Willow has been designated as a "high priority" school by the state because of low test scores. The district had to choose between closing the school, reopening it as a charter or implementing significant changes. Mark Coscarella, associate superintendent for student learning, said the district decided to use what's known as a turnaround model, which will require it to replace at least half of Willow's staff.
It also requires the district to implement a research-based instruction program, which is exactly what the switch to an all-boys building would be, Coscarella said. "These plans are big and bold," he said. "But we are not going to do it without input from the community, the school board and the state department of education."The plan, presented at the district's informational study session meeting on Dec. 11, is awaiting approval from the Michigan Department of Education's State School Reform and Redesign office. If that comes, the district will move forward with community surveys and forums, district spokesperson Robert Kolt said. "Plenty of research and input will continue on this idea before it is placed in front of the school board for a vote," he said. If approved, the plan would be implemented in the fall of 2015.