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Posted on Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

154 Ann Arbor Public Schools teachers recalled; 79 to go?

By Danielle Arndt

About two-thirds of the 233 Ann Arbor teachers who were issued pink slips in May have been asked to return to work.

When and if the remaining 79 teachers will be recalled remains to be seen. Ann Arbor Education Association President Linda Carter sees no reason why these other teachers should not be called back, especially given the most recent total of resignations and retirements.

"It's just been, unfortunately, not a very nice or restful or happy summer for our teachers," Carter said.


Linda Carter

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials laid off the 233 teachers when faced with an $8.7 million budget shortfall for the 2013-14 academic year. The school board authorized its final budget in June, reducing the district's teaching staff by about 40 FTE (full-time equivalents). The breakdown, for a total savings of about $3.9 million, was expected to be:
  • 27 undesignated teaching positions, $2.7 million
  • 3 reading intervention specialists, $300,000
  • 3 teachers at Skyline High School (allowing Skyline to remain on trimesters), $300,000
  • 3 fine arts/physical education teaching positions through attrition, $200,000
  • 3 P.E. teachers from cutting the extra P.E. credit requirement at the high schools, $400,000

The district recalled about 109 teachers from the layoff list on July 19 and another 45 teachers on July 26 — for a total of 154 teachers who can start thinking about how to welcome children to their classrooms this fall.

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said the human resources department is working hard to call back staff as soon as possible and is hopeful all of the 233 teachers will be able to be recalled. However, Margolis declined to say how likely this was or to comment on a timeline for the recalls.

The recall process involves monitoring student enrollment, analyzing teachers' certifications to see which grade levels and subjects they are eligible to teach and must take into consideration teachers' seniority, Margolis said.

"We will continue to recall back as we make placements and watch building enrollment numbers, as well as retirements," she said.

Despite several years of budget constraints and a need to reduce personnel to save money, the Ann Arbor Public Schools never has achieved teacher reductions through layoffs in the past. Reductions always have occurred through attrition — retirements and resignations. So if not all 233 teachers can be recalled, this would be the first round of teacher layoffs in the district's history. AAPS issued pink slips just one other time in 2010.

Carter said depending on what the human resources team is able to work out with teacher certifications, there should be no need for this to be a historic year. She said to date, AAPS has had 41 teacher retirements and resignations — which is more than the number of teacher reductions the school board approved in June. So Carter said she is cautiously hopeful.

"We've never gone through a layoff, so that has everybody nervous," Carter said. But she added that most of the teachers have stuck it out and stayed with AAPS through the summer. She said she knows of only two teachers who lost the faith and went out and found other work because of the uncertainty.

"I've tried to stay as close to the phone as possible and on email to keep people calm and make sure they are hearing from the voice of the association. I've done my best to keep people thinking positive."

Carter said she is trying to make sure the association is involved in these last few steps of making sure people's certifications work out to get them back into their classrooms before fall.

"We know how important it is for folks to get into their room and get set up, get stuff on the bulletin boards. So if there has to be a reassignment, we want our teachers to know at least 2 weeks (before school starts)," Carter said. "So by at least next Thursday, this should all be resolved ... that's what I'm hoping."

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



Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

High School students register the week of August 21. So I am figuring it is based on how many children do return to each school assigned to. I am glad most of my childs teachers are returning. At something good is coming out of it.

Ann Arbor Parents For Students

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 5:37 a.m.

Well, I hope that they get hired, but live by the sword, die by the sword! Funny, last year AnnArbor.Com did an article about enrollment numbers and every district in Washtenaw County had their enrollment numbers except AAPS. Liz M. said our numbers were not ready yet, well......drumroll.....AAPS went down by 4 students, not up as projected. That is around $50,000 in state funding or 1 teacher's salary. Charter schools are all up in enrollment. I think we spend about $500,000 trying to recruit kids from other districts and for all the fancy PR, website, etc. stuff, the numbers are not up! No wonder Liz Margolis did not mention the numbers--very deceiptful . That is 5 teachers salaries that we could be paying vs. paying for an ineffective marketing campaign and PR director. AAPS please make a change here. It is sad that we have such a high priced marketing/spokes person with a large budget--do we really need a newsletter? Who is not effective and teachers are going to loose their jobs and students will suffer. They made a change in the Foundation staff, hopefully they will start to look at positions like this too. Kids first!


