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Posted on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ann Arbor high schoolers find advanced course changes, full classes

By Danielle Arndt


Students work away at Community High School's journalism class this past spring. Other specialty courses and electives at Ann Arbor's high schools have been dropped or reduced due to a lack of interest and budget cuts.

Melanie Maxwell |

Some Ann Arbor high school students have been asked to take high-level language and Advanced Placement courses online or at another school as the result of budget cuts made before the 2011-12 academic year.

Core classes also are an issue, it seems, with students reporting difficulties scheduling math, science and history courses, or having up to 36 students per class.

Among the students affected is Skyline junior Maddie Hagan. She said because there are not enough students at Skyline interested in taking German 3, she’s been told she has the following options: Pay the $200 to $250 to take the class online, find transportation to Pioneer in the middle of the day to take the class, or take another language.

Hagan, who spent three months in Germany during the summer to become immersed in the culture, anticipating she would be continuing her German studies, is devastated.

“I don’t want to give up learning the language. I love it,” she said.

The situation is a result of cutting about 50 staff members in 2011 is taking its toll this fall.

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said she’s not sure why it appears there was a delay in the effect of these cuts, adding it may have more to do with enrollment numbers at some of the high schools.

“But we’re still monitoring this,” Margolis said. “I would suspect some of the issues students are having with scheduling has to do with new enrollments over the summer (rather than the cuts). And the interest level of students in a class can change from year to year. …

"The assistant superintendents and principals have been working really closely with students and families to provide the best solutions possible.”

Prior to the 2011-12 academic year, the Board of Education approved eliminating the equivalent of 62 teachers to pass a balanced budget. However, it only was able to cut about 50.

School board Secretary Andy Thomas said this was because the district did not want to lay off any staff, but rather chose to eliminate through attrition.

This fiscal year, the board refused to cut any additional teachers. It directed administration to replace individuals who retired with new teachers.

Hiring a new teacher — including salary, health care and retirement contributions and taxes collected via the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) — costs the district about $70,000 per teacher, whereas to hire an experienced teacher costs about $100,000.

Margolis said the Ann Arbor Public Schools had a total of 55 teachers leave the district following the 2011-12 academic year — 36 were through retirements and 19 were through resignations. Margolis said as of Sept. 4, the district had hired 59 teachers.

But parents and Ann Arbor Education Association President Linda Carter are calling for even more "hands on deck."

Jim Schueler, whose son is a freshman at Community High School this year, said his child struggled to get into the classes he needed to take at Pioneer High School.

“It was a couple of rough days…,” Schueler said at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. “He ran into a number of full classes. I just wanted to say, it does seem like … the district is inclined to keep cutting until someone says ouch. So then on behalf of myself, my family, my children and the families I’ve met, ‘Ouch!’”

At Skyline High School, student Kirsten Tuck described the first week as “incredibly chaotic.” She said many of her friends’ schedules were “terribly screwed up” and with close to 36 kids in her classes, people making little noises can be really distracting and makes for a poor environment.

District officials are aware there are some class size issues still to be worked out, Margolis said, adding at the start of the school year enrollment numbers change on a daily basis, especially at the high schools where students can drop and add courses. She said there are provisions in place for when classes are over their contractual targets to add classroom aides, or for the district to examine whether it warrants hiring additional staff.

The target class size at the high school level is 30 students in core classes.

Superintendent Patricia Green declined to comment last week on what solutions the district is considering. She stated the administration will work these issues out with parents.

Thomas said when school board members cut staff in 2011, they knew the district was going to "feel some real pinches in terms of what we could offer as far as electives at the high schools."

He said the classes that have been impacted the most have been those with relatively low enrollment — 15 kids in a class — such as the high-level language and AP classes, as well as "shop" classes and other specialty electives.

Margolis said with the district’s budget constraints, it’s not like it was a few years back.

“We just don’t have the luxury to be able to offer those small-sized, advanced classes anymore. That’s why we’re looking for what other options we can have for them.”

She said dual enrollment at one of the area’s universities is one option. The online classes are another, which Margolis said a student only has to pay for if the class is a seventh-hour course and not one of the student’s six hours.

Students are permitted to take a course offered at another Ann Arbor high school, but they are required to provide their own transportation — another budget cut that recently was made.

