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Posted on Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Ann Arbor schools recalls all but 2 teachers of 233 given layoff notices

By Amy Biolchini

Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. with additional information.

Ann Arbor Public Schools has been able to recall all but two of 233 teachers that were issued layoff notices at the end of last school year, district officials said Wednesday.

As of one week ago, about 30 teachers that had been given pink slips still had not received word from the district if they would have a job in the 2013-14 school year.


The Ann Arbor Public Schools' Balas Administration Building.

Kyle Mattson |

Interim Superintendent David Comsa and other district officials have said that they could not guarantee that all the employees given layoff notices would be called back, but that they were hopeful that no employees would be laid off.

The two laid-off employees are the equivalent of 1.2 full-time employees. One is a full-time career and technology educator and the other is a .2 FTE dance instructor.

The two individuals were not qualified to teach any other classes and the district did not have open positions for them, Margolis said. No other employees will be laid off, Margolis said.

Administrative staff for the district have been working around the clock for the past several weeks to match employee qualifications to positions in the district left open by more than 40 retirements. The district received the latest notice of a retirement from one of its employees Tuesday.

Teachers who had received layoff notices have been recalled on an incremental basis as human resources staff have found jobs for them, said Liz Margolis, spokeswoman for the district.

“We’re so pleased that we’re able to do this,” Margolis said Wednesday. “Obviously we’d like to be able to bring everybody back … it’s a big relief.”

As a part of the new budget approved for the 2013-14 school year, the Board of Education approved a cut of 40 employees, which accounted for $3.9 million—or 45 percent—of $8.7 million in cuts the district made from its operations.

After the 231 pink-slipped employees were matched to the 40 positions that were cut and more than 40 retirements, there are still nine positions within the district that remain empty one week before school begins.

The district posted those jobs Tuesday and will be accepting applications until the first day of school.

  • Tappan Middle School: .4 FTE French teacher
  • Scarlett Middle School: part-time science teacher
  • Scarlett Middle School: social studies teacher
  • Pioneer High School, Roberto Clemente and Clague middle schools: full- or part-time Spanish teacher
  • Pioneer High School: math/chemistry teacher
  • A2Tech and Huron high schools: Full- and/or part-time general science teacher
  • Skyline High School: cognitive impairment classroom teacher
  • Full- or part-time school psychologist at a location to be determined
  • School social worker at a location to be determined

There is a possibility that there will be substitute teachers in classrooms on the first day of school if the positions have not yet been filled, Margolis said.

"We are trying to get these positions in place as quickly as possible," Margolis said.

The district is still accepting applications for noon hour supervisors and custodians for multiple schools, as well as for assistant coaching positions for several sports.

Candidates for the position of principal at Lawton Elementary School were interviewed Tuesday by the district's new superintendent, Jeanice Kerr Swift.

Classes begin Sept. 3.

Amy Biolchini is the K-12 education reporter for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

The headline implies that 231 of the 233 were called back. However, there are several of the original 233 that got jobs in other districts. I know of a couple excellent teachers we lost to Saline. A big loss for AAPS, a big gain for Saline.

Basic Bob

Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

Turnover is good for everyone. Employees take their experience with them to potentially greater opportunities, the new district gains from the diversity of experience, and the former district gains the ability to hire new, fresh, and motivated employees who want to stay at a lower cost.

West Side Mom

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

I am confused. The BOE cut 40 FTEs from the buget. Because there were 40 retirements over the summer, we were able to call back all but 2 of the laid off teachers. That should have put us about where we needed to be to meet budget. But now we have 9 positions to fill? Does that mean we didn't achieve the FTE cuts anticipated in the budget and that we are going to have a shortfall? Does the district have enough information now to know that we can cover any extra costs without dipping into reserves?


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

It maybe that several teachers took other positions in other districts or other jobs. They did not retire, but they did not return either. We will need to get a complete report at some point, if someone chooses to do so. But history has shown that very little in the way of complete information from AAPS over the years.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

And now the long delay in reinstating teachers takes its toll on the counseling staff. My kids schedule changed since Monday, as did several of her friends. Thanks for dragging your feet AAPS. I'm sure the teachers appreciate your lack of diligence as well. I bet they have to work the weekend to get their classrooms together.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

Middle schools lost a counselor- two counselors having to redo schedules that were just distributed last Monday for 600 kids by tomorrow, due to the district dragging their feet on getting teachers back into their spots until yesterday. They already did the work once, and now it has to be redone, wasting time and money- but isn't that the foundation of the AAPS?

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

counselors working hard. it boggles the mind.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

We were told the sky was falling but it all worked out.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

If any of the laid off teachers were collecting their pay over 12 months, did they lose their pay for the time they were laid off? If so, I hope they get it back. I guess if you work for this system you take all your pay over 9 months if you can.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

no one is laid off until school resumes without them.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Ahem.. The first reference to Ms. Margolis should not be "Margolis said."

Marci Raver Lash

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

Come on gang...we're talking about education...let's get the tense correct in the headline...Ann Arbor schools recall...

Widow Wadman

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

I learned something today, Jen Eyer. Thank you.

