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Posted on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor principals union: Reconfigure school buildings and reduce Green's salary by $50,000

By Danielle Arndt


Closing the Balas Administration Building, selling it and cutting some central office staff were among recommendations the Ann Arbor principals union made to the Board of Education Wednesday night. file photo

Building closures, redistricting, selling property to the University of Michigan, opening the teachers union contract and rescinding cabinet members raises were among 31 recommendations the Ann Arbor principals union presented at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting.

The recommendations come one week after Superintendent Patricia Green said she would not be recommending building closures or redistricting for the 2013-14 academic year. The second-year superintendent said it would take 18 months to properly assess and prepare for considering school closures.

Green said her staff is working on action plans for how to approach redistricting but that the measure would not be considered any earlier than the 2014-15 budget cycle.

But redistricting was the primary component of the recommendations co-president Michael Madison gave to the school board and central administrators Wednesday on behalf of the Ann Arbor Administrators Association.

The AAAA is comprised of about 50 principals, assistant principals and other building leaders in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Madison said 75 percent or more of the union members supported the recommendations, which the group collectively asked district administration to "strongly consider" for the 2013-14 academic year.

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Michael Madison

AAPS faces budget reductions of $17 to $20 million, and finance officials currently are in the processing of costing out a number of potential cuts.

Elementary principal sharing was on the most recent list of potential reductions. This move would eliminate an estimated 10 individuals or about 21 percent of all of the district's principals, according to recent budget documents. It would save an estimated $1 million.

Other possible reductions that could impact the AAAA would be salary reductions. District officials have expressed looking at 1-percent pay cuts across the board — all departments and positions — with the superintendent herself pledging to take a pay cut.

The AAAA leadership didn't address these specific potential reductions Wednesday night. But the recommendations did come on the heels of yet another unusual move from the generally quiet, behind-the-scenes union.

Earlier on Wednesday, the AAAA issued a public statement on administrators' salaries. The statement was published on

Madison called the statement "a rarity in the past decade," but stressed a need to inform the public in light of the "massive financial reduction" the district is facing.

"This reduction will result in programming cuts that will certainly change the 'look and feel' of the district and impact the students and families that we serve every day," the AAAA statement said.

It highlighted that central administrators — the superintendent and her immediate cabinet — have received pay raises in spite of the economic downturn throughout the past two years, while AAAA members have experienced reductions in pay through local, state and federal mandates, as well as increased health care and pension costs.

The principals union called for the community to look for more sustainable measures for budget cuts.

Among those cuts that Madison presented Wednesday were rescinding the raises cabinet members received. The union also called Green to reduce her $245,000 salary by $50,000 — the equivalent of a 20.4 percent cut.

Green said after the school board meeting that Madison's presentation was the first she and her staff had heard the recommendations. She said administration would look at the items and take them into consideration.

"We like it when people give us ideas," she said.

Five of the ideas from the AAAA involved major building reconfigurations:

  • Redistrict to save on transportation costs. It was noted at a December school board meeting that some students, for example at Burns Park, are bused past multiple elementaries en route to school every day.
  • Take the elementary buildings and created grade-level targeted schools for K-2 and 3-4. This will restructure everyone and no one neighborhood will feel targeted, Madison said.
  • Sell Angell Elementary School to the University of Michigan.
  • Move the Roberto Clemente alternative high school program into a current underutilized elementary building that would become available through redistricting. Sell the existing Roberto building.
  • Decentralize central administration by placing staff in buildings throughout the district. Sell the vacant Balas Administration Building to U-M or to an investor for business use.

Balas staff was the target of several additional recommendations from the principals union. The union asked school officials to look at how many central office personnel were hired in the past 12 months and to "determine if they are really needed."

AAAA called for eliminating Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources David Comsa's position. Comsa was one of two cabinet members who received a raise in December 2011. The other was Deputy Superintendent for Operations Robert Allen, who recently left the district to take a job in North Carolina. Green has said she will not be refilling Allen's position.

Madison did urge Green to refill the district's two open principal positions as soon as possible. Because of the administrator cuts that could be on the horizon with elementary principal sharing as a possible budget reduction, the union encouraged the district to promote from within. Madison said he'd like to see AAAA members fill the vacant spots at Skyline High School and Clague Middle School "before bringing in more members from the outside."

The Skyline position was opened Tuesday to AAAA members.

Skyline Principal Sulura Jackson will leave AAPS in June to take a position in North Carolina, and former Clague Middle School Principal Cindy Leaman now serves as the principal of Pioneer High School. Former Pioneer Principal Michael White retired at the end of the last school year to take a job out of state. Leaman was selected in December as White's successor.

At the Feb. 27 meeting, it was made known that the Ann Arbor Public Schools is $2.5 million in debt for the current school year because of needing 29 more staff members than it planned for during the budget process. Twenty-four of those staff were teacher assistants that were required either for high student-teacher ratios in classrooms or for special needs students' Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), school officials said.

The Ann Arbor principals association strongly encouraged Wednesday that the administration examine the number of TA positions within the district and ascertain whether they are strictly being used for special education purposes.

Madison said full-time TAs are not always needed and ancillary assignments often are given to these TAs to fill up the TAs' time. He said some TAs could work with multiple special education students.

Madison also said Ann Arbor needs to prevent TAs from working when there are no students in session. He said AAPS is the only district that does this.

The AAAA also recommended eliminating all district coordinators, such as the volunteer coordinator; one of Ann Arbor's three assistant superintendents; and subject area department chairpersons to also further reduce central office staff.

Other new recommendations included:

  • Eliminate paper copies of student report cards.
  • Stagger start times for schools to reduce transportation costs by sharing drivers.
  • Add five to 10 minutes to each school day and end school two to three weeks early to save transportation and building operation costs.
  • Privatize grounds maintenance, such as snow removal and lawn care service.
  • Eliminate instructional service "luxuries," such as the U-M world languages program for third- and fourth-graders and the Partners for Excellence program that pairs schools with area businesses and organizations "to increase community involvement in the schools, enhance classroom learning and provide assistance with school improvement projects," according to the program's website.
  • Allow schools to send home "suggested supply lists" with students.
  • Eliminate the director of technology position and promote someone from within to assume the role with an additional $25,000 in salary.
  • Eliminate elementary noon-hour supervisors and replace with required teacher supervision.
  • Open the Ann Arbor Education Association contract and cut excessive language.
  • Reduce the number of substitute days given to teachers to a total of 10 per year and give incentive pay to teachers when they retire ($45 per day) for sub days not used.
  • Freeze all new hiring and promote from within.

