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Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:44 p.m.

Ann Arbor superintendent outlines draft plan that cuts 34 teachers, institutes pay-to-play sports

By David Jesse

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Ann Arbor Superintendent Todd Roberts and Robert Allen (right), deputy superintendent for operations, discuss a draft plan for possible cuts in the district.

Melanie Maxwell |

Among the proposals on the table to save money in the Ann Arbor school district: Eliminating 34 teaching positions, opening 150 schools of choice seats, a pay-to-play fee for high school and middle school sports, the elimination of weekend transportation for events in Washtenaw County and the consolidation of some sports.

Ann Arbor school Superintendent Todd Roberts outlined those proposals tonight in a draft of possible options for the 2010-11 school year.

The plan would also eliminate the shuttle buses from Pioneer and Huron to Community High School, expand walk zones for students to get to the high schools, have middle school and high school students ride the same buses and/or privatize services.

The draft plan also calls for the possible privatization of custodial and maintenance services.

The district is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $20 million in this school year and next.

The proposals introduced tonight combine for a total reduction of $16.2 million.

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More than 100 people showed up tonight for the first of four community budget meetings.

Melanie Maxwell |

Roberts made the announcement at the first of four planned community meetings on the budget. A crowd of more than 100 that includes school board members, district administrators, teachers and community members are in attendance.

"These are some of the preliminary options," Roberts said. "We are hoping to get your feedback on these and other suggestions you might have. This will be refined on the feedback we receive and what we believe is in the best interests of the students in our district."

The cuts being proposed by Roberts are:

  • Reduce the textbook budget by $200,000.
  • Reduce summer school costs by $100,000
  • Reduce substitute teacher costs by $200,000.
  • Restructure the elementary specials (such as art and music) for a savings of 8 full-time equivalent teaching positions and $640,000.
  • Restructure the district's English as a Second Language program, including eliminating four FTE teaching positions for a savings of $320,000.
  • Redesign the district's alternative programs for a savings of $400,000.
  • Restructure the middle school planning center program for a reduction of five teaching positions and a savings of $360,000.
  • Offer more classes online, with the reduction of five teaching positions and a savings of $400,000.
  • Work on K-12 staffing efficiency for a reduction of 12 teaching positions and savings of $960,000.
  • Reduce overtime costs by $700,000.
  • Eliminate high school noon hour supervisors for a savings of $50,000.
  • Reduce transportation costs districtwide by $1.5 million.
  • Reduce custodial and maintenance costs by $2.5 million.
  • Have energy savings of $400,000
  • Reduce athletic costs by $500,000.
  • Limit district-funded conference attendance for a savings of $150,000.
  • Reduce discretionary budgets by $900,000.
  • Get benefit and salary savings of $5 million.
  • Reduce central administration staffing by five positions and two high school class principals for a savings of $600,000.
  • Reduce clerical staffing by eight positions for a savings of $320,000.

Roberts also outlined two possible ways to boost revenue, including opening 150 schools of choice seats - 10 for sixth-graders at each middle school and 50 at the elementary level in kindergarten and first grade.

That could bring in $1,050,000 in additional revenue. Fifty seats would also be opened at the district's alternative high schools - Clemente and Stone.

Roberts also targeted increasing the district's options magnet program by 20 students who don't currently attend the district.

More coverage: • Ann Arbor budget plans contain potentially controversial moves • Ann Arbor student-athletes may pay to play to cover budget shortfall • Background on the district's budget.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 723-623-2534.



Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

The Ann Arbor Public School's administrators have NEVER even suggested closing Community High School. The high school population in Ann Arbor is still at high levels. However, take a look at our elementary and middle school student populations, almost all are under-capacity, especially the middle schools, which have multiple principals at each school. If the budget is really, really, tight, isn't it fiscally responsible to be running our schools efficiently? After this school year, Ann Arbor needs to close 1 - 2 elementary schools and 1 - 2 middle schools.


Wed, Jan 13, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

Well said, Linda.

Linda Diane Feldt

Tue, Jan 12, 2010 : 6:37 p.m.

CHS has been defending itself for nearly 38 years. And it has done a pretty good job of it too. I am a CHS graduate, class of 1976. I was there the first year the school was open. I've volunteered at the school off and on ever since. It is true that CHS made all the difference in my life. I found support just when I was desperate. The skills I learned have made me who I am. And over the decades I have seen and talked to hundreds of kids who didn't make the lottery. Some took it in stride, some did well in the other major high schools, and some did not do well at all. My mother, Barbara Feldt, was one of the founders of The Middle Years Alternative, which was later folded into Mack Open. She wanted choices for kids, because she knew many of us who weren't doing well in conventional settings. My mother, as a volunteer, did a lot of the work to evaluate alternative schools in Ann Arbor in the '70s. Because these alternatives have always been under attack. It doesn't always feel that it is about money, it feels personal and over nearly four decades it has often gotten accusatory and nasty. Why? Offering an alternative doesn't mean the mainstream is bad, it doesn't mean anyone else should have to defend their program, their style of teaching, their style of learning. CHS just does what it does, so very well, and for about the same cost as other programs. The money is a little tricky to follow, because of dual enrollment - CHS students at Pioneer and Huron, and students from the larger schools taking classes at CHS. Including many who didn't make the lottery. There are cost saving measures that can bring us together, that people can unite behind. Attacking the small "different" schools feels pretty petty. I would like to believe that if people knew more about what CHS is, why the culture is different and critically supportive of so many students, what the strengths and weaknesses of the school are, talked to a fe hundred graduates about their impressions, and learned why so many people try to get in, there would be a different focus to this thread. CHS is a school very worthy of your support. There are a lot of reasons it has survived 38 years of near constant attack. Let's find the places where the budget cuts may be brutal but needed, and support the things that are really working within the district. CHS is one of them, as well as so many other programs. Micro managing from a list serve is likely to be one of the least effective methods to determine where cuts are needed. I'm a tax payer with no kids of my own. I absolutely want my financial contribution to Ann Arbor to include supporting alternative educational choices for the kids I know and care about, and all the other kids in town I don't yet know. It makes Ann Arbor a better place to live when we have options.

The Grinch

Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 1:29 p.m.

Those who recognize my nom de plume know that I have no tolerance for those on who use these discussions to endlessly bash the schools, teachers, and other public servants, and I fail to understand why tolerates it. That said, the discussion about CHS raises some interesting questions. Its advocates point out the schools success at getting its graduates placed in premier higher ed programs. Its detractors speak to its high costs. Frankly, nowhere have I seen any evidence of either presented. For the former, what evidence exists that these students would not have done just as well in PHS or HHS (SHS not yet having had a graduating class)? There are ways to measure this. Perhaps its time that the school district try to do so. Anecdotal evidence cannot suffice to make this case. For the latter, data please? And realize that that data must take into account that adding 400 CHS students to PHS/HHS/SHS will raise the costs of operating those schools. Likely most CHS teachers will have to teach at the other high schools, and that, certainly, is the largest portion of the CHS budget. So what is your basis for your cost analysis? And, if it can be proven that CHS does a demonstrably better job of educating its students than do the other high schools, what price should the community be willing to bear in order to achieve that result by keeping CHS open? Or, as an alternative, if CHS were proven to be more effective than the other high schools, would that not argue that its (allegedly) more expensive model ought to be adopted across the district? God forbid!!!

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

DagnyJ, It is interesting what lessons people learn from things and what things they dont. It sounds to me like that parent could have learned that sometimes when you publicly say things that are false, people will publicly correct you. Sure, not everyone is as polite about as they could be but that does not mean that CHS is some "sacred cow" which wouldnt be eliminated if the evidence were that doing so would actually save money.


Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

The district could save much money by not hiring classroom teachers to serve as lunch supervisors. These teachers are paid nearly $40 each day to work about 30 minutes. Teachers cannot be paid in less than hour increments of time, I am told. The other lunch supervisors work for about $8.00 an hour, and actually are paid for the hours they work.


Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

Several years ago, maybe four I think, a parent of a Pioneer student wrote a letter to the editor to the AA News, expressing his belief that CHS siphoned resources from the other high schools. He was soundly criticized in other letters as a hater, as inflammatory. He had people stop him in the street and call him names. People who saw this learned that you cannot touch certain sacred cows in Ann Arbor.

Jon Saalberg

Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

CHS is not going to be closed. I'm not sure what motivates people to suggest closing a school that is a bastion of excellence, but comments such as "First off, IA has a recognized program (International Baccalaureate) and the school has rules. Also IA is a school of choice run by the Oakland ISD and open to students from 20 school districts. In comparison, CHS is an unstructured and closed." might be one example why. I would appreciate naysayers explaining what they mean. All Ann Arbor schools have written policies regarding student behavior and school procedures. As a CHS parent, I can show anyone interested our son's handbook, which clearly outlines academic standards and requirements for graduation - these standards are the same as any other Ann Arbor high school, since CHS must follow the state educational guidelines - there seems to be a great misconception that CHS follows some independent standard, and that is untrue.Additionally, CHS is not closed. If the composition of the student population is of question to some observers, it's important to point out that the school is only available to those who take the time to complete the lottery process - CHS is as diverse as the population that applies from the lottery.It would be great if anti-CHS posters could provide a few facts with their inflammatory rhetoric. I hope that CHS students, faculty and other concerned parties will post here, and show up at the budget meetings to refute the steady stream of misinformation.

Mark Snow

Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

@Annarbor28 and BasicBob, The comparison between Community and International Academy is interesting. Both are completely public schools of choice (I like the options offered by this model and the fact that they are available to those that can't pay private school tuition). Both are popular enough that they use a lottery. IA actually has three campuses in Oakland County (Bloomfield Hills, Troy and White Lake), but they are operated as a single school(They share a principal, do common curriculum and lesson planning, etc.). Full Disclosure: I teach at IA (White Lake). I also have two kids at Huron. One of them was Community/Huron. In terms of cost savings, our International Academy Campus is a school within a school (we are a small school that is physically inside the Lakeland High School buildings). This offers a lot of cost advantages (energy, cafeteria, participation in some of the events a large school can offer while keeping the small school culture). The only potential downside of the school within a school is that there can become an "us and them" mentality. This does not have to be a disadvantage, though. If one of our goals is to all get along in the world, this (school within a school) is a great opportunity to learn to do just that in an educational setting. I am surprised that moving the Community program to one of the big high schools isn't on the table. There is certainly room to do it and it would undoubtedly save money.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 9:20 p.m.

From a purely economic perspective, AAPS would be better off losing all 400+ CHS students and closing the building. Why? Because it costs the district more to educate HS students than students in other grades, and more than AAPS receives in per pupil funding. HS is a money loser for the district.

Lisa Starrfield

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 7:34 p.m.

The student above makes a good point. Community has a unique science program. Unlike Huron and Pioneer which teaches aspects of science discretely with a Chemistry class, a Biology class, an Earth Science class and a Physics class, Community teaches a blended science class. They learn the same material but through a more thematic approach (like a study in Forensics).


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 6:49 p.m.