“It’s been hard,” Margolis said, recognizing the district’s mission always has been to provide excellent opportunities for students. But she said Ann Arbor is still doing that. “We really believe in our virtual academy and online options.”

The options will continue to improve and expand as the district's $45.8 million technology bond plan is implemented. Margolis said included in the technology plan will be the ability for students to "remote in" to classes at other schools without physically being in the classroom. For example, a German 3 class at Pioneer could have 15 students seated in the room with the instructor and another 10 students at Skyline or Huron that are connected via a video camera and computer monitor.

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


Andrew Smith

Thu, Sep 13, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

I find it amazing that Skyline isn't offering courses in advanced German, when we think about the German employers in the area - BASF, Bosch, Siemens - and other major German companies doing business in Michigan - Bayer, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, BMW, VW, - and Austrian companies like AVL and AVL-NA, and the many connections which U of M's Engineering school has with internships in German-speaking countries, and the research use of German language in Physics, Chemistry, and other disciplines. What are they thinking? Language skills like advanced German are what we need to revive Michigan's economy.

Susie Q

Wed, Sep 12, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

Remember to vote in November. Mr Ouimet voted to raid the School Aid Fund last year (first time EVER) for a billion+ dollars to pay for tax cuts for businesses. These polices are to blame for the issues discussed in this article. He will claim he has "saved" the district a lot of money with pension reform, but they have shifted the cost to employees with a new "tax". If the School Aid fund had not been used for other purposes, many cuts could have been avoided. Things will only get worse if we do not have a new legislature.


Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

"We just don't have the luxury to be able to offer those small-sized, advanced classes anymore. That's why we're looking for what other options we can have for them." So this is how the "Focus" schools will achieve shrinking the gap. Let's eliminate advanced classes, and gear our schools for mediocrity.

Andy Price

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

Maybe if we made the rich and corporations go back to paying their fair share of taxes we could have nice things like good schools again.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

These problems are exactly what was predicted by many staff members at the high schools who had advocated creating an expanded campus for high school at Pioneer rather than a separate, third comprehensive high school. To maintain an extensive program of electives such as 3rd and 4th years of multiple foreign languages, large student bodies are needed to provide large enough classes to be cost effective. We cannot turn back that decision now. The problems that were predicted are compounded by the cuts in state funding. Building schedules within these limitations require highly skilled administrators who can cooperate in building the schedules across the different high schools to facilitate students in different schools traveling to other schools for the lower enrollment in some AP and 3rd & 4th year language classes. Some flexibility in policy as well as scheduling is needed. Possibly allowing students to have an open hour during the day to travel to another school and more freedom in using seventh hour classes. These creative scheduling measures should be planned early before school starts.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Could it be a ploy to get rid of the AP classes so the achievement gap will narrow? Okay, I'm not enough of a conspiracy theorist to believe that, but as a person who has a high achieving kid, I'm really losing faith in this district. At the elementary level, there has been no formal program for kids who were high performing. Just whatever the teacher that year felt like doing. Some years it was fine, others they were so overwhelmed with behavior problems that they didn't have time to do anything else for the high kids. Certainly no consistency across grades or schools. People kept telling me, wait for Pioneer. They finally provide instruction based on ability, including AP classes. Now it's sounds like even that is going away.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

aamom - It would have some of that effect. I doubt that was the goal, but you may have just given them an idea. I think the goal is to make parents angry enough to vote for the millage in May.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

I'm with you. My first thought was that the lack of offerings, especially of advanced classes, will push more folks into private schools. Feels like we're losing ground here, and education has become even more of a two-tier system than it already is.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

The School Board sets priorities for the system. Those priorities reflect their ideology. What this story illustrates is that academics rank low in their priority. School Board members are elected. Run against them and vote them out.

Basic Bob

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Parents wanted smaller schools and now they reap the benefits.

Haran Rashes

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

My daughter chose to take two online courses this past summer to allow her to fit certain electives into her schedule at Skyline this year. While I can understand the District charging for the choice to take an online course over the summer, if the district is unable to offer a class that someone is counting on during the school year, why should that student have to pay to take the class. Assuming that student, spoken of above, chose to start German in the AAPS system, I feel AAPS has an obligation to offer that language (which I consider a core class, not an elective) through at least the AP Level or fourth year.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Billy, I believe it is a graduation requirement now. And Haran, I agree that if the schools are going to offer a language in middle school, they need to follow it all the way up. Otherwise offer more narrow choices in middle school rather than waste a student's time taking a year of a language that will lead them nowhere in high school.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

I agree with you. Foreign language has never been a core the US.