Jen Eyer

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

"Schools" in this instance refers to the district, which is singular. So the headline is correct.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

Must be a new superintendent in town. One who actually thinks that the teachers are important here.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

All of them called back, but Amy, call around and ask for class sizes throughout the district. Don't ask for average class size, ask specifically about number of combination classes and overall class sizes. My school is looking at about 29 students in upper elem. and close to 26 in lower elem., with 3 combination classes. Cutting teachers, and even calling them back, has affected most buildings in the class sizes and combination classes. Anxious to hear the numbers as the year moves along.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

My youngest had 29 in kindergarten class, and that was 8 years ago. My oldest had at least 30 in upper el classes, and he is a senior in HS now. Anything less than that until now- your kid has been spoiled- join the oversized class club with the rest of us.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

there should be a limit where they stop allowing kids into class. take it next term.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

08/29/2013 Update - I just spoke with a counselor and there are 45+ students registered for the 4th-year Spanish class at Skyline H.S. Good luck teacher and students!


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

We'll see when school actually begins, but rumor has it that my student's high-level Spanish class at Skyline will have more than 40 students. I hope the schools have classrooms big enough for the larger class sizes.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:02 a.m.

I agree local, it would be valuable to have this information. In my building, two teachers retired and their positions were just cut. I hope the new superintendent makes the count day info available as soon as possible, like other districts around Washtenaw County manage to do!


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

While I am sympathetic for the two part-time teachers that didn't get called back, it sounds like they are specialized teachers and there wasn't a place for them. It is important to support the teachers but not hire people that you don't have a job they are qualified to do.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

Not recalling a couple dozen people out of 233 is one thing. Not recalling two is entirely different. Anyone with ANY experience as an administrator knows that when it comes to that, you suck it up, and find room for those two. All it takes is for a few overpaid Balas people to take a few unpaid weeks, knowing that they did the right thing.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

I agree completely with Hmsp. Paying the outrageous salaries AAPS is paying to the administration is a huge slap in the face to teachers, and especially insulting to any who are still laid off. If this new superintendent had any sense of ethics she would find a way even if it a pay cut to herself and staff.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

Part of the experience of an administrator is knowing how to terminate marginal employees. Something this district needs to figure out and not feel bad about, instead of relying strictly on retirement and reverse seniority layoffs to make adjustments.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

According to an article the Communicator did last February, dance is ( or was ) only offered at Community High.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

I'm making an educated guess, but since the dance body class was not on the updated schedule we received fom CHS last week, I'm assuming that is the .2 dance teacher that was not brought back. If they cut be class, there's not much she an do, I guess. Perhaps she's never taught PE.

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

I agree it is sad that these two people were not called back, but in these times we have been told to make sure we are certified/highly qualified to teach more than one specific subject, and maybe these two are not in that position. Of course, there are positions available, AAPS could just place these two teachers in one of the posted positions. Want your kid in that French class? Or better yet, that math/science/chemistry position?


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

The problem is it is difficulty to find a position for these two, when they have very limited areas they can teach. I'm a little shocked they can't find a position for the full time career and technology position, but the .2 FTE dance teacher position, isn't something you just have a lot of need for. I'm sure this teacher is certified in PE, but PE isn't a position that schools in budget crunches add teachers in (trust me, I am a certified PE teacher).


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

So.....long story short; much ado about nothing? I've seen this movie before. Can't wait for next year's sequel. I bet it ends the same way.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

Alas, why us? Not to worry, you two. You'll make more in your lawsuit than you would ever make in the classroom.

Resident A2

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

I am happy for all of the teachers called back, but feel equally sad about the two teachers who were not given a job.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

Thank god they haven't had to eliminate any athletic fields! Especially the really expensive athletic fields that the mere students aren't allowed on - you know, the ones exclusively for the most gifted after school athletics.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

M.Haney - Dragging out the false information again? 2500 positions on sports teams, not 2500 students, many spots went unfilled on teams last year according to comments made by coaches in my children's high school, but they turned in the total number of slots. In some cases 1 student played 2 or 3 or even in a couple of cases 4 sports. So the real number is probably closer to 1,000. Daily mandatory pre-first hour physical exercise would be a better choice for the district. Moving the Intramural sports that are required would be a better choice if team sports are required. Let everyone exercise, not just the 1 in 8 students at the high school level who do today. The other 7 out of 8 are where the risk are for obesity. Spending at least 5 million and maybe as much as 20 million dollars a year on varsity sports (when you total the general fund transfer, the maintenance, and overtime for games and fields, the 50% of the cost of Skyline for the athletic facilities, and the other costs that the district covers, as well as pay to play and booster money). The total number is unknown because the district refuses to provide a real number, but it is probably at least 10 million dollars a year. That is roughly 100 teachers that varsity sports takes out of the classrooms.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:32 a.m.