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

What a completely insane way to do business. I'm amazed at all the teachers who hung around A2 hanging by a thread to see if they are hired back. The district is just terrible in how it treats its teachers.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Your union is to blame, the BOE just does what it has to based on the contract with the union. Go Green Go White


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

@JRW - there really are limited options for teachers. If you've got a mortgage, family, etc., you either 1) hang around and hope for the best, 2) try to get a job at another district, charter, or private school (that aren't hiring and if are, would pay even less), or 3) change careers/jobs. As a teacher I've spent a decade working without a significant raise (even though I've gotten much better at what I do), had to spent tens of thousands of dollars to maintain my certification, and now have skills/education that is really not that applicable to any other field. I absolutely love what I do, but this job is becoming much less sustainable. This piece of This American Life exemplifies the present status of education:


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

The problem starts with the AA BOE. Until they are replaced, nothing will change. Absolutely nothing!


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

As part of the "remaining 79", I can't explain how stressful and unsettling this summer has been, not knowing if I have a job come fall. Fall is now 2 1/2 weeks away so I just do not understand what the possible reasons for having 80 people still on lay off could be. I hope HR and the administrators have had a relaxing vacation these past 2 weeks while I stay with family, with my stuff in storage since I can't resign my apt. lease with no job to pay rent with. I'm not trying to sound mean but I would just like for those at AAPS making decisions to know what their delays are doing to the human beings they worked with the past few years.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

I couldn't agree more. I thought for sure I'd be in the last round of callbacks a few weeks ago, but to no avail. I'm so stressed, I'm not sleeping hardly at all.

Dan Ezekiel

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

Hang in there, Moose!

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 1:11 a.m.

Linda Carter says your job is safe. But you might be reassigned. I would take the reassignment.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

The teachers and unions have no one to blame but themselves for being laid off all summer. You think things are bad now, wait a couple more years. You will be looking back at these times and calling them the "good old days". Taxpayers are not going to pass millage's anymore when spending is still out of control. How much is your unfunded pension liability up to these days? Better for the unions to force hundreds of teachers to sit on the sidelines wondering if they are going to get cut before the season starts rather than taking reasonable cuts to their overly generous benefit packages that the taxpayers are no longer willing to blindly support. Go Green Go White


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

As a fellow Spartan, you should be ashamed of yourself. That is not how the spartans i know treat people they dont even know or understand. I'm a young employee and have had nothing to do with decisions by union or admin. We did VOLUNTARILY take a pay cut and benefit cut this year and still 233 hardworking people spent their summer in a constant state of uncertainty. Maybe you should consider the human beings you are writing about before posting such an inaccurate and offensive statement.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Unfortunately there is truth to stunhsif's statements. If the contract allowed the district to lay off people with the least seniority in the building or specialty that they needed to without having to lay off everyone else below them, then most of these teachers would have never been laid off. But it does not, it requires that if you need 3 reading teachers and the 3rd one is number 200 on the seniority list that the 199 below them be laid off. No union bashing here, just the reality of the way the contract works. If the teachers want to avoid the "Summer of Tums" next year, maybe they should talk to the union and the administration about a more efficient way to do this. I dislike seeing 100s of teachers having an uncertain future.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

How original. Another union basher.