Eliminating CHS or moving it would be extremely detrimental to many students in Ann Arbor. Sure, I'm a student there and biased. I didn't start out that way though, I'm one of the most critical people out there about Community. The fact is though, Community works. I don't know if it's the whitest, richest, and whatever school but that's not what makes it work. (Me being biracial and a straight A student). The test scores are excellent because the majority of the students there, (not all of them, trust me) want to learn and the teachers care about them enough to help them on their journey. It's an excellent enviroment. The science program has turned me around of science and the English department has changed the way I read permanently. And sure, closing the school would only change the lives of 500 kids, oh and the ones that split enroll, and the students that participate in Mock Trial and Model UN there. Community has changed lives, it inspires one to learn and gives some of the poor misfit kids in Ann Arbor a community that they can thrive in. Just think about that before destroying the strong bonds the students have with their school.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 6:19 p.m.

@annarbor28, It is not legitimate to compare CHS to IA, or to compare AAPS to DPS. First off, IA has a recognized program (International Baccalaureate) and the school has rules. Also IA is a school of choice run by the Oakland ISD and open to students from 20 school districts. In comparison, CHS is an unstructured and closed. I disagree that closing CHS would cause Ann Arbor to instantly become a smaller version of Detroit with lagging test scores. Do you think all the professors and doctors will move away? Once again I will ask, how have the CHS lottery losers fared at Huron and Pioneer? This is the only legitimate way to measure the *success* of the CHS program, not some free-spirited anecdotes.

Andrew Thomas

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

KJMClark: The top administrators in the AAPS have already taken pay cuts of 4%, Superintendent Roberts has taken an 8% cut. The proposed 4% reduction is for all AAPS employees, not just teachers.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

eom: The other thing that bothered me about the quote you selected is the idea that as long as MY kids are okay, I don't care about the others in the system. Public education exists for all kids, and we'd be in a sad state without it, as evidenced by quotes given here.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 10:35 a.m.

By your logic then, the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, which is a small public school that was rated the #2 public school nationwide by US News and World Report in 2009, should be closed, because it is small and wastes resources? Or maybe you want the A2 schools to sink to the level of Detroit, where "Detroit kids score record lows on NAEP Test Results show 77% of 8th-graders, 69% of 4th-graders lack basic math skills", and the parents want the principals and teachers jailed due to the poor test scores, according to a recent Detroit Free Press article? Community High succeeds in teaching students and facilitates learning in all parameters. There is no way it should be closed, but should continue to be a showcase, along with BH International, of what education should and can be. Don't sacrifice education for some ill-conceived budget cuts which can in part be attributed to poor city management. Save the good aspects of school systems, and improve management.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

"At the end of the day, the parents are what determines how well a child will do in any education system. Teachers just suppliment that and lead the kids down a state mandated path. Not much difficulty in that. My kids will be just fine if we have to find some replacements, or have 5 more kids in the class with them." Forget the fact that most of what is written on makes me crazy and feel horrible about my chosen profession...and forget the fact that my job isn't just a job - it's a passion. Forget the fact that no matter what is said on this site, I would get up every day and make my way to my classroom in order to interact with 21 amazing eight-year olds. Apparently, it just doesn't matter. Anyone could do it. After all, I'm just guiding them down a state mandated path. I am sad that this is what YOU got out of your education, because it certainly isn't what I got out of my Ann Arbor Public Schools education. And I truly hope it isn't what my students get out of their third grade education in my classroom on a daily basis. My third grade teacher not only taught me math, writing, reading and everything else she was MANDATED to do...she laughed at my jokes, talked my mom into letting me have one of the classroom baby gerbils, took us to her farm at the end of the year and made me feel like a MILLION dollars. She's also one of the main reasons I became a teacher. It doesn't stop there, of course. Elementary School, Jr. High, and High School were filled with amazing educators who taught me the curriculum while sharing their thoughts, insights and joy of teaching with me as I grew and learned. I had countless educators who changed my life - and I appreciate what they gave me every day. My teachers challenged me to become something and to do things that would change the world. They allowed me to discover things about myself and the world around me. I'm proud to have gone through the system that I now work for. I do agree that parents are EXTREMELY important in the process - and people (Jennifer Granholm for one) forget that they DO play such a role in the education of children - blaming the education system and teachers in particular for low scores and problems in the entire system. I can't do my job without the help of all of the parents in my classroom, but it's not just the parents. It's not just me. It's all of us. It's their classmates, counselors, principals, teachers, TA's, custodians, volunteers...everyone. If we tried to work together rather than blaming teachers and the system as a whole, we could probably figure something out. But when people write things like the above quote, it's hard to imagine working together because clearly, this person isn't willing to work together - they have made up their minds about my profession and aren't willing to think about a real solution.

dj wilson

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

I suggest to anyone who is interested in the current budget issues to take the time to look at the district's current request for proposal that was released Friday. You will notice no real management cuts in the privatization proposal for custodial and maintenance. Therefore, the district is proposing to eliminate the employees who directly work in the buildings, are in direct contact with the students, and secure the buildings but maintaining the salary and benefits of the supervisors such as crew chiefs, facilities managers, etc... Who would they be managing and supervising if the new employees are no longer employees of Ann Arbor Public Schools. Once again, cutting the lowest paying positions of the districts as well as the largest minority employee group in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. (You can find this posted on the AA website). Just so you know, the starting salary of a custodian in the district is 9.85 per hour and will make no more then 10.85 for the rest of their AAPS "career" This agreement was signed in 2006 to insure employees maintained their jobs and they were not outsourced.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

I am kind of surprised at how many people in this discussion are chomping at the bit to eliminate CHS. It seems to me that, if anything, the school district should be expanding the open classroom concept. The only way it would make sense to close CHS is if one of the larger high schools went to an all open class room teaching style. But even then, it really would be a shame to lose the alternative of a small school. I don't have kids but I have to admit that if I did, I would seriously consider moving to Ann Arbor because of CHS and the other open classroom programs. I know I am not the only one. Also regarding teacher salaries: you get what you pay for. If you want the best of the best, you have to pay for it. IF you want cheap, you'll get lucky if you get a few good teachers who do it just for the love of the job but overall teacher quality will go down, especially in areas where people have a lot of alternatives in the private sector such as math and science. This is Economics 101 people.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

I do see the proposal to reduce administrative staff, but I don't see a proposal to reduce administrative salaries. It seems that the first proposal, which should just be assumed and perhaps is, should be an immediate across the board reduction in administrative salaries. 10 to 20% would make sense. Then when contract negotiations with the teachers roll back around, the administrators can say truthfully, "We sacrificed to protect your jobs and the education of our children. Now it's your turn to sacrifice as well." We should expect the administrators to lead by example. Besides, they really should have seen this coming. We should be long past the "hoocoodanode?" excuse by now. Professor Robert Shiller pointed out that house prices were far outside the normal range in his second edition of Irrational Exuberance back in 2005. It was pretty clear then that a housing crash was possible. It was also clear that oil prices were rising quickly and the auto industry was floundering. It's part of the job of management to head off potential problems. If they let contract negotiations pass without getting enough concessions, then the administration should be the first to take pay cuts.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

@skfina, "There are an inordinate number of comments about closing CHS, given that it was not one of the items on the list. Let's move on." Let's pull our heads out of the sand. Although the school administration did not put it on the list, many people in the community choose this alternative as the first thing they would eliminate. Closing CHS would save the district millions of dollars, more than any item on the list except for benefit and salary savings (layoffs or pay cuts).


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

@skfina2 From the Bureau of Economic Analysis - The Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) - Personal income growth from 2007 to 2008 increased.05%. Per Capita change was.07% From 2006 to 2007 it was 5.6% and 5.1% respectively. Comparing the Detroit MSA 2007 to 2008 the numbers were 1.3% and 2.0%. 2006 to 2007 were 3.9% and 4.6%. Just because Ann Arbor's unemployment rate is lower, doesn't mean income is. You also assume most people who live here work here. Many of my neighbors work for the auto's or auto suppliers. I agree with you that teachers (most) are hard working, but (theoretically) don't all of us work hard at our chosen professions? Weve all taken hits.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

"I wish I had hours to tell you why Open schools are so great. Open school kids may, superficially, seem to be less well behaved, but that's because the open school does not institutionalize kids like normal schools do. One person's heaven can be another person's hell, but I thank God we had an open school option for my kids." We're talking kids that cuss like sailors. Kids that tote bb guns and knives and threaten the other kids with them. Thank for putting my kids down as "institutionalized". I never said that ALL kids from Open were brats...but you just said all kids from any other schools are "institutionalized" And yet I was the one who was censored. Lovely.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 12:15 a.m.

@salinemom "I would venture to guess that 80 to 90% of workers in this state have taken pay cut or benefit hits." Now it's your turn to show me the study. We're talking Ann Arbor here, not the rest of the state. We do live in a bit of a protected cocoon here, and I'd venture to guess that in this area it's nowhere near that much. In fact, U of M faculty members are even getting a raise this year, although it's not as big as in previous years. So no, there is not a sense of shared sacrifice. As for paying for quality teachers, I was referring to the profession as a whole. If salaries in education decrease enough, then the insulting old adage, "Those who can, do. Those who can't do, teach." will certainly come true. If one is intelligent enough to have other career options, then one will most likely take them. Then who will be left to teach our kids? I wholeheartedly agree that tenure does protect bad teachers. And my kids have certainly had their share of them. But there are also many, many hard-working, dedicated, and GOOD teachers in our schools who are feeling beleaguered and discouraged by all the teacher-bashing that seems to be so popular these days.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 11:23 p.m.

@skfina2 "Where's the shared sacrifice?" - I would venture to guess that 80 to 90% of workers in this state have taken pay cut or benefit hits. Teachers are not immune. These are the people whose children you teach. "If you want high quality teachers, you have to pay for them". Show me a study that ties high pay with high quality. Tenure protects bad teachers. Yes, in Saline we think we can do without some teachers - the state is mandating 1 on-line class for graduation in 2011 I believe - this concept is coming - better do some research on it's effectiveness for many students. AAPS is looking to eliminate 5 teachers for on-line according to this article. Just my opinion


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 7:15 p.m.

Lynn Lombard - Remember I started by asking you to read the contract. I am a lay person not an accountant or a lawyer. I do my best to study what is available and try to do my best to draw the right conclusions. I regret I made an error, but you will notice, over and over in my posts I urge others to dig in and figure it out. I am trying my best to figure it out for myself. I am not always right, and I know it. That is why I urge others to do their own research. To all - I am sorry I made a mistake here. Please, read the contracts and other documents for yourselves and make your own conclusions. Ask questions and get involved.

Lynn Lumbard

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 6:05 p.m.

But, David, how can that be??? Don Bee knows the teacher contract and has spent 6 hours studying the applicable federal and state laws regarding this. Could he be in error?? Is Liz in error??

David Jesse

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 5:54 p.m.

Got the following from AAPS district spokeswoman Liz Margolis via e-mail this afternoon regarding teacher sick days: "The teachers are not paid for their unused sick days when they retire or resign from AAPS."

Trisha Paul

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 5:41 p.m.

