District at the request of local boards of education.
The ballot issue asks for two mills for a five-year period. If approved by voters, it would be effective for budget years from 2009-13. The millage equates to $2 per $1,000 of taxable property value, costing the owner of a $100,000 house with a taxable value of $50,000 an estimated $100 per year.
Of the estimated $30 million that would be raised, Ann Arbor would receive $11.2 million. Other districts that would receive revenue from the millage include: Chelsea, Dexter, Lincoln, Manchester, Milan, Saline, Whitmore Lake, Willow Run and Ypsilanti. Money would be distributed based on each district’s enrollment using the most recent audited student count. Public charter schools would not receive any money.
Language on the Washtenaw County ballot will read as follows:
REGIONAL ENHANCEMENT MILLAGE PROPOSAL I
Pursuant to state law, the revenue raised by the proposed millage will be collected by the intermediate school district and distributed to local public school districts based on pupil membership count.
Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by 2 mills ($2.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 5 years, 2009 to 2013, inclusive, to provide operating funds to enhance other state and local funding for local school district operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the intermediate school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2009 is approximately $30,000,000?