Jack Baker

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

Extended periods of employment uncertainty severely deplete morale of any organization. The AAPS leadership, the AAEA leadership and the BoE should carefully assess what has caused these 233 employees to be left all summer pondering their future as educators, and their future as AAPS employees. If it is contract restrictions, renegotiate the provisions that leave a large percentage of AAPS teachers in this position. If it is lack of leadership by HR, fire the individual responsible. If it is lack of clear direction by the trustees they need to carefully reassess why this occurred. Bottom line is many organizations go through downsizing/layoffs but few seem to do it with such disregard for their employees. This is a clear symptom of a leadership problem, whether in AAPS Administration, AAEA leadership and/or the BoE.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

Welcome to the life of a teacher. My sister was pink slipped the first 7 years that she taught (larger district than AA). She has also lost income in each of the last 10 years. It's a brutal profession, yet most people just want to bash, bash, bash. It's nice for someone to recognize how tough this can be.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

Apparently vacation time is more important than the welfare of the teachers. I agree, the delay cannot be justified if due to vacation time taking priority over reinstating teachers faster, instead of leaving them hanging.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Amen and well-stated. I pray that the new super will work to fix these problems.

Samantha D.

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

"She said she knows of only two teachers who lost the faith and went out and found other work because of the uncertainty." Oh, because all of our faith should be placed on Linda Carter, our School Board, and BALAS. Any employee when laid off and faced to apply for unemployment should look for work else where as an option. I am glad that the uncertainty for those two teachers has been relieved.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Yeah, the AAEA didn't pick up the phone a single time all summer and has still yet to return my voicemails or emails, so I'd say Linda Carter hasn't done a thing to relieve my stress contrary to the stance in the article.

Retiree Newcomer

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

This decision was not well thought out. It would be better to reduce some of the administration rather than the teachers. You have a glut of administrators and not of teachers. A well rounded student needs some PE time . We have a lot of students who can not afford private sports and need to be physically fit to do better in their studies. I think that a good part of the solution is to close some of the smaller schools and to have more teachers working in smaller classes. This can be achieved by creative scheduling. I also think that fewer vacations would be a better way to get more instructional time in for these students. The number of days off is absolutely ridiculous.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

@Retiree - when the winter break was cut from a week off to a long weekend, the parents went crazy with rage here in my district. They like to go skiing during that break! They like to go to Florida during that break! Trust me, you don't want to add more days to the schedule. The parents would start taking their vacations at completely random times and all the teachers would be doing is creating at-home packets and playing catch up.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

Most of your points aren't really valid. There aren't enough admins in the buildings (plenty at Balas though). Kids can still elect an additional PE class but they cut an extra course that wasn't required by the state. Ann Arbor could elect to do more instructional time than required by the state, but what district in financial trouble would do that? It costs money to keep the buildings open and the buses running.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

I realized that it must be very trying and stressful work remapping and checking and double-checking people's certifications and seniority numbers, but I completely disagree with Liz Margolis that, "the human resources department is working hard to call back staff as soon as possible." One of the two people working on this was on vacation all last week and the other was out at least one day. Call me crazy, but I don't think it's appropriate that people are taking vacations when 79 people are still waiting to hear about their futures. Even those who have been called back still aren't sure of placement. Principals cannot plan master schedules (which is a hellish process) and teachers cannot plan curriculum when they have no idea where they will be or what they will be teaching.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Master schedules are made based on student needs and requirements, and the district provides certified and highly qualified staff, using a variety of procedures, including calling back teachers according to the teacher contract. AAPS is still incredibly lucky to have avoided lay-offs this long. They may want to remember, though, that they are upset about cuts that other quality districts made long ago to balance their budgets.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

The excess administration at Balas still gets vacation.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7 p.m.

