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Posted on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor school board agenda: $16M budget shortfall, balanced calendar

By Danielle Arndt

Ann Arbor school board members are preparing for a hearty discussion on the budget and balanced calendar proposal at their meeting Wednesday night.

Superintendent Patricia Green and her cabinet will outline their plan for how the district can eliminate its $16 million budget deficit for the 2012-13 academic year.


Patricia Green

This will be Green’s first budget with Ann Arbor Public Schools since joining the district in July. Cabinet members Alesia Flye, deputy superintendent of instruction, and Dawn Linden, assistant superintendent of elementary education, also are new to Ann Arbor since the previous budget cycle.

AAPS faced a similar deficit of $16 million in 2011-12. Last year, the school board eliminated 62 teaching positions, cut transportation routes, enacted a 1.5-mile walk zone and used $810,000 from its reserve in order to balance the budget.

Eliminating high school busing and sharing principals among elementary schools also were proposals on the table at one point.

Vice President Christine Stead said she anticipates transportation and staff reductions will be major talking points again this year.

“When 85 percent of our budget is staff, there is, unfortunately, no way around it,” she said.

The board already has brainstormed some possible cuts and changes to transportation for fall.

Members have discussed their dissatisfaction with the current bus service provided by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. In January, the board suggested the following options:

  • Partner with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority
  • Break ties with the WISD and request proposals to privatize transportation within the district
  • Break ties with the WISD and return to operating its own transportation system again, with cuts to routes and public sector employees
  • Eliminate busing entirely or eliminate busing to the district's high schools


Christine Stead

Stead is hopeful the administration has prepared a transportation cost analysis for the board to consider, she said.

“I think it’ll be a good discussion in the sense that the board will have a thorough debate,” she said. “The revenue enhancement side of things is coming together nicely. I think we’re looking at about $6 million. … It’ll be a good meeting.”

Stead added she is anxious to talk with her fellow board members about what they see as funding priorities and how they will rank various proposals on the table.

Board President Deb Mexicotte is looking forward to hearing Green’s suggestion on the balanced calendar that was proposed for the Mitchell-Scarlett Teaching and Learning Collaborative with the University of Michigan. She said Green was not in Ann Arbor when the concept was first brought forward. The concept since has been toyed with at a district-wide level, so Green will be analyzing it through “fresh eyes.”

“The board wanted to understand how (the extended school year) would improve student achievement and how it would improve our relationship as a district with the university. So I’m eager for that discussion,” Mexicotte said.

In January, Mexicotte said board members needed to “free their minds” and “be bold” in thinking about the budget this year, explaining that as a group, they traditionally have taken things off the table because they were deemed unheard of, complex or extreme.


Deb Mexicotte

Mexicotte even tossed around the 'R' word: redistricting.

“Am I expecting to see a redistricting presentation tomorrow? No, I am not expecting to hear that,” she said. “If I did hear it, I know the board would look very seriously at it.”

Stead seconded Mexicotte’s thoughts and added: redistricting typically is a “very emotional thing to do to a community.” However, she would be interested in knowing the transportation cost savings it potentially could provide, she said, so the board could determine if it was worth having mentioned.

Mexicotte said the administration takes ideas the board suggests very seriously and because the board said "everything" must be on the table, the administration is going to take a look at everything.

“It just might be on the table in a year or three years or five years,” she said.

Also in January, Green said she would be recommending the district use a significant portion of its nearly $19.7 million fund equity to balance the budget for 2012-13. Stead said how much Green proposes will be a talking point Wednesday.

Mexicotte said as she considers the cuts the district will need to make, she will be cognizant of their impact on students.

“The biggest thing for me will be to not put the breaks on the longstanding issues with the achievement gap,” she said. “We have challenges we have to face but we have to know that the students are worth it.”

The Board of Education will convene a special regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Clague Middle School. Following a policy discussion and two action items, the board will close its regular meeting and enter in to a Committee of the Whole meeting for a less formal discussion on the budget and balanced calendar.

Generally, no action is taken during Committee of the Whole meetings, but they are open to the public. Download a copy of Wednesday's agenda here.

