You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : noon

Countywide schools enhancement millage fails: What's next?

By Staff

Washtenaw County voters sent a strong message to the county's school districts on Tuesday, defeating a proposed countywide enhancement millage administrators and others called critical.

With 98% of the votes counted, 57.33% of voters said no to the 2-mill proposal, while 42.67% voted in favor. With 122 of 124 precincts counted today, nearly 21% of eligible voters in the county cast ballots yesterday.

Both sides lobbied hard: Supporters said the failure of the millage would mean cuts in teachers and programs, at the very least. Opponents said the districts need to spend the money they have more efficiently and consider consolidation.

So what's next?

That's the question is asking Washtenaw County school district administrators today. Many are expressing surprise the measure failed, especially by such a wide margin.

Several superintendents previously told everything was on the table, including mid-year layoffs and significant program cuts. The millage failure comes on the heels of troubling cuts in per-pupil spending from the state.

David Jesse,'s education reporter, will be talking today to Ann Arbor Superintendent Todd Roberts, school district President Deb Mexicotte, and teachers' union President Brit Satchwell.

He's also put in calls to Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Bill Miller and leaders of the county's other traditional school districts.

What questions would you want answered from the county's school leaders? What information do you think is important as they decide where to go from here? Leave a comment or e-mail David at

• Read the analysis piece.

Also, check out parenting writer Jen Eyer's piece, where she advocates for a community-wide, constructive budget process as cuts are being decided.

Check back for more coverage of the failed enhancement millage later today on



Sun, Nov 8, 2009 : 9:35 p.m.

MikeMartin said: "My taxes would have risen $700- ridiculous." and "People all over the state, and country, are suffering and millions are taking pay cuts rather than lose jobs." I think those people all over the state and country might find it ridiculous to complain about an extra $700 tax burden on someone who can afford a $700,000 home.


Fri, Nov 6, 2009 : 9:49 a.m.

WLParent - I worked at a charter school, and now for a public school. There is an extreme difference in what the administration expects from a classroom. When I worked for a charter school - the administration couldn't figure out how to do scheduling so they told me that in my 5th grade Math class, I needed to "throw in" 10 minutes of social studies because they weren't able to figure out how to put it in the schedule. They didn't really care if students had social studies, because at their level, social studies doesn't count for if they make AYP or not. Way to provide a high quality, well rounded education to your students.


Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 10:06 a.m.

I completely agree, but the school district would argue that their financial statements provide a reasonable picture and more detail would simply add cost without much benefit. Where are the investigative journalists at the local paper? Oh, to have a skilled reporter scour the detail and provide a concise, informed, and understandable story for public consumption...maybe that's too much to ask for.


Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 7:09 a.m.

mom in SE Michigan- I don't live in a "McMansion" my house is a reasonably sized house built in 1932 off Geddes. My taxes happen to be high because I moved from Burns Park in the last few years and have little "proposition A" tax suppression as a recent buyer. Your small tax bill most likely has to do with significant long term "prop A" tax suppression. Do all your postings include baseless conjecture? Post about something you have the facts on (unlike the nature of my home). As for "joining a community" - part of being a member of a community is spending and collecting the taxes of that community responsibly. So mom, I find the spending in Ann Arbor over the top. I don't like it, I vote against it, and I am glad others did as well. As far as this issue goes that was my communal participation and I am proud that we all managed to escape this millage. I find higher property taxes in this current economic situation extremely negative for our community. Blindly voting "yes" on all millages is not good for the community. Using your brain and making a reasoned decision is.


Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 6:49 a.m.

Schneb, Given the examples you gave of the charter schools in Detroit, I can only assume that you have not spent much time with the TC's at Pioneer High school. My eldest son had a TC for a full semester that he never met. He is dysgraphic and his other TC's determined that he just needed to practice his writing skills vs. providing him a computer that he so desperately needed. My son was diagnosed by the UofM pediatric neurology department in the 3rd grade with Dysgraphia and 3/4 of the staff at all of the schools in Ann Arbor refused to comply with his IEP addressing this issue. My son did not survive Ann Arbor Public schools and the money that is federally funded to these schools is very ill spent when it comes to hiring TC's of quality. In all of the years that my children attended these schools the only Knowledgeable and caring TC that was assigned to my children was let go after the first successful year that they had! A good look at how our money federally funded or not is spent, and who it is spent on would provide reductions at the school level all the way around. As for Charter schools here in Ann Arbor, my younger son is now attending one, and if it weren't for that opportunity and the support he receives there (that he did not get in A2 public) he would not be on track to graduate today. So watch those ACT scores closely over the next few years, if Ann Arbor Public schools doesn't straighten out its educational problems, the Charter schools will pass them up in no time. The other piece to consider here, is that inside of the regular Public School buildings, the pressure is on for any students who fall even the slightest bit behind, the parents are asked first and forced later to move their children to another building. The ACT Scores at Pioneer for example are higher because any students that began there and were failed by that building were asked to transfer to Stone or Roberto Clemente. If you were to close these two schools and force the people in the "Regular High schools to do their job, that would save quite a bit of money right there.

Jed I. Knight

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 11:38 p.m.

A teachers work year cycle is outdated. Teachers draw rich salary and benefits packages and should work year round. Period. They should be required to do something related to the education of the students / for the schools over the summer. They could be assigned to other areas of need in the state over the summer if they dont have something educationally related to do.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 11:03 p.m.

Based on many of the comments here, I think everyone would benefit from higher transparency (schools and taxpayers alike.) Sure, you can use the FOIA to dig up information, but why should a concerned citizen have to spend hours, days, weeks, to access this information? As taxpayers, shouldn't we be able to see, line by line, how tax dollars are being spent? Personally, it's not that I begrudge paying taxes; I just don't like that tracking my taxes is a full-time job. I already work full-time to pay my taxes. As far as I'm concerned, I shouldn't have to work full-time to ensure that my taxes are used responsibly.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 11:02 p.m.

Raising money at the county level is not the way to address school finances. It is not the answer to Prop. A or to Washtenaw county schools - it would be a temporary solution; a bandaid. We must turn our attention to Lansing and force our elected officials to deal with this matter. The legislature and the Governor must stop playing political games and fix this problem on how we fund education.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 10:45 p.m.

