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Posted on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Hiring an internal candidate, increasing revenue and smaller class sizes dominate AAPS budget talk

By Danielle Arndt

A dialogue on the Ann Arbor Public Schools budget situation for fiscal year 2013-14 drew about 60 people to Scarlett Middle School Saturday to share thoughts and ask questions about upcoming challenges the district faces.


Ann Arbor school board Treasurer Glenn Nelson takes notes as people talk at Saturday morning's budget forum at Scarlett Middle School.

Danielle Arndt |

Even though it was scheduled as a budget discussion, Board President Deb Mexicotte dedicated the first 20 minutes of the event to answering questions or hearing attendees' opinions on the superintendent search process.

AAPS Superintendent Patricia Green tendered her resignation after 1 a.m. on April 11. She plans to retire this summer, ending a 43-year career in public education.

Green's stepping down shocked many in the school community, including board members, considering she signed a five-year contract in March of 2011. The board now must grapple with how to conduct a national superintendent search that will yield a new leader by September in the midst of dealing with an $8.67 million budget shortfall and shrinking fund balance.

Board Treasurer Glenn Nelson estimated Saturday, that on June 30, the end of the current fiscal year, the district will have about $9 million in its savings account, the majority of which is needed to make payroll for AAPS employees during the summer months.

When the board passed its nearly $188.5 million budget in June 2012, trustees approved using $6.04 million from the district's then-$18.73 million fund balance, bringing the total to $12.69 million. It's possible AAPS officials will have to dip into that fund balance again in the coming months to account for about a $2.5 million current-year budget deficit.

In addition to Nelson and Mexicotte, Trustee Simone Lightfoot also facilitated Saturday's dialogue. She attended for Trustee Susan Baskett, who was originally scheduled.

Despite Mexicotte designating the first 20 minutes of the event as an opportunity for debating the superintendent search, people continued to bring it up throughout the budget forum. The majority of attendees were AAPS staff members or parents, many of whom were graduates of Ann Arbor themselves or educators in other districts.

Those who spoke about the superintendent search stressed the importance of looking local first — hiring a "townie" — and asked the board to give preference to internal candidates so they would feel encouraged, and not intimidated, to apply.

Some audience members suggested a separate application period for internal candidates before the position is posted nationwide.

"We have incredibly talented people working in Ann Arbor… I can think of six to 10 individuals who would do a fabulous job running our district. Whether they would want to or not, I don't know," said Slauson Middle School teacher Jon Strite.

Others talked about the qualities and characteristics they would like to see in the next superintendent.

Pioneer High School teacher Jeff Kass said he would like the district to hire a superintendent who doesn't hide in his or her office and can get along with teachers.

"I spoke with Dr. Green once and in about four minutes I knew she was a terrible choice for this community," he said.

But Kass added, what's more important than which qualities the superintendent possesses is having teachers involved in the process. He requested the board invite teachers to serve on the selection committee.

Susan McKee, a media specialist at Huron High School, said one things she would like the board to look into is better control of textbook loss at the secondary buildings. She recently compiled a four-year report of textbooks that had left Huron with students who transferred to other AAPS schools, such as Pioneer, Skyline or Roberto Clemente. She said in four years, $16,000 in textbooks was lost from her school.

"And this is just at Huron. I would imagine there would probably be similar numbers from Pioneer students who have left," McKee said.


Board President Deb Mexicotte, center, responds to a question during a community forum about the budget Saturday at Scarlett Middle School.

Danielle Arndt |

She added it is her understanding that last year a new policy for textbook accountability was implemented by central administration, but that policy wasn't communicated well at the building level or down to the athletic department and library staff. McKee said the district needs a better system for recovering lost textbooks, which are in many cases more than $100 apiece.

In his opening remarks, Nelson stressed the need to bring in additional revenue to the district and to increase donations and private giving through the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation. He also said advocating for legislative change and pushing state legislators to restore funding to public education is important.

Strite recommended the district consider a millage for Community Education and Recreation.

Such a millage would give the Rec and Ed department more money and the district could move extracurricular items — such as music, band, theater and athletics — to the Rec and Ed budget, which would free up dollars in the general fund to be used on operating expenses, Strite said.