Aaparent, one would think so or that maybe now just isn't a good time for a vacation. The principals have been kept every but in the dark as the teachers and the union as I've been in contact with mine all summer. It's all completely hush hush.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

If one of 2 people working on this was on vacation and the other gone, doesn't Balas have a building full of salaried administrators who could help? At what point does someone other than Liz Margolis start commenting on what is happening. Is she speaking for the interim superintendent Comsa or as a spokeperson for another deputy superintendent? 79 teachers who are waiting to hear about their futures, while informs the public first, really says a lot about how much the community depends on the online newspaper to keep a step ahead of these important topics. I would think that principals of every building with laid off teachers should be communicating. Maybe they are and Liz Margolis didn't include that information.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Agreed. Theses teachers deserve to know definitively ASAP if they have a job in the district. AAPS employees involved in callbacks should NOT be allowed to take vacation while others are stressed out wondering if they will be able to support their families. Some overpaid supervisor needs to not approve that vacation time- get the job done NOW, so our teachers know what's going on.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

@Danielle and A2.Com -- Has it been published or FOIA'd what buildings are impacted by Layoffs, other than the parent group that has lobbied to keep the Lawton teacher? Are the layoffs by seniority spread evenly through the district or are there some buildings that are more impacted because they have relatively newer teaching staffs?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

@aaparent - I think you're understanding correctly. Due to financial cuts (mismanagement?) this is all they can seemingly do right now. They are also bound by the union contract which maintains seniority (this really complicates things). As a laid-off teacher, it's been a nerve-wracking summer of constantly holding on to my cell phone and waiting for information. Both the union and Balas have been horrible about releasing information. The union JUST sent out a memo on Monday with an update, but other than that there has been no communication. The only way I've gotten legit information is and Danielle Ardnt. The bottom line to me is: this doesn't serve students, teachers, or parents well (most of all students). The budget needs some serious revamping and there needs to be much more community/parent/teacher/student involvement in advocating for adequate state funding. It's no coincidence that the billboards are popping up all over Michigan - pretty soon the only option will be online or blended learning from for-profits. The first step to deconstructing traditional public schools is to make them chaotic and scrambling. Seems like this has been achieved.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

@Topher - so if I am understanding correctly, it is to the district's advantage to keep teacher's waiting and parents and students confused about things. That gives the administrators maximum leverage to shift teachers around? The district is famous for not telling parents about staff changes until the 11th hour. This helps Balas protect themselves from those hysterical and emotional parents (tax payers) who like to know basic information about classroom assignments, teachers, course offerings, etc. If key people in HR are out of town, and no one answers the phone, are the 79 staff members hoping to get recalled supposed to just sit tight and go to Zumba classes to stay positive? I am hopeful that the new superintendent will clean up some of this and tidy up the mess at board meetings.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

There could be advantage in the sense that 1) there still might be a few more retirements, 2) people will still be accepting jobs elsewhere or letting the district know they won't be returning. This would allow for a little more flexibility, if for example a teacher is excellent at Huron in Social Studies and would be involuntarily transferred to, let's say, a middle school English position (this could be their minor). I believe that it's always in the students' best interests to have teachers teaching in their major and at the level at which they have expertise.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

@Topher and J.A. Pieper- Thank you for the additional info. I have heard that teachers who were not laid off are moving to different buildings. I did not hear whether that was elective or part of this same issue. Is their any advantage for the district to delay recalling the remaining teachers so that administrators can shift teachers with more seniority to different buildings with justification?

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

aaparent - my elementary school had seven, but there were elementary buildings that had higher numbers. One of our best teachers has the least seniority, I am sure hoping she gets recalled!


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Layoffs were based completely on seniority - Skyline was probably affected the most since it's a new school and teachers were transferred/new hires to the district. Recalls will be redistributed equally or fairly (this means moving a bunch of teachers around).