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



Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

Speak with any teacher and they will tell you they have been taking the cuts right along with the rest of the support staff. The reality is yes they have taken some step freezes, but that is it. The rest of the school staff have never gotten the % increases the teacher have and have now been taking the cuts. Most every bargaining group has been forced to a lesser insurance that requires per paycheck premiums along with doubled co-pays and prescriptions. Let the teachers take another pay freeze and force them into the same healthcare options the rest of the employees had to accept. As one of these employees who has seen my annual income drop 10% in the past 5 years because of increased benefit costs, the double cost of office visits and prescriptions has hurt tremendously, but absolutely every thing I could possibly need has been covered and for that I am thankful. Why is it then that teachers feel the need for some over the top, fancy insurance at the expense of the programs for students. Give them the same options that were good enough for the rest of us.

John Spelling

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

1 - Close and sell the Community High property 2 - Eliminate Varsity sports. Replace with intermurals 3 - Redistrict Do all above before even thinking of cutting teachers or increasing class size.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

They cut the custodians 8% and privatized the drivers. How much could we save if everyone else matched the custodians cut. That seems to be the bar 8%!!!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

Don't forget. They started with the food service workers in 2006. They are now Chartwells and serve over priced and under nourishing food. As for the custodians? They are next on the privatizing list. They need to start in admin costs.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Bring some of the early retirees back to teach...........cut the teachers pay scale to what most people make in 9 months, and give them the same pension plan and retirement benefits most of the taxpayers have which is social security and whatever you can save up after your check is taxed and your bills are paid. The school boards have given away the farm forever and now the taxpayers wil be expected to make the sacrifices. If this were a private business everyone would be brought into and auditorium and told what the company will pay them and what benefits they could afford. Sounds brutal but it has happened all over this country and is the only way this will ever get resolved. What are they goping to do? Find new jobs that pay better? Good luck with that!


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

@sh1 - simple answer is that they work for us and are supposedly "public servants". It is becoming "servant public" The teachers health care could be provoded for a fraction of the cost. Pensions should not be paid until you are the same age as social security is paid out. That's the are people with your view of the world.................


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 10:10 a.m.

Why should teachers have to have their salaries cut to meet some idea you have that they should only make the same as the average salaries of those in the community? When health care costs go up, do you demand the same of doctors? When accountants and attorneys raise their fees, do you suggest the same? Teaching is a profession, and though there are bad apples in ANY profession, Ann Arbor is lucky to have a dedicated and talented teaching staff. Please don't insult them.

Ned Racine

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

What Ms. Green really needs to consider is leveraging established paradigms against a more modernistic synergism, thus enabling a far-thinking lattice structured organization. If she would consider both a cultural audit and a SWOT analysis, she could enhance outcome patterns into a more vertically integrated, organic and transparent entity.

Susie Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

Whoa, wanna run that by me again? Sounds like you'd make a good politician!

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.



Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

ROFL - I love it. Having just gotten a debrief on the special education audits on Monday and Wednesday, this is exactly the sort of double speak going on in the schools. You would not believe what is being done in the name of a special education audit. I did not know you could assess a school building program with 24 yes or no questions sent out 10 days in advance and a 1 hour interview with the building principal.

Susie Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

If the tech bond does not pass, the district will still need to update computers on a regular basis....maybe not as often, but it will still need to do it. Like it or not, we will not be going back to the day of hand-written report cards, attendance, etc. The state requires so much paperwork and reports from school districts (and the wise folks in Lansing continue to add to the required red tape) that computers are a necessary tool. So....the computers and software will continue to be purchased, but money will come out of the general fund, resulting in fewer teachers and larger class sizes. So, vote against it if you must, but don't think the AAPS will quit spending on technology. Technology is a fact of life.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

Susie Q - The district made a promise that got me to vote for the sinking fund. Pass this millage and we WILL be able to maintain our technology from our general fund. Now, they want more money for technology, so they can free up general fund money for executive raises and consultants. So they can use sinking fund money and bond money for Varsity Athletic facilities. Sorry, how do I know they will actually spend this money as they promise. Since they lied about the sinking fund, they lied about the only 19 more staff to fully staff Skyline, they lied about where the extra bond fund money was going, they lied about... Sorry, I am not going to buy into this empty lie. I did vote for the special education millage, because it was clear how they HAD to use it. Once they have this money (a big credit card from the tax payers), they can do anything they wish, within the limits of state law. Watch how the millage proposal is written the terms will be so broad that they can buy jumbo-trons for the football fields.