I appreciate the comments here that are well informed--too many to remember them all. I don't mean to single anyone out, but the first few seemed to come from 'beliefs' about how schools are run, rather than knowledge. I'm a teaching in the AAPS and appreciate those who've brought info about how limited the schools are, in many cases, by mandates of one sort or another. Getting through this very difficult stretch in Michigan's/U.S.A.'s/world's economy given various mandates is a bit like playing a game of Twister, but with ten times as many colors, spread out on a gymnasium sized playing mat. For instance, by federal law, we have to provide students with various special needs the fullest possible education in the 'least restrictive environment'. This can mean providing for students in wheelchairs and on ventilators, within the normal school setting. To those who praise charter schools, I'll tell you from personal experience (at a charter school in Southwest Detroit, near the Rouge plant) that my charter school--and those run by the same [for-profit] management company--didn't do diddly for special ed. I had kids in DIRE need of services who saw a 'TC'-type person maybe once a week, IF there was a TC on staff that week--too many of them quit because of the relatively low pay and heavy caseload the management company decided to operate under. More generally, about the quality of staff in that particular school--VERY varied, but the better folks left because of low pay and the difficult working conditionsI know there are some good charter schools, but I didnt see such in my year-plus of working at one/see staff from others. Thats even though charter schools have it easier: they do not provide the same sort of comprehensive educational programming as public schools. Most charters (that Im aware of) stop at 8th grade because beyond that point parents want sports, music, etc.because they value such but also because colleges look for such extracurriculars on students applications. Those extra-curriculars require specialized staff and expensive facilities and add significantly to cost. Maybe that's where we'll have to make cuts (I very much hope not) but that's yet another reason why comparing charters to public schools just doesnt make sense. As far as benefits and so on, some comments (early in the thread) expressed the view that teachers benefit package(s) are extreme--I just want to be sure people know that while there are 'delux' versions of benefit packages, teachers opting for such pay the extra cost of those as compared to the baseline package. Looking at the informed, thoughtful comments here, I am optimistic that, while we're facing VERY difficult times ahead for schools, part of getting through those times will be a worthwhile examination of just how (and how well) we run our schools and what exactly we want our schools to do for us, as a society. Being involved with those issues every day, I welcome and thank you all for the attention you all are giving them here. Lastly, given the 'culture' of Michigan and Washtenaw Co. and Ann Arbor, we'll surely continue to (try to) have excellent schools--that's a big part of what Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and so on, are all about. Just as Detroit was/is all about cars, a lot of Washtenaw County is all about 'knowledge'. I hope we remember that and don't blow it the way the leadership of the Big 3 did, for their industry.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 10:39 p.m.

Andrew: 2." The District's reserve fund: The district already planned to dip into this just to cover this year's budget" Did I hear you right! The AAPS signed a union contract with it's current step increases, and benefits KNOWING it could not afford it, that it would have to dip into it's reserve fund to balance the budget. What business does that! Where I do business, we balance the budget without having to dip into the reserve. That's called negotiations... You tell them you have this much money PERIOD, and you negotiatie a contract that fits into your revenue, not your revenue plus dipping into your reserve fund! No wonder the AAPS goes into the hole every year. WHO'S NEGOTIATING THESE CONTRACTS FOR THE AAPS!!

mom in SE Michigan

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 10 p.m.

To MikeMartin, No wonder you voted against the millage, since you say you will pay $16,000 in property taxes. I don't feel sorry for you. Maybe you shouldn't have bought or built that Mcmansion but invested in a smaller, more-energy efficient and overall cheaper house. My husband and I own a home in Ann Arbor; we will pay about $4,400 in property taxes this year, significantly less than you. If the millage had passed, based on our assessment, we would have to pay an additional $200, that's just $1.83 a day over the course of a year. However, in your case, I am just guessing, but I suspect your taxes would have gone up $2-3K or more. Or much, much, more. That is a chunk of change. However, I simply don't feel sorry for you. When you decided to live in Ann Arbor as an adult, you decided to become a member of the community. To me, this means supporting our public schools. If you don't like it, move to Mississippi, where they have crappy schools and you don't have to worry about being taxed to support public schools. To dotdash, thank you for the comment about the mis-directed rage at school administrators and teachers. Our school administrators and teachers deserve they salaries they make! They work hard 9-10 months out of the year and deserve a much needed break in the summer. To WLParent, thank you for the statistics about the public schools vs. charter schools in Washtenaw County. AAPS, Dexter and Chelsea are some of the top-performing schools in the state and we should be proud of that!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 9:20 p.m.

@j and dan: good posts...actual information, not just speculation...can you FOIA "the reports" you saw? Here's my take. I have no idea what it takes to run a school district, so looking at one fin stmt will raise questions, but probably won't provide answers. It's like looking at your 401k statement without knowing how much you'll need to retire. It's a lot of money (hopefully), but is it too much or not enough? Creating horizontal & vertical "common size" income statements can help. Look online for the basic idea. The benefit is you can look at other districts to compare performance (assuming they use the same accounting). This takes a while...


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 9:06 p.m.

Gee Catfishrisin, not sure if plagiarising from the text's of Marx and Mao are what is needed to cut the fat from the schools. Just saying, LOL J-


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 8:53 p.m.

Jimmy Olsen - In part you are correct, the finances are public, but the level of breakdown is so high level in many cases that it is impossible to determine what is in the items listed. School board meetings are interesting, even on Cable TV, but the various contracts being discussed are not made public in many cases, and as they say "The devil is in the details". I and others I know have spent a lot of time hunting for facts and more details. For instance - how many employees are covered by each contract? - roles and responsiblities for assistant Principals? - the average number of classes teachers teach in the high schools? - the average number of students in classes (according to public record the student to teacher ratio in AAPS is 16:1 but people keep claiming classes that are less than 24 students are rare). - the number of teachers who are covered under the teacher contracts that do not have regular classes - the number of days of substitute teacher time the district pays for and so it goes... If the schools want more support for a millage, they need to provide a lot more detail on where the money goes. I know they have it, because I have had a chance to see the reports in the financial office - not look at them - but see them - they are many pages thick. So the detail exists - but the districts are not sharing. If they had shared more detail on the budgets and real expenditures, I for one would have done my review and probably changed my vote to support them, if they are as some are claiming - doing a good job. On the other hand to have my children come home daily with a "Daddy our teacher says if the millage does not pass we will not get to do ________ (fill in the blank)" does not inform me. I have yet to see a school official come forward from any of the 10 districts and say "here are the books, come we will review them together" We have a lot of very smart people in this county and they know how to stretch a dollar in their own businesses. The schools could profit from inviting them in to look at their operations. I volunteer to help, if asked.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 8:52 p.m.

Maybe the people who voted no could offer to home school our kids...on second thought, never mind, characteristics such as selfishness, self-centered and no sense of community commitment are not traits I would look for in someone to mentor children.

Jimmy Olsen

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 8:35 p.m.