Dog Guy

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Including local property taxes taxes taxes, AAPS gets about twice the dollars per student as a charter school. AAPS also has established infrastructure which startup schools lack. Could AAPS be having administrative difficulties rather than income shortage?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

janofmi, does your $9K per AAPS pupil include hold harmless funds, capital bond funds and any other millages?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Fact check. A charter gets the basic foundation grant (per pupil funding) that is about $2000 less than the amount Ann Arbor gets per child. I cannot find the exact numbers but, Ann Arbor is around $9 K per pupil. Charters and many smaller districts get about $7 K. Here is a link to a state document (look at page 32 for Washtenaw County Comparisons


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

If you want to take classes at Pioneer, don't go to Community HS. Simple solution.

say it plain

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

Furthermore, CHS students shouldn't be enrolling at classes at all at the big schools if the classes are oversubscribed already, for sure, because that school has much more support in place to assist their students in finding equivalent courses at local universities...

say it plain

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

I thought @DagnyJ was referring to the Jim Schueler guy complaining that his son who goes to Community was having trouble getting the "classes he needed" at Pioneer. And yes, I agree, if you go to Community, you should take classes at Community. Given these scheduling problems why do we even allow the kids at CHS to muck it up further and add their bodies to the classes everyone wants at the big schools, when they have their wonderful little personalized school that I'm guessing very very few students from the big schools can get into classes at?!

Basic Bob

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

@Billy, she is apparently unable to get to the campus where the class IS offered. That is her responsibility not the schools by current policy.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Pretty sure they still do "dual enrollment." It's no different than traveling from central to north campus for class in college...


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

If teachers are cut to save money, then the administrators at Balas who earn more than teachers and the superintendent who is collecting a $300k salary, should speak to this problem they created with specifics about how it will get resolved so students don't lose out. It is not acceptable to say after the start of school that kids can search for classes online or at universities. I heard many district online classes are closed already. And it is too late for kids to catch up in any classes that have already started at local universities. Does the district provide a voucher to families who enroll their kids at universities when it's the district's fault a class that was offered is not available? If this condensing and collapsing of resources will be cited as part of the strategy for a new millage in the spring, the superintendent and board who will want tax payers to pay more should answer these questions when a local journalist calls or when parents email, call or speak at a board meeting in public comments. @Basic Bob is correct saying that opening Skyline with an poor plan for execution and running it is the cause of the schedule problems that will rip off kids at all levels of learning. @Cette - your idea is creative, but kids who have sports after school or music or other activities are not free to make up for what the district does not offer during school hours, but has offered in the past. I am still curious why the superintendent as a website about her own professional accomplishments. Is this standard for superintendents to do now or is she looking for jobs? Is she a taxpayer in Ann Arbor or a renter?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

The devil is in the details...

Basic Bob

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Don't take this as support for Dr. Green, but I wouldn't buy a home in Ann Arbor for a five year gig. She will be money ahead by renting, and she might even be able to write it off as a business travel expense if she maintains her tax home in Pa. I've thrown in the towel on her ever doing anything for anybody except her minions at Balas doing her work.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Cette your idea isn't really practical for the kids involved, but the spirit of your stance that there must be an alternative solution out there is admirable. The amount of work for an AP class couldn't be covered in less than daily class meetings. A sport or music or theater activity has practice times, performance or game/meet times, and your solution would force more divisions between students. The low enrollment issue for students in some AP classes has to do with failure to plan at a district-wide level. The course request sheets were due last March or earlier. Kids who wanted to continue is a class was down on paper or in Powerschool and the curriculum superintendents at Balas working with guidance counselors at all schools could have anticipated this problem and proposed proactive solutions to pool resources.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

I think the afterschool or night class should be a serious option. While certainly, if there's a scramble on right now to figure out what to do, it's going to be difficult no matter what. but , I think kids who want AP classes that have low enrollment could work something out with sports staff and other adults and activities in their lives and make it work.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