Of the potential budget reductions already costed out and looked at by district officials, the AAAA affirmed one of the possible reductions: cutting seventh-hour at the high schools for a savings of $500,000.

The AAAA also recommended eliminating late busing at the middle schools. However, this busing is no longer paid for by the Ann Arbor school district.

The school board cut late busing, which is for transporting students home from sports practices and after-school activities, during last year's budget process. But this service was restored due to donations from both the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop and the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation.

Eliminating fifth-grade instrumental music is on the district administration's list of potential cuts for a savings of $500,000. The AAAA recommended instead moving the instrumental music program to sixth grade. It is not clear how this would impact the potential cost savings.

"Make no mistake about it," Madison said following his presentation of the group's recommendations. "When the dust settles, ... it will be the responsibility of the members of quad-A to greet parents and to greet staff. ... We will reassure all that everything will be OK."

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Retiree Newcomer

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

I went on the site for Ann Arbor schools to look at their enrollment figures, and much to my surprise the only ones available are the 2009-2010 . What is with this school district? Current enrollment for 2011-2012 should be available to the public as well as other statistics. What is obvious is that there are too many admimistrators and not enough workers . The pay is ridiculously high for the top tier . The cuts in reading, music and physical education will certainly cause problems down the road and should be the last resort Redistricting is a necessity but segregating based on income for certain schools could be a problem. Athletics can be subsidized by the business community and community support groups of parents, but then the children who want to play and cannot afford to should be offered scholarships to play. This will create a level playing field for all children. We have only lived here for a short time but having come from NH I can tell you that you can have good educational opportunities for less money if the administration and school board can cut their excess baggage. Education is vital to our community and if we fail at the entry level, we will fail for the future.

Kirk Taylor

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

While I understand AAPS has to balance its budget, I believe this inevitable turf-war over who or what to cut is precisely what state Republican legislators hoped for when they robbed the K-12 education fund to help make up for the huge funding cuts they made to our community colleges so they could make huge business tax cuts. The governor, his cronies and their billionaire-puppet masters who develop and write legislation aimed to end unions and divert public dollars into profiteers' pocket, have got to be laughing smugly over both this article and many of the comments that follow it. So, squabble if you please, but it is my opinion that the real issue here is the survival of Michigan's public schools. Will AAPS continue to be led locally? And who gets the money, the educators who work with our children or the profiteers who wait lurking in the shadows? I wish here I could paste "Open Letter to Michigan Governor Snyder"by David Arsen, Professor of K-12 Administration at the MSU College of Education. In it, Dr. Arsen articulately speaks to how this issue extends beyond funding for education to educational philosophy and practices. Please consider searching for Dr. Arsen's letter online; I think you will find it a thoughtful read. And Dr. Arsen helps to make my point: We agree with our governor, "Education comes first." And like the governor, we think Greenhills School has a thoughtful approach to education. I can't speak for Dr. Arsen, but I believe if Greenhills is good enough for an "education comes first" governor, it is good enough for me. Let's ask our governor to strive to fund AAPS and all public schools as Greenhills is funded; let's ask our governor to trade the so-called Oxford proposal for the philosophy and practices that Greenhills School uses. You know, the school the governor and his wife send their daughter to; the school that caused the the governor and his wife to not move to Lansing.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

change the record....

Basic Bob

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:04 a.m.

AAPS has a long history of spending more money than they have. The board even terminated a superintendent because she could not come up with a way to operate their brand new high school they were dead set on building. Instead they hired a weak minded yes man for the job. They seem to love the chaos that comes from not having a plan for the present, much less for the future. Now we get to hear about poor AAPS having no money, despite the hold harmless adjustment, sinking fund, technology bond, and numerous federal grants. And the puppet masters are the rich administrators and unions who hide behind false Marxist ideology about class struggle and deplorable working conditions. Please, you work inside a school, not a coal mine, foundry, or maximum security prison. You are no better educated than many other workers, work less hours, and have better job security and retirement benefits. You are protesting from a very weak position.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 6 p.m.

Kirk, it is my opinion that the "unions" are the profiteers and they are not "lurking in the shadows" but arrogantly fund and promote their own financial gain at student expense. You can dress it up any way your want it but the fact is 85% of revenue goes to salaries and benefits of the "educators". And it is never enough with no concern for the "revenue source or lack of revenue source".


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 5:39 a.m.

Principles have their own union? Is AAAA another name for a union? The number of unions is just out of control. No wonder the budget is screwed up. There's too many unions with their hands in the cookie jar.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

Yes, snapshot, principals and assistant principals have their own union. It doesn't say that in the organization name, but the AAAA meets all the legal requirements of being a union, including a requirement that everyone hired for the job of principal or assistant principal has to join the "association".


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

No. It's not a union. It's an Association. Don't you see the difference?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

Can't believe that one of the suggestions: " Add five to 10 minutes to each school day and end school two to three weeks early to save transportation and building operation costs.' This is is from our administrative group? Do they really believe that 5-10 minutes a day more is comparable to days of school? Their math is wrong by the way - 10 minutes a day equals about 4 school days - not two to three weeks. Nice try though for a longer summer vacation. Somehow I'm not seeing a commitment to education here!


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Cut or shorten the mid-winter break.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:26 a.m.

And, since they are not with the children in the classroom, they do not realize how worn out elementary children are by the end of the day. Even with the issues of transportation there has been a suggestion to start school later, and have elementary schools get out later than what they do now. What people forget is that young children naturally get up early, so they already have a long day! Adding 10 - 15 minutes does not increase quality instructional time!


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

"Suggested Supply List?" My children have been sent lists of items to bring in and it was much more than a "suggested "list. This is at both elementary and middle school levels. Binders, notebook paper, pens(red and black) dry erase markers, jump drives, folders, kleenex. One of her teachers gave 10 points extra credit if my daughter brought in a box of kleenex to her middle school class.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Its also not fair if a family can't afford to bring in something for extra credit.