Any school districts financials ARE ALREADY PUBLIC. Stop by your central office and take a look at it. Many have links on their web sites. Apparently some of you have never been to a school board meeting where they approve the budget, vote on teacher contracts, etc. Check out the agenda and stop by once in awhile and start to get informed. The meeting minutes do not include most of the discussion. There is also time for public comment.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 8:20 p.m.

jhcer...we are very close to being in agreement on all points. Let me see if a little additional information helps bring us closer in our thoughts. 1) We agree on that point...which is financials should be public record. 2) You think I need to do more fact checking on benefits. I think, based on lots of information provided over the last couple of weeks, the benefits at the schools need a major review and need to be reduced significantly. Point number "1" is what we need to come to agreement on this point. 3) As for the buses, this is going to be more difficult. Yes, I am saying parents need to walk their kids to school or find an alternative means to get the kids to school Great example, there is a bus stop next to my house, about six blocks from school. Every morning kids and parents wait at this stop for what seems like 20+ minutes for the bus. In bad weather longer. In that amount of time they could have walked their child to school. The cost of busing is going to go way up when oil prices take off again. I'm sure you agree, oil is going to go up. Time to end the busing now. 4) "Changing sports to pay to play is fine for those who can afford it, what are we going to do for those who don't? "..this is just to easy. The sports programs my kids participate in aren't funded by the schools at all. 100% of the cost, including coaches salary is paid for by the parents. Here is the best part, we offer scholarships every season to kids that don't have the money. Our position is that we don't want money to be an issue for kids not playing. However, to get a scholarship the kids must meet our grade standards, which are higher than what the school requires for the sports programs they finance. We can do this because the schools don't fund us. Also, everyone on scholarship must actively participate in fundraisers. We don't just give out money, we expect the families/kids on scholarship to be active and help finance the team through fundraisers. Don't make grades, don't participate in the fundraisers, you are not on the team. However, families/kids who are willing to help the team and recognize grades come first are welcome and it doesn't cost them any money. So income isn't an issue. 5) "Music should NOT be an after school activity" I don't think we are going to agree on this point. I don't believe music has to be part of the school system. Sure it is nice to have, but lots of kids go to school and never take music. Music is a great thing, but not something the school needs to offer. 6) Charging for parking we are in agreement on. I think the schools can raise lots of money off of parking. Drive past Pioneer, Huron, Saline...those kids drive cars a lot better than I have. Let them pay $130/month to park like I have to. Why have busing if the kids are driving....something needs to go. 7) Closing a high school...we seem to agree here. I do think Skyline was a huge waste of money. However, it is here now. If Skyline stays open one or even two other high schools need to go. If you want Community High closed, I can support that.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 8:09 p.m.

Basic Bob- Sorry, I responded to you but it was actually another persons post, regarding Teacher Consultants....


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 8:06 p.m.

Please remember this is NOT just about the AAPS. There are many other districts that this effects. I don't know what internal cuts/cost saving measures the AAPS have made, so I cannot speak to that. I'm sure that they have made adjustments, as we all have. I do know that teachers in other districts have taken pay freezes (NO increase from last years salary-not step increases either), have consolidated classrooms with low numbers to move staff where they were needed and have in place, energy saving measures including monitoring use of electricity (microwaves, coffee pots, all electronics off when not in use, classroom lights off when rooms are empty, lowered thermostat temperatures etc.) decreased paper usage etc. When it comes to cuts, now that the millage has not passed, I hope people are prepared. The reality is that the non-essential programs, will be looked at. Unfortunately, many of those programs are costly to districts but are not requirements for graduation (Specials- art, music, PE, library,band, drama, AP classes...) Some people remember when there wasn't any school bus transportation within the city of Ann Arbor. I remember riding with my mom, to take my brother to Pioneer every morning because it was a 3+ mile walk (in the 70's). It would be difficult for many, if not most of us to do this since the times have changed and parents are not necessarily home to do that. To Jeremy Lazare, I am sorry that you and your friends may not have the same opportunities that my son had before he graduated from Pioneer in June. I am also sorry that my younger son may not have some of those same opportunities. Some of those very programs are what keeps some students going to school and ultimately graduating. Just to clarify something regarding the lottery money. The money from the lottery DOES go into the education budget BUT an equal amount of money is then WITHDRAWN from that very same budget. Has anyone ever heard the public schools cheer because they received extra money that was from the lottery? That's because the schools don't actually get MORE money, the money just goes back to the state. Sounds like false advertising to me.... I hope that those of you who have been so openly against the millage will now put as much effort into helping the schools both in person and financially. To Basic Bob- Thought I would answer one of your questions: Teacher Consultants are special education teachers who hold masters degrees and special licensing. They are part of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) which is part of the federal law.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 7:59 p.m.

TruBlue, I too am appalled at the salaries in that report. The top paid teacher on that list makes 115,000 and change, ARE YOU KIDDING ME for working 8 months out of the year? Don't get me wrong, teacher provide a very valuable service, heck my wife is a teacher, so I have alot of insight and respect, but teaching is (or used to be) a profession that you went into not for money but because of a willingness to help and provide to others,almost as a calling (now the likely reason is "because you get summers off"). I asked my wife what would make it so that a teacher could make 115,000 (I'm mean it's not like he is pulling OT working extra shifts) and she advised that it was likely time of service along with post graduate degree(s). So basically if you go to lots of schooling and stick around for a while you get paid the big money. That has NOTHING to do with what kind of a teacher you are or whether you deserve the money. I know several HIGHLY educated people, and I would often take a highschool drop out over them when it came to "smarts." There needs to be merit based pay scaling vs "I got a degree, pay me" mentality (but I suspect that is a Union thing). OR we can put teachers to work over the summer cutting the grass and washing windows at the schools and plowing snow in the winter over christmas break etc. If you are getting paid that much, might as well put you to some work, LOL. Very rarely have I ever felt sorry for a teacher or anyone for that manner, but never again will I listen to anyone from AAPS belly ache about anything. Grab a mower or a broom slappy, get to work (Opps sorry, likley stepping on Union toes again, LOL) J-

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 7:58 p.m.

If the schools want to keep good, energetic, young teachers, they need to use employee reviews to identify the worst performers and show them the door, not just shuffle them into *teacher consultant* and *bond office* jobs. Reverse seniority layoffs may be popular with the hard line union loyalists, but it contributes to poor morale and rewards substandard performance.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 7:56 p.m.