Susie Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Don, The computers, printers, scanners, cameras, carts, projectors, etc will still need to be purchased. We will not be going back to paper and pen for everything. Ain't gonna happen, Vote against the millage if you want. I certainly don't agree with all the financial decisions of the AAPS (especially the midnight raises and higher pay for new administrators) But be under no illusion....things will get worse in the schools. There will be fewer dollars to spend on teachers and thus larger class sizes. Money for technology will come out of the general fund.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

If you read the Ann Arbor Chronicle article that is a puff piece for AAPS, AAPS says that most software cannot be bought with this millage, so the millage is purely hardware. Training, software, support and staff are all OUTSIDE the realm of this millage. If you remember back to the sinking fund millage, the promise from AAPS was "It would free up enough room in the general fund to keep the technology current". So, guess what, they now want to go back on that promise. Using the general fund for Varsity Athletics - Priceless, using the general fund for technology - Forget about it!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

How about not giving auto-pay raises to kindergarten teachers who login to Phoenix University and rack up another Masters that won't help them AT ALL to be a better teacher. How about firing teachers that everyone knows are terrible ? How about not wasting money on assistant principals that have zero value ? How about gutting all of the administration jobs that add zero value to the education of the kids ? There is so much waste it's ridiculous. I'd love to think more money would help, but if you don't address the root cause of the issue it's not a solution. This is not an income problem, it's a spending issue. FACT.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 10:04 a.m.

Why insult teachers? How does that move your argument forward?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

One word...Unions


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

Don't just pick on the kindergarten forgot the elementary gym teachers!

Tex Treeder

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

This is almost what I was going to write. I would add: get rid of athletic directors. What a do-nothing job, completely unnecessary.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

The district is like the movie Groundhog Day...we have the same budget deficit projection for 12-13 that we did in 11-12. We just paid it forward another year and here we are again. The Board and administration asked the folks in AAPS to share the pain and make concessions. So what did they recieve for their sacrifice? Ourageous pay raises endorsed by Green (whom is highly overpaid for a new super) and passed by the school board at 1 or 2 am in the morning. You have no credibility to me or anyone else who may be paying attention to what has been happening. Now we have a tech bond to vote on in May (strategically the lowest voter turnout time) and the hard sell will basically be "vote yes for this so we will have general fund money to use elsewhere in the budget." Bad timing for a tech bond. Many surrounding districts have made the decision that due to economic times it is not prudent to put a bond before the voters. Not A2. Pass outrageous raises for the so called "cabinet" and ask for a bond! Two no votes from my household. Many school districts do not have the luxury of having a college stadium across the street. I say instead of putting all game day parking revenues into general fund, use it for technology upgrades for the whole district and contiue to do that for the next 10 years so I do not have to support a bond and pay for it the coming years!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Of course there's a $16 million budget shortfall. That's what happens when your legislature and governor approve a $1.8 billion tax break for businesses using School Aid Fund money. This equates to an approximate $470 cut to each Michigan K-12 student. Quit blaming the school board and/or administration . . . they're doing the best they can given the an impossible financial situation created by our governor.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