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

What classes are being cut at the high school level because of these mass layoffs? It looks like lots of phys ed electives were eliminated, but I'd imagine that it also means many elective art, English, and other classes have also been cut. Danielle, can you look into this?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

Close Community now. A luxury this "community" can no longer afford.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

TTBO, you strongly stated on the other thread you didn't care if parents left the district over 7th hour fees, why should anyone care if you leave if Community closes? I'm not trying to bust your chops specifically, I just don't understand why you feel your wants should take precedence. Oh, and I think you meant AAPS staff enter the lottery for Community, not that they send them to Community, right?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

Actually, Angry Moderate, you are incorrect. The per pupil numbers the board presented regarding each school were wrong. In the case of Community, they did not account for the fact that the options and community resources FTE (teachers) service the entire district. This was addressed at a spring board meeting.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Community is very successful, fully enrolled, and demand increases EVERY year. If it were to be closed, we would go private or out of district. Cost of students at CHS is almost the same as Pioneer and Huron. Instead of dragging down what works, why not ask the district to expand some of the concepts into other schools. Oh, and MANY AAPS staff send their kids to CHS. If it ain't broke.....


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

Now that the person who low-balled how much Community was worth is no longer with the district, perhaps the incoming Super will investigate. Gotta look at all options when trying to budget...

Angry Moderate

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

CSoccer, that is false. Commie kids cost more than the big schools.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Um. Where would the 40 teachers and 500 kids from Community go? Community is no more expensive than Huron High.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

But where would our budding graffiti vandals get their training then?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Yeah, right.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

I would think that this would be a great opportunity for those that think teachers are overpaid to go down and start filling out applications. Please be sure to note that you would be willing to do the job for less salary and no benefits.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, clownfish. I read these comments on nearly every education article. The majority of which are all complainers and naysayers. Few of whom have any idea what it is like to be on the teaching side of the classroom. Sure, we've all been on the student side and it seems so easy. Try the other side before you go and respond like an expert. I am not a teacher, but I did quite a bit of substituting while I was going through grad school. You couldn't pay me enough to make a career of it. It is mostly thankless. Occasionally, a student or 2 will come back years later and say thank you, but rarely. The only people who should be acting like they know what a teachers job is like are those who have experienced it. I'd gladly pay 10% more in taxes if I knew it would all go directly to educating my children...THEY are worth it.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

It's unclear to me why more teachers haven't yet been called back. If this was about saving money, haven't they most likely saved the budgeted cuts with 41 retirements? The budget was also set on June 30th, giving them almost 6 weeks to figure this out (Couldn't they at least call the teachers to say they have a job without a specific placement?). HR also took a vacation for the last week and a half, slowing down the process even more. Additionally, while union members were told callbacks would start again on Wednesday, rumor is that HR is waiting until next week...two weeks before teacher work week.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

@Mike, Retirements are paid out of a different portion on the budget. That part of the budget is set and already figured in. It is the general fund that teachers are paid from and that is really the part the district has control over. Retirement % are set by the state.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

JenJen - I think Mike was asking if it costs the District money for retirees (ie. sending money to the state for each retiree). I don't think he was talking about early incentives.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Mike, there was no monetary incentive to retire this year.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Ugh, where did you ear that rumor? I really hope not! Why does HR refuse to keep the union and it's members out of the loop by constantly misinforming them?!


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

That is a good question Mike. Anyone know the answer?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Do retirees not cost the district anything?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

"The recall process involves monitoring student enrollment, analyzing teachers' certifications to see which grade levels and subjects they are eligible to teach and must take into consideration teachers' seniority, Margolis said." I'm interested in learning about the relative weights assigned to these criteria. Was the approach holistic, taking into consideration the needs of the schools and the students (which are by far the most important needs in this equation), or was it seniority first, everything else second?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

@SB: "as in if I had a student in any one of their classes I would take them out" I always wonder why, if year after year, a principal has to deal with a teacher who is either requested to NOT have and has an exodus of students at the beginning of every year---why is/can nothing be done?? We all know a school with THAT teacher, i just don't understand...


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

I fear that they pretty much only took into consideration seniority, which is scary (see my reply to Jim Mulchay's thread). There are some great, creative, motivated and motivating teachers in AAPS, but there are definitely teachers in AAPS that have seniority that should NOT be teaching anymore (as in if I had a student in any one of their classes I would take them out)...