Jay Thomas

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Hopefully we won't get to the point where the bathrooms don't have toilet paper (like Detroit public schools). At $14k/student we should be able to provide some things.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:29 a.m.

As a parent, I can't stand the idea of extra credit points when students bring in tissue or something for the classroom. This is so wrong because it is not part of the academic learning that grades should be based upon.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

I hope this school district gets its finances together as I am not sure the taxpayers are willing to continue to increase their taxes every time they cry they can not live within a budget.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

I can not support another cry for more dollars when I do not believe AAPS is making a wise decision with the $$ they already get from me.

Kirk Taylor

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

When the governor was elected, he and his wife said they chose not to move to Lansing because they wanted their daughter to continue attending Greenhills School. I remember the governor's quote at the time: "Education comes first." Please take a moment to see how things are going at Greenhills: An average class size of 17 is noted on their website along with a student to teacher ratio of 8:1. I have friends who send their children there and hear nothing but good reports. My wife and I cannot afford to send our two children to Greenhills even if we wanted to. But I am happy to report that both attend AAPS, and we couldn't be happier. Truth is, I agree with the governor--education comes first. Unfortunately, he was speaking of his daughter and not our children. So while interested parties discuss who and how much should be cut from AAPS to balance a deficit created by the governor and his cronies, I will soon attend what will certainly be a sensational production of "Shrek" at Pioneer High School and burn with rage that Republican legislators want to end AAPS and hand it over to the profiteers--you know, themselves. November 4, 2014.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

Or.....wait for it.........maybe her friends were going to Greenhills and they could afford to pay the tuition!

Susie Q

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

Many other very wealthy (and very successful, smart folks) have chosen AAPS over local private schools. Mr Snyder's choice of private education for his children may have more to do with his political views than his faith (or non-faith) in public schools. I believe he has a political agenda that involves destroying public schools in order to further the aims of private, for-profit entities.

John Floyd

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

How many "Special Needs" or ESL students does Greenhills have? How many standardized tests do they administer there? How many behavior-challenged students does Greenhills have? How much reporting to state and federal regulators does Greenhills have to do? It would be interesting to see what would happen if Greenhills' student population was a random sample of AAPS middle and high schools, instead of cherry-picked students. Wonder if class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios would change much?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.'s not just $1000...Greenhills can be selective and take the private-paying kids with good homes and lots of access to resources, good insurance, etc. and exclude low-income kids who also are struggling with other issues that can lead to need for additional services,counseling, education, behavioral issues, etc. They also can take all high-achieving kids and ignore anyone who needs extra help, special education, remedial classes. Greenhills just doesn't have to deal with most of the things a public school system does, so they can spend most of their money on things that would be luxuries for the public schools. I'm sure it's a good school but it's like comparing apples and oranges.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

Mr Taylor - Total spending per student at AAPS is north of $14,000 a student Total spending per student at Greenhils is just north of $15,000 a student. Can you explain why roughly $1,000 a student in spending makes such a big difference?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

So why are so many kids sending their kids to Charter schools. If AAPS was delivering a good product, the charter school kids would be banging at the AAP schools door to get it.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

This is basically a vote of "no-confidence" for Pat Green coming from the real, on-the-ground administrators of Ann Arbor schools. The principals met independently and produced a list of deep but very reasonable cuts, which nonetheless look very unlike Pat Green's ideas for "costing things out." The fact that they did this not only suggests that they do not share her vision regarding the way forward, but also that she does not value their input enough to involve them in the process. This was a rogue move to go straight to the board and the public, and it is very telling about where the leadership of Ann Arbor schools is at.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:52 a.m.

Many of the ideas are not that reasonable, but self serving, as you'll note there are no pay adjustments for themselves. No it's not a good idea to extend the day and shorten the year, the long summers off make for kids not retaining all they learn previously and needed more time to review at the beginning of the year. The sharing TA's plan smacks of LRE violations and segregation, and it's just very poor practice not to have paper copies of anything official, much less something as important as report cards. Not every household is wired, but bigger than that, think of those FIOA problems and the difficulty with getting transparency. Not every school needs to be reconfigured, that's excessive reshuffling, and it's really not necessary or even a good idea to hire soleley within the ranks of staff. AAPS has a very insular, political culture, it's a good thing to get fresh ideas into this system. Reconfiguring only elementary and not looking at the other schools is very calculated, and seems like an attempt to create a diversion from other real issues at other schools.

John Floyd

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

Basic Bob, No doubt there are bad eggs everywhere. Those at the top should not get a free ride, any more than those at the bottom. The standards of a private company, where only the owners/shareholders suffer the consequences of bad management, do not necessarily make sense in the public sector, especially in education, where the public trust is involved. That said, a boss who cannot bring his/her employees with him/her is not that much of a leader, no matter what the venue. If the superintendent has alienated the bulk of the people who actually teach students, this is something the public should know.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

If she is making this group uncomfortable, she might be on the right track. There's more than a few bad eggs in this group, and the administration needs to identify for themselves which ones they should continue without. Publicly criticizing your boss is bad form, even in large groups. There will be a subtle response, but it will cost some people their jobs.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

Regarding Community (and AA Open for that matter), since they seem to be such a hot commodity, why not charge tuition to attend those schools? Many of the families I have met who send their kids to those schools are extremely negative on the "mainstream" public schools, and if it wasn't for the free option at Community or AA Open, they would be paying thousands of dollars per year in private school tuition. So charge them half that much as tuition at Community or AA Open. That would raise a lot of $ and still have enough $ to pay scholarships for those very few kids who attend there who need them.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Interesting and useful, but incomplete list. Additions: 1) Move to 2 elementary buildings per principal 2) Eliminate the grade and assistant principals in the middle and high schools - replace them with counselors - since the primary role is to deal with students and parents 3) Freeze pay for AAAA members until unemployment in Michigan falls to 6 percent 4) Put a system in place to rate AAAA members in their roles and change the contract to allow the district to replace the lowest ranked AAAA member each year.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