To XMO comment, "Most businesses are not allowed by their bankers to have staff account for this much of their budget, whats makes schools think they can? " Schools are not a business; although some would like to destroy public education by privitizing it. Our public education, the foundation of our democratic society, needs teaching staff to TEACH! AAPS must teach both their students and their employees.. AAPS mis-used the prior technology bond by purchasing unnecessary equipment and failing to train teachers to use the equipment. Of course, teachers should be busy teaching, so hire a computer tech aid also qualified to train for each school and train both teachers and students to utilize what is currently in place. We cannot afford to have school districts act like 'small towns' supplying everything for students. Let's stick to academics. Privitize all but exercise and health related athletics; let the professional sports teams and associations develop local businesses for team sports. Tax payers have been providing professional sports teams tax-payer funded feeder programs for too long. Do what is necessary to develop a school busing program with AATA including changes or waivers to federal laws. Re-think the idea of libraries. Put a separate outside doorway into each school library for after hour study and full use by the public on evenings and weekends. Partner with the Ann Arbor Public Library System to reduce duplication of building space and materials. Finally, converting to 401K for retirement savings, continuing efforts toward reducing health care cost but not benefits, and some modest restrictions on tuition reimbursement would be reasonable.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

This is all well and good in a perfect world. This is not a perfect world and neither is what you are proposing. The food service workers are now private, bus drivers are now privatized and guess what? We as parents have to pay a percentage to play sports in the schools. As for exercise? Whats that? It is almost non existence in the school setting. We need to start cutting admin costs more so then anything else to make ends meet.

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

Who gets tuition reimbursement in AAPS?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

There is more to sports than your simplistic view. Even if all sports were eliminated there would still be a budget deficit. We have legacy costs which exceed our ability to pay them. This is a spending issue, not an income issue. The private schools can produce better results for less money............go figure.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

How about disclosing the specifics regarding the MILLIONS spent on AFTER SCHOOL sports? How much spending on each sport, broken down by boys vs. girls teams, participation levels, spending per student per sport, etc. The secrecy around after school sports has gone on too long.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

Let me think this thru. 2 years ago this June they gave WISD the go ahead to take over transportation. Boy that was a nightmare in September. Last September parents went nuts when they realized they slept thru the elimination of half the hi school runs some time between February and June. So they added a few runs and gave Trinity some runs as well. Now they are finding out WISD is having troubles with transportation and keeping parents happy? Wake up time. Parents are not going to like the ideas of Trinity driving their children any more then they will like the fact that their favorite driver is gone....again. I really hope they do not privatize it will be another nightmare all around. As for elimination of all busing? O I can't wait to see that one.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

If the technology bond millage were a teacher bond millage, I'd vote for it in a heartbeat. Since it is not, I will be voting against it. No amount of technology is going to make up for cramming 28 and 29 second graders into a single classroom. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that my kids get through this wonderful system before it completely falls to pieces. My feelings toward the Ann Arbor Education Foundation have soured as well the past few years. Why do monies need to be raised for 'special programs'? Why can't they instead focus on helping keep teachers? Technology doesn't teach kids, teachers do. Technology merely enhances one's learning experience.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Thank you for the clarification, ypsiliving. I did realize my first post was irresponsible in that regard. I will not be voting for the technology millage. There is an almost complete lack of transparency where the Ann Arbor school administration and board are concerned. Threats about not supporting the millage having a backlash effect on teaching staff feel like a low blow. It is manipulative, bullying and smells of fear-mongering. I used to work in IT as an administrator for a prominent, nationally recognized food manufacturer. I am well aware of the necessity of keeping equipment, particularly the infrastructure, up to date. It does not appear, however, that this school system understand the breadth and depth of what it already has and certainly devalues teachers over technology. I KNOW teachers who have not gotten the appropriate technical training. I KNOW teachers who resent those overheads that were installed in all classrooms because they have MUCH LARGER classes! I have been privy to evidence of outright lies told by the administration. My trust is gone with this group. Get some good servers, some good software, but please don't spend precious dollars on technology-based programs that are supposed to enhance the learning environment.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