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

I heard that it was straight from the seniority list that Balas and the union created. It really is not in the students' best interests when it's done this way. A holistic and thoughtful approach that actually considered teachers and their talents and background takes too much effort. It's easier to do things at the minimally adequate level, especially if you don't actually know the staff, their abilities, or their quality of teaching.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

What are the numbers for district enrollment that prompted these layoffs? Have we lost so many students that these cuts are justified?

Chester Drawers

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Did you just get here, Scottie? The teacher cuts were prompted by district finances, not enrollment numbers.

Michelle Pierson

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

I think we need some fresh ideas that work for the students, school, parents. This plan would be creative, innovative, sustainable and works within the thinking time of our kids. In the end everyone would benefit. This plan would take many from varying backgrounds, blah, blah, blah. The point is we need something new. As time changes so must we.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 5:47 a.m.

Pizzicato funny, still laughing!


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Michelle - go to the local union rep and ask them for any changes you are considering.........good luck.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

This sounds like something excellent to think about talking about the next time we think about talking about things. More concrete suggestions like this help us cut through all of the rhetoric out there.

Jim Mulchay

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

Question - today is August 8; The AAPS has the first day of classes as September 3. For normal (not currently laid-off) teacher - what is their schedule with the AAPS prior to September 3? - when do the teachers get their specific assignments, new curriculum information, etc for the 2013/2014 school year? I'm assuming that it is prior to September 3. In general, how much time is there to decide to recall the "missing 79" and still give them normal time to prepare? Also how much time is there to replace any of the "missing 79" if they decide to say "thanks - but no thanks"? And one more - if one of the "missing 79" is recalled - how much time do they have to respond ("yes" I'm coming back or "no" I'm not coming back)?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

Local - There is only so much room to write a response. I focused on the teacher/administration side of the issue. As always, the rest of the people involved add to the problems, yes parents are late in enrolling/dis-enrolling students. Yes, the chaos is not all the fault of the teachers - in most cases, well prepared teachers who are returning to the same classes they taught the year before are ready on day one without an issue. On the other hand, some teachers are not ready, and some class assignments are not made until the day of school opening (it happened last year to one of my children - they got a teacher who was assigned at lunch time to an afternoon class). Some employees don't return for whatever reason after the summer - and that adds to the chaos. Last year on the first day of school I was in the office at 10 AM when they were calling to find subs for that day. They still had not filled all the needed holes. Part of it is the way the run up to school is structured, and the fact to so few schedules for students are settled before school ends in the spring. Given the lack of interest in classes the last couple of days, the administration might be better served working on schedules in the high schools (and maybe the middle schools). Most of the blame for the chaos is not directly on the teachers, it is on the framework that was agreed to between the various parties in contracts and how the administration operates. I am sorry if it seemed like I was picking on teachers.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

DonBee- I am one of those special education teachers that needs to get profile sheets out to all teachers a student with an IEP has contact with. I have all my profile sheets completed and signed prior to the beginning of the school year. I have taught at high school, middle school, and elementary school.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Local, I hope you're not teaching paragraph breaks.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

One thing I will add is that teachers moving to a new grade (my wife is one) have an extra week of training/PD prior to the PD the week of the 26th, to help them prepare for moving to a new grade. I think it's disengenuous to lay the "chaos" of the first day/week of school at the feet of the teachers. Local does a good job of laying out all of the variables that impact the start of a school year. The chaos a parent feels isn't different than if a manager or key member of a team leaves a company just prior to the completion of a particular project. Districts needing to possibly hire teachers at the last moment isn't any different than a business needing to quickly fill a role. It happens.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Oh boy, do I know that evaluations are subjective! (They should at least be "surprise" evaluations, in my opinion!) I can't imagine how showing up that unprepared to teach at the elementary level would even play out! I saw how it worked at the secondary level and it went....not well.... Your point about the high priced teachers is a good one, but those are often the ones with the most seniority as well. I'd honestly like to see who was laid off and called back at the high school I was at, because then I'd have a good idea of what their criteria was. (Thank you for being a good teacher! FWIW, I decided not to become a teacher after finishing school, so I applaud those that stick with it AND do a good job of it! It is a thankless job)