But Nelson said a countywide enhancement millage is the most effective way to get money into the Ann Arbor Public Schools system. He said it has more flexibility in terms of how the money can be spent and more AAPS students would benefit from the enhancement millage than if the tax dollars were given to Rec and Ed, which also serves non-district residents.

Attendee Letitia Kunselman, who is a teacher in another district, said to be successful in a countywide enhancement millage the next time around, school districts need to be asking teachers where they see wasteful spending in their own buildings. She said she knows a number of teachers who did not support the millage in 2009 because they did not feel like their districts were using money wisely to begin with.

A number of parents stressed how even though they and their children value participation in sports, theater, band and the like, they would rather see these items cut than have class sizes increase again. These same parents would rather keep block scheduling and seventh-hour options at the high school as well, if it came down to extracurriculars versus class sizes and educational opportunities.

One woman said eliminating the seventh-hour would put more children back in the classrooms during the typical school day, leading to larger class sizes. Kass said he has 36 students in his classes.

Strite suggested eliminating as many of the district's half-days for professional development as possible. He said half-days are expensive and can be inconvenient for families when multiple half-days occur in a row, such as a Thursday-Friday or a Monday-Tuesday for staff training.

"Move Tuesday's half-day to Monday and help our families out. Let them take a long weekend and go somewhere… It doesn't make sense in terms of having to clean and heat the building," Strite said.

The professional development days, however, are a contractual piece, determined by collective bargaining, Mexicotte said. "But it's a piece we certainly want to look at."

Strite said the district also could save on substitute costs and principal costs by scheduling more meetings in the afternoon, after the school day ends, rather than mid-day. He said teachers who are required to attend mid-level counsel meetings have to get subs and if more meetings were in the afternoon, maybe AAPS wouldn't need as many principal positions per building because one principal wouldn't have to cover for the other regularly.

The AAPS administration will present its formal budget recommendations to the Board of Education at Wednesday's regular meeting. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library. The administration then will host two community information sessions on the budget in May: from 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 2 and May 7 at Huron and Pioneer high schools, respectively.

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


A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

"Increasing Revenue" is only coming up at the budget meetings because that is the only solution that the weak school board (unable to make the hard choices) is able to suggest. This is Glenn Nelson and Christine Stead's only solution to the budget troubles-more revenue! They are framing the conversation for the community. Wake Up Ann Arbor! 5% budget reduction across the board--seems simple. Schools can figure out how to make the cuts.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

AVofReason - The district is stuck with teachers after they get tenure. There is an ability to get rid of a horrible teacher but it takes real work. The union has even backed teachers who have committed crimes in the schools and made the schools jump through every hoop to get rid of them. The harder part in Ann Arbor is the people who should be managing the teachers and evaluating them are in a union as well. Each union counts on the other's support. So a teacher would have to be beyond bad to see both unions agree to run the hoops of the process. The typical answer is to get the teachers who are really bad student teachers for both semesters. If you don't believe me ask around about some of the worst teachers, and see if they don't have student teachers for most of the year. If you want to fix it, you can get the State to do away with Tenure (and have riots in Lansing) or you can wait 5 years and when the teacher's contract is being renegotiated, you can work to remove tenure (LOL), or the district can refuse to renew the contract with the administrators and make them be like management elsewhere. None of this will happen with the current board, or the current administration. So just relax and live with the teachers we have. Do more to supplement poor teaching at home if you end up with a bad one.

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

I am not trying to be overly critical, but the number one complaint I receive from parents is teacher quality and effectiveness. Until the board addresses these issues, and stops protecting or offering to "retrain" teachers, there will be no support in my book for any more money for operating expenses. Also, we have so many extra people we are paying because the computer literacy of the staff is not up to what the kids and parents know. With voice mail, email, etc., you only need one secretary per school. Our kids deserve the best...sorry!


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Yes, they are weak. Inept too. Unprofessional and not business like either. Self centered and not willing to work as a team in addition. Basic finance is way above their heads. Shall I continue?