Wow, I'm hoping that the suggestion of changing all the elementary schools to K-2 or 3-5 was made so that parents would be less upset with any other redistricting plan that's proposed after this! I know that Bryant/ Pattengill have operated on this model for a long time, and I also know many families who wanted no part of it. Some avoided the area when buying a home, others chose charters or schools of choice instead. I have many friends at these schools, and most of them don't love having their children split between the 2 schools. They especially hate the staggered start times and very long bus rides this year. Elementary schools are communities: families are there for 6+ years, and they really get to know the staff and each other. At Bryant and Pattengill, there is still a good sense of community, but with 6 classes per grade level it's harder for people to get to know everyone. Elementary staffs are also communities. Some teachers have been at their schools for a very long time. If the schools were reconfigured, teachers would be switching schools to teach their grade levels, and the entire school would be effectively starting fresh. Yes, new communities would adapt in time. But what is the point of upsetting EVERYONE? It means a lot to me that my children are at the same school, together. Splitting them up would make the logistics much harder on me, and it would also make them sad to not be together. It's so great to have upper el and lower el kids in the same building, too - the older kids are reading buddies, safeties, school volunteers, and general role models for the young ones. I just can't see this plan as being in the best interests of kids.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

I wish people would stop referring to athletics and arts as "luxury" items. They are just as much an important part of the education and the development of children and young adults as the basic four. Think about it: "physical education" and "music education (insert other arts here)" are still called EDUCATION! Not only do we learn within those disciplines, but we have an obesity problem in this nation starting with our youth. Introducing them to physical activity early on and giving them avenues to further explore those interests and continue them as they get older (high school sports and beyond) is in everyone's best interests. Pay for it now or pay for it in health care due to obesity issues later. And we preach teaching to all students and some learn better through creative means (the arts) and through diverse learning methods. We have proven ye old stand up and lecture method doesn't work for everyone (not even most). The only reason some of you see athletics and arts as unnecessary is because we make it a choice, unlike math and English. Colleges see these as equally important or they wouldn't have whole departments and degrees devoted to them. Shouldn't we want them for our youth of all ages?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

dogpaddle - I completely agree on Physical Education and that it should be required for every child. What I disagree with is the Athletics that the district has evolved to, where you commit to be on a team and train year round for that sport and if you are cut for any reason you are now lost when it comes to motivation and future work out strategies. Every child should be taught work outs they like and encouraged to do them daily. They should learn that Physical Education is both healthy and fun.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

I think when budgeting's concerned we should also remember things like spending $60,000 (I forget actual number, but it was plenty; we could even just assume $1100 here) for one small group of people to have a software solution that was basically nothing more than a shared folder, because they were tired of re-printing documents to hand out when a change was made. That is just one tiny example of one small group in one school that happened to be publicized in I imagine there's plenty. When they have massive amounts of money pouring in guaranteed (if you don't pay your property tax, you lose your house), no one really has to take a moment to see if maybe they could do something without dropping big bucks on it. They can always do a new tech bond or something, right?

Jay Thomas

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

They waste money on lots of things. I recall in the late 80's some kind of aptitude test (for kids graduating from high school) they bought that came straight out of the 1950's. Want to be a milkman? That's what you should be according to your answers. No, I'm not making this up, I just wish I was.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

I like the idea of closing Balas and stationing remaining folks in schools around the area.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:03 a.m.

Someone is finally listening. They can even privatize most if not all of the basic functions of the school system. This will save millions.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

I like it too. What better way for those highest in administration to see what's going on on a day-to-day basis.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

The real problem is that we have a bunch of educators in charge of the largest business enterprise in Ann Arbor. Educators can probably deal with class room issues. Business people are needed to run the operations of this multi-million dollar enterprise. Make no mistake the AAAPS is a large business. It can't be effectively run by educators and politically correct liberals. It needs sound business expertise to not only balance the budget but more importantly to see that every dollar spent is put to valuable and effective usage. The existing BOA is not competent in the financial operations of AAPS and we should have never expected them to be. Look at their backgrounds and experiences. Do they have any in running large businesses?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

@johnnya2. It is a business - the profit is not revenue but the net success of the student who come out of there based on the investment made by the society. You have to be measured by that. How are the salaries of the principles and the seprintendents established. They are based on the privated sector. We are payers into this system - the return is not good!

Debra W.

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

Let's take this Education "Business Model" and apply it to Ford Motor Company. We're building a Mustang. Some of the engines fail to perform according to a set standard, but we place all of them in the Mustang chassis. Customers complain, and wreak havoc at the plant. After modifications, we retest the engines and they still fail to perform according to standards. So, we contact the parts manufacturer and demand better quality control, or we don't use that manufacturer again. We can blame the failed parts on these companies and go about running our plant. We can choose to use or not use that company. After all we want to make a profit and not lose our customers. Tell me how you plan on controlling students as goods and making a profit? Educating the whole village takes more than a set budget with set goods and services. It needs to be tweaked for the good of our children and future leaders. "Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be maintained." -James A. Garfield


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

HOGWASH. This is NOT a business venture AND it should not be. Businesses are designed to turn PROFITS and increase sales. A business decision would be to put every single student in one location and maybe put 50 kids per classroom. Businesses are not required to help special needs children either. The vusiness analogy is a horrible way to run EDUCATION. Quite frankly, the STATE of Michigan is the problem and the flawed thinking that lower taxes brings in more businesses. We were promised equality in school finding when we were given a FIFTY % increase in our sales tax so property taxes would be lower.It has been an utter faiilure.

Debra W.

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

1. At last night's BOE meeting trustees made comments about how important it is to talk to staff and parents in regards to Clemente being moved, so why haven't they asked staff and parents about how to reduce the budget? Thank you AAAA, for taking the initiative to suggest some valid cuts. 2. Building administrators and staff are in the trenches. They know what goes on in the buildings and have a better handle assessing the needs of their building. AAAA suggestions should be taken seriously by the BOE.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

Debra, AAPS have asked people for their cost-savings ideas in previous years, but done so in a manner that made sure they only heard what they wanted to hear. It was the same kind of "Budget Theater" we see in the US Congress these days, but as always, Ann Arbor led the way. ;-) I am very encouraged by Pat Green's push to create budgets with enough detail that you can make realistic assessments of a change or an elimination. Look for some "Community Forums" to be held later in the spring, when the schools have a firmer idea of how much more money they will get from the State and the Feds for next year. Yes, I did say "more money". For all the whining about these budget cuts, Michigan's schools have received the same or larger numbers of dollars per student all but one year in the past decade of our really terrible economy. How many families that aren't headed by unionized government employees can say that? Mine certainly can't; we've seen a 30% drop in income across that period.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

What about cutting some of the money spent for all the sports programs?