@Danielle- good job on this story and getting more information out to readers about what students are dealing with. I hope more of your articles include this many quotes from people in the school district other than Liz Margolis. I hope the superintendent and/or her deputies speak to you since they are responsible for this. It's nice to see a quote from board member Andy Thomas. Do other school board members claim any accountability for this problem since they hired the superintendent who supervises her "cabinet" that oversees the curriculum. In the past, AP classes weren't considered specialty classes. They are part of the curriculum at most strong public high schools that Ann Arbor schools compete. Ann Arbor already offers fewer AP classes than other comparable districts. The students in AP classes are only part of the student population and the schools are not getting scheduling right with kids in the non-AP curriculum. I have heard some kids were placed in AP classes randomly and didn't want them. Scheduling has been a mess this year.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

"Superintendent Patricia Green declined to comment last week on what solutions the district is considering." That's really outrageous. Your administration caused this problem, you should be able to speak on how you are going to solve it. And the high schools were not the only schools affected. The middle schools have been hit hard as well with gigantic core classes and changing schedules.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Why is this your administration and not ours?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Why not afternoon or night classes for the smaller, specialty AP classes?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:35 p.m.

cette- Overtime pay, janitor pay, heating & lights, and the inability for low income single parent households to send their children.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

Smaller classes for the most able??? I agree that there is a need for AP classes especially because of the "Algebra for All" graduation requirements imposed on our students resulting in a stronger teaching to the middle model.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

What does all hands on deck mean? More teachers? More TA's? All union members to stand tall?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Not bad, Don Bee, not bad.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Put the administrators in the classroom until there are teachers Cette? In the Navy "all hands on deck" means everyone who not standing watch needs to assemble on deck for a task. It does not matter if you are the Captain or the lowest sailor.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Take German in college if you don't want to pay for it online. The school can't meet every need for every student and should focus on the basics............

say it plain

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

Why does "the basics" apparently have to include millions upon millions for Varsity Sports every year?!


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Student services cut. Extracurricular activities cut. What has not been cut? Generous non-monetary compensation packages awarded to staff (administrative & teaching).

Susie Q

Wed, Sep 12, 2012 : 2:17 a.m.

You are mistaken. Staff have taken many cuts, monetary as well as non-monetary.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

GoNavy - No real cuts to Athletics dollar amounts this year. It is still a $3 million dollar plus transfer from the general fund to the athletic fund. It may be that the boosters are not coming up with as much money or the costs are rising because of the pay packages for the coaches (who are covered under the teacher's contract in most cases). Since is not clear how much is spent how in the athletic programs, it is impossible to provide a clear breakdown of where the money goes.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

When Dexter had the same problem with the advanced German classes a few years ago, they combined levels 3 and 4 and one teacher taught the combined class. An ideal solution?? Not at all. But both of my kids were able to complete four years of German during their time there with that solution. I'm no expert in staffing, but why couldn't the district have one teacher teach only the advanced sections in all of the high schools? Why not make the teacher go between buildings rather than the students?

Susie Q

Wed, Sep 12, 2012 : 2:16 a.m.

They already do this in Ann Arbor, and not just in World Languages. Many times a teacher will have 2-3 levels of a world language in the same class, the same hour. This is WAY over the contractual requirements.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Welcome, Ann Arbor, to the world of education funding cuts. If we continue to allow the erosion of education funding to our schools, children will suffer. Large class sizes have been the norm in smaller districts for a while now, as they were first to feel the impact of funding cuts. Maybe now that the students in larger and wealthier suburban districts are feeling the pinch, there will be more voices raised to support fully funding the education of our children.

Basic Bob

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

This is not the result of funding cuts, it is the result of the downsizing of Pioneer. Take out 40% of the students, 40% of the teachers. The result is fewer elective course offerings. It is unrealistic to expect the school to offer an elective course if there is limited interest by the students. Combining sections of different levels and encouraging independent study- the one-room schoolhouse approach- is the only real solution.