As a Huron High School student who attended this event, I thought that it was very well organized and planned. It was nice to see how other people in the community felt about the possible cuts being considered. I was glad to see that these cuts for the most part will not interfere with the classroom educational experience for students, but I feel like these cuts are all temporary solutions. It was encouraging to see so many people are interested in this situation and willing to show Lansing the urgency for change within our state.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 5:25 p.m.

Why does everyone want to close Community? Because the kids have green hair? Because they don't have the mass of alumni to play defense against stupid ideas? Community didn't cost taxpayers millions of dollars in new construction for a half-empty, poorly thought out new high school that any demographer can tell you will be, if it's not already, empty and obsolete in a few short years. "Pass a millage, end of story"?? This town's residents already pay extremely generous taxes to support schools. How about this idea: Any district property owners with school-age kids pay three times the current millage rate for school taxes; everyone else gets their school millages cut in half. Pay for use. Suits me just fine.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 4:28 p.m.

As the parent of four children who are either in the AAPS system or who have gone through it, and as a teacher in a neighboring district, here's what sticks out to me as I read these comments: 1) There are an inordinate number of comments about closing CHS, given that it was not one of the items on the list. Let's move on. 2) There are people out there who have an unrealistic view of what it is like to be a teacher. Go without a planning period? Not be able to take sick days? Please. Before making these judgments, perhaps you should spend some time being a substitute teacher, or even better, become a teacher so you will know what we do on a daily basis. You will find that it is a very demanding, and rewarding, career. Not inclined to do that? Then perhaps you shouldn't offer up your opinion on such matters. 3) There are people who voted down the millage so they wouldn't have to see their taxes increased by a few HUNDRED dollars a year, yet they see no problem asking teachers to decrease their income by a few THOUSAND dollars a year. Huh? Where's the shared sacrifice? Why are teachers asked to bear the brunt of a broken system? And what happens in two, three, or four years, when we are still in a financial crisis here in Michigan - should teachers be asked to continually decrease their salaries until they work for free? What caliber of people would go into education under those circumstances? If you want high quality teachers, you have to pay for them. 4) Yes, teacher salaries and benefits are 80% of all costs. That is because teachers are arguably the most important assets in any system. There are many things we could do without if we had to, but teachers are not one of them (unless you live in Saline, where apparently they think they can). Please do not use this 80% figure as a basis for reasoning that teachers should bear 80% of the cuts. Just my opinion.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 3:47 p.m.

Alan, etc. I point out the facts about the population of students at Community and then draw conclusions based on those facts. For some reason, CHS is least diverse of the high schools. It is overwhelmingly white and affluent. Students are chosen by a lottery, and for some reason almost all the students chosen are white and affluent. I am told the lottery is really a random selection of students who apply, so I must assume that poor and minority students do not apply, but white affluent students do. Why does that happen? There are lots of possible explanations. One is the white, affluent students are more eager to take advantage of Community's alternative education. Another is that the families of white, affluent students can deal with the challenges (transportation, etc.) of going to CHS in exchange for the small school atmosphere. One possible explanation is that poor, minority students don't want to attend or feel pressure NOT to attend. Another is that poor student who need free lunch cannot attend because CHS has no lunch service (which seems a bit unfair, but may be true). Regardless, this boutique school clearly serves affluent white students. People here have argued that these rich white kids are somehow more able than their counterparts at the other high schools, and that CHS should remain open to serve their needs. I still argue that rich white kids would do well anywhere, and we need find ways to trim the school budget to meet the needs of the majority, not just the special few.

Eric P

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 3:44 p.m.

@pihi77- I can't comment on what happened in the early 70s but when I was a student in the AAPS system from the 1977 to 1989 (I believe it was '89 when everything changed over) the set up was. Elementary school was K -6 Jr High was 7- 9 Huron and Pioneer were 10-12 CHS was the only of the high schools at the time (that I know of) that offered 9th grade. The year my brother was in the 9th grade was the year that 9th graders were moved to the high schools, 6th grade to the Jr High's which were termed middle schools at that point. A lot of parents of 9th graders that year sent their kids to CHS because of they were worried about their 9th graders getting lost in the shuffle at the big schools along with the growing reputation of CHS as having the brightest and the best. That was also the first year that there was a waiting list for slots in the CHS 9th grade class.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

"Nationwide, the daily absentee rate for teachers is over 5%. I would be interested to know how much AAPS spends annually on substitutes and what their absentee rate is. Perhaps this could be addressed in negotiations as my personal experience as an AAPS parent for over 10 years is that there are definitely some teachers who utilize every sick/personal/training day they are given. In the past 10 years, I have missed 4 days of work due to illness and some of my co-workers even less. How many sick days does an AAPS teacher receive?" This argument is the worst ever. If a teacher is ill and they go to school and infect 100 students, they then infect their families, their friends, children in other classes, etc. If you go to work sick, you are part of the problem in spreading disease. You probably force you child to go to school to infect the restof the world too, because you seem to have an attitude that sickness should just be "walked off".

David Jesse

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

i just e-mailed both the administration and the union seeking clarification on the sick time issue. will let you know when they respond

Lynn Lumbard

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 3 p.m.

I wonder if David Jesse could contact someone in administration at AAPS and the teachers' union so we could put this to rest. I would hate to see Don Bee lose some of his credibility over this issue!


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 2:53 p.m.

Don't know what PERA is, but I'm positive Ann Arbor School Employees do not get compensation for their sick days at retirement.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

@sh1 - Section 10 of PERA - a state law applies. There are similar Federal laws. Teachers retiring can - 1) Donate days to the common sick day bank 2) Use the banked time to add to their years of service 3) Get paid for the unused days I spent about 6 hours digging into state and federal laws to understand why the bank was so important to the teachers. Again I am not against the benefits and have never argued teachers should have any cuts, only that people should understand how they are paid. Just like I think everyone should understand how any state or federal employee is paid.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 2:23 p.m.

I am an AA teacher. Don Bee has provided information which is simply not accurate. Teachers are not paid for their sick days when they retire. It would be a very nice benefit. Even though I love my job and have had a very successful career as measured by the appreciation expressed by students, parent, colleagues and administrators, I could be motivated to bring it to a close if the 200 sick days I consistently carry from year to year could be converted to cash using even a beginning teachers per/diem pay. As an experienced Ann Arbor teacher, I have developed a thick skin and I am seldom moved by the shots taken by individuals who don't understand or appreciate my job. I know that the hours I spend outside of the "work day" would never be enough to impress these people. I don't do it for them. WHAT DOES ANNOY ME is when people present misinformation as if it is fact. At least get the facts straight. If it is a federal law, Ann Arbor is setting its citizens up for a law suit that will make the multi-million dollar sub law suit look like peanuts. No teacher-retiree I know (at least 12) in the last 5 years has received payment for their sick days. Perhaps DonBee is confused. I have just perused the contract. There is no language I see that could lead him to this conclusion. As I would tell my students don't believe what someone tells you,not even me. Do your own research and use more than one resource. The contract is BY LAW public information and available to every one, not just DonBee! Gayle Richardson


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 2 p.m.

Don Bee-Please give contract information that says teachers get paid for their unused sick days upon retirement. I'm sure my retired teacher friends will be surprised by it.

winston smith

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

Eric P - I agree with most of what you stated but 9th graders started to be moved to the Ann Arbor High Schools as early as 1973, not 1990.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 1:24 p.m.

Lynn Lombard - Yes they are - they have a couple of options for how they are paid, there are several paragraphs in the contract, that is why I suggested you look at it. I do not want to post that much of the contract here for others to read. If is Federal law that any unused days of vacation or other time off be paid for if you are allowed to carry them over. One way to limit the long term liability, since the total bank size is a local contract issue, not a state issue, would be to reduce the carry over level. My proposal would be new hires be allowed to carry over up to 50 days and be given 10 days in the bank at hire. That would allow them to have paid sick days in the first year if needed and reduce the long term carry over. We might also reduce for those teachers with say less then 5 years, the carry over to 100 days. One thing that would also help is if the days are paid at the pay rate they were banked at (in other words a value assigned to each day as it is banked). This was the agreement Toronto finally came too on their city employees this summer - the future savings for Toronto - more than $100 million - now they have way more employees, but it was an issue that stopped the contract from being signed for several weeks.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

limmy, FYI, Open always weighted their lottery to favor minority kids, and therefore had one of the most diverse schools in the district. Unfortunately, a couple years ago they were forced to stop doing this, after the affirmative action lawsuits and new laws regarding education and admissions (the U of M lawsuits).

Eric P

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

@limmy : "Ann Arbor has had a priority of diversifying schools for 30+ years. Except for Community." that's not really accurate, Community was an under attended school until the 90s when 9th grade classes were moved to the high schools from the Jr. High and the class of 1990 changed the image of the school to the public by having 10 of the 100 graduates qualify as national merit scholars. It only in the last ten years or so that CHS evolved into what ever it is now. The lottery was in response to the three weeks in line nonsense that was going on in the mid 90s. Further Diversity was a major concern in the late 80s and efforts were made to attract more minority students-- for what ever reason (and there are many) they were not interested in attending, simple as that.

Lynn Lumbard

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 1:06 p.m.

Don Bee, Are you sure teachers are paid for unused sick days when they retire?? I wasn't aware of this.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 1 p.m.

For all of you worried about the possible "abuse" of teacher sick days: when a teacher is going to be absent, he/she must write out lesson plans for a complete stranger for how to teach for a day, including special instructions for certain students and situations that are particular to a day. This usually takes up to two hours, which is enough of a deterrent for most people to take a day off when they don't need one.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

Ann Arbor has had a priority of diversifying schools for 30+ years. Except for Community. It is a strict lottery that does not account for race, ethnicity, or income. That is why it lacks diversity. For some reason it is a priority everywhere but there. As far as ratio of IEP is concerned, an IEP may or may not affect test scores. Most of the parents that send their kids to smaller/alternative schools do it for social reasons like less bullying, more inclusiveness,more personal attention, etc. It is the same for charter schools. Their test scores are no better even though some of them have very few low income students and small classes. Yet they are expanding quickly. Central Academy and EWMA both offer high school classes as well as the one at WCC.

winston smith

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

Thanks DonBee - I posted before your info was up. So a senior teacher receives 2 sick days per month which equates to 18 days annually (if calculated on a 9 month year - perhaps it is 24 and they use a 12 month year?) plus 2 personal day. This doesn't include various inservice days etc. 20 days off seems excessive to me - I believe the avearge sick time for most US employees is less than 10 days per year. Being able to bank days does not seem appropriate either. All this increases the cost of education. I do not feel AAPS teachers are overpaid but I think their benefits including retirement are extremely generous and out of step with most professions.

winston smith

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

Nationwide, the daily absentee rate for teachers is over 5%. I would be interested to know how much AAPS spends annually on substitutes and what their absentee rate is. Perhaps this could be addressed in negotiations as my personal experience as an AAPS parent for over 10 years is that there are definitely some teachers who utilize every sick/personal/training day they are given. In the past 10 years, I have missed 4 days of work due to illness and some of my co-workers even less. How many sick days does an AAPS teacher receive?