A bond is a bond and a millage is a millage. There's no such thing as a "bond millage." Before you assume I'm nitpicking about words, understand that it's important for voters to know the difference between the two. A millage is a direct tax. The money raised from the tax goes to the stated purpose - in this case, to purchase "technology" for the schools. The millage has a defined beginning and ending period and can be renewed by a vote of the taxpayers. A bond is the tool the school district uses to borrow money. The money must be paid back over time, with interest. The subject of a bond purchase is usually durable, like buildings, furniture, capital improvements, building repairs, etc. The length of the repayment depends upon the terms of the bond, so a bond repayment can "outlive" the item it is used to purchase. State law limits the total amount of bond-based borrowing a school district can take on. A millage is like a paycheck. It is cash, used instantly, with no repayment and no interest due. The amount that each taxpayer pays is determined by the value of the property s/he owns. If property values rise, the amount of money collected through the millage also rises. If property values fall, the amount of money collected also falls. A bond, on the other hand, is like a credit card or a mortgage, where debt accumulates, the cost of the purchase rises over time, and taxpayers are obligated to repay the bond, regardless of their economic circumstances. The amount of money the taxpayer must pay depends upon the amount of money the district borrowed, the interest rate and the bond terms. If property values decrease or the number of taxable properties in the district decreases, debt repayments (i.e. taxes) rise to meet the loan terms, or the bonds gets refinanced to lengthen the repayment period and/or reduce the interest rate. Know what you're voting for.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

It is a teacher bond millage (albeit indirectly), as the buckets aren't that clearly labeled. If the technology bond millage fails, word on the playground is that the district is still going to invest in keeping technology up to date. This means cuts elsewhere like in teaching staff, likely leading to layoffs and higher class sizes. I do hope you will consider this inevitable outcome and reconsider your vote. If money is not specifically provided for technology, then that money will simply have to be drawn from other areas. The 'special programs' like this will go on because they are essential to an effective educational environment. If we do not fund these programs directly through a millage, then we are indirectly voting to cut funding for teachers.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

I hope that when Dr. Green looks at the balanced calendar with "fresh eyes" she also looks at the results of last year's parent survey which showed so clearly that the majority of Scarlett-area families do NOT want a balanced calendar. To those who think the problem would be solved by putting Scarlett's feeder elementaries on the balanced calendar as well: yes, Mitchell, Carpenter, and Pittsfield feed into Scarlett. So do Allen and Burns Park, but those schools split and also feed to Tappan. So which schedule would you suggest Allen and Burns Park follow? And what about all the families with older children at Huron, which would stay on the traditional calendar? AAPS BOE, please keep all of this in mind when you make your decision tonight. I'll keep suggesting this: make Scarlett-Mitchell a K-8 school of choice if you want to put it on the balanced calendar; redistrict Mitchell and Scarlett families to other schools and let anyone in-district apply for a slot at the K-8 school. You could give preferential admission status to families in the Mitchell (and Scarlett?) attendance area, even.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Most businesses are not allowed by their bankers to have staff account for this much of their budget, whats makes schools think they can? Because they are smarter? "When 85 percent of our budget is staff"


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 10:01 a.m.

@commoncents, if you want to be taken seriously, please show your evidence that teachers in AA are not properly trained and that the union is "forcing the budget up."


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

XMO - The 85 percent number is highly misleading. That is from the General fund. There is a huge amount of money in the bond funds, the sinking fund, and other special millages and grants that have nothing to do with salary of the staff. The school district would like you to forget that money exists or tell you it does not count, until there is the need for another millage or bond vote. Then the money in this election is critical. They want it both ways. Playing on the need to "improve" education.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

amlive: How about the AUTO-pay raises ? If 85% of the budget is people, every year that union is just forcing the budget up that much more. What if half the teachers are getting online degrees from Phoenix "University" and they demand even higher raises ? haha.... like they are currently doing


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

amlive: How about when cutbacks are needed ? If 85+% is people..... here come the layoffs


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

Most businesses have to show their bankers as wide a profit margin as possible. I think one could argue that for a non-profit public service, to say that the staff pay accounts for 85% of the budget could demonstrate that the overhead is kept to an impressively minimal 15%. Would you think it better for the overhead above staff pay go up to 40%?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