Janelle - $1.92 million for Step (teacher pay) and the accompanying increase in FICA and Retirement contributions due to the Step increase. -The only way to reduce this is to change the contract with the Teacher's union - This was promised to the teachers this year, and a promise is a promise. Maybe the contract should change next year. $2.18 million for Fringe Benefits increases (Health, Dental, Vision etc.) Getting the Teacher's union and other unions to allow a competative bid for these items would probably reduce this by between 15 and 20% based on comments that have been made in various meeting by representatives of the UofM and BCBS. $1.7 million General Administration Without a deeper breakdown - it is difficult to know what is in this line. $11.6 million School Administration We can start with the spare principals that are sitting on the sidelines, closing the bond office (7 people were still there a month ago) since the bonds are 99% spent, looking at the need for 18 principals and supporting staff in the High Schools, looking at the need for full time principals in the grade schools, and the cabinet for the superintendent. My questions: 1) How can you reduce the above items? See my comments above. 2) What are "Teacher Consultants" (Page 33 of the Budget)? Teacher consultants are the people who provide special support for students who have needs documented by Individual Education Plans (IEP), most of the funds come from the state and the WISD special education millage. By law these services need to be provided, and most of it is re-imbursed to the school, but not all. 3) How can you reduce the cost of the various student support services, which account for $21 million? Again this line is too big and contains too many items to know what can and can not be cut, based on laws and student contact. Peeling this line back will probably reveal that some of it is required and funded and some of it is overhead. 4) What are the responsibilities "Improvement of Instruction Staff" "Supervision/Direction Instruction Staff", and "Other Instruction Staff"? Is there any way to consolidate these? They account for $5.2 million. There is a high probablity that these are the teachers that are no longer in the classroom and instead work on course development for the school system. There is probably more buried inside this line item. This should mostly be consolidated at the WISD and shared between the 10 districts. Ann Arbor would probably still have to foot half of this bill if that was done. 5) Please cut back on the $2.9 million allocated to the Athletic Fund. Some one smarter than I will have to comment on where this money goes. I know that Head Coaches that are teachers can earn more than $9,000 a year coach one sport in Ann Arbor above and beyond their teaching salary. There is a point system that determines how many points the sport is worth and then the points have a price the is in the contract. Some sports are only worth a few hundred dollars and others worth thousands, clubs, concerts, and other out of school hour activities are also part of the point system and teachers are paid based on the points they earn during the year. Again to cut this if it is the contract part, then the contracts will have to be opened, or sports cut. Because football season is over, it will be difficult to cut and not violate title 9, since football is a boys sport and the largest team. Title 9 requires that the number of participants by gender has to be balanced. I would however look at the need for multiple athletic directors for AAPS (Pioneer and Huron both have their own, Skyline will get one). Plymouth-Canton with 3 major high schools has a shared athletic director and a shared scheduling person for all the sports. This is overhead that could be cut without impacting the sports program. 6) Pupil transportation services is $7.186 million. Please see #6 in eyehearta2's post. There was a study done more than a year ago, and it was shelved in Ann Arbor. It had savings of more than $1 million (remember fuel was over $4 a gallon at the time), but the district decided not to act on their own study. Reading the AAPS teacher's contract and the Plymouth-Canton(PC) teachers contract shows some big differences. 1) That the teachers in PC have requirements for s certain number of hours for clubs, or sports or concerts as part of their base. 2) Teachers in PC are required to be in the building and in the halls before class and between classes, they are responsible for the good order in passing between classes. 3) They have a higher contact hour requirement I am not saying that the teacher contract should change, but PC is close to the size that AAPS is and the teachers there earn a bit less, and work a bit more. They have pretty good scores in the high schools and grade schools. Our teachers are pretty good too. But a caution to the teachers and their supporters at least in AAPS is you have the best of the best in the area, and you may have to decide do let your friends lose their jobs or do you work with the school system to be more cost effective. I do not advocate cutting any teacher's benefits or salary, and never have. I do advocate looking clearly at overhead and consolidation of non-teaching services. I do not think it will be easy to consolidate districts, but I do think it would be easy to consolidate many of the non-classroom services under the WISD and pick the very best people from the 10 districts to head these offices. Sharing course development, text book evaluation, and other class room support services would be tougher, but might be very useful too. Thank you Janelle for taking the time to dig in and look for good questions. I hope others will follow your example.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 7:40 p.m.

jjc155- excellent point. To be honest I got the impression, from the way the ballot was worded that the money could go anywhere. If they had asked to support my community schools I would have considered it. I also agree with several points made here about administrators taking some pay cuts. Why is it every time the schools lose out they start spreading fear? That is exactly what happened the second my child got to school this morning. Teachers couldn't stop talking about how rough school would get now that the parents had voted down the millage. And then they wonder why we did.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 6:58 p.m.

Would Ann Arbor public schools consider taking a page out of the auto industry hand-book and offer more buy outs to high senior teachers to hire new, less experienced teachers??

Andrew Thomas

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 6:42 p.m.

A few random responses (no particular order) to ideas/questions raised on this thread: 1. Use of AATA buses for students: Good idea, esp. since it uses an existing under-utilized resource, but I'm afraid it may be impractical. Some schools are not particularly close to bus lines, and many of the newer subdivisions are not served at all by AATA. Also, the way the routes are set up is designed to funnel riders from the neighborhoods to downtown, not neighborhood-to-neighborhood. Finally, I doubt that a single AATA bus could handle the volume of all the students who need to take a bus from school, and if you add a second bus, what's the point? Worth looking into, but I'm not optimistic this will really save much money. 2. The District's reserve fund: The district already planed to dip into this just to cover this year's budget BEFORE the cuts from Lansing. And remember, the cuts we are seeing this year pale in comparison to what's coming next year, once the federal stimulus funds run out. The best we can hope for is that it will tide the district over until we can do a thorough review of the costs, prioritize the various programs, and make the necessary cuts in an orderly, responsible way. 3. Pay-to-play: I think some form of pay-to-play is inevitable for sports, music and probably some other programs. The problem is, how do you accommodate those kids whose families can't afford this? Do we just say, tough luck? This is where the AAPS Educational Foundation could play a role by granting scholarships to needy students.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 6:32 p.m.

Great post Semper Fi. I totally agree. Readin', writin', 'rithmetic is all that needs to be taught in schools. The rest can be saved for college. Anybody that kids today are going to live above the poverty line without a college degree are crazy. PS: I am appalled at the salaries in that report. No wonder there are so many teachers looking for work in this state. A 10% cut across the board would solve this budget issue.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 5:30 p.m.

What's next is turfing County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum and demand accountability within the County government. The schools have been checked and the County is next in line.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 5:22 p.m.

According to the Ann Arbor Public School 09/10 Budget, "Personnel cost is the single largest expense for the district. Salaries and benefits represent approximately 90% of the general operating budget." That being said... AAPS would have received $11 million from the millage. If you look at their budget: $1.92 million for Step (teacher pay) and the accompanying increase in FICA and Retirement contributions due to the Step increase. $2.18 million for Fringe Benefits increases (Health, Dental, Vision etc.) $1.7 million General Administration $11.6 million School Administration My questions: 1) How can you reduce the above items? 2) What are "Teacher Consultants" (Page 33 of the Budget)? 3) How can you reduce the cost of the various student support services, which account for $21 million? 4) What are the responsibilities "Improvement of Instruction Staff" "Supervision/Direction Instruction Staff", and "Other Instruction Staff"? Is there any way to consolidate these? They account for $5.2 million. 5) Please cut back on the $2.9 million allocated to the Athletic Fund. 6) Pupil transportation services is $7.186 million. Please see #6 in eyehearta2's post. Considering they were hoping for $11 million, I think the above items would be a great starting point for budget reductions. Janelle

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 5:15 p.m.