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

Lynn Lumbard The contract has 2 kinds of PTO - 6.313The Board shall accumulate days of sick leave credit, up to a maximum of 200 days, at the following rates per month of regular employment for each full time teacher (pro-rated for part-time teachers): Days Credit/During years Month ofof service in EmploymentAnn Arbor 1 1 10 1 1/211 20 221 and up 6.331Each teacher shall be entitled, each year during his/her regular employment period, to be absent without loss of pay or other benefits from scheduled work for two (2) days for personal reasons. These days shall be taken in increments of full or half days only. Both can be accumulated and either cashed out at retirement, or used as needed. 200 sick days is an extra year of pay for the teacher at retirement. In the contract sick leave can be used for things other than being sick, and personal days can be used for pretty much anything. Any days not used during a year can be banked as sick days toward the 200 day limit. In addition there are a wide range of unpaid reasons to take time off from the school and other reasons for time off. I am NOT arguing that they are unneeded, unfair or should be cut. I was and am trying to point out that there are measures in the contract that offer time off from teaching. All of them seem reasonable to me. The only concern I have as a tax payer is the future cost of cashing out 200 days of sick leave that has been banked by teachers.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 12:04 p.m.

Opt out of the race to the top funds, we don't need to teach to a standardized test.

Lynn Lumbard

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

Don Bee, The topic was vacation WEEKS.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

Lynn Lumbard - I would suggest you read the posted teacher contract carefully. There is Paid Time Off in the contract. I am not suggesting that it is vacation time, but there is paid time off.

Lynn Lumbard

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

cafons I am sure teachers and the AAEA would be willing to give up not just some, but ALL paid vacation weeks, however is won't save a penny. Teachers get no paid vacations.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

WR - The reason students in Ann Arbor get more funding is because we, the tax payers in this City, approved a 4.42 mill increase when Prop A took place. Not to mention we've approved additional mills for facility improvements and the like over the years. Education is a number one priority in this old town of ours - it always has been. I've had four children recently pass through the public schools of A2 and they were all college ready. My praise to the teachers at Logan, Clague, and Huron and to the people of Ann Arbor for making public education a top priority.

Lisa Starrfield

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

"At the end of the day, the parents are what determines how well a child will do in any education system. Teachers just suppliment that and lead the kids down a state mandated path. Not much difficulty in that. My kids will be just fine if we have to find some replacements, or have 5 more kids in the class with them." Wow. Just wow. Why don't you go find some teachers for your kids at Burger King? Or import them from China.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 6:53 a.m.

definitely close community, and cutting the over-abundant teaching asst. positions would cut down the budget tremendously. most of whom dont have degrees. cutting back on all the paid vacation weeks and personal time of teachers would help also

Andrew Thomas

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 12:20 a.m.

Bellboz, Where do you get the idea that we need to cut 20% out of the budget? We only need to make a 10% cut. Also, your logic is incorrect that in order to achieve a cut of x percent (whether 20% or 10%), you must cut teacher compensation by that same percent. The proposed cuts would reduce teacher compensation by approx. 4%, plus eliminate 34 teacher positions which works out to about another 2%. The rest of the cuts come from things like transportation, custodial services, administration and various non-salary items. Add in the increased revenue from opening up selected "schools of choice" and you get to the 10% figure. I'm not trying to minimuze the impact of a 4% drop in compensation, or the loss of 34 teaching positions (although I suspect many, if not most of these will be covered by attrition). But let's not paint the picture blacker than it really is.


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 12:17 a.m.

The Irony in all of this is that Ann Arbor is one of the 7 or so districts in the state the gets about $10,000 per student while most of the other 550 districts have been working with only about $7,000 per student. Yes, Ann Arbor gets about $3,000 MORE PER STUDENT. And most of us have already switched to full day Kindergarten, and made many cuts over the years. Now the second guy in the video wants you to join stabbing your neighbors in the back by embracing Schools of Choice. How Rude! What is so special about Ann Arbor, that your students are worth $3,000 more than the rest of county and state? The practice of Schools of Choice will only serve to finish closing your neighboring districts. And last I heard when you actually acknowledge that you have a Schools of Choice student, you will only get what their home disctrict would have, $7,000. Ann Arbor is actually getting more money from those families who are using relatives addresses who live in Ann Arbor, If you started Schools of Choice you would lose that extra $3,000 per student. And while I'm on my soapbox, Charter Schools. Most Charter Schools get that same $7,000 per Student, but they only work with K-5 or now some have stated K-8, those are the least expensive students to work with... then they kick the students back to the now underfunded public schools to try and finish the 6-12 or 9-12 Students who require the more costly classes like College Prep classes and other AP classes. The system as a whole some needs some major revamping. Be a part of the long term solution, don't just look for the short term money by stealing students from your neighbors. All of the students are valuable, please treat them that way!


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:59 p.m.

Opt out of the race to the top funds, we don't need to teach to a standardized test.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:53 p.m.

Why can't you people in Ann Arbor just accept that some students are more motivated and successful than others, and that you don't always have to feel guilty about this? If lower-performing students ever want the challenges of the higher-performing schools, such as CHS, they just need to enter the lottery. But don't ruin the whole opportunity for the higher-performing students because you feel it is unfair for some people to succeed. Eventually you will have the Detroit Public School (DPS) system here, if you don't allow these students to have good schools, and will also have a graduation rate of 24%. If you feel guilty about social class, why not just bus your children to Detroit, and bus DPS students here? Then would you feel better? Oh, I guess that was already ruled on by the Supreme Court. So just move to Detroit and put your kids in the DPS if it would make you feel better. And give your A2 house to disadvantaged students to come to CHS. But honestly, you really do work hard to give your kids the breaks they have in life, such as good parents and great schools. Enjoy it.

Alan Benard

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:48 p.m.

DagnyJ, you can keep spewing your hate all you like, but there are kids on free and reduced lunch at both open programs. Shall we remove this opportunity from them as well so you can play class warrior?Families choose these schools because they are willing to make sacrifices for an alternative educational philosophy. If the programs cost more per pupil than the other schools, perhaps families and the school councils can work with the board to bring them in line. But they are popular, work for those students (no one forces them to attend) and the positive outcomes are substantiated. Closing the physical buildings would save $600,000 -- ONE TIME -- and that's it. No, no one wants to buy the Detroit St. property, have you read a newspaper business section lately?Find a new whipping boy, this line of yours is boring and incorrect.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:45 p.m.

Lisa, Lisa.. I didn't say fire all of the teachers. I don't think that is a good plan. My point is we can't afford the teachers we have - plain and simple. If we have to cut 20% out of the entire budget, then that includes the teachers - either 20% pay cuts, or 20% headcount cuts. We clearly cannot afford them as we are paying them right now. Yes, for those who would rather quit than take the 20% cut, we should replace them. This would be my prefered choice to taking 20% out of the Teacher Salary part of the budget. I'd rather not lay off 20% of the teachers. But, you must do one or the other. And, as I said, there are plenty of people will to step in. As for moving to Ann Arbor - I don't see anyone lining up now becuase of the schooling. Perhaps the education system is not as good as everyone thinks. If it were, then why are the people educated by it creating an economic meltdown. Teachers have there part of the economic problem. 20% of it apparently. At the end of the day, the parents are what determines how well a child will do in any education system. Teachers just suppliment that and lead the kids down a state mandated path. Not much difficulty in that. My kids will be just fine if we have to find some replacements, or have 5 more kids in the class with them.

Alan Benard

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:44 p.m.

DagnyJ, you can keep spewing your hate all you like, but there are kids on free and reduced lunch at both open programs. Shall we remove this opportunity from time as well so you can play class warrior?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:39 p.m.

@aataxpayer, you are correct. It's rigged because it is difficult for all but advantaged (ie. affluent) families to deal with the various issues involved in attending CHS. These happen to be the same people who whisper to each other that it's like attending a private school because it's so small and there are "more people like us."

Alan Benard

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:36 p.m.

Unsubstantiated attacks on the character of alternative and open school students amount to a disparagement of a class of people and should not be permitted on this here second-rate blog.Besides, chicken-crap attacks on children to score points in an Internet slapfight is hopelessly tacky. Proud of yourselves, you alleged adults?

Alan Benard

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:29 p.m.

What's wrong with school consolidation? Who knows? No one will agree to it!! Lessenberry - Essay: School Consolidation - 8/29/07Meet Calvin Cederquist, who they call Hap. He is a councilman in the small Muskegon suburb of Montague. Thats just down the road from another suburb called Whitehall. These arent teeming metropolises. Both towns have fewer than three thousand people each. Yet, each has its own school system. That doesnt make a whole lot of sense, frankly. These towns arent large enough to give their kids a full range of academic choices. Back in 1990, those who cared about education were concerned about this. They decided to look into the possibility of consolidating the two districts. Their study was an eye-opener. If the school operations merged, their high school students would have more than thirty new courses to choose from. Middle and elementary school kids would get more, too. Consolidation was a no-brainer. They put it on the ballot, and the people overwhelmingly turned it down. Why? Football. They have a historic small-town rivalry going. Justin Flynn, who was on Montagues team then and still lives there now, tried to tell a reporter that We thought our education system was better than theirs. However, he added, Football is everything in Montague. Everything, that is, except education and jobs.

Alan Benard

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:26 p.m.

Heaven help me, I'm posting a Cato Institute article, but these loony libertarians have the goods: article appeared in the Detroit News on May 30, 2007.For two years, Gov. Jennifer Granholm has advocated controlling spending in public schools by forcibly consolidating school districts. This year, she wants to pressure districts into consolidating their purchasing and support services. Granholm is betting on the wrong horse. The assumptions underlying Granholm's proposals are that size matters and that bigger is better. Those are reasonable assumptions.But public schooling is organized very differently from the retail business. So it would behoove politicians to look at the evidence. I statistically analyzed the relationship between district size and per-pupil spending in Michigan's public school system. What I found is that the relationship between district size and spending is weaker and more complicated than many people imagine. District size explains only about 2 percent of the difference in per-pupil spending, and bigger is not always better. Though per-pupil spending does fall as district size increases up to about 2,900 students, the relationship then reverses itself. Beyond 2,900 students, bigger districts usually spend more per pupil. When I ran the numbers, I estimated that the maximum theoretical savings from breaking up excessively large districts, about $360 million annually, is 12 times greater than the theoretical savings from consolidations. Nothing close to those numbers is likely to be achieved in practice, though, since that would require redrawing the lines for every district and replacing them all with about 570 new districts of 2,900 or so students each. Even if that were feasible, the mobility of the population would eventually throw district sizes out of whack once more. Realistically, a policy of selective breakups and consolidations would not put much of a dent in the $17 billion or so spent each year by Michigan public schools.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:38 p.m.

I agree with Braggslaw, your poll asking "which cuts would you least be in favor of " is a JOKE. It should be which cuts are you most in favor of and allow the person to select five of the 20 items listed. My number one pick to support would be " get benefit and salary savings of 5 million dollars". If all the teachers and administrators took a reasonable pay cut, then the 34 least senior teachers ( who are the most cost productive to the taxpayer) would not lose their jobs. Again, this doesn't come down doing what is best for the kids, it is about taking care of the unions. Very very sad!