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

you make valid points Beckenheim, and I have zero defense for those teachers. I teach at the elementary level and what you are explaining would make for a nightmare of a day if the teacher wasn't prepared. But for every teacher out their who struggles, their are many more who take the job seriously and are in it for the right reason. I would also argue that this takes place in many other workplaces as well. Seniority in Ann Arbor is set up to protect everyone, which is good and bad. The issue is that without it, you could remove a highly qualified teacher, with a good evaluation, because it simply saves money. They could pink slip every high priced teacher (the 100 highest paid for example), which would save even more money. Does that seem right? Another thing to consider is that the evaluations are still very subjective, which in my opinion makes them hard to use for teacher layoffs and placements. At this point in time, this is the system that is in place, for the good or bad, one can only hope that all these young teachers will be called back. They clearly breathe life into a building with their enthusiasm and desire to be the best they can be.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Local, I understand where you're coming from, but please don't act like every teacher is as "professional" and prepared as you are. The beginning of the school year is often chaotic and has as much to do with unprepared teachers as it does with contract and administration rules. When I student taught, my mentor teacher did not even attend the "mandatory" PD days before school started and didn't bother to show up every day during the prep time. She didn't have one syllabus or lesson plan made for any one of her classes (some of which she'd taught before and a few she did not) THE DAY BEFORE CLASSES STARTED. And of course, she had "seniority." It's teachers like that that make me scared for the kids in our schools, and it's absolutely ridiculous that seniority and unions protect them. I am not anti-union or against GOOD teachers in any way, but I am bitter in knowing that a lot of the teachers that got the pink slip back in May were probably younger and potentially more deserving of a job than some that got to stay (unless they retired....)


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

DonBee, I am usually a huge fan, but you make comments like you are in the buildings during those first few weeks. As a teacher, one who has taught for 13 years, I can assure you that chaos isn't necessarily due to teachers. The chaos of the first day is often due to last minute enrollment by parents that don't come in the weeks before school starts. Schools are open next week, with secretarial staff available for this enrollment process. Teachers will be in and out of the buildings over the next few weeks preparing their rooms for the first day. We are mandated the 3 PD days, as well as, 6 hours of prep time in your room. Most teachers will spend much more than that, but 6 is mandated in contract. In fact, I have already been in my room 3 hours this past week getting ready. As professional educators, teachers will be prepared when school starts. Chaos can also happen because principals don't have a Specials Schedule in place past the first week, which affects teachers from planning out their daily/weekly schedule. As for IEP's, it usually takes a week or two to get a schedule in place for these students to get services started. Sometimes we get new students with IEPs and that takes time to figure out, specially if you can't get their official records from previous school. Not having a set Special Schedule affects this as well. Usually part of one of our PD 1/2 days is to sit down with Resource room teacher and go over our students with IEPs (that they know about) and what they need when school starts. Will it be different this year, maybe. That is why the district is trying to move quickly to get these teachers back into classroom, specially if they are changing buildings or teaching a new grade level.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

They can and have recalled teachers after the school year begins. I've also know teachers to get their assignments the Friday before school starts. The whole thing can be quite the mess.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Mr. Mulchay - Because the Teacher's union negotiated a contract with very little pre-start prep time, teachers typically have to either come in on their own time, or they have less than a week of required time to prep for fall classes. With the required meetings during those few days, I would guess a teacher has less than a day of mandatory time setup their classroom and get ready. Every year that I can recall the first couple of days of school have been a bit of a mad house, with some classes taught by substitutes, because one or more teachers did not return, the retired, moved, resigned. For students with IEPs and special needs, it might take the district 4 to 8 weeks to get that information to teachers, not because of the short ramp for the teachers, but because the people responsible for getting this information out (most in middle and high schools, the elementary schools do better) don't bother to start putting the "cheat sheets" for the teachers together until school starts. This year will just have a bit more chaos on the first couple of days. This is yet another "work rule" sort of thing that should have been tackled in the contract talks that were not, instead of making solid fixes, the district - with their "best in class lawyer" did a one page amendment.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Teachers report back the week of August 26. They have Prof. Dev. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of that week and are required to put in another 6 hours before the start of school. Honestly, many of these called back teachers may be teaching at a different grade or different school when called back, which could make their transition back earlier and/or a little more difficult.