@A2taxpro (not math pro), You are partially correct. Since we also pay taxes to local governments the total tax bill is diluted (which did not go up), and would rise by only 6% in Pittsfield or 4% in Ann Arbor. Nonetheless, if the school MILLAGE rises by 11%, so does the school PROPERTY TAX. If this is confusing, please consult an accountant.

Art Vandelay

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 5:03 p.m.

David, Please ask the school board why they give away 80% or so of the budget every year to the teacher's union and then cry poverty when the state makes the inevitable cuts. This year the board ratified the contract the same day the state announced per pupil spending cuts. Please ask the union if they would be willing to re-negotiate this year's contract. A small reduction in teacher's salaries could offset the cuts that have been announced. This would eliminate the need to further reduce staff counts, music programs or other program cuts that have been going on for years while the teachers have continued to get raises. Perhaps the union has some thoughts on how to reduce costs that could be implemented along with the teacher pay reductions. Or is the union still just thinking about themselves?


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 4:38 p.m.

wow, two gym teachers who do not coach and ALWAYS have a student teacher are on the plus 75 grand list?


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 4:23 p.m.

Cut administration costs first. Be about the children for once. Why do we have a spokes person for the district and now, are publishing a district e-newsletter when our kids cannot take a langage in middle school. It is about the ADMINSTRATION--let's all unite on this one. If WISD has adminstration resources for a reason, let's use it vs. having our own.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 4:18 p.m.

This is just an observation on the subject (and my thinking also)but if this was not a millage to support the WISD but instead to support your own individual school district I bet the millage would have past. I have no problem with my taxes going up 2mil's to pay for MY kids education in Lincoln. However I do have a problem with my taxes going up 2mil's to pay for Williow Run, Ypsi or AAPS or anywhere else for that matter, which as I understand it this millage would have done. It was to be spread around. As bad as it is gonna sound, I have no stake in nor no intrest in having any stake in anyone else's child's education but my own. J-


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 4:15 p.m.

If anyone could get control of the situation, all contracts need to be renegotiated now. If there is not agreement, do the same as charters and hire non-union teachers. I have been pro-union my whole life. Times change. And public sector unions must either change with the times, or lose their power over taxpayers. And I might add, I am a progressive Democrat. And I am a realist. Too many people cannot pay their taxes. Too many people have lost their homes. Too many people are hungry. It's time for EVERYone to give some, so that we survive this economic crisis.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 4 p.m.

Charter Schools do more with less????? First, they get the same basic foundation grant that many surrounding area schools get. Yes, Ann Arbor is one of the 20J districts; however, other school districts in the area get exactly what the charter schools get. Second, let's look at the numbers of how charter schools are performing next to Public high schools: Here is some data from (2007-2008 data; latest data reported) Michigan Charter Schools: Schools making AYP 76.7% Schools not making AYP 23.3% Average ACT Score: 15.6 Michigan Public Schools: Schools making AYP 79.8% Schools not making AYP 20.2% Average ACT Score: 18.8 Please tell me how charter schools are outperforming public schools when the data clearly shows they are not. The ACT scores are over 3 points lower! Also, to those of you who want schools to cut foreign languages, music or art classes, schools cannot do this. The state now mandates at least 1 year of performing or visual arts, and within a few years, all students will have to graduate with at least 2 years of a foreign language. These are the state's requirements!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:59 p.m.

@water, they could vote her if they wanted to make the house they own their primary/homesteaded residence. I have another home in Michigan too and the locals there love handing it to the property owners who can't vote there. That is just reality.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:49 p.m.

A union is supposed to be a group of employees acting in solidarity in the best interest of all members. Unfortunately, in Michigan right now that means everyone making small sacrifices so everyone keeps their job. To let some be laid off so others don't have to sacrifice at all would be a failure of the union leadership. Selfishness rather than solidarity. The school administration is supposed to work in the best interest of the students. To lay off teachers, increasing class sizes and reducing class offerings just to avoid angering a few senior teachers would be a failure of school leadership. Cowardice instead of moral courage. These two groups need to sit down together with a calculator and figure out what the cut for everyone will be. If Lansing comes through with more money the cuts can be restored. In the mean time, though, if these two groups really care about teachers and kids as much as we've been hearing recently, the next step is clear.

Mr. Incredible

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:42 p.m.

Hockeymom (from Alaska?) Can you see Russia? There are several ways to be a good (Saline, Dexter, Chelsea, etc.) Republican: 1. Be against abortion but support capital punishment on demand. 2. Believe governments create oppression and businesses create prosperity. 3. Believe there was no federal funding before art. 4. Believe private/religious schools are operated in a fair and just manner "for the good of the student."


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:41 p.m.

I see your point, Voiceofreason, but it's not the tenured teachers who are going to take pay cuts or lose their positions (nor, I would argue, should they). My husband is a part-time employee (a night-time custodian - who I might add has three certifications and (almost) a master's degree under his belt, but cannot find a teaching job in the area) at one of the high schools in Washtenaw County. He and his colleagues WILL be losing their jobs as the result of the millage not passing. I know that people are trying to send the state legislators and the school administration a message by not passing the millage, but believe me - the message WILL fall on deaf ears. People on the low end of the totem pole, including the students, are going to pay the price. I'm an idealist at heart (and at another time and in another place, I might have agreed with you), but due to the way in which this issue affects me personally, I have to look at the issue from a realistic viewpoint. I foresee nothing good coming from this. SemperFi, someone should have taught you how to spell nickel.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:30 p.m.

I haven't heard anybody calling for closing the costliest high school in the AAPS, Roberto Clemete. This sacred cow of Joe Doolan is way past its usefulness. Time to close Clemente, Community High and Stone School. Utilize the the 3 big HS. Cram 'em in there, teach 'em the 3 Rs, and send them out the door when they can pass a standardized test. Schools are for learning, not playing games and investigating all that namby pamby stuff like music, art and other touchy feely stuff like creative writing. Back to the basics! It was good enough for old Uncle Lester, so it's good enough for all these young punks of today. I'm not paying another plug nickle to educate somebody elses kids. The rich are rich because we keep our money. HAH!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:29 p.m.

Somebody7, Like I said in my post, I have no qualms with teachers making the amount of money they do. It is very irresponsible for them to ask for more money in this situation though. Regardless of education level attained, the taxpayer is responsible for the salaries of these individuals. I was simply amazed by the fear-mongering tactics used by people in support of this millage. People earning over $75,000 a year are certainly capable of making temporary sacrifices for the sake of fellow educators. I believe these sacrifices should be made before attempting to extort the cash-strapped public out of any more dollars that may or may not exist.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:26 p.m.