Ron Granger

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Meanwhile, millions upon millions are being spent on *after school* activities. And they refuse to reveal the details of after school activity budgets. It is a sad joke on students trying to get an education.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Mr. Granger - The only major funding from the general fund for after school activities is for Varsity Athletics. The general fund transfers 30 teachers worth of money - over $3 million to the athletic fund. The total amount spent on Varsity Athletics is SECRET - after all there is privacy involved - Booster clubs are thought to contribute between $5 and $15 million a year in additional funds (those rowing shells are not cheap). Then there are the "hidden costs" for maintain the athletic fields, the locker rooms that are varsity only, and the varsity only training facilities that consume both bond funds (like the new facilities that were installed last year (when the district pleaded poor) for $11 million in bond and sinking fund money. Varsity Sports is BIG business for AAPS and its boosters. Gone are most of the funds for drama, speach, band, and other clubs. Most of what remains is self-sustaining or is parent supported.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Ok....that's not cool. I think they put those iMacs in that room shortly after I left the mid-late 90s...... PLEASE tell me the student center doesn't still just have 386s in the fridge boxes......


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

No, that's definitely the journalism room on the 3rd floor. I've sat outside those windows before during lunch....and then been told half-heartedly to climb back in by Gena. You don't need big processing power for writing, editing, and layout. The macs that were in there before those iMacs were archaic. This was when they still had the laserdisc players hooked up to them.... What sucks is that the layout machines in the center of the room all had 21"+ monitors on them....which is great when you're doing layout on a legal size page. Now it looks like they're regulated down to itty bitty screens. Ah well....adversity makes everyone stronger. The Communicator was always a great read.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

I'm pretty sure that the Journalism class was meeting in that room for convenience, not that the iMacs are still widely in use by at Community students.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

The $4 million plus in administrative overhead increases since 2007 would have supported 40 more teachers in the classrooms if it had instead been used for teachers. It is not a lack of funds, but the choices the Board of Education and Mr. Allen make on where to use the funds. Go ahead and blame the Superintendent, but the real blame belongs on the Board of Education's desk. They have been onboard during the whole increas in administrative costs.


Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

@GoNavy - "40 teachers means 40 brand-new, lifetime healthcare insurance policies, not just for the teacher, but for the teacher's entire family, for their entire lives." I am not sure if you misspoke here, or if you are simply peddling misinformation. In no way do these teachers' children receive lifetime healthcare benefits.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Go Navy - In this case it probably would have been encouraging 40 of the teachers that have been encouraged to retire or leave over the last 3 years to have stayed in the classrooms. In most cases, I suspect the best of the teachers who retired or left would have stayed with a kind word or two. As to the administrative overhead - well if you read the Ann Arbor Administrator Association you will see similar benefits


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Unfortunately, you need to check your math. With 40 teachers comes all sorts of things people never account for, which is why many districts find themselves in financial trouble: 40 teachers means 40 brand-new, lifetime healthcare insurance policies, not just for the teacher, but for the teacher's entire family, for their entire lives. 40 teachers means 40 brand-new pension accounts, which must be generously funded by the state so as to ensure that the teacher has sufficient income after retiring following a scant 20 years of work; 40 teachers means, at the current moment, 40 more positions that the school board won't be able to eliminate next time there's a funding crunch. Conversely, it means 40 new examples of "first in, first out" candidates to ensure that 40 current, poorly-performing teachers won't be on the chopping block next time around. These are the numbers that matter - not simply "annual teacher salary outlays," which is the numbers we're often presented with.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Why can't the district set up a Skype or other web-based system so the students wouldn't have to travel to another school to take German 3?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

@sellers, malarky on the cost prohibitiveness. If my aunt can skype successfully and cheaply, I'm sure AAPS system can do likewise. You don't need moving cameras, just one on the teacher and blackboard or a computer view of the teacher's laptop if that is how it is taught. Don't overthink this.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