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

Dear Ann Arbor Community-- You are being "gamed" to support an Enhancement Millage. Are you wondering why closing Community High School and Angell School or cutting sports, arts, etc. are always on the cutting table? ANSWER: Because you are the parents who are involved, active and articulate. You attend budget meetings, voice your opinion and Steve Norton--Michigan "Parent" for Schools-the "s" is missing because he is the only member of this organization, is sitting taking your name to put you on the millage committee. This is a game and you are being played. Washtenaw County poverty is on the rise and we cannot afford an enhancement millage that part of the money goes to other districts. We just gave the schools $80 million for technology.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

P.S. I probably would support an enhancement millage. I can pay for my kids to have art and music and any other enrichment they need. Other families can't. We are talking about kids here, right? And we are really talking about kids on the edge. If we all have to make greater sacrifices to keep them from falling off that edge, I'll do it.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

1/2 of teachers are not good? Wow! You must have had a bad run of it. We haven't had a single bad teacher yet. So, let me take your comment at face value, instead of heading where some folks might head and being all judgmental about personal responsibility. It might give you some hope to know about the efforts of our own Dean Ball and the MCEE. Educator effectiveness is one reform the state is handling in a bipartisan way with real experts in the field of education studying the problem and making recommendations. Our District, in partnership with the AAEA, has actually been out in front of that effort, but given your anger, I don't think you want to hear that part. So check out the MCEE. They have a web site, and you can read their recent recommendations.

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Community Parents were are at the meetings because the PTSO received a print out of community being moved to one of the other high schools. Angell was voted by the teachers in town as one of the schools that should be closed because of low enrollment and high cost per student. AAPS cries deficit wolf every year! $200,000,000 operating budget, $80,000,0000 technology bond and not to mention, the sinking fund for 16,000 students is a lot of money, plus 3 mills in Special Education money for WISD, and way more than most districts in Michigan have. Parents are constantly complaining about bad teachers. Until you fix this problem, the schools will never be great, regardless of how much money you receive! 1/2 the teachers are not good--sorry, it is true!


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 6:01 p.m.

Not wondering that at all. Sports and arts are on the table because we don't have enough money to pay for everything we value. Angell and Community aren't on the table: online commenters continually bring the idea up, and then other online commenters continually remind them that the idea has no merit and will go nowhere. But worry not: if the budget reductions continue on their present trajectory, in ten years all the public schools will be gone and we will be asking for some education with our hamburger and side of fries at the MacDonald's drive-through.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 6:04 a.m.

I found the text book comments to be rather odd. If that many text books are being lost and they cost that much, then why aren't the schools using e-books or having online access for the texts they want to use, kind of how the Community College has books online. You could just get the publishers to receive a flat rate for each student to have access to the text for the year, or maybe a rate for three years for a specific number of accounts. All the students probably have some sort of device for reading books online, and those that do not can use the public library or university. That could save a few dollars.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Many books have online analogs or supplements. Some teachers are actively using them and some are not. Not every child has access to a computer at home, I know this is a surprise to some, but some families do not have internet and computers at home. There are still some parts of the county where the only access to the Internet is dial up. They are rural and few and far between but the issue exists. Most of the children in these families are the ones that need the support the most. Going to the library in many cases is not an option because the family has a single car in most cases and a limited budget for gas for the car. The district would be well served to offer the old computers from the schools to these families first and store some for families that need them in the future. But they will "recycle" them instead. OBTW - yes I know they are "junk" to most of you - being years out of date and slow and clunky.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

As a parent I would like to also see the elementary/middle/and HS PD days better aligned. It definitley does seem like a waste of resources to have to run buses for only a portion of the students and have all schools open. Reading Intervention in the elementary buildings serves a very small number of students. I have heard that 3-5 teachers have to provide their own "reading intervention" for struggling students, perhapsl K-2 should volunteer one of their teachers to take the stuggling readers. This seems more equitable. Hiring an internal candidate would be a good idea. Let's give it a try. If 5th grade instrumental left, how would teachers get their planning time? Lots to consider. i hope the administration gets busy. Still waiting to hear how much of the principal's salaries and BALAS administration salaries are being rolled back.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

I would suggest that 5th grade instrumental music provides much more than planning time for the classroom teachers.