11GOBLUE11, I don't know that you can claim charter schools are as effective as public schools - where's the proof? Personally, I hate the idea that some of my tax money goes to a for-profit institution that's in the business of educating children. What's the larger goal of the for-profit? To educate? No, like any other business, to make money. The AAPS has started outsourcing (cafeteria workers/food service) and I would expect other non-teaching services to end up in the hands of outside companies.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3:19 p.m.

Many friends I know don't have the rights to vote although they own houses in Ann Arbor. Otherwise the margin would have been larger. The property tax for my 'underwater' house is almost 10K.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 3 p.m.

I, too, am shocked by the tenor of some of these comments. You guys in conservative districts won -- why so cynical and unhappy? And what is so bad about a teacher making $75,000? The average HHI for a college-educated person in the US is $78,000. Teachers are slightly below average and many have masters degrees. These are people making less than their contemporaries in other fields and doing the hard and worthwhile job of educating our community's children. Why don't you all take your outrage on the road and complain about the *million-dollar* salaries of bankers being paid with taxpayer dollars? Now that is an outrage.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:43 p.m.

With respect to Voiceofreason's comment: "For anyone interested, this is a link for all AAPS employees making over $75,000 in 2006. Think about these numbers the next time someone says, "I work very hard for those 9 months of the year, you should try doing the job." I am not begrudging AAPS employees for the amount of money they make. However, in economic times such as these, with a district on the brink of "financial ruin" these employees are certainly capable of paying for a larger share of benefit packages." I looked at that list of AAPS employees making over $75,000 per year. I don't know any of those people personally, but once I discounted all the superintendent, principals and assistant principals, I picked a few names at random and looked up their credentials at Let's see, Sandra Kreger graduated from college in 1980 and has almost 30 years of experience in education. Mary Cornish is certified in a wide variety of subjects, including history, German, English as a second language, and Elementary Education (grades K through 8). Andra Warsinske is about 53 years old and is certified in economics, math, and business education. In other words, when you see teachers with salaries in the $75,000 plus range, we're not talking about recent graduates in their 20s or 30s with just a few years under their belts. These professionals probably have enough college and continuing education credits to have earned a master's degree or a Ph.D., and their teaching salary is most likely much lower than than their earning potential would be in the private sector.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:22 p.m.

For anyone interested, this is a link for all AAPS employees making over $75,000 in 2006. Think about these numbers the next time someone says, "I work very hard for those 9 months of the year, you should try doing the job." I am not begrudging AAPS employees for the amount of money they make. However, in economic times such as these, with a district on the brink of "financial ruin" these employees are certainly capable of paying for a larger share of benefit packages.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:19 p.m.

As a supporter of the millage, I'm a bit disappointed, but I will admit that some of the knee jerk anti-tax commenters are correct, that the supporters/leadership are WAY WAY out of touch with mode of the voters.Its really sad. I hope that the folks that keep talking about a Human Services millage paid attention. They are even further out of touch.

Kristin Judge

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:18 p.m.

The good part about this vote was that voters actually took the time to get involved. Why do so few people come to vote in May when the School Board Elections are held? If residents want to see school district money spent in a certain way, they can go to school board meetings and vote in elections.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:13 p.m.

Interesting - Appreciate the info!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:09 p.m.

mom in SE Michigan- I was the product of Michigan public schools when the auto companies controlled 70% of the domestic market. Yes we had more money then, that's gone. GM and Chrysler went bankrupt this year. It is time for a reality check on spending in Michigan statewide and locally that recognizes the new paradigm of our state. You can't simply raise taxes on the remaining people in Michigan to support programs at pre-crash levels. It's unsustainable. And what do we have to offer to attract people to our fair state these days? Our employment market? Reasonable property taxes in Washtenaw county? I'll pay $16,000 in property taxes this year. Not a very attractive selling point.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:08 p.m.

11GOBLUE11, Charter schools don't get "less" money than public schools do. They get the foundation grant, (at least $7,316) the allotment from the state that most public school districts get. Some get a bit more money for special education services. Don't believe that they're doing "more" with "less." Understand that AAPS is a "special" district. It simply gets more money than most other public school districts do. That extra helping of state funds (a/k/a "hold harmless" or 20(j) funding) is what was recently taken away in Lansing. The argument for charter schools is that the charter management company gets to keep whatever it doesn't spend in the classroom. That's supposed to be an incentive for the charter school management companies to be highly responsible with the taxpayer's dollar. Unlike school districts, charter schools can't seek a millage. (And frankly, even the local district's ability to get a millage has been largely gutted by Proposal A.) That's why WISD even had to get involved in this mess; WISD is the only agency that can seek money for the local school districts.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:07 p.m.

Those who are opposed to the mileage and whomever was in charge of the ROBOCALLS - Kathy Griswold I was told??? should be fined for sending me 15 robo-calls with misinformation. Tired of answering my phone re this anti-mileage campaign. It is NOT a 10% increase taxes as stated in the robocalls....10% of taxable value. That is, for a $200,000 house with taxable value (usually 50% of house value) or $100,000 the additional taxes would be $100/year. NOT AN INCREASE OF 10% OF OUR PROPERTY TAXES. I am sure many who voted "fell" for this misinformation campaign. Present true and accurate facts and do not use scare tactics!!!!!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:02 p.m.

There are several ways to be a good [Ann Arbor] Democrat 1. Be against capital punishment but support abortion on demand. 2. Believe businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity. 3. Believe there was no art before federal funding. 4. Believe public schools are operated in a fair and just manner 'for the good of the student'.

Designated Conservative

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:58 p.m.

Joel Saalberg - "This won inside Ann Arbor. However, I think the truth is that the right-leaning areas outside Ann Arbor accepted the canards that the anti folks threw out." Joel, the "right leaning" western county population in and around Chelsea, Manchester, and Saline did vote this down, but it was the "far-left" liberal, deep-blue Democrat population along the eastern side of the county that provided the margin to defeat this flawed millage proposal. In case you haven't heard in A2, Michigan is in the midst of a multi-year depression economy, and folks are hurting in Ypsilanti. It was Ypsilanti residents that rose up to defeat the mega-county jail millage a few years back, and it was those same residents that came out to defeat the destructive city income tax ballot in '07. Unless there is a miracle economic cure coming, the result will be the same next time too. The schools need to make real changes to their business operations and non-academic functions to live within their means, just like the rest of us in the real world.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:46 p.m.

Will they ask teachers to move to a 40x based retirement plan instead of a pension? How hard are they going to look at cuts outside of the classroom, instead of scaring parents with 'in the classroom' cuts?

mom in SE Michigan

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:45 p.m.