A meeting just in time to bring out the Boogieman. The "Budget" is not what they spent last year. No, it is what they want to spend next year. In only 1 year (last year) has AAPS had fewer dollars available to spend than the prior year, when you add up all of the income. We are less than a month the technology millage, so this will be a "scare" budget. The goal is to get people out to the polls voting "YES" on the technology millage. Expect that the vast majority of proposed cuts will come from teachers. Where the cuts need to start is in the staff supporting Varsity Athletics. Physical activity for students is important but athletic programs for 9th graders that rival college programs are not required, at least not on tax payer money. Then we can attack the top heavy district, top heavy when you add up the general administration and building administration - supporters will tell you that the general administration cost is low and ignore the building administration costs - AAPS has pushed as much of the total administration costs into that line as possible - so the general admin costs look reasonable. Then we can look at how the bond fund and sinking fund have been spent over the last couple of years. Did they use the money to reduce long term costs by making buildings more energy efficient - no they built new Athletic facilities that actually raise the long term costs to run the schools. Then the Super salary of the new super, midnight raises for her key staff members, etc. People will tell you the technology millage is needed, but where will the training funds come from for the teachers to use the technology. Most of the "Smart" boards that the district bought with Stimulus Funds are broken or unused. Will the district make similar poor choices for the technology bond?


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 12:25 a.m.

OBTW folks - since the Skyline bond paid for most of the technology that is being recycled from this bond, we will still be paying for that technology in 2020 and beyond. How many generations of obsolete technology do you want to be paying millage for at one time? 1, 2, 3, 4, 10? If technology is good for 3 years, why are we agreeing to a bond that goes beyond that time period?


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

leaguebus - Gym is academic, Music is academic. Taking Gym to an extreme like AAPS does and trying to create teams that could compete in Division II in college is crazy. The same may be true with music, but I am not seeing the millions of dollars a year being spent on music that are spent on Varsity teams. I don't see regular students denied access to facilities just because they are not varsity in music, like I do with Athletics. No issue with your statement on administrators, there are too many and they make too much. As to teachers, I have not and will not take on teacher salary. They spend their day in a tough environment. As to laying off teachers, that is exactly what I expect will be the answer on Wednesday night, instead of dealing with the fat in other parts of the budget. If they had spent the $12 million they spent this year on new Athletic facilities (music did not get a $12 million windfall), on energy efficiency, they could have reduced the cost of running schools by probably $600,000 a year. Over the 20 year life of the improvements they would have broken even on the expenditures. Instead they built new facilities that now need to be heated, cooled, cleaned and maintained that are OFF LIMITS to everyone who is not a a specific set of varsity teams. You obviously have not been really reading what I have been posting and did not read the post you were responding to.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

That right Don, time to cut everything not academic. Forget the nationally renown music program in Ann Arbor. Cut Cut Cut. That is the only answer. There is so much fat in the budget its not hard to get rid of $16M. Those pesky teachers make way too much money, same with the administration. Lets lay off more teachers so the class size can go up and student performance goes down. Who cares about students anyway, we should chase them out of the public schools and to Greenhills and the privates. So what is 80% of the parents in the county can't afford Greenhills. We need to make tought decisions quickly to keep the US sliding down the slippery slope to mediocrity in education.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

If I was in town on a week night, I might. Once again I am on the road for work.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Don Bee is the truth. Will you go to the meeting on Wednesday night ? I want to see you with a microphone confronting Patricia Green.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

The retiree health and pension costs the state has dumped on the school district have killed it. You can put a fork in the AA school system, it is toast. No way to compete with private, parochial, and charter schools without cracking that nut. When close to 30% of the budget in coming years goes to retiree costs, the kids are going to be RUNNING for the doors to get educated elsewhere. People wrote checks in past contracts that they could not cash and keep the schools running. Unless this painful truth is addressed, there will be a great sucking noise eminating from the Ann Arbor School District. You can only rearrange the deck chairs on the titanic for so long, eventually, people will notice it is going down. Our public school system in Ann Arbor was one of the greatest accomplishments of our local society, and the fools in Lansing have killed. Talk about the real problems, and stop saying the district is good and getting better when it is toast if the problem with retiree costs is not fixed.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