Blazingly Busy

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

Yank my kid's choir and I will yank my child to any other district that allows open enrollment and HAS choir. How about not paying administrators so much? How about not having five principals in each major high school? How about the principal at Skyline actually calling parents back? (Oh wait, she's leaving so it doesn't matter!) I agree that we need to hire an internal candidate for superintendent. The above probably sounds like a rant, and it is. Extremely high taxes in this city and extremely crappy budgeting by school and city.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

BB and Suzie Q - Until the 2012-2013 school year, Huron, Pioneer and Skyline each had 5 principals. The primary, 4 class (assistant) principals, and an Athletic Director. At the start of this year, they reduced the number of class (assistant) principals to 2, and kept their primary and Athletic Directors, leaving each comprehensive HS with 3 people classified as "principals".

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

Blazingly Busy--You are not alone and the only solution the school district has is to raise your taxes or take away from the kids. It is never, ever, ever, ever...about the adults. Talk about cutting teacher pay 5% and they chop your head off. If you are school district "yes" man/woman, your kids get great recommendations to college and special treatment.

Blazingly Busy

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

My apologies for the comment about having five principals. Obviously I am a less than an involved parent because that particular detail was overlooked. (Couldn't possibly be because I am so busy working extra hours to pay for my daughter's musical activities/required items or because I am driving my child all over the place for music (which I love because she loves it). Or maybe it's because I have a special needs child that I have chosen to give experiences outside of the public schools in the hopes that he will not be left behind in the world. Or...maybe it's because I cannot get ANY ADMINISTRATOR at Skyline to call me back? I just know that when my oldest son was in High School in the late 2000's there were five principals at every school.

Susie Q

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

There haven't been five principals at the high schools in at least three years.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

BTW, isn't some tens of thousands of school tax money going into TWO wind turbines, when they know they won't have even close to a positive effect? Or is that just our OTHER tax money?

Jay Thomas

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Spending the money they did to find someone who was unable to take criticism in the final analysis was a big failure for the BOE. I like the internal candidate idea.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Hm. More millages suggested. What an incredible surprise. Did anyone get reprimanded or fired over that ridiculous expensive NON-money-saving pool cover oil slick thing? Or the several thousands of dollars on what is basically sharing folders over a network? Because it's this kind of "looking for creative ways to spend money" that makes all this "we have no money" handwringing a little tough to take. Oh, and over-$200,000 salaries and tens of thousands to headhunt firms that deliver people who quit in 2 years. And aren't they storing a bunch of new MacBook Pros, waiting to roll them out? And why did they buy MacBook Pros at $1600 apiece? Aren't there a whole bunch of administrative staff and assistants? Boy, we sure do pay incredibly high amounts of money for property taxes.

J. A. Pieper

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

RU - well said, and I hate to say this to the Ann Arbor community, but many of us cannot afford higher taxes, and we DO valued education. Not everyone here is rich, we live on a budget, we watch what we spend, and we make our own cuts when necessary. More money is not the answer when they aren't using current $$$ wisely.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Yes! Let's ignore the obvious and talk about increasing revenue. The BOE continues to show why they lack visionary leadership for our school system and why they fail to address the obvious - uncontrolled spending & costs greater than current/projected revenue streams. Maybe they can divert a block of money and buy lottery tickets.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

1) There is $13 million in building and general administration - and more buried elsewhere I am sure in the budget. Reduce this by 15% and come in line with the state average for administration. Net savings roughly $2 million. Sharing principals between grade schools, cutting vice principals in high schools. 2) Sell the empty buildings e.g. Dixboro - half acre lots are going for $100,000 in that general area the school sits on 40 acres. Added funds - $8,000,000. Selling it without platting to a developer would probably bring $4 million Do the same with either the Stone School (currently home for AATech) or Roberto Clemente and put them both in 1 building. There are most assets that could be sold - that would both reduce maintenance costs and give the district a cash infusion 3) Drop the transfer from the general fund to the athletic fund. Let the athletic fund have the parking money from the UofM games and all the ticket and concessions money from the games. Anything else is pay to play. Savings to the general fund $2 million 4) Stop building new facilities from the sinking fund, focus the money on energy efficiency. The typical payback is between 5 and 10 years - so $10 million from the sinking fund spent on energy efficiency would reduce operating costs by $1 million if competently done. This is a structural change. 5) Consolidate the school year and stop running into the month of June. Take the swiss cheese out of the calendar. This would mean that building heating and cooling could stop 3 weeks earlier and with it the cost for HVAC could go down. Probably a $300-500,000 savings 6) Bring in a new, outside auditor and do a deep audit of the books, followed by zero based budgeting - expect that some stinky secrets will come out, but also expect that between 10 and 15 percent of spending will also come out of the budget. There is more, much more that can be done, but I have not heard the board honestly discuss any of these.