Such negative comments against the people who run the public schools and the parents of school-age children! I'm appalled. It is always far too easy accuse people of making too much money and having too generous benefits. It is always far too easy to accuse parents of not taking responsibility for their children and just to start forking over money if we want our children to have access to music and sports. I'll bet the majority of people who voted against the millage are products of the public school system. Think back--didn't you have music and sports in your schools? Didn't some of you participate in these activities and if not, I'm sure you had friends who did. Shouldn't we, as citizens of Washtenaw County, rally around our schools--the children and the administraters, and support them in these difficult times? What is wrong with you people? I, for one, do not believe Ann Arbor is school district that does not know how to manage its funds. It is NOT a corrupt system. However, all of you who voted against the millage imply otherwise with all of your accusations. And all of you out there who voted for the millage, where your are posts? Let's think about what we can do to support our public schools, rather than try to keep tearing them down!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:38 p.m.

Why are charter schools able to be as effective or more effective than public schools on a smaller budget? I feel this was a key issue in this matter that was never adequately addressed.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:36 p.m.

David, leading up to Tuesday's no vote, there were a number of suggestions from various individuals regarding the possibility of consolidation. I would like to know if any district has even broached this subject with any other district in the county. There are certain functions, i.e., books, supplies, food, transportation, etc. that all districts have in common. Is it possible that some of these administrativie functions can be merged. Also, why isn't Willow Run, Lincoln and Ypsilanti school districts not talking about consolidation. Willow Run is a mess and quite frankly, I don't know how much longer that school district can hang on. Clearly, their focus is not on educating their students but on survival as a districts. There are individuals who have been on that board for 30 years and they need to move on.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:36 p.m.

1BlockRadius- good point. Who is taking a pay cut in the school system or the city government? Let's hear it. People all over the state, and country, are suffering and millions are taking pay cuts rather than lose jobs. Study pay and impose cuts now. Start with 10% for anyone making over $100,000 a year. Quit picking my pockets.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:34 p.m.

We NEED to know exactly what concessions would be required from the teachers unions to break even this year and next year. It isn't that tough a question. If a district is getting 5% less money this year, and the vast majority of a district budget is teacher salaries, then something close to a 5% cut in salary would take care of the budget problem without cutting services and nobody would have to lose his or her job. Nobody likes a salary cut but that's life in Michigan at the moment. If a Superintendent says she/he can't make that cut, then I want to hear a reason why. To lay more people off in a state with 15% unemployment, or to start eliminating things like sports or busses (which aren't really the major expense of school districts anyway) is just a failure of leadership. Michigan isn't ever going to bring in the kind of money it used to when the "Big Three" were still around. We all have to adjust. Even teachers.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:33 p.m.

What's required next is everyone should now contact their State Reps and demand that Michigan support its schools and restore state funding. What's also required is that we seriously look at ways we can enhance and improve our school system. Schools of choice (competition is a good thing!), year round school schedules (it's proven to be successful in other districts), merit salary increases based on performance (let's acknowledge the best teachers and staff), and possibly propose a more sensible mill increase proposal. And, again, contact your State Rep. It just takes a quick email to let your voice be heard...


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:28 p.m.

Kudos to the voters! Well done. Property taxes in Ann Arbor are outrageous. In the middle of a huge exodus of population from Michigan these geniuses thought we should hit the taxpayers even harder. My taxes would have risen $700- ridiculous. It's time state and local government learns to make the difficult and sensible belt tightening moves that the rest of us make when things get tough, not picking around the edges. And whoever described the driving force behind this as "neo-con" just isn't understanding what happened. A number of my most liberal friends in town made a point of getting out and voting NO. Listen to what the voters said- stop taxing our properties at these rates and in this market!

Duane Collicott

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:20 p.m.

You can't cut music and gym. Those classes are the only reason some of had a GPA good enough to graduate!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:12 p.m.

Dear GoBlueBeatOSU: Ok - since you numbered them, I will add my 2 cents based on that.... :) 1) I agree with this, the financials should be public record. 2) I think you should do a little more fact checking on this one. And I thought pensions are protected? If so, we need to focus on other areas. 3) SO...what you are telling me is that a Kindergarten child should be told to hop on the AATA to get home since their family can only afford one car and Grandma, who is waiting to watch the child when he/she arrives, doesn't have a means to pick up the child. So you tell this 5 year old "Take a bus, I'm not paying your way." Come on. I think we can cut some busing, but not all. It is not fair to those children and families that need it. I am fortunate to not be in this situation but have the basic empathy to realize that some are. 4) Changing sports to pay to play is fine for those who can afford it, what are we going to do for those who don't? It's not a bad idea, but I wouldn't expect this to cut the budget down to $0 spent on sports. There has to be guidelines for those who need help. 5) Music should NOT be an after school activity. There are children who depend on a bus to take them home, they cannot stay after school and you cannot take away music education from these students! 6) Charging more for parking is not a bad idea but I don't know that it would make such a big difference. 7) I do think we have no choice but to take a hard look at Community HS. But I also think Skyline was needed. To answer the original question posed by, I would like to understand what closing Community HS would do for the budget and what other areas are being considered that do not affect the classroom. Taking away enrichment courses should be Plan Z. If it happens, I know my child will be attending a private school. And I might as well live somewhere else where taxes are lower and the houses are bigger for same amount of money. There is appeal to living in the A2 school district. Let's preserve this!!

Jon Saalberg

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:10 p.m.

This won inside Ann Arbor. However, I think the truth is that the right-leaning areas outside Ann Arbor accepted the canards that the anti folks threw out. Paying teachers a decent salary is NOT "living outside your means." That doesn't make sense. Paying someone to run the school system $100K+ shouldn't be a big shock, as they are in effect the CEO of the school system. Apparently, that doesn't make sense to any of you who work for companies and were against the millage? Again, I would welcome any of you anti folks providing the mountains of data that prove there is waste in our school system - you seemed to provide a lot of "screaming" about waste without any evidence of it whatsoever. I guess proof wasn't necessary before causing harm to our school system. I welcome any of you anti folks, particularly those with children, to let your childrens' teachers know that you voted against funding for your kids, and why.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 1:04 p.m.

Can someone clear this up for me: I live in the city of ann arbor and I heard that we had a 20million dollar surplus saved away for public schools. Is that true? If it is true, why are we voting on a millage that would affect MOSTLY pepole living within the city limits of ann arbor? Is it because we have the most expensive houses? We pay ridiculous taxes as it is! I also heard that most of the defecit problems in the schools within Washtenaw county are with the surrounding cities (Ypsilanti, Saline, Dexter, etc.) Is that true? Can someone clarify? I think it's absolutely necessary to understand which districts are in trouble before moving forward (Must clarify the issue before we address the solution)... Back to the point of this article; Solution to the school money issue. There are many ways to cut, but my opinion is the cut needs to come from REMOVING ADMINISTRATION POSITIONS. I downloaded the pay for every ann arbor city school employee above $75K and I almost puked on my keyboard. The problem is that all of these people are friends and no one wants to be the bad guy and eliminate their buddy's position. We need an outside person to come in and start knocking some heads around (Like DPS did with Bob Bob) There are way too many people that have NOTHING to do w/ the kids getting paid over $100k. Don't believe me? Check for yourself, it's DISGUSTING....... I took a 27% paycut this year because of the recession. I'd like to know which positions inside the school system took pay cuts! We need an article on this!!!!! The people want to know!