Momma G

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

I agree with Dia and certainly hope Jessica is recalled. She is such a fabulous teacher and deserves to have her job back. Too bad a few of those eligible to retire, don't do so. They would find retirement so enjoyable.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Hope Jessica has more seniority..........if you're not a very good teacher and manage to stick around long enough getting rid of you is almost impossible. The taxpayers do not run the schools, the unions do..............

Odile Haber

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

1/3 today may be laid off, another 1/3 next year...if teachers do not organize and refuse this partial lay off, they will all be progressively laid off. They need to unite for a better education and no lay off. "Children are not sardines!" We saw that sign in middle of the road on a round about in France. Teachers and community working together for a better future....

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 12:55 a.m.

@TTBO, None have been laid off. They received notice of a possible layoff. None are collecting unemployment benefits. Don't believe me, check with your union rep.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

Per the article, AAPS laid off 233 teachers in May. To date, 154 have been recalled. 79 teachers are still waiting to see if they've been called back. It's the waiting that's the hard part.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

Per the article, none will be laid off this year.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

Skyline saves teachers by staying on trimesters. Huron and Pioneer students are in school about 90 days per semester with 55 minute "hours". That's 82.5 hours per credit. If a student graduates with 24 credits, they have spent 1980 hours in front of a teacher. Skyline students are in school about 60 days per trimester with 61 minute "hours". That's 61 hours per credit. If a student graduates with 24 credits, they have spent 1464 hours in front of a teacher. They can afford to stay on trimesters because they don't teach nearly as much in class.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

OK, let's try this again. 72 minutes gives us 72 hours per credit. Still 12% haircut on the classroom time spent in the other schools. Discount credits, discount education.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

I agree Mike. That is why for the life of me I do not understand those early release bell schedules in the high schools!


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

you can get more accomplished by being in front of the teachers longer vs. having shorter classes with more time spent settling into class and picking up to go...............


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

There is truth to what Bob is saying if you look at Skyline from a district-wide view. The Skyline proponents who mention different numbers have a valid point, but we need to also find out how much of those longer class periods at Skyline are truly in front of a teacher or as the administrators call it, instructional time, and what amount of that is free time for other activities that allow students to still achieve mastery level grades. At Pioneer and Huron, the same question could be asked: of the total class periods allotted, how much instructional time is spent. I believe if you did a study, by in large you would find that the strongest teachers at Pioneer and Huron are using more class time working with students vs at Skyline letting students work independently, which includes updating facebook and twitter in some circles. I don't know about Community, but believe that with the strong teaching staff they have there, and years running the program, whether you like it or not or support Community, I think you would find that Community teachers are also spending more instructional time. I think there are strong teachers at Skyline who are excellent. I think the trimester system and program there has been flawed and needs quite a bit more transparency to really document what is and is not being done to help students achieve at a level comparable to the other comprehensive high schools. The BOE has allowed this to go on. I hope the new superintendent with her background in curriculum can take a closer look.

Chester Drawers

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

Read it again, Bob. Skyline was able to stay on trimesters by LOSING 3 teacher. Also, students receive one half of a credit per class hour per semester.

Michelle Pierson

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.



Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

Skyline class periods are 72 minutes not 61.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

Huron and Pioneer could cut 8 minutes out of each class and make a 7th hour. It would save money on the kids who don't think they need 30 credits to graduate.