At the May 1 Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education meeting, the school board voted to close Angus Elementary School in Sterling Heights at the end of the school year.

At the May 1 Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education meeting, the school board voted to close Angus Elementary School in Sterling Heights at the end of the school year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Angus to close next year, board to discuss Beer boundary changes

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published May 3, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS/WARREN/TROY — As Warren Consolidated Schools officials deal with underutilization of the district’s elementary schools, Angus Elementary School, located in Sterling Heights, will close at the end of this school year.

At the May 1 WCS Board of Education meeting, the school board voted 7-0 to close Angus for the 2019-20 school year.

“The decision was really tough. We put a lot of thought into this,” said Board of Education Trustee Brian White, whose three grown children attended Angus, and where he was the Parent Teacher Organization treasurer. “We take it home with us. They’ve got some of the finest teachers there.”

“A decision like this is difficult,” Board of Education President Susan Trombly said. “My heart goes out to the parents whose kids are having a tough time with this.”

According to school officials, Angus is in an area that is overcrowded with elementary schools and is in the best location to disperse students into remaining schools and prevent overcrowding. Angus students will be reassigned by zone to either Pearl Lean, Susick or Harwood elementary schools, depending on where they live.

In zone No. 1, students who reside north of 14 Mile Road and west of Viceroy Drive will go to Susick in Troy. Approximately 109 Angus students reside in zone No. 1.

In zone No. 2, students who live north of 14 Mile Road and east of Viceroy will attend Harwood in Sterling Heights. According to WCS officials, approximately 159 Angus students live in zone No. 2.

In zone No. 3, students who live south of 14 Mile Road will attend Pearl Lean in Warren. About 80 Angus students reside in zone No. 3.

Teachers from Angus will follow students to Lean, Susick or Harwood in accordance with district policy on teacher placement, which occurs at the end of the school year. Any staff reductions will come from the reduction of the number of schools that are open for the 2019-20 school year, and the existing administration and staff ratios per building.

With the closing of Angus, school officials said the students will receive transportation to their new school in accordance with district transportation guidelines.

The Early Childhood Special Education, or ECSE, students from Angus and Willow Woods Elementary in Sterling Heights will attend Siersma Elementary in Warren next year. Having the ECSE program together is considered a best practice in special education, according to district officials.

The space planned for ECSE at Siersma also will include the sensory room currently available to ECSE students. Also, the Mildly Cognitively Impaired, or MICI, program at Siersma will move to Wilde Elementary in Warren; the Cross Categorical Resource Room, or CCRR, program at Harwood Elementary in Sterling Heights will move to Willow Woods; and the Emotionally Impaired, or EI, program at Harwood will move to Holden Elementary in Sterling Heights.

It’s unclear what will happen to the Angus building — a decision will be made at a later date. Also, the current high school boundaries of Warren Mott, Cousino and Sterling Heights high schools will remain as is.

On April 24, school officials held an informational meeting about the then-potential closing of Angus. Many parents in attendance were concerned about uprooting their children and about overcrowded classrooms. Class sizes are set by teacher contract regardless of how many students are in a school.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to have large class sizes,” WCS Superintendent Robert Livernois assured. “We right-size the district based on enrollment and the space that we need.”

At the April 24 meeting, parent Mandy Uberti commented about the closure of Angus. Currently, her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter attend Harwood Elementary, and her 4-year-old son attends Angus. All three children have special needs and are on the autism spectrum. Her daughter is in a general education classroom, while her older son is in CCRR. Her younger son is in the ECSE program at Angus.

Uberti told school officials that closing Angus means her older son will move to his fourth building, and it’ll be the third building for her younger son. She said she understands the need for building efficiency, but feels “like the closing of Angus created a ripple effect of problems.”

“It displaces so many different special education classes,” she said. “It’s creating this move with the most vulnerable students in the district, the special education students. Maybe there was a better solution.

“Impaired students, especially students with autism, need consistency and continuity,” Uberti said. “It can be difficult for them to form attachments to peers and educators, and it can take a much longer time for them to build positive relationships with others.”

“One of the challenges of redistricting is the feeling of loss,” Livernois said. He also said the state is not funding public schools properly, and that is why changes need to be made.

“Districts have had to reinvent themselves,” Livernois said. For example, he said that during the 2009-10 school year, the state took away $245 per pupil. By law, districts must approve a balanced budget every year by June 30 for the new school year.

“We had to try to deal with the dramatic cuts in funding,” he said.


Beer Middle School changes
On May 1, school officials also discussed the need to restructure the boundaries for students at Beer Middle School in Warren. The board is scheduled to vote on the matter at the May 15 school board meeting.

Beer students who live between the Red Run Drain and 14 Mile Road, and between Ryan Road and the railroad tracks, would be assigned to Carleton Middle School in Sterling Heights. This affects current students at Beer and incoming students from Green Acres Elementary in Warren, who are part of this attendance area.

Should the school board vote in favor of the redistricting, the decision would help balance the student populations at Beer and Carleton, impacting 76 Beer students.

Via open enrollment — the transfer of schools within the district — students who currently attend or had previously been assigned to Beer may still attend the school, but would be required to provide their own transportation.

Beer has nearly 900 students, while Carleton has about 655. Beer receives a high number of out-of-district Schools of Choice students. Schools of Choice is a program that permits students who do not reside within their home district to attend school in another district.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, parents questioned why Schools of Choice students would remain at Beer while their children — who live in WCS — would have to relocate to Carleton.

According to Livernois, it is against the law to relocate the Schools of Choice students. Follow-up attempts to reach Livernois for clarification on that statement were unsuccessful.

Parent Brandy Yanez has two children in the district, including a seventh grader at Beer. She said the impending change is the third time her subdivision has been rerouted.

“I understand they have lower population, but I don’t think Schools of Choice (students) should be able to pick and choose,” she said. “They should have to go where space is provided. Limit the number of kids and send them to the schools that have more openings.”

The superintendent said that both measures — closing Angus and redistricting Beer students — will save the district $1 million annually. That money will be put into the general operating fund so “we can maintain all the programs and services we provide,” Livernois said. “This continues to let us offer everything to all our schools.”

As for relocating students, “The children always manage to transition,” Livernois said. Educators will plan an activity for students who are scheduled to move to other buildings. “We’ll have the new school work with the old school. We’ll try to make the transition as seamless as possible.”

For more information on the changes, visit the district’s website at www.wcs.k12.mi.us.

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