Sam S Smith

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Move Community and its model to Skyline then move Roberto Clemente to Community.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:01 a.m.

Close Clemente and move them to Stone or to Skyline. You will save money by doing this. Especially since there is a lot of room to use at Skyline.

Sam S Smith

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

Only 100 students? I think that more students could benefit from a Roberto Clemente model and there's students who want to get into Community but are turned away. So move Community and its model to Skyline (sorry it's not as trendy as Community's location) and increase the enrollment using the Community model. Isn't it about the education of the children? Public school should not have a lotto to see who gets in what program. It should be made available by demand especially now that we have another large high school. Sorry but this is only fair.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

Roberto currently has right around 100 students, Community holds 450. Why would that make any sense? It would make more sense to move Roberto to A2Tech which is also very small, where the 2 separate programs could share a building.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Cut reading intervention, these folks see only a small percentage of kids, kids that are young and could still grow in their everyday classrooms with good instruction. Cut 5th grade instrumental music and move it to a possible exploratory elective in 6th grade. Cut the READ 180 program, I think the district pays close to 500.00 for every license in the district. I think Skyline needs to become an alternative high school designed around what Community does. People are trying hard to get into Community, so put it in a facility that can house more kids. In doing that, you can sell off Community and build some savings there. Obviously, changing Skyline away from trimesters is a given. I could also see more athletic programs becoming club sports, where parents need to help fund those sports. Tough choices to be made, yet our BOE refuses to make them. Might be that they are busy writing resolutions at board meetings.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

local, have you been in upper elementary classrooms and middle school classrooms? The teachers do not have time to take kids aside who are struggling. When there are 35 kids in your class, you simply cannot do that. What really happens is that students fall further and further behind. And spending one-on-one time with kids who need extra time is often not an option for teachers in lower el. In K, 1st and even 2nd, students cannot just read quietly or do other work while the teacher works with one or two kids. Your solution does not match the very real need for the teacher to be present and available to everyone in the classroom.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

But folks, to save 1 million dollars you wouldn't even consider it? Everything needs to be on the table and good education by classroom teachers can help these kids improve as well. What do upper elem. teachers do when they have kids who are way behind? They work with them in the classroom everyday to help them improve. Why can't lower elem. teachers do the same thing? Why do they need a special program just for their struggling readers? A million dollars folks, wow!!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

I strongly disagree with cutting reading intervention - I'm a huge foriegn language supporter, and I'd still rather see a reduction there than cutting the Reading Intervention. Same goes for sports, music, and other things that add a lot to the educational experience. Reading is one of those "core" skills that you need to have to be a successful adult in society today. Even if my kid can read on grade level, it will detract from everyone's overall class learning experience if some people are struggling with the basics.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

Sue, it could save 1 million dollars!! Where was the support for upper el. when classes sizes where 28-30 kids and teachers were asked to deal with struggling readers who were new to the district and reading at a low level? Reading intervention couldn't help those kids because they were to old, even though they were probably farther behind than those young 1st graders. Tough decisions, but to have reading intervention work with 12 kids give or take; it seems like an excellent/experienced lower el. teachers could take it upon themselves with solid classroom instruction to work with these kids.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

I beg to differ. Reading Intervention helps keep those early struggling readers OUT of Special Ed, which saves tons of $$$ down the road. With increasing class size, fewer TA's to help in classrooms and so much time spent by all school faculty either entering their Progress/Achievement data and attending meetings of all kinds, these kiddos need all the small-group help they can get.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

What's refreshing about this list is that it starts from the top. From the superintendent and BALAS administrators. This is long overdue. Every time a list comes out of BALAS, the items are all about cutting instructional programs and student services, all about making sure that the cut is very obvious and hurts students and parents so that parents will be willing to pay for another millage. How did we build so much mistrust in the AAPS? Between the administrators and the community, between the administrators and teachers, between the board and the community.... This is tragic, happening in a town that has a world-class university and a community that cares about education so much. Who is responsible? Can we fix it?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:59 a.m.

There is a new word I over heard the other day about Balas. It is called Balas Palace. Save the queen and everyone else. We hope the little people get the life boats before the ship sinks.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Not to question the ideas from AAAA, but their primary goal is to look out for themselves. So there are no suggestions of principal sharing, eliminating assistant principals, closing elementary buildings, or combining athletic directors. I do favor promotion from within the district to fill the open positions.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

How many principals are there at each high school? If the answer is more than one, why is it that we need more than one principal at a high school? If we could reduce eight or so FTE principals at the high schools, that would be a good start.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

The BOE five year plan. Can't wait to see a little more of nothing on the spokes and again Balas being saved. When are you folks going to wake up and realized you can privatize half of Balas? Going to fun watching the dust settle this time around.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

I don't think anyone is saying that this entire list should/could be followed exactly or that other ideas (ie Community at Skyline) shouldn't be considered. But it is refreshing to at least see a list that reflects thoughtful consideration by people who are inside these buildings every day. This list provides a basis for a sane discussion. Also, I agree with the post that mentioned that the board's plan is to go for a county-wide millage--just watch the meeting tape from last night! Propose painful cuts and then rally the parents to push this millage. I don't think this strategy will work.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

"I don't think anyone is saying that this entire list should/could be followed exactly" Well actually the AAAA IS saying just that. That is what a PROPOSAL is.