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:15 p.m.

Why do you want to close CHS, a high performing school, to put the students in large schools that they may not be as successful? Cities like NYC are going to a model of smaller high schools, which are better for many students academically and socially, so why destroy a model school here? Especially if your motivation is resentment of successful students, whether or not they are from successful households. Who do think is going to pay your taxes in the next generation, if not students who are motivated and do well? I think the goal would be to create more environments like CHS, not less. Just cut on administrators, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised as to how easy it is. You do not need so many principals, that is unheard of in other places. And have families pay for sports, with a sliding scale if needed. But Ann Arbor is unique on how well its students do generally, so don't destroy the good parts of living here. Don't you know how bad schools can get? And please note that I have no vested interest in these schools, I just have seen this kind of bickering ruin other school districts. Let success be success.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:37 p.m.

Well, unless the application form requires a counselor's signature, there is nothing to stop any student from applying. In my faded recollection, I think many families chose CHS for its size. That may be less of a driver with 3 mainstream high schools. There were a surprising number of athletes at the school when my child attended, given its reputation for the arts/jazz.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:07 p.m.

@MyOpinion, "As to the racial make-up of CHS... requires parental nvolvement" There is latent red-lining in the selection process. Minority and lower income kids, athletes, and musicians are discouraged by counselors and school staff from applying because CHS does not "meet their needs". Hence the higher proportion of "People Like Us" at the school.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 7:07 p.m.

I notice that one of the cuts is in the cost of substitute teachers. Does that mean that other teachers and/or the principals will cover the missing teachers? I think there is a bit of abuse in teacher absenteeism as a NY Times editorial by a substitute chronicles: I think most teachers in the AAPS are good to excellent teachers, but there are some dogs. It would be helpful to the teachers if they weeded out the worst among them. And, that brings to mind what I felt was the strongest suit at CHS. I think the teachers were really appreciated there and had significant input into the school rules/environment. The teachers at most other schools, particularly from middle school and up, are treated as cogs by the administration. So, at some point, they lose their enthusiasm. Teachers are 80%+ of the costs in the schools. Financial sacrifices have to be made by teachers. How about trading in some compensation for being able to direct some cuts at the administrative level, being able to establish some wish lists within your particular school?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 7:04 p.m.

An: I have spent a fair amount of time in both the Open Schools and the traditional schools here in AAPS (my oldest attended the Open schools, the younger did not). And, I have seen little or no appreciable difference in the behavior/manners of either group. It would be an unfair claim to say that the behavior of the children is because of the school they attend. The schools are not intended to parent children, but to educate them. The rest is supposed to be done by the actual parents.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 6:54 p.m.

nihoasky: The laptop program at Scarlett ended this past summer.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 6:27 p.m.

They should just take away all the laptops they give to the students at scarlett.

Eric P

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:45 p.m.

Either close CHS or leave it alone. The school inside a school model is academic and social nightmare for students. The more relaxed academic learning focus of an Alternative school program and the rigid social control and teaching to the median class level of the regular school created conflicts in the class room and at the administrative level. Attending MYA at Forthsye in the mid 80's it was obvious that MYA students were targeted by the rest of the student body, and the Forthsye staff and administration disliked to despised the program.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:23 p.m.

I am a parent of a two AAPS graduates - Community and Pioneer. The difference in the experience as a parent and for my kids is that Community is by far the better school and my child did not take advantage of any of the busing back/forth to Pioneer for sports/band/AP classes. As to the racial make-up of CHS. Even if done by a lottery, it will not end up as a profile of the AAPS population because the application process requires parental involvement - an application and attending an orientation session. Likewise, some families may be turned off by the fact that AP classes are not offered on the campus. While I'm not completely opposed to closing the Community campus, I would suggest that the CHS faculty/students be retained in one of the existing high schools (a school within a school). There is more to CHS than the quirky building located in the Kerrytown District.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

"would MOST like to consider or the top 5 they could support." Yes agreed. I didn't liek the LEAST part of the poll to begin with.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

An, have you ever been to Open to see the school in action? If not, how about not making broad assumptions about the student body based on your experiences with some neighborhood kids? I have two kids at Open. They love the school. I have run into many people in the city who have that "ohhh" look on their faces after I tell them my kids attend Open. Open isn't some hippie school. Yes, some of the philosophies may be different than "traditional" classrooms that many of us have only ever experienced, but you will find many Open philosophies being used by teachers in their classrooms throughout the district. It's not a walled garden at Open. Visit the school and learn about it. I think too many people express anger/frustration/condemnation for the school out of ignorance. Are there some hoops to jump through to attend Open? Yes, but the school has worked to change some of those requirements, to make it easier for more people to be able to visit the school and see if it's a fit for their families. Someone else pointed out that the AAPS should consider more programs like Open. Ask the dozens of families why they stay on the waiting list. Don't blame the school for helping fill a need within the district. People want what the school offers and the numbers bear that out.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:04 p.m.

I can say this about CHS versus HHS: My children had equally good and bad relationships with teachers at both schools. There is nothing about teacher-student relationships that is unique to CHS. The quality of the academics at CHS was not as good as at HHS. I found the teachers at both schools to be very responsive, but I was dismayed at the course offerings at Community and at the lack of academic resources, and the lack of rigor in most (not all) courses. On the other hand, HHS is a large school and kids with social problems may struggle there. But my very shy child had a terrific time at Huron, despite its size.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 4:36 p.m.

Seems to me a poll regarding CHS is in order :)


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 4:04 p.m.

I would agree that the poll would be more interesting asking people which one they would MOST like to consider or the top 5 they could support.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

EyeHeartA2: You forgot to mention Detroit Public Schools on your list. Or maybe it wasn't an oversight... *wink* As to the "saleability" of CHS, with it's position in the downtown area it would likely sell quite quickly. I think it would be a toss up between UMich, WashCO & Zingermans in the bidding.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 4 p.m.

Yeah pioneer/skyline maybe like that too nwo a days I can only refer to my times going to those schools which was, a 'tad' in the past to be sure. "Inferring that students at the comprehensive high schools are part of a "herd" is unnecessarily derogatory." That's the entire point and mantra of Community High School. It's the logo for god sakes. As for the bigger schools acting more like Community that's great, i hope they rubbed off on them. I can only tell my personal experience of going to a smaller school where I could leave campus to go to lunch and not be followed by a school police officer. Officer Devine i still ahte you :)


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

Why don't you make the poll more straight forward? Which cuts would people be most in favor of?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Sweet life. If there is privatization of janitorial and bussing services there will be no legacy costs with pensions etc. no entitlement and lower paid employees. It will cost less and you can fire people if they screw up.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:45 p.m.

@Lokalisierung Students at Huron are permitted to leave campus for lunch. Not sure what happens at Pioneer or Skyline. In addition, a large percentage of students at Huron (and I presume Pioneer and Skyline) have appropriate, respectful relationships with faculty and staff, based on many factors, including their behavior, interest, interaction, etc. Inferring that students at the comprehensive high schools are part of a "herd" is unnecessarily derogatory. AAPS faculty across the district are working extremely hard to meet students where they are and move them forward toward adulthood.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

So dagny you sat in class and took courses with the kids? Saw first hand the connection kids have to the teachers? Or did you just drop the kids off and maybe once walked through the halls and saw kids between classes?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:04 p.m.

As the parent of students recently at Community and Huron, I can say that CHS is very much watered down. Academics are weak, with a few notable exceptions. The most academically oriented students take classes elsewhere. There is a lot of waste in the building. People cling to this romantic notion of the school that simply doesn't exist. I saw no evidence that being able to call teachers by their first names somehow made student behavior more "adult."

E. Manuel Goldstein

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:01 p.m.

Millage failed out-county, passed in A2. Try again, story continues


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:57 p.m.

Lokalisierung - Thanks for the explanation.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:49 p.m.

"I have always been unclear on what the program is at CHS whether it's a school focusing on the arts or what the definition of alternative is" The "point" of Community is to be different than schools like Pioneer or Huron. A school were you can be treated more like an adult than at the bigger schools. A school that isn't afraid and must stop you from leaving campus if you want to *gasp* get lunch somewhere. Where you can call a teacher by the first name and get respect both ways, and not be one of the huge herd. There's no focus on the arts per se, although many artistic people are drawn there becasue of the relaxed atmosphere. Having been to both Community/pioneer I can tell you there is truely a world of difference. Of course that was then, I hear Community is pretty watered down these days.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

Privatizing some services is an option, but it is not the automatic money saver that many people seem to assume. The services still need to be paid for whether they are done by AAPS employees or a private firm. The private firm will have its own overhead and it will have a profit margin. AAPS will still need to pay its own administrative employees to manage the contract. There will almost certainly be quality problems and cost-overruns - common issues with service contracts. I hope the School Board would make the decision based on a clear presentation of the current costs of transportation, cost reductions that could come from other efficiency improvements such as reducing routes or consolidating services with other Districts, and other options, compared to the cost of a contract (including the District's administrative costs).


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

blake_138 The movement of some students to private schooling would actually have a beneficial effect (overall) on per-pupil funding from the state. Fewer students in the School Aid fund would mean more money would be available per-pupil for those students who remain in the public school system. On a state level, Michigan would do well to consider a program that includes tuition tax credits for parents of children in private schools. If more parents took on the financial burden of educating their children privately, the public school funding mechanism in this state would be much better off. The state should be encouraging parents to move to private education; a 7% shift of students in this direction would actually increase per-pupil funding for public schools


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

Dagny-thanks for posting that enrollment information. It is interesting. I have always been unclear on what the program is at CHS whether it's a school focusing on the arts or what the definition of alternative is. Is cutting Community something that was discussed last night or something being discuss here on the online comments?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Sheesh, This is simple people, there is no more gravy train. The schools have to cut. Privatizing custodial and bus services would seem to be a rational way to keep teachers. I would rather have a teacher than a union bus driver or janitor. Teachers, administrators etc. will all have to take cuts. It appears that the district has a rational plan to deal with the loss of revenue. When you have less money you spend less...just the way it is.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:11 p.m.

@Andrew, I don't think that anyone is suggesting that closing CHS will "save the district." It is worthy of consideration, along with all the other suggestions being made about staffing, efficiencies across the district, etc. It is an entire building, and an aging one at that, complete with it's own set of administrators, food service, support staff, etc. In difficult budget times when everyone needs to be prepared to sacrifice, CHS seems like a somewhat inefficient, inequitable program in our district - PHS, HHS and SHS essentially have to take any kid that walks in the door and CHS simply doesn't.

Andrew Thomas

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:41 p.m.