All we need to do is raise taxes on business and put that money into education. A $1.8B cut in business taxes laid off 10K teachers and more are going this year as this business tax cut is in perpetuity. The Republicans still think that cutting taxes will stimulate the economy. Hogwash! Now, because the State doesn't have any money, they are going to start cutting State pensions, and raising taxes on retired people. The petitions are out there, time to sign one. Lets get back to reality, 30 years of mostly Republican tax cuts is in the process of bankrupting most public institutions in the state and the country.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

@DonBee - a lot of these problems simply cannot be addressed at the local level. Yes, the current retirement and health care systems are unsustainable, and a huge drain on local resources. But no, local districts and unions do not have the power to change them - that has to happen at the state level. I would love to see give its readers an explanation of this - so many people seem to be quick to blame the district's teachers for its financial woes, and the true story is so much more complex than people seem to realize.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

jpud - Addressing the AAEA and AAAA contracts will be painful. They need to be addressed at the local level. Addressing the retirement and health care requirements at the state level will also be painful. But it needs to be done. The state moved all of their new employees to 401K like programs years ago, other public employees need to move in that direction too. Retirement ages and formulas need a relook as well.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

Double the UM game parking to $80 a car. That should take care of the shortfall


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

applehazar: That was sarcastic, right ? Just want to be clear - looks like you already have one follower so I wanted to confirm. You don't actually think more money would solve this, do you ?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

I think fans would pay more than that. An even $100 would be worth trying-- especially for the bigger games.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

Green and her friends at Balas are never going to take the cuts needed to make up the shortfall. She gives raises at 1:00 in the morning, and often without board approval. This is going to come on the back of teachers and other workers within the district. High class size due to staff reductions is where it will start. Transportation for high school, it could clearly be taken away to save money. As for balanced calender, either you redistrict to only effect Scarlett and its feeder school, or it has to be an ALL of Ann Arbor calender. Tech bond, these things are going to happen regardless of passing of bond. It will simply add to the shortfall in budget for next year. I think I will be happy to actually hear Green speak and share her ideas. She has basically been non-existent so far.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

I think the technology mileage was put on the agenda too soon. It would have been better if the board would have delayed this action until the Superintendent and the board approved a new budget. Also, while consideration consolidating administrative such as having principals in charge of more than one school, why not consolidate duties at the Superintendent's cabinet level thus streamlining her cabinet and creating a saving. I would ask the board to conduct an analysis of all cabinet level position to make sure there is no overlapped on duties.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

They did not share principles! You also forgot to mention the huge pay cuts to custodial and maintenance. With that was given up it came close to a 15% cut- between pay, medical, and we gave up one week of our vacation time, plus up to14 sick days back to the District and then we now pay 3% toward our retirement. Saving the District close to two million dollars. We are only a small piece of the pie but have given up more and more over the past six years. But, then we turn around and give folks BIG raises, and I'm not saying they didn't deserve it but hard times are upon all of us, as it should be upper Management.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

Also, there is a vote on May 8 where the schools are seeking more money--the technology millage--see I will be voting no on the millage proposal. Reality needs to be interjected into school system budgeting.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 9:54 a.m.

@Pieper, what school do you work at that doesn't need a technology upgrade?

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

I am an AAPS employee, and I will be voting NO on the technology bond! I will be encouraging everyone I know to vote NO also. There are items planned on this bond issue that we absolutely do not need to replace. I can see Ann Arbor tax payers paying 45.8 million dollars for the next 20 years, but in 3 to 4 years they will come to us again asking for more money.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

The reality is that computers are here to stay, and that equipment needs to replaced periodically. The money will have to come from somewhere. So, either we toss in a few dollars per household to cover those costs (i.e., vote yes) or we leave the district to manage..probably cutting other things to cover the costs of technology (i.e., vote no). I'll be voting yes.

Basic Bob

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Publicity has been low for the millage campaign, even by historical standards. Obviously they don't trust the voters unless they also happen to be school employees.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

Her "cabinet"? Really?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

A budget shortfall!!!! Let's give the super and the entire cabinet a raise, build new athletic fields, add some more low registration classes and then take the money away from from teachers and building needs. Are you kidding classes are at an all time high, library budgets are frozen and our reputation is waning.