Dog Guy

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

Wow! I really should start listening to principals rather than just waiting for them to leave.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Looking at the list of suggestions, The schools already only allows a 7th hour if you require it to fulfill your requirements. If the school cuts 7th hour, it would have to eliminate the 2 PE requirements and the health requirement, which are required by the state, for students that are in the music department and take a foreign language can satisfy these requirements. Given they require 2 PE classes even for students that are doing multiple sports a year, it seems reasonable but I am not sure the state would agree.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

I have to disagree. You are allowed to take a 7th hour if you want it - it does not have to be because you need a certain requirement. And students do not need 2 PE classes if they are playing a sport. The second half of the PE credit can be fulfilled by being on a team. I don't feel that strongly about the 7th hour, but your information is misleading.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Why consider reworking every single elementary school, most of which are at capacity and function well, but make no recommendations about middle schools or high schools (beyond Roberto Clemente)? The many neighborhood schools of Ann Arbor are what make Ann Arbor special. There may be room for some building reduction or at the very least principal sharing, but a move to tear apart the entire elementary system and not touch the other grade levels seems purposefully provocative, and I truly think that nothing will have parents scrambling more quickly to private schools than the loss of a K-5 elementary experience in their neighborhood for their child. Why aren't we thinking deeply about the high school level? Skyline appears to be having trouble, and Community serves such a select few students. A truly hard discussion would be to look at those two and consider whether Community should move to the Skyline building. And someone mentioned in an earlier post that Scarlett was drastically below capacity. If that's true, that seems like an opportunity for discussion.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

Actually to me, the attendance boundary map looks like most schools have quite large attendance boundaries. For example, Allen has an area in the neighborhood of the school, but they also have two areas that are far from the school as well. All that aside though, I don't disagree with you about not wanting to change the entire system. I simply wanted to point out that the many of us who drive/bus in to school still are happy and feel a sense of community at our school, even though it is not in our neighborhood. I think it would be interesting to see a map showing how many kids live in each area. It seems to me that more families are moving out where they get more land/house and lower taxes. It might make sense to close an expensive, old downtown school and purchase a building further out. Transportation costs would go down and it can't be that expensive to rehab a building. Ann Arbor Learning Community did it off of Ellsworth.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:01 a.m.

Grade level, versus neighborhood schools, can work towards removing socioeconomic bias. Kids from many neighborhoods are combined into 1 building, thus eliminating that, for example, 5th graders from X school do not perform academically as well on the MEAP as 5th graders from Z school, when X school has 15% free and reduced lunch students and Z school has 2%.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 3:06 a.m.

aamom - if you take a look at the district's map, it would appear that the majority of folks have a neighborhood school. i would guess that many people picked their homes based in part on the fact that the school was in the neighborhood, and paid more for that privilege. It didn't bother you, but that does not mean that it is not a very valuable asset for many. we bought homes in reliance on the fact that the school was accessible. yup, kids can thrive in a variety of situations, but that's hardly an excuse for tearing apart a system in total. looks like there are lots of ways to move some lines for better efficiency, but adopting a radically different plan without any justification for it is unwarranted. and if aaps bothered to ask the pattengill parents, i bet they would find that many find the k-2/3-5 split dysfunctional. not exactly a model for the rest of aa.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

One pair of schools in SE Ann Arbor is configured as a K-2/3-5 split (Pattengill and Bryant). I think it was done more for balancing out the racial composition rather than a true K-1, 2-3, 4-5 set-up like Dexter has.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Many of us who attend AAPS do not have a neighborhood school. If you live further from downtown you likely do not have a neighborhood school. I'm not complaining because I knew it was like this when I chose to live here, but my point is, you will survive and likely even thrive even if your school isn't in your neighborhood anymore.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

@ skigrl50. I wasn't picking on Community, I was suggesting that it get a larger building and that the new Skyline facility be put to better use than it has been. That would solve two problems - more kids get into Community and the sinking Skyline program gets retired. My point was that a focus only on elementary schools seems short-sighted, especially given the dissatisfaction with some of the upper level schools. I have no idea how Ann Arbor Open works, but your suggestion seems worthy of discussion. Everything should be up for review.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Why does everyone pick on Community but no one ever mentions closing Ann Arbor Open. Those kids can actually all fit in their home elementary/middle schools and it would eliminate a considerable amount of money in bussing and maintaining a very old building.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

I worry that the changes proposed at the state level (testing for every student for every class, at the beginning and end of every year; students taking classes in multiple districts) will mean much more administration. Can you imagine the classroom cuts it will take to fund the administration that will oversee that amount of additional -- let's call it what it is -- regulation.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

I agree with all of the kudos to AAAA for providing a list of changes/cuts that make sense. When was the last time anything the BOE suggested made sense??? As someone who has been involved in the district in various ways (including parent) for 25 years, I am so happy to see sunlight finally breaking through the clouds. Let's see if the BOE can see past their own egos.... Also, would everyone please stop blaming the superintendent for her salary? She's offered to cut it. She didn't ask for it. The Board set that salary at the beginning of the hiring process before she ever came into the process. I don't know that much about her, but I do know that her salary is the Board's doing and she's offering to take a cut. Hold her accountable for her actions, but not her salary.....


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Slightly off topic, I sincerely hope more news will be forthcoming about the results of the special education program review, which were to have been presented last night. Ann Arbor special ed families have been left hanging all year but no specifics have been given as to what is planned to date. Ms. Arndt, I look forward to your report on this.

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

asdmom, it will be coming, I promise. Busy news day and the hour at which the BOE meetings get over make it nearly impossible to report everything immediately. But the report will be forthcoming. Thank you for reading and for your comment!

Larry Baird

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Know your Customer! IF... the decision were made to move Roberto Clemente, then the district should strongly consider converting that building to an elementary school as part of the larger redistricting and building analysis. Why? That's where your customers (kids) and younger families with children ARE today and more will be coming in the future as Pittsfield Twp. continues to grow faster than the inner city core in this important demographic - young families with children. Having previously lived on this far south east side (south of 94, east of Carpenter), I know these newer, reasonably priced neighbohoods (Meadview, Ashford Village, Hickory Pointe, etc.) are attractive to young families with children. I also know that there are no reasonably close elementary schools and therefore there is a higher than average usage of charters, private schools and schools of choice. The district needs to stop ignoring the demographic trends - township growth rates versus inner city and develop a building plan that can adapt to those demographic/population trends. Just take a look at the elementary school boundaries map for the SE quadrant and it is clear the district gave up on any type of long term strategy for this higher growth area. I told them it was a mistake then (during the last redistricting) and now it remains a lost opportunity as many of these young famiiies choose other educational alternatives.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Our family lives in the SE quadrant and I couldn't agree more that the patchwork, districting mess is a huge problem, both for AAPS itself and for the young families who live here. I only know of *two* families in my neighborhood who opt to send their kids to the public elementary and middle schools because our assigned AAPS schools have the worst reputations and lowest test scores in the entire district. The vast majority of us end up driving our kids to charter, private and other school of choice alternatives for the elementary and middle school years because this simply isn't acceptable to us. I suspect many of the SE quadrant families -- who initially bought their nice, affordable homes here in part because they were within the A2 district -- would consider sending their children to AAPS schools if they felt our options were on par with the rest of the district.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Roberto is not a big enough building for an elementary school. There are currently right around 100 students there and they have small classrooms that would not hold the class sizes of AAPS current elementary school classes. I also agree with a previous post that the building would also be too small for a charter school to buy.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