I don't know why people are so fixated on closing Community High. This is cerrtainly not the potential money-saver that would rescue the District. The budget cuts were approached from the perspective of minimizing the impact on the classroom, and closing a popular school would not fit into this approach. And yes, for all of you who have been complaining about central administration and high school principals, these cuts are there. And the teachers are being asked to accept a $5M cut in compensation, which works out to about 4%. So the pain is being spread around, everyone takes a hit, and we avoid the truly Draconian cuts some have suggested. In my opinion, the proposals are remarkably successful in preserving what is best in our schools. Consolidating Stone and Clemente makes a lot of sense. If we can save $1.5M and $2.5M by outsourcing transportation and custodial services, I say let's do it -- it's better than eliminating teaching positions. The changes to elementary school staffing will realize some efficiencies without a major impact on the classroom -- we can get along with part-time media specialists.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:39 p.m.

catcal -- Open has a higher percentage of kids with IEPs than any of the other elementary schools. And MEAP scores are just as good despite that.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:35 p.m.

Eyeheart, I am not suggesting we can do nothing. What I AM suggesting is that here in A2 we are competing with a lot of very good non-AAPS options. And we have to remain competitive. And the way we do that is to INCREASE the options and alternatives we provide (language magnets, K-8's, etc). It seems that many here would prefer to just dumb down the AAPS to a common denominator. Great, do it. Then we will lose said competition, and students, and money, and families, and much of what makes A2 a desirable place to live for families. Also, the overpriveledged white kids comments was unneccesary and crude, and it's pretty clear to me that some here have no real interest in making our schools the best they can be within our limitations.... but rather punishing (who? ourselves?) to make everyone as unhappy as they are. I will remain optomistic that creative thinking can actually improve our schools and our options, rather than slash everything. I'll be at one of these budget meetings trying to help.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:30 p.m.

@blake_138, In fact, the A2 I knew, was always in favor of millage renewals for education. You're killing me. Millage-happy Ann Arborites voted the millage up. It was the rest of the county that thought better of it. The A2 I remember would never be in this state because the voters cared about educating our children, giving them the very best possible head start tax dollars could buy. Ann Arbor's always been in this state. (I don't think moving it out-of-state is an option at this point.)...a growing wealthy Republican majority that has invaded our city, destroyed our values, our beliefs, and is now attempting to flush our children's future down the toilet. Republicans have children, too. (Of course, they all send their children to private schools, but that is neither here nor there, is it?) Ann Arbor is just like every other place. When you depend upon tax revenues for support and tax revenues fall, you have to cut the budget. Sometimes, that's just how the cookie crumbles.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:18 p.m.

Do Mack and Community enroll an equitable percentage of special education students?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:14 p.m.

@An - if a family doesn't know about the programs at Mack or Community, or they don't have the available time to do the required visits/essays/applications because they are busy working, have limited language skills or simply aren't "tapped into" the school culture in A2, they won't apply for the lottery at Mack or Community. The lottery is not rigged, but it also is not completely representative of overall socio-economic scene in Ann Arbor.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

For several years, AAPS conducted telephone surveys with parents who left the district, asking why they left. I had an acquaintance do this work when Fornero was superintendent. If the hypothesis about CHS is true, then there should be some data from previous years of parents whose kids did not get into CHS and then enrolled them in school elsewhere.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

I would like some stats on Community about student mobility. How many students leave the school, for whatever reason, to attend other high schools in AAPS? How many students on the waiting list are offered enrollment after their freshman year and decline? (I know of several, which makes this idea that people are desperate to get in something of a myth.) What is the size of this year's graduating class compared to the number of kids who enrolled as freshmen? By that I mean, if 100 kids are enrolled as freshman, do 100 kids graduate four years later? What is the number of kids who are dual-enrolled at CHS and one of the other high schools? How many courses do they take at each school? what is the number of kids who participate in athletics at the other schools? How many kids travel on AAPS buses between CHS and other schools at each hour the bus runs? What is the cost per pupil to operate the various buildings?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

Oh yes, it's all the republicans fault... or it's all the democrats fault. Easy to blame one or the other. The truth of the matter is that we need to be a little more in the middle. We need to spend tax dollars but we also need to be a little more Lean (cutting the waste). JOBS have gone away, so no, people don't want to vote for a new millage. We still live in this city because, even though we have lost our jobs, maybe we are working at lesser jobs and trying to keep our houses and trying to stay in the area because we like the area and we are hoping there is a rebound. Maybe we can't sell our homes because the housing market is awful. Stop the blame. Trim the budget (and I don't mean from music and art, I mean from the excess administration and the huge salaries they make. How much does Dr. Roberts make anyhow?)

winston smith

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:05 p.m.

I think (perhaps a survey of existing CHS and Mack Open parents is in order) that a surprisingly high percentage of CHS and Mack Open students would be lost to the district if they were closed. These options would need to be carefully weighed and very well would cost the district money (unless those students could be replaced by students from outside AAPS district).


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:01 p.m.

Eyeheart... they are not threatening to leave. They DO leave. Let's further your argument for closing popular programs and saying "let them go, we'll re-size." Why don't we cut all arts and music and how bout math too? And cancel all sports. When half the kids leave, great! It will be a small, easy to manage district. That no one wants to be in. Plus, Mack is doing just fine in it's financial portfolio -- it's not costing more than other schools.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1 p.m.

So with those statistics, how do we end up with the smallest HS having the most white kids and least economically disadvantaged? Especially when it is a LOTTERY system to get in (supposedly, although I personally think that may be rigged).


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:55 p.m.

Demographics for High Schools: Community Classroom Profile Enrollment 466 Economically Disadvantaged4.5% Breakdown by Ethnicity White78.5% Black8.4% Hispanic3.4% Asian/Pacific Islander2.8% American Indian/Alaska Native1.5% Multi-Racial5.4% Huron Enrollment 2,098 Economically Disadvantaged15.9% Breakdown by Ethnicity White56.5% Black18.3% Hispanic4.5% Asian/Pacific Islander17.2% American Indian/Alaska Native0.3% Multi-Racial3.2% Pioneer Enrollment 2,832 Economically Disadvantaged14.1% Breakdown by Ethnicity White68.8% Black13.4% Hispanic3.3% Asian/Pacific Islander10.8% American Indian/Alaska Native0.3% Multi-Racial3.5%


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

We need to accept the fact that in tough economic times sacrifices have to be made. There shouldn't be an expectation that in the worst economy since the 1930s school programs remain intact without reform. Parents, students, teachers, administrators, etc have to realize education will not be as "good" as it was when tax revenues were higher and the economy was growing. The quicker we accept this the sooner we will all more forward.

David Jesse

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

@Newswatcher and others commenting on hiring a person to write news stories for the district. The district this summer put an RFP out looking for a consultant type employee to build the web site and handle news stuff as part of the district's marketing campaign. The district hired Casey Hans (full disclosure: Casey worked for the Ann Arbor News until it closed last summer). I'm not sure how much she is costing the district, but I have asked for a full list of consultants and was promised yesterday in a meeting that I would get them.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

What is so great about the Open schools? A few of the children in our neighborhood go to the Open School and they are the worst behaved children IN our neighborhood...


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

dakabk: Check the state school funding laws. Public schools cannot charge tuition as you suggest.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:27 p.m.

Chris -- I had this conversation with Todd Roberts. I wish I could remember the exact number that he quoted to me, of the number of students that would have to leave the district to make closing CHS (and Mack) a loss.... but it was actually surprisingly low. And yep, CHS and Mack keep tons of families in the district. Of the families that I know that didn't get into Mack, about half went to their neighborhood school, and half went charter or private. There is a long waiting list.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

I am somewhat amused in hearing several folks say what a mistake it would be to close or restructure Community High School...saying that the District would lose as some parents would choose to send their kids to private schools. Then what about the novel idea of charging "tuition" for the privilege of attending CHS? If CHS is viewed as an elite high school, then why not charge tuition, especially if a private school is viewed as the alternative if CHS is to be closed.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

We need to accept the fact that in tough economic times sacrifices have to be made. There shouldn't be an expectation that in the worst economy since the 1930s school programs remain intact without reform. Parents, students, teachers, administrators, etc have to realize education will not be as "good" as it was when tax revenues were higher and the economy was growing. The quicker we accept this the sooner we will all more forward.

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:06 p.m.

Schools are usually reluctant to cut or eliminate transportation for a number of good reasons, actually. --Not all students live in areas with access to city buses. Many students live in the country, where the AATA doesn't go. --Not all parents are =able= to bring their kids to school and pick them up afterward. Some families don't own a car. Some parents work nights or have to be at work two hours before their kids have to be at school or get out of work at 11:00 p.m., long after any after-school program has ended. --When transportation is eliminated, a certain number of parents will get ticked off that they have to take their kids to school every day (and pick them up every day). These parents will transfer their kids to a different school, often one closer to where the parent works. "Since I have to drive Jenny to school every day anyway," the parent says, "I may as well have her close to me." This drops enrollment, which costs the school money.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

"An, I don't know what "Frushour" is -- a last name or a For sure? " Last name of a man who is a very, very, very good web designer.

News Watcher

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

An, I don't know what "Frushour" is -- a last name or a For sure? My spouse is an AAPS employee, so I get all the inside news like this. Ticks me off to hear about this waste of money. Stupid to have someone hired to do the AAPS web sites but to hire someone else to do the AAPS news web site. It's obviously pure publicity for AAPS, which means it falls under the communications director's duties. Again, you'd think the communications director would therefore be able to do this, especially since the AAPS News site is a simple template that only needs photos uploaded and content typed in.

Chris Blackstone

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:58 a.m.

to argue that by closing Community High School all the students currently attending the school would leave the district and families would stop sending their kids to AAPS, thereby taking valuable revenue away from AAPS. 1) Would that really be the case? 2) Even if a number of students left the district, I have to imagine the cost savings from CHS being closed would more than make up for the lost revenue of the student departures. I'm still waiting to hear serious discussion of county-wide school district consolidation as a way to save money and reduce inefficiencies. One School Board, one department of instruction, one HR department, one athletic department, etc. Other states do it with tremendous success, like Virginia.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

"AAPS went and hired someone (Casey)" Frushour?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

If Ann Arbor Open at Mack is such a draw to AAPS families, maybe the parents would be willing to drive their children to and from school instead of everyone in the district paying to transport these students from all over the district. What are the AA Open transportation costs per year??


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

If they close CHS why would all of those students go to Skyline? Shouldn't they go to the school that is in the area in which they live? That means some to Huron, Pioneer and Skyline. If you are going to eliminate bussing from PHS and HHS to CHS then shouldn't you eliminate PHS and HHS to SHS? Maybe work something out with the AATA to get kids to their respective schools?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

*sigh* Closing CHS will COST the district money, folks. Because families will LEAVE the district for alternatives. CHS keeps them here, with their money. Think outside the box. We need more incentives for people to enter the district, not fewer. I have no kids at CHS, and no personal investment in it. This is an easy financial call.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

"revenue? charge for student parking" also charge staff for parking


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:27 a.m.

