In less than a month voters in the Ann Arbor and Whitmore Lake school districts will decide if annexation plans move forward. Many Whitmore Lake voters have questions, but appear to accept annexation as the best option.
Those questions center around busing, schools of choice, local control, recreation programs, and the future for current district employees. Whitmore Lake School Board members, Glenn Nelson from the Ann Arbor School Board, and Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel tried to answer these questions at a public meeting in Northfield Township last night.
Whitmore Lake Board President Lynn Slagle says community members appear to understand a district with declining enrollment and dwindling financial reserves has limited options. "The idea of an annexation is change, it's scary. They want to kind of understand how that change is going to affect them individually, but it's a positive thing, because they understand that it's positive for the kids of Whitmore Lake, for the kids of Ann Arbor, it's a positive thing to help the whole community grow," Slagle says.
Most people at the meeting agreed that the annexation would benefit students by giving them more educational choices and is the best way to ensure Whitmore Lake schools remain open. Former Whitmore Lake teacher Sandra Klump says the heart and soul of the community is on the line. "Our schools are the cornerstone of our community. Our beautiful new high school with our pools and all of our rec programs that were addressed here tonight. That's very important for our community, our sports teams," Klump says.
Resident Julie Rebeau believes it's a great opportunity for both districts to take advantage of additional funding from the state. That's through a $1.4 million consolidation grant, as well as an additional $1.7 million dollars in per pupil funding annually.
Whitmore Lake Schools will hold another public meeting tonight at the Green Oak Township Hall at seven. Ann Arbor Public Schools have informational meetings scheduled for October 14th at the downtown Ann Arbor library, at Huron High School on the 21st, and at Pioneer High School on the 23rd.