The district made a patchwork mess of the far southeast part of the district. These students are assigned to Allen, Carpenter, Mitchell, and Pittsfield schools on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Wow! THANK you, QUAD A for coming up with such a refreshing list. Did no one ever think to ask those in the trenches for their ideas before? As a retired teacher, I can hear the wails now...not my school, not my contract...but we MUST figure this out. Thank you again for giving the BOE some new and very thought-provoking ideas. Dexter has had K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8 and 9-12 schools for years and it's worked out beautifully. Creative thinking has to start NOW!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Bryant Pattengill already has to deal with separated buildings with different start times. I don't see why the rest of the district can't deal with it like we do.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Comparing Dexter to AA is like comparing AA to New York City. Far more issues with doing what you suggest. There will also be MANY parents with multiple kids screaming about different starting times for all of their kids especially in the lower grades.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

So true, Chris, but it is at least a model to look at, if it goes that way.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

I think the grade-specific buildings for Dexter were easier to implement given the size of the district and locations of the buildings.

Nick Danger

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

Finally, an honest approach to making necessary cuts in the district.Balas continues to grow while the money for kids programs are reduced.There is a reason the AAAA ask to eliminate Dave Cosma's and the head of technology positions. It would be a painless cut and may make the superintendent rethink how she rewards her friends

Jim Mulchay

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

Is there any history of the Ann Arbor Administrators Association being involved in prior budget discussions? I have no idea of the feasibility of the suggestions but it seems like a quite comprehensive (and specific) list for discussions. I do think that every school ought to have it's own principal (or dean, etc.) on site. I wonder if the teachers union has a list of specific reduction suggestions? I also wonder if anyone ever called the principals into a meeting and asked "what can we do to save money?".


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

I think Mike Madison's ideas to cut the administrations salaries by 20%, including his, is a good place to start and sets the table for what really needs to happen in this district to make it financially solvent. 1% across the board pay cuts isn't going to do it. Anybody can see that...........why can't the board and the teachers union? Teaching is a very well compensated job, especially given the time spent by most in a year actually on the job. Full time salary for a less than full-tme time job. How did we ever get here? Too many bad teachers stick around with no way to get rid of them, cadillac health care and retirement plans, and plenty of days off for personal development, holidays, sick days and vacation. Many retire in their fifties, some at more than they made when teaching. They can go on and collect a second pension by getting another taxpayer funded job after they retire young. I'm waiting for those who say don't be jealous and that I should have been a teacher if I think it is so great. Everybody has his or her calling but the reality is the system is out of whack just like the real estate market and stock market was back in 2008. Can any of the history teachers tell us what happened when the markets got this far out of whack 5 years ago? We are in the process of resetting just about everything in this country. Most of us have more money in the bank than the federal government (they print .46 of every dollar they spend) and in our hearts we know something is wrong. The federal government has no money and so it plays us against each other convincing many that we just need to raise taxes (I mean "revenue") a little more and everything will be alright. They haide the taxes from us in our phone bills, cable TV, energy costs, and whereever they think you won't notice but the problem keeps coming back. They just kick the can down the road to let the system implode on someone elses watch. Look what's happening to Detroit and othe big cities for exam


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

Gee Mike - Mr. Madison wasn't talking about building principles, but about their bosses, and the bosses of the bosses. On the other hand, if Ann Arbor cut all the school district professional staff pay (not custodians or clerks, the people whose jobs require degrees) by about 10-25% they would be paid fairly for their skills in more cases than current. Ann Arbor has significantly more money to spend on education than many of the districts nearby. Not places with tons of poverty, but districts like Saline and Dexter. Those school districts also seem to have plenty of kids with high achievement, and plenty of dedicated teachers. They have high test scores, graduation rates, and college-attendance. There are special classes for gifted and talented kids, award-winning music groups, and an innovative approach to community-based education for young adults with serious disabilities in Saline. And they do all this with $1,500 - $2,000 less per student than Ann Arbor. They do not seem to be "crying poor" to nearly the same degree as a district that has 20-30$ more money than they do. Why is that?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

Some people just don't always know what they are talking about.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

I have concur with Chris. I've never met a good teacher who worked a 40 hour week. If anything, their not paid enough. When I student taught, I easily put 8 hours a day in the building + 2-3 at home, every day. I decided to be a businessman instead, after meeting too many public school administrators (I still can't figure out what they do, even though I have relatives who are principles). I've always thought it was odd & contradictory that the people we entrust the most with, we pay the least: cops & teachers.

Chester Drawers

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I read the article carefully 3 times, and nowhere can I find ol' Mike saying we need to cut his (or any building administrator's) salary.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Enough with the Cadillac benefits statements. Teachers pay plenty towards their benefits now.They've had benefits drastically changed in the last three years. They've been going through this "reset" along with many private sector jobs but no one seems to want to remember this. And the full-time pay for part-time work is bunk. Teachers work huge hours outside of their classrooms.

Lil Mama

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:16 a.m.