@Stonecutter1 - I have no pro-Community bias. My kids do not go there. I was merely pointing out that while Skyline is "half-empty" right now, it won't be much longer. I think the District should be open to all options, including the possibility of consolidating existing programs. I don't know if moving or closing Community is a good solution, but I do know that simply saying they can all move to "half-empty" Skyline is not a thoughtful response. Next time, read the comment carefully before you jump to conclusions. For those that keep asking about administrative cuts, they were included in the proposals discussed last night. There was a line item for reductions in central administration staff and there was an additional item that included reductions of some HS assistant principal positions. Again, I urge everyone who cares enough to post here to actually go to one of these meetings, listen to the facts, and make your voice heard.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

a2cents- Currently Huron students are charged $30 to park for the year. Seniors are guaranteed spots but there is a lottery done for Juniors since there is not enough parking. I believe the permit charge was/is around $40 at Pioneer. I have no knowledge of Community or Skyline.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

revenue? charge for student parking

E. Manuel Goldstein

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

Pass a millage, end of story


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

1BlockRadius: "3. What about all of the great points Don Bee brought up? Were those mentioned in this meeting??? If AA.COM didn't bring them up all of this is just hot air and a big joke...." I think the real point here is that DonBee and the others who are making comments here on need to get to one of these meetings and ask there own questions. And follow up those question with further questions. I think is a great forum. However, the responsibility for asking these questions lies with us, and not with David Jesse asking the questions for us. I'll be at one of the meetings. Will you?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:08 a.m.

Dagny J- if your info is correct, that is important. I had always heard this test info about CHS used as an example of why the teaching & quality of program there is better than the regular high schools.

David Jesse

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:46 a.m.

Sorry to not be in the comments sooner this morning. I'm at home enjoying some time with my kids. A couple of clarifications. Some people have asked about cutting high school administrators. Under this proposal two high school class principal positions will be eliminated. Also, @1blockradius, I spent more than an hour with district administrators on Thursday morning asking questions raised by a variety of commenters. I'm in the process of sorting the answers into various stories. Look for much more on how AAPS spends its money coming in the near future.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

Community has the richest, whitest students of any high school in the district. Check the racial breakdown and percentage of student eligible to receive free lunch. That's why the school has high test scores. If you took the scores the same demographic of kids from Huron or Pioneer, they would blow the CHS kids away.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:37 a.m.

It's a shame to see some teachers are going to lose their jobs. Am I that out of touch with reality to think no teachers needed to be fired? Can anyone comment on these points... 1. Offer incentive for early retirement for the old teachers. Replace their jobs with new, lower paid teachers. (many districts have done this and it WORKS) 2. PAY CUTS. I took a 27% pay cut last year so that no one in the entire company would be laid off. Grumpy? Sure, but I would rather take a pay cut than have to have people being fired.... Every single principal in AA Public schools is paid over $100,000/year according to the online information. There are SCORES of kintergarden teachers making over $80,000/year. What is the teachers union's stance on pay CUTS? Are they being that stubborn? I know several teachers in AAPS that would gladly take a pay cut.. What's the road block on this one?? 3. What about all of the great points Don Bee brought up? Were those mentioned in this meeting??? If AA.COM didn't bring them up all of this is just hot air and a big joke....


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Something to keep in mind... There are two big services that the school system offers that are NOT state or federally mandated: Transportation (with the exception of Special Ed students) and Kindergarten. There are districts throughout Michigan that are either cutting in these areas, or seriously eyeballing them. Imagine the impact on families where all parents are working. I commend AAPS for not immediately going after these two areas for elimination. AAPS is making a conscious decision NOT to try to "extort" money from the community in that manner.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

"Unified Studies Teacher" This is not a new job title. My son was at Scarlett 8 years ago, in the emotionally impaired program, and his special ed teacher was a "Unified Studies Teacher". Basically she was the special ed teacher for all emotionally impaired middle school students at Scarlett and she had the task of providing special instruction for these kids and working on getting these kids into as many mainstream classes as possible. It works. My son is now a productive, working, tax paying adult (with benefits even!).


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:20 a.m.

"Why don't they ever seem to cut the number of administrators and/or their salaries?" THIS


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

Pay to play sports makes sense to me. Let boosters contribute for kids that can't afford it. There are no boosters to pay for sports for those who can't. Parents pay for a lot of it. I know I do and I do to keep mine off the streets. Just a thought.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

I was browsing the various schools website and was puzzled by some of the newer job titles. Can anyone shed some light on what these positions are for? Unified Studies Teacher Title One Teacher Community Assistant Noon hour coordinators Community Liaison ILC SPC Coordinator


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:11 a.m.

I am so happy to see that bus drivers and monitors are off the table momentarily to be privatized. I am very happy to see a reduction in teaching staff at all the schools because I for one have seen empty classrooms and teachers teaching half staff. I know of other schools who do do half time secretarial staffing. Very effective and very cost effective. As for pay as you go sports? Pioneer is already doing this. Huron and Pioneer ice skating teams pay $500 a year to do this. By the way, they can in third overall this year. WTG! So, I don't want to hear any wailing about pay as you go sports. I am all for it. So glad to see the schools taking a hit for once. WTG Roberts! I am surprised that people showed up Thursday due to road conditions.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

When I lived in a different state and the county couldn't get a millage past, they eliminated all transportation (except for special education students), the millage then was passed before they even had time to actually eliminate the bussing...


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

Why don't they ever seem to cut the number of administrators and/or their salaries?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

This is always the ploy; hit the parents in things like music, sports, and transportation. The real solution is getting rid at least HALF of the very costly administration of these schools. Cut there first, second, and third. Protect the classrooms, protect the things that contribute to real education and development. Gut things that benefit careerism.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

A note on my previous comment... I am not suggesting closing the CHS program, just its location.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

To the comment about teachers already having lessons planned and not needing planning time. When are teachers supposed to do that? On their own time? Are we asking them to spend even more of their personal time to do even more work? Less planning time, less money is going to equal less quality teaching for our students.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

"Community High School generates the highest test scores on the ACT in the entire county. It would seem incredibly foolish to me to close the most successful high school program in the area." As I said, move it in with an existing facility. There is no need to have a separate highly expensive facility. Also, don't act like the rest of the High Schools are no good. Ann Arbor will continue to score high on ACT because its a decent school system. My words to those who would go to a private school if A2 closed CHS. Go ahead. This is not a reason to keep special programming. Having said that, right now it makes sense to MOVE the program (not eliminate it) and close the facility its housed in. There is not one good reason NOT to do this.

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:21 a.m.

Josber, a teacher can't suddenly appear in the classroom and run everything all day without a break. Teachers need time to set up, say, an art project or a science lab in the room without students getting in the way. They need time to call back that administrator who is only available in the mornings because he's in meetings all afternoon. They need time to update homework assignments for kids who are absent before they forget who needs them. They need time to deal with a million things that pop up during the day that can't be planned for or dealt with in advance. Believe me, teachers don't just sit around during their prep periods drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. I've known teachers who have to schedule their bathroom breaks with absolute rigidity or they won't get a chance to go because they have so little time. Try volunteering in a classroom for a day. You'll see.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

I agree with those that suggest Community High should be closed. Skyline again has open enrollment (they did this last year as well) for 125 ninth-grade students that live in the district but outside the Skyline attendance area. This open enrollment suggests incoming classes are under capacity. Over 4 years that would be about 500 open-enrolled students at Skyline, about the same that now attend Community. The savings by closing and then disposing of the CHS property would be huge.

Sarah Lorenz

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

Community High School generates the highest test scores on the ACT in the entire county. It would seem incredibly foolish to me to close the most successful high school program in the area. And as for Ann Arbor Open, I know of at least two families in my immediate circle who chose to place their children in a charter school when they did not win a seat in the lottery at AAOpen. How many kids in the district (and their state funding) are we losing because they can't get into Community and AAOpen? How many would we lose if they closed?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

Does anyone know what "restructuring" the elementary art and music programs means? The LAST thing we want to do is send more families out of the district looking for alternatives at charters and private schools. Cutting art and music is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing to keep people, and even attract more people to the AAPS. There isn't enough about revenue GENERATING here. We do NOT need to close CHS -- it would take very few kids leaving the district to make closing CHS a LOSS to the district. In fact, we should be more creative in creating reasons for people to come back. How bout taking an elementary school that is under-enrolled and creating an intensive language magnet, and making it a choice school? Or creating some K-8 buildings, which seem to attract a lot of interest, and closing a middle school? This seems like a lot of cuts, but not a lot of creative thinking about revenue.

Andrew Thomas

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

Jennifer: The $400K associated with savings from "alternative programs" has to do with consolidating Stone and Clemente. Although it was not highlighted, there is an additional $300K in new revenue associated with opening one or both these programs as schools of choice. The District has identified $700K as the total budget impact for these programs, but has not decided whether to keep both buildings open (which would be necessary if they plan to increase enrollment) or to close one of the buildings (most likely Clemente) and consolidate services at Stone. Either way, it would result in a $700K saving to the District.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:49 a.m.

Just think of how much money we saved if we eliminated High School? It would be millions! Everybody could then be Home Schooled.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:40 a.m.

It's nice to see so many people NOT from Ann Arbor telling us how to run our schools on this discussion thread. Go back to your well-funded, small town school districts and worry about yourselves.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Mrs./Ms. Haines, I am not sure if I agree with your assertion that Popular=Necessary in regards to CHS. If existing vacant infrastructure can be used to educate these students and decrease the overall costs associated with providing a small alternative high school, this option certainly needs to be examined.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

CHS doesn't have the AP costs because the dozen or kids ride nearly empty buses to take these courses at Huron or Pioneer. The district pays for these kids to take AP; it just doesn't show up on the Community HS budget.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

This is a band aid on a giant problem. Now is the time to examine ever aspect of our educational system. Its a 19th century model that does not work for the customers, only the teachers and administrators. More money will not increase outcomes. Only a complete overhaul can inplement a 21st century system.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:32 a.m.

It doesn't really matter whether anyone understands CHS inside and out or that the program is popular. The point it is that its too difficult to justify housing it in a small special facility in these economic times (building costs, utilities, administration, etc, are all duplicated for such a small program).


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

Lisa, Aren't teachers supposed to have lesson plans prepared? Bathroom breaks are fine.Certainly. Meetings with staff and parents should occur when kids are not there, extend the day by an hour if needed..materials should be prepared in advance. There's a lot of specials, thats more than 45 minutes a day where the teachers are not working with the kids.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

open the teachers contract. Teacher's salaries and benefits dwarf all other expenses.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 7:53 a.m.

It's very refreshing to see administration holding these meeting to let the public know the "REAL" picture. Pay to play has been here in Lenawee County for awhile. It does make sense & is working. And this year Adrian did privatize the transportation. Everyone was up in arms but seems to be working ok. There are a few issues I do not like but have not voiced my opinion & asked questions. Tecumseh went for privatization on transportation a couple of years ago. And here in Lenawee county our smaller districts are going to need to wake up and start to merge together. These budget issues are not going away & we need to start waking up. Not sure I agree with some classes being online for all students though.