@Urfe - All the athletic budgets for each middle and high school are on the AAPS website. At least the info for what a specific sports receives from the general budget is there. It amounts to 1.7 percent of the total AAPS budget. you're right about the AD's, two can be reduced to a supervisory position as is already in place at Skyline. PHS and HHS have $110,000 ADs (plus benefits) on their budget. Why weren't their salaries reduced as Skyline came on board? Certainly their athlete participation levels were reduced, along with fewer coaches, games, etc. Why is AAPS still paying them the same money for doing less work? Skyline took on 1600 total students from HHS and PHS. Why weren't the salaries of these positions reduced accordingly? Instead the athletes are forced to bear the blunt of these budget reductions.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

I was informed that the cost of turning Skyline's grass field to turf was paid for through private fundraising. Can anyone confirm?

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

@M.Haney: I am not anti sport. It is the spending of millions of dollars on *after school* sports when we are laying off teachers, and the buget is running major deficits. That is completely inappropriate. More than $2 million dollars comes out of the general fund for *varsity* sports alone. The bond and sinking funds contribute an average of $4 million a year in facilities that are off limits to all but the varsity sports. There are 3 Athletic Directors. A lot of the after school sports budget detail is deemed secret by the school system, and they refuse to disclose the details via FOIA. So, gym class is great. But don't force us to pay taxes for after school sports - especially when the individual budgets are a closely guarded secret.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 4:18 a.m.

Yesterday at 5:06pm Nicholas Urfe Commented on Are P.F. Chang's and Bravo restaurant chains coming to Briarwood Mall? Yeah, because what the people of Michigan really need are more carbs. I forget, where did we rank on the last obesity index? @ Nicholas Urfe, are you for or against physical activity? The 3 High schools need athletic fields for the 2500 student athletes who participate on a sport team after school. To my knowledge, all students who want to participate can find a team to play on. It is truly not just for the elite. Some are better than others but most just want to be on a team to share in the experience. Most will never play a sport in college. High school sports allow them an opportunity to learn about teamwork and to improve their skills at a activity while getting the physical exercise that the body needs. Just because you're not a musician or artiist doesn't mean the school shouldn't not have a music program or art department. High school should provide all these activities so students can be exposed to all and be able to pick and choose.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:49 a.m.

I was always baffled by the AAPS's policy to allow anyone to use the tracks and tennis courts (after hours) but even the so-called "elite" athletes were banned from using the fields to practice on individually.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

Yes, thank god. Skylines new fields look really nice. ;)


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

Good one. I guess I'm on your team in some regards. You remind me of the eventual split between education and sports. Each is important but they might not be so intertwined int he future. I think the American economy will hasten the split. Schools need to step up their game in producing highly functioning citizens. Yes, colleagues, I know all the ways that sports contribute to good health and citizenship but we will eventually have to find new ways.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

French teacher? Seems like Spanish or Cantonese makes more sense today....


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

Pioneer I do believe offers Mandarin. I wish Japanese was offered. This is something that would be very different and unique.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

I'm also wishing they had more Mandarin...Spanish, Mandarin and English are the top languages by population.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

I'm pretty sure Mandarin would make a lot more sense than Cantonese.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

French is still important. Scarlett offers Spanish already. I can't comment on Cantonese, but I suspect that middle school isn't the place to begin offering it.

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Should be "Ann Arbor Schools RECALL...." not "RECALLS" Quick - back to class.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

Meh - It could go either way. It is not unusual to think of "AA Schools" as a single entity.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

How were administrative staff working around the clock the past several weeks when a previous article said the person responsible for returning staff to positions went on vacation for several days, and therefore this work stopped?


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Did they work "around the clock?" 24-7? Overtime? That's what is stated above. What took so long if they worked "around the clock?" That's my point. How big is the HR team that worked on assignments, and did ANY of them go on vacation? Previous article quotes Comsa as saying ONE staff member was still looking at staffing as of a BOE meeting. Which is it? How many? If a "team" of two staff people worked eight hours a day, except weekends and holidays and vacation, say that. Or is the PR spin wanting people to THINK that a "team" of ten staff worked 24 hours a day and weekends all summer, instead of the reality of two people working 4 hours a day 2 days a week? We'd like the FACTS, not the spin.

Liz Margolis

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

This information is false. HR never closed down for vacation. HR staff worked throughout the summer on placing staff who were laid off. There is not one person responsible for placing the staff who received lay off notices. There is a team in HR who worked on the assignments.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Found the info- comment by AAPS employee Topher on 8/8/13- Danielle's article 159 AAPS teachers recalled, 79 to go? The information in the article above states that "administrative staff have been working around the clock." Overtime? I don't think so. Topher stated that the AAPS HR dept. took a vacation for a week and a half, just a few short weeks ago, which certainly falls within those "several weeks staff have (not) been working around the clock. Certainly not blaming you, Amy, but the information from the district is inaccurate and misleading if HR was on vacation any portion of that time. Can you check if this is accurate? I would think that if the staff were truly working "around the clock" teachers wouldn't be waiting until now to find out their status. My apologies for thinking the info was within an article, but I would hope the info from Topher is accurate.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

Could you provide a link or headline to the article you're referencing? Our previous two updates did not say that an AAPS staff member was on vacation.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

Hallelujah!! This is such good news!


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:29 a.m.

I am emailing the counselor at Pioneer to see if some our childs classes will be restored. Happy dance here too.