I think it is on line. Might want to check the course book you got when your child first enrolled in 9th grade. Although these courses do change.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Skype or M.I.V. solutions would leave the remote student at very much a disadvantage, and the cost of video gear that auto-senses who is speaking and moves the camera to that person is very hard to get tweaked correctly and costs an awful lot. If it was four or five students all remote, it would be easy with commodity hardware and software, but when you talk about 1 or 2 remote and 30 local students, it is very unbalanced and the remote students is always left out - just like in the real world.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Pioneer's scheduling problems forced my child to take a 7th hour in order to get an advanced language class. That was bad enough but what was worse is that there were no decent electives choices and they would not let him have an open hour which he could have used for studying/homework. As he is also participating in a sport this means he leaves at 7:15 a.m. and gets home around 6 p.m. This is a longer day than most people who are employed have, plus there are still several hours of homework to be completed. No wonder kids feel overwhelmed and depressed. When my other child graduated from Pioneer recently she could honestly think of nothing she would miss about the school. I suspect there are a lot of other kids out there who feel the same way.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Overwhelmed and depressed. Really? High School is preparation for the real world--and the real world is right around the corner. If you want to succeed in the real world you must work smart, hard and usually long hours. Their job is to do the best they are capable of in high school. Your job is to provide the right atmosphere and attitude so that they do their best. Promoting the idea that it's normal to be overwhelmed and depressed does not help them--it promotes that way of thinking. We live on property west of A2. My sophmore and senior are both honors and AP kids who spend HOURS in extra activities that enrich their lives and are giving them skills that they will utilize in their lifetimes. Are there days or weekends that there doesn't seem to be enough hours? Yes. Do they complain? No. Do they go to bed tired? Yes. Do they love their lives? Yes. They are excited about their futures and about life. Do I do most of the chores with the barn, animals, house, yard, house, laundry, cooking, and MY full time work as a business owner. Yes. Do I complain. Sometimes. But only to my husband. In the end we KNOW we have great kids who with sound minds who understand we are hear to give back to our world, not take from it.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

"Superintendent Patricia Green declined to comment last week on what solutions the district is considering. She stated the administration will work these issues out with parents." Once again, I must ask, why does the Ann Arbor superintendent never answer a question? If she has no answers, I wonder what we're paying for. And even if she has no answer this time, as usual, she shows no empathy or understanding of what the situation feels like to her constituents. I feel like I am talking to a wall.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Pat Green actually just said a lot, as did Linda Carter said a lot too when she called for all hands on deck. Read between the lines, Dr. Green wants to work with parents. Linda Carter is calling the union to not back down. Please, people can't you see the argument about what to negotiate about is being played out with on

Urban Sombrero

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:59 a.m.

I don't think it's just AP classes and high level son is a sophomore at Huron and is taking a class online. It's definitely not an AP or high level class, though. I have mixed feelings about the online thing. I like the idea of students being able to learn at their own pace and the idea of them being able to take a class at their leisure. But, I also think the classroom experience makes a huge difference and the ability to actually talk and interact with an instructor extremely important.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Limitedly, I think on line is okay. But very limitedly.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Urban Sombrero - The on-line courses do have students interacting with a mentor or the instructor via e-mail and sometimes by phone. This is great preparation for the real world of work, where knowledge workers in particular have to collaborate with colleagues from around the globe, as well as face to face.

Urban Sombrero

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11 a.m.

IS extremely important. I type too fast. Oops!

Nick Danger

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:45 a.m.

Even when there are positions available AAPA takes for ever to fill them adding to the chaos. Staffing has been a nightmare


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

Maybe can look into why there are open unfilled classroom aide positions that the Administration has chosen to not fill with subs...


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

At the beginning of the year they take their time selecting teachers and aides. This way they know what classes need help in and what do not. The deadline to add and drop is Friday. So once they know? You will too.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

I know people who have applied for classroom assistant positions in the district recently and never heard a word back, so I find your comment interesting. Having no experience with AAPS on a personnel level, it does make me wonder why they post the vacancies and then never fill them.

Wake Up A2

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:17 a.m.

There are over 150 sections of classes at Pioneer with over 35 students and 50 sections over 37. One section, my daughter tells me, has over 40! Can you imagine trying to have a meaningful conversation let along a science lab with that many kids...... So much for trying to target the bottom 1/3 in A2...... Not with those numbers.....

Susie Q

Wed, Sep 12, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

I hope everyone will think about the cuts the legislature has continued to make to public education. Vote for folks that will restore funding. This will only get worse.

J. A. Pieper

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

The other issue is trying to make sure you teach the upper level students so they will gain from the class. When classes are this crowded, everyone suffers, not just the achievement gap students!


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : noon

Not hard to imagine. My wife had 35 students in some of her middle school classes last year. Try to keep control, teach, and inspire that many studenst while maintaining your sanity. And many think that a teacher has such a cushy job.