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

The constant comments about CHS don't indicate an understanding of the program - this has been a popular program for thirty years and still gets applications 3 to 1. It's clearly necessary. Skyline was invented by the school board - maybe its magnet programs need to be shut down. CHS doesn't have AP costs and many of the other costs of the other high schools. The prejudice simply reflects a lack of knowledge. My question for David Jesse - do you know what this entails? "Redesign the district's alternative programs for a savings of $400,000." - I'd love more information on that.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

I agree with the Community High sentiments. Ann Arbor cannot afford a 4th smaller, customized high school. The first step is to move it to Skyline. I don't buy the argument that Skyline is going to get overcrowded. First, they could redraw the high school lines so that middle schools aren't cut in the middle, like Clague (half go to Skyline and half go to Huron). On another thought, no matter how crowded the schools may get, it won't be nearly as bad as it is now at Huron/Pioneer with Skyline only partially filled. Bottom line is that the district is trying to make cuts visible so that the taxpayers feel the pain and approve future millages. Ann Arbor has a tremendous amount of millage support already. They need to look into their operating costs that are not so visible. Simply put, their expenses are still too high.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 7:22 a.m.

I, too, commend Roberts and Allen. They opened up this difficult process well. Thank you. I will be at the next budget meeting.

Andrew Thomas

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

All in all, a very thoughtful and comprehensive approach to a difficult problem. Dr. Roberts and his staff are to be commended.

Lisa Starrfield

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

belboz's plan is to get rid of all the teachers and bring in new one's at half cost. Wow.. that'll keep the quality of education high in Ann Arbor. Think about the first class teachers you will get. People will be jumping at the chance to bring their families to Ann Arbor. Of course, it will save money. I'm sure the cost of recruiting, hiring, vetting, determining highly qualified status, and then training these new teachers will be nothing. Teachers after all are nothing more than interchangeable cogs...greedy ones too. How dare they not take a $10,000 pay cut so our taxes won't go up $16 a month? How dare they tax parents with a play to pay scheme rather than cut their income by 10 times as much?

Lisa Starrfield

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 6:21 a.m.

Josber, That 'free time' isn't. That's the 45 minutes a day (not always that much) an elementary teacher has to: plan, make copies, gather materials, call parents, meet with other grade level teachers, meet with administration, select reading books (a near daily task atthe primary level), go to the bathroom and more.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:55 a.m.

How about closing Clemente? $23k per student is way out of line. Pay to play? Unless every other extracaricular is becoming pay to play, that is just the boards way of trying to tax parents subversively. How will kids react when they talk about who can pay and who can't. High school kids have enough social issues to deal with. When teachers represent 80% of the cost, they should be 80% of the cuts. You can't save $20 million by looking for the biggest cuts from the smallest rocks. If concessions can't be made, the more firings and school closings are in order. Don't let it become a Detroit situation where the system doesn't change to reflect the new reality. We can't afford the teachers we have. There are plenty of applicants out there.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 5:07 a.m.

What's left is 5 million plus another 4 million that needs to be cut, through salary and benefits reduction. Has the union agreed? And if they don't? Strike, layoffs, backup plan???? No school closings, no mergers, less paper, pencils, are they planning on asking the parents to buy for them? No new schools opening k-8 to bring back students who left for charters and private school... Still some big holes in things... Do you really want to save 50K at lunch with high schoolers??? Maybe not such a good idea. Consider redistricting, so save on gas money, more walkable distances.. While they cut down on specials, the teachers likely won't take those kids back into their classrooms, that's probably part of the union contract that they get that free time during the whose going to be watching/teaching those kids during that time?? Are they going to double up the kids in a specials, where the staff there already has less control than the regular teacher, and the actual quality of what they learn goes down?? What if the teachers don't want those kids back in the classroom with them, when they can't keep paying those specials...


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 4:54 a.m.

With one senior and another five years to go for the other child, please let my child make it through! I plan to attend a session, but was there any talk of cutting some of the many $100K a year principals that each high school seems to have?

Bubble world west

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:43 a.m.

These cuts will just be the start. They are still 4 million short of the what they need to balance. Yes, Commie high might have to be closed, plus other things no one wants to talk about. The districts reserves will only provide so much and then what? No reserves, less and less state money... Michigan needs jobs and those aren't coming quick enough, right?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 2:07 a.m.

Two points only - Pay to play is a good idea. But what is the plan when talented athletes don't have the money to pay? Are there any league regulations about who can pay in their steads? Will these new cuts do anything to worsen the achievement gap? As far as I'm concerned, quality education should put achievement for all as a major goal. And neighbors, arguing about which schools should and shouldn't close would look a lot better if people would make it known what their stake is in the decision. For the record, I don't have kids, I just care that all kids get a fair shake in the schools.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:46 a.m.

Sweet life, Your Community bias is obvious. Lets see how the absorption works, then comment. If you want alternative high schools for YOUR kids, then pay for them. We are tired of paying for your kids!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:46 p.m.

In my opinion, as soon as you start cutting the very most basic educational needs like TEACHERS and TEXTBOOKS, all other non-essentials should be eliminated. If you get to the point that you need to cut teachers (which means increased class sizes, less personalized attention to your little snowflake, lower quality of learning) then all sports, cheerleading, marching band, robotics/debate clubs, etc, etc should be pay to play. It looks like they have found some good places to start, ie increasing the distance they will require highschoolers to be from the school in order to qualify for busing or combining more routes. As for the Saline thing, you are really comparing apples and oranges. This article is about an interactive forum where Ann Arboris meeting with the community to discuss options and get input. The Saline issue was CLEARLY nothing more than a bargaining issue that the district did not think would get the public spin that it got. The district sent letters of intent to remove math teachers in order to push the Saline teachers union to open up their contract and give certain concessions. Right or wrong, this was nothing more than a bargaining issue. Nobody on the Saline board ever had any intention of cutting math. They just didn't anticipate that the story would reach parents so fast and be so poorly received.

Go Blue 123

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:39 p.m.

Re: energy... Was at King a few nights ago to pick up a child after a rec and ed sports practice. Indoor temp roughly 80 degrees... Often drive by Tappen on Sunday mornings and see steam/smoke (?) churning out of the school...on a Sunday morning at 10 am... I think energy usage is a huge waste of the budget. Park the thermostats at 69, allow kids to wear a sweater/sweatshirt, chill the buildings to 65ish during non-school hours...that ought save some money. Seems outrageous that the enire King E.S. is hotter than any of our homes at 8"30pm when the building is nearly empty....


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:34 p.m.

salineguy - lets wait and see if this budget plan is actually all it seems to be. Items like "energy savings of $400,000" and "Reduce[d] overtime costs by $700,000" sounds great in theory, but if they are possible, why wasn't the school district already doing such practices in the first place? I see this as another example of how the public sector has done a poor poor job of handling our taxes. The biggest cut here, as unfortunate as it is, is in teachers. Sound familiar? While it may not be popular, or fun, or easy, its realistic.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:13 p.m.

I don't understand the continued references to moving Community students into "half-empty" Skyline. Skyline will be completely full in two years with students who would have gone to Huron or Pioneer otherwise. Meanwhile, Huron and Pioneer will be closing the portable classrooms that those students would have been put in and Skyline will end up with close to 500 students more than its intended enrollment (the Community students). I went the meeting and thought it was very informative and a great opportunity to hear other views and express my own. I only hope that the keyboard warriors who spend so much time on complaining about how much money the schools waste, how overpaid the teachers are, etc. actually take the time to go to a meeting and participate.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

Molly, every kid that comes into the district to fill a "choice seat" brings with them the state's per-pupil allowance of $$$. It's nice that AAPS is holding forums for public input, but I fear it will still be the usual "nibbling around the edges" exacerbated by a raucous parade of special interests wearing down the School Board. It would be tough to lose CHS - there's a lot of good going on there, but AAPS must look at this seriously. EyeHeartA2 is right - the students could be placed in the other high schools. Good luck to AAPS and the school board with their tough decisions.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:51 p.m.

@salineguy - 325K in non-staff for the rest of the 2009-2010 school year isn't bad. All the other bargaining units have given and then some. Part of the "process" is not negotiating in public - it is illegal and the SEA was notified according to legal aspects and the SEA contract. The Board had several closed seesion on negotiations, while the timing isn't perfect - things have to be done to notify staff according to the contract. Tim will tell you 'they've already sacrificed' by getting free PPO health care instead of the MESSA top of the line they used to have, etc. The SEA leadership will sell the younger teachers down the river to preserve what they have. I give Graden kudos for being the first superintendant in a long time to stand up to the SEA, despite what the public outcry is. The kids will suffer, since the teachers have a "captive" audience.

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:25 p.m.

SalineMom, That 900,000 includes our copy paper, workbooks, etc.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:24 p.m.

"Roberts also outlined two possible ways to boost revenue, including opening 150 schools of choice seats - 10 for sixth-graders at each middle school and 50 at the elementary level in kindergarten and first grade. " Can someone explain this? I don't know what "choice seats" are or how they boost revenue.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:14 p.m.

The people spoke and now, finally, the Superintendent is making the tough choices. That's all we ask as taxpayers. We do pay an awful lot of money as it is, it's not like we don't care. But it's a tough economy and we're all making sacrifices.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:12 p.m.

@Salineguy I guess since AAPS is 3 times the size of Saline, only eliminating 5 positions for on-line learning is about the same as eliminating 15. Perhaps you should try an on-line class as see how you like it. If I was in the AAPS district I would be more worried about things like "Reduce discretionary budgets by $900,000". Must be nice to have almost a million of discretionary money to reduce - I wonder how much that leaves? There will and have been announced other cuts in Saline - check out the presentations on the web-site. I'm starting to look forward to quite a full slate of board candidates to choose from next year - so many experts out here.....

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:57 p.m.

"Work on K-12 staffing efficiency for a reduction of 12 teaching positions and savings of $960,000." I'm really not sure what this means. How can you magically cut 12 positions through efficiency?


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

One bus driver reports to me that the very notion of privatization was solidly rejected by most of the "work groups" into which participants organized themselves to discuss and review the superintendent's proposals, on both economic grounds (it's a bad long-term solution and doesn't really save money) and ethical grounds (it's wrong to chops benefits from the lowest earners on the payrolls). DON'T PRIVATIZE, ORGANIZE (FOR INCREASED SCHOOL FUNDING)!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:45 p.m.

Before we say that about CHS, let's prorate the cost of music, AP courses, transportation, etc. that it costs. Then let's see if it's really less expensive. This is nibbling around the edges, and relies a lot on vague reductions of things like overtime and textbooks. How about some structural change in the organization and operation of schools?


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:44 p.m.

WOW - let me say that again - WOW. A real plan with real (and in my opinion, realistic) numbers. Mr Graden - please read the above article and see how effective management and planning can be effective. Perhaps an online course can be taken!

Jon Saalberg

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:33 p.m.

@EyeHeartA2: I don't believe any high school should be closed, but if you're making that proposal based on cost, the city should close Huron, since its per pupil cost is actually higher than Community's.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:07 p.m.

Glad to see athletics sharing the load. At first look this seems constructive, as opposed to the middle finger Saline's adminstration seems to be giving its residents.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

It's a start.

Jody Durkacs

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:38 p.m.

Not much in there about increasing revenues...