These are very interesting budget cut ideas. However, one idea I am not sure about is selling Roberto Clemente and relocating the students to an elementary school building. I thought part of the purpose of the isolation of Roberto Clemente is so the students didn't have access to the AATA bus route; so they are not able to easily leave campus readily. Many of these students need to attend a school with very few distractions, thus the purpose of the school's isolation.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

AATA has considered extending the #22 bus route to pass Roberto Clemente and the thousand or so homes south of Michigan Avenue and east of Carpenter Road. Of all the high schools, this one might be the closest to a McDonald's and a gas station - about a mile. It's in a great place for a charter school - near the borders of four school districts - but likely to be too small.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

So why not eliminate the bus stop at Roberto? That problem solved. Next.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

This is a great list, but it will definitely lead to many parents being upset within the district. Everyone of us loves something specific about our kids education, whether it is instrumental music for 5th grade, or being at a neighborhood school. But times are changing and with that, tough decisions need to be made. When the dust settles and these decisions are made, ultimately our kids will adapt and be okay. Will the parents in the district be able to see the big picture and adapt as well? Only time will tell.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Sure - I'm a lover of language and am really sad to see that World Languages is on the list. But I'd rather support sharing principals at the elementary level, and putting Balas officials in "real" schools across the district. I think we need to make some moves sooner rather than later...


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

There's no way to please everyone and if you're unhappy, propose something else. I'm sick of hearing the complaining without anyone offering up alternatives. Good on the Principals for walking the walk.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

Excellent ideas. Oh, they forgot to recommend eliminating all of Balas, replacing it with a few supportive positions. The school board also needs to be replaced if we want our AA education system to change direction in a more positive way. Send the current supt. packing. The teachers need our full support if we want our kids to have the best education money can provide. Go figure!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

@Ranzini - Pat Lesko posted the results of her FOIA of district credit card bills. Highlights: According to this article, in August, May and June 2012.: **staff spent, on average, $15,000-$35,000 on meals out, travel, and luxury hotels. **CC statements show Sally Searls, for instance, paid $4,464 in a single month at Miki, Dairy Queen, Real Seafood, Raja Rani, Paesano's, The Quarter Bistro, Flat Top Grill and Tio's. **Staff spent $$ on uxury hotels and travel, including an overnight in Frankenmuth in July 2012, Doubetree in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile, at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Williamsburg, Virginia and the Grand Traverse Resort, in Michigan, among others. **(meanwhile) -extra-curricular programs will continue to be put on the chopping block. Bureaucracies feed themselves first, and will starve everyone else to do it.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

Goober, the school board cannot respond to these spending issues---they are too busy writing resolutions that overstep their boundaries.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

This is truly disgusting. It just about makes me feel like handing the keys to the whole thing over to the teachers themselves and saying, "Here, you run this."

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

I'll look into it, thanks.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:15 a.m. - Can you follow up with Superintendent Green about the credit card statements Pat Lesko found? The Zero Budget plan does not mean a whole lot when there are expense accounts that do not appear on the budget reports. These credit card statements capture only 3 months! If this is even close to average spending for meals and programs for theater, music, sports, etc are being labelled luxury items for kids, I am pretty sure we can organize by school building a pot luck lunch service to shift $$ from restaurant lunches to parents donating like they already do for years and years for sports, school events, ice cream socials. If the Balas executives would ask for help with food and meals, that would mean they would have to actually talk to parents, teachers and building administrators so maybe that wouldn't work. I remember the science fair at Forsythe when Madison was principal having quite a nice display of parent-donated food for judges and participants. It can be done if the aim is to make sure the $$ gets to kids.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

If these numbers are true, how can this be? I thought we were told this would not happen due to a continuation of financial challenges for the school system. I think the school board needs to respond to these spending issues.

Dan Ezekiel

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

This is a thought-provoking list of possible economies from a group that knows the district well from the inside.

John Floyd

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

Dan, Any comments on specific ideas?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

This list makes a lot of practical sense. I could support most of the cuts proposed, and will sigh sadly if the world languages is cut.....


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

Mike Madison's list highlights how the proposed budget cuts from Balas aim to hit parents in the heart and gut of activities they hold dear for their kids and ones associated with enrichment in education. The Balas approach lays the groundwork for a millage to Save the Schools. I commend the AAAA for proposing a list of cuts connected to $-amounts and actions that are more practical. His comment about reassuring parents at drop off that all will be ok is a good point. The Balas royalty are not in contact with parents/taxpayers but our principals and teachers are. It is good for the kids in the district that Mike Madison and Linda Carter are speaking out on behalf of teachers and the building principals.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Funny, I read that he wants to REOPEN the teachers contract, yet I saw nothing about school sharing principals on the AAAA list or opening THEIR salaries. If their 75 members each took a $10k pay cut that would be $750k. It is always easier to suggest reducing OTHER peoples pay or getting rid of OTHER peoples programs.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

Almost like closing the White House for tours, eh?! We, as citizens and parents need to demand that the school board be transparent with all costs, all expenditures and all expenses so we can weigh in on wasteful spending.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 10:47 a.m.

What's good for the goose. . . Administrative (all administrators) salary cuts should be across the board each year until budgets are balanced: 17% ($50k/$300K) per year, each year. This could end when the top administrative salary equals average teacher salary. . . . is good for the gander, a2 Principal Union. Prune from the top and outside branches. Keep the roots and structure of the fruit tree strong. The fruit is education for kids. Pat Lesko has an interesting read regarding administrative waste at her site, a2politico. There may be more nonsense in our midst than we imagine.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

@a2grateful - As a high school administrator in another large, albeit less well paid district, I am laughing out loud at your suggestion that top admin pay should equal the average teacher salary. After your spend my 60 hour work week with me, making dozens of decisions, maybe you could make an informed comment on the subject.

James Socrates

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

I respectfully disagree, or at least in part. Cutting anyone's salary, any departmental budget, or any one area of AA public schools 17% is foolish and is an extrodinarly simplistic and ineffective solution. Consolidation is necessary, absolutly. Its more effective to reduce costs by closing school facilities, combining responsiblities and school programs, and providing just as good if not a better educational enviorment for kids while saving hundreds of thousands each year. If the board follows the AAAA recommedations for consolidation (minus the administrative office closure), extends the school day by 10 minutes, and then cuts each school departments budget by 3-5%, AAPS would easily meet its obligations without reducing program quality, or scaring away competent administrators and educators. Why should administrators work at AAPS when they can help kids at other schools for more money and less stress? Administrators are paid more then teachers just as ceo's are paid more then a general company accountant because they have longer hours, more responsiblity and are the ones who are at their school at 3 in the morning when a waterline breaks. Use common sense consolidation and small equitable budget reductions. Moderation does work.