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:54 p.m.

uawisok- Do you really think 57% of Washentaw county voters are "neocons" who send their kids to "brainwashing religious schools" Please take an extra 30 seconds to think about the demographics of this county and this state - democrats and liberals are the majority. This proposal was not about religious ideology at all - it was about trust in our school district's administrators financial abilities.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:47 p.m.

surprised? i'm not. the $$ wells are running dry.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:41 p.m.

Ignorance, Greed, and Fear win again... That this millage could be voted down at a time like this shows clearly that voters did not understand the following basic facts: 1. The wealthy hate taxes the most because they transfer wealth nad therefore power to the government which represents all citizens. 2. The party of the wealthy, the Republican party, generously though indirectly, funded the ant-millage campaign NOT because they have a plan to reduce school waste by millions of dollars (laughable) but because they wish to keep power in their greedy little hands. 3. You have to invest and take risk to get return. With the exception of the head of the McKinley Real Estate company, we are all hurting financially now. Schools are our collective hope for the future however. They both develop leaders and innovators of the future and attract and keep businesses in Washtenaw. They have had program after program cut from their budget for 10 years now. Maybe this is why we have lost so many businesses in the last few years?


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:40 p.m.

wow...first I was wrong...I never thought this would go down in defeat. This is great news. It shows that the people of AA are ready to take back their schools. Now is the time for major change. What questions? What information is important? 1) Publish full financial statements that shows exactly where every dollar of revenue is coming from and where ever dollar is being spent. Income Statement, Cash flow statements and balance sheet. Full discloser...the taxpayers deserve that. 2) End immediately those golden benefits and golden pension plans. Every day you wait it makes the problem worse. 3) A great suggestion that has been posted on these boards is to end busing. Effective January 1 all busing should end and the buses should be sold. The kids can ride the empty AATA buses that we already pay taxes on, walk, or get a ride with mom and dad. 4) All sports and activities should be 100% funded by the families involved in the sports/activites. There is no reason for a family with girls to have any of their tax dollars be used for the football team or any other team. Girls and boys should have to pay for their sports. 5) Music should be an after school class again 100% funded by the people who want their kids in the program. 6) Parking in Ann Arbor is now $130/month. That is exactly what the schools should be charging for parking. 7) Close a high school. What a mistake to build and open that third high school. Bottom line, tax dollars going to the schools should be spent on the teachers (although with reduced benefits) and in the class room studies. Welcome to pay to play!! and just for the kids are in a ton of activities. The schools don't fund any of them. I've been paying a lot of money for these extra activities that the schools refused to support, including sports, for years. Consider yourself lucky you haven't had to start paying until now.

Otto Mobeal

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:37 p.m.

What next? How about a better campaign? It looks like the school districts forgot how to beg for operating money - like in the old days. First: ID POPULAR, high participation programs, ie. music, sports, etc. Second: Hold those programs hostage. Let slip you are looking at CUTTING or eliminating them. Fear is a great motivator. Third: Make some minor cuts - just to scare the masses. You need to turn the kids, and their parents. Fourth: Make some more cuts - then release the kids. They will go door to door to save their sacred programs. Fifth: Keep bringing it up until the NOs get tired of voting. If it still fails, eliminate administration, para-pros, non-teaching staff to the core and prays the economy improves.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:36 p.m.

Martin Church, WTMC doesn't get $3,000 per student; it receives $7,580 per student. And the associate's degree comes with an additional year of schooling. Please see for more information on WashCo district enrollments and state aid payments.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:31 p.m.

"Many are expressing surprise the measure failed, especially by such a wide margin." This just shows how out of touch they are, people are losing their homes all over the county.


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:31 p.m.

What is required next? Accountability at all levels of school operations. This should have been present all the time. The true pity is not the failure of the enhancement millage, the true pity is that we have allowed our hired school administrators to create and/or maintain an environment that fails to be accountable to the Board and the citizens of the district. Cutting music from the curriculum is sad. But it is also sad when the current music teacher plays videos to her students 75% of the time because she is not motivated enough to develop 5 lesson plans per week! One lesson plan per grade level per week. Do the Administrators really think the parents are so clueless as to not know this is happening? What about the teacher who is absent every Monday because they are so wasted from their week-end partying that they aren't sober until Tuesday? Again; the parents know this is happening, why is it not addressed? What about High School football programs that purchase all new equipment every year. Not because of liability concerns of used equipment, or because of safety improvements in new gear, but because the out going team members never return the equipment to the District. And are not fined or penalized! The community knows this is happening, why don't the Administrators act? Accountability. Administrators need to execute the job they are hired to perform, and let the community know they are doing this. Remember; the citizens of the district own the school, they elect the Board to set policies and goals, the Board hires Administrators to enact these policies and operate the schools. Treating the citizens as ignorant peasants is a road to professional failure.

Tom Bower

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:27 p.m.

Designated Conservative, Yes, like this great "experiment": WTMC: which began September 1997 and is in its 13th year. David, you may want to ask whether ECA would have received any of the enhancement millage since under law a charter operated by an ISD or general powers school district appears to qualify as a "constituent district."


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:26 p.m.

Is anyone really surprised that this thing failed?! A declining economy, in a county with a declining population, and already burdensome taxes, building unneeded and expensive new schools. The wonder is that anyone actually believed it would pass in the first place. Time to wake-up and smell the coffee, folks. Sheeesh!

Martin Church

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:21 p.m.

Here is an even better question. Why are Charter Schools and the Washtenaw Technical Collage able to operate on $3000.00 per student and our Local Schools in in excesse of $10,000 per student. Both are public schools but such cost difference. it is time to return control to the parents and make each school a charter school accountable to the parents and the community. it cost me $800.00 per year to home educate my kids and then the state picked up the cost of WTMC for grades 10-12. And the kids are getting both State diplomas and Associates Degrees. All for $3000.00. A much better return on investment.

Duane Collicott

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:12 p.m.

According to one of the fear-mongering emails I got before the election (from a parent, not from the AAPS), all school buses will now stop and there will be no more sports, music, drama or art.

Designated Conservative

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:12 p.m.

David, if you want to know "what's next" for our local public school system, you should be talking to the operators of our local public charter academies and the Early College Alliance at EMU. Our public school system needs a substantial transformation in their business model to be relevant in the 21st century, and these "experiments" in other ways to provide public education would be an excellent place to begin developing that new business model.

Karen Sidney

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:11 p.m.

I'd like to see the WISD post audits for the most recent 5 years to it's website, including the management letter.