Ann Arbor school board outlines budget process, including 4 new community dialogs
The Ann Arbor Board of Education has outlined its process for discussing and passing the 2013-14 academic year budget.
This year's process will include four new "community dialogs" with school board trustees.
From Ann Arbor Public Schools
School board trustees are seeking public input to develop the principles they should follow in making cuts and strategies to lessen the need for such cuts in the future, board members said in a news release Thursday. The format will be such that open discussions can occur, they said, but the content of each meeting will depend on the interests and questions of the attendees.
Board members expect the conversation topics could include:
- Potential measures to increase Ann Arbor Public Schools' resources.
- Ideas for improved practices in the AAPS.
- The respective value of various programs and services.
- Ideas for measures that would lessen the negative consequences of the budget cuts.
The community dialog dates are:
- 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 28 — Clague Middle School Media Center, 2616 Nixon Road. Board members expected to attend: Andy Thomas, Glenn Nelson and Deb Mexicotte.
- 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 — Slauson Middle School Media Center, 1019 W. Washington. Board members expected to attend: Christine Stead, Nelson and Mexicotte.
- 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16 — Fourth Floor of the Ann Arbor Public Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. Board members expected to attend: Irene Patalan, Nelson and Mexicotte.
- 9-11 a.m. Saturday, April 20 — Scarlett Middle School Media Center, 3300 Lorraine St. Board members expected to attend: Susan Baskett, Nelson and Mexicotte.
Trustee Simone Lightfoot could not commit to any of these dates or times due to her work schedule, said Amy Osinski, executive assistant to the Board of Education.
Nelson said the idea is school board trustees would hand out to community members a simple one- to three-page description of the district's budget woes and financial situation for 2013-14. Board members could make a brief introduction of the challenges AAPS faces due to decreased funding from the state, and then board members would open it up to the public, Nelson said.
"What are your ideas for additional revenues. Do we get more private giving to support these programs we value? What is the core you believe must be protected in this next round of cuts?" he said.
Lightfoot said at a recent board meeting she hopes community members bring ideas to the table the administration hasn't thought about. She said she wants the public to be "super creative" and to help board members determine ways to morph or modify programs to avoid cutting them.
Nelson said the board would welcome central administration to come to these community dialogs, but the board really wants staff to come.
"We want to hear ideas from them before the (reduction) options are put together," he said.
He added the board decided on the community dialogs this year because its more personal than hearing people's ideas during public comment at a board meeting and in an informal setting, the board actually can respond to the public, exchange suggestions and ask questions.
Other important dates related to the budget include:
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 10 — Regular board meeting. The administration presents the district's projected revenues for Fiscal Year 2014.
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 — Regular board meeting. The administration presents its recommended expenditure budget for FY 2014, including its recommended cuts and budget reductions.
- Early May — The administration will conduct informational meetings for the community on the proposed budget cuts.
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 8 — Regular board meeting. First briefing of the budget resolution for FY 2014.
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 — Regular board meeting. Second briefing and potential action on the budget resolution for FY 2014.