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

No more media staff and have libraries run by the Ann Arbor Library system.

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Get rid of the Communication Director, staff and marketing budget=$500,000-$750,000. Have parent volunteers help market the district with signs in other school districts, coffee shops, etc.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

DonBee, the changes you recommend make a whole lot more sense to me than cutting programs, especially 5th grade instrumental music. I think the people who put in on the (so far theoretical) chopping block have no idea of what learning to play an instrument, even at a very beginning level, offers a child in terms of cognitive development.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

At this point I think the district should pay you, Donbee, to be interim superintendent. The amount of detail in your posts and familiarity with the budget numbers and district makes it seem clear that you have to be at least as qualified as any other candidate or more. You have said you couldn't be on the board because of your real job, what about being the finance person in the proposal you made after Green's resignation to have a co-op or team approach to an interim superintendent job.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

A gym teacher has better suggestions than any other faculty or member of the school board? Amazing.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Sorry a2love, gave you thumbs down when I meant up. Unfortunately a few PE teachers create a bad stereotype. Some of the ridiculous stuff my kids did in "gym" (that is when the teacher was actually there and not in the office stuffing his face while the student teacher did all the work) was unbelievable. I'm giving ChrisW the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he meant people with a business or financial background, just came out wrong. As for Slauson, totally agree.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

ChrisW you should be ashamed of your comment about Strite being "just a gym teacher." First of all, they are physical education teachers. Second of all, have you ever taken the time of day to speak with a PE teacher? Just because they teach students to be physically active rather than how to add and subtract (which I must say there are many PE teachers who do that as well) does not mean they are dumb people or don't have the ability to make good suggestions about things not related to health and physical activity. Strite is a wonderful person and would be a great candidate to be more active at balas although, I'm not sure superintendent would be the job for him. He has tried to get positions at Pioneer in the past and has not been selected. As far as his PE teaching abilities, from what I saw just a few years ago, it is time for him to move on. There is a reason at least one local University does not place PE student teachers at Slauson. The PE program there is dreadful.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

I am familiar with Strite. He would be a great addition to the Balas building leadership. The fact that he is a "gym teacher" misses the point. He is a good leader and doesn't miss details that matter for kids. That has been our family's experience with him.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

CW - Clearly you do not know him. Jon Strite for Superindendent!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

He's a great gym teacher!

Chester Drawers

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

Wow! I find your implication about a physical education teacher's ability to come up with a good suggestion to be insulting and the epitome of intellectual snobbery.

David Paris

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

I like the idea of an Internal Candidate, Patricia Green seems to have been a disaster of an external candidate. Additionally, I'd like to recommend Dr. Benjamin Edmonson of Roberto Clemente as AAPS Superintendent candidate.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 5:10 a.m.

@ Jean Johnson, So he interviews for ANY other job than the one he curently has, and has NEVER been hired for a single one of them/ If he was such a fantastic candidate he would have gotten at least one of those jobs. This notion that internal candidates are better is a fallacy. If you want real change, you bring in OUTSIDE people. That is true in any organization. People from outside bring new and fresh perspectives.

Jean Johnson a2

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

@ pieper.. A big ego can also mean confident and fed up with ineptness around them. I too know that he has applied for other supt positions and was a finalist in almost all....they went to internal candidates. Go figure. You may not like him personally, but his ability to advocate for kids, to make substantial gains where he goes, and I believe a Doctorate in education makes him qualified. I also read he is already supt certified, which requires extensive training and testing. Let's leave personal attacks out of it, and actually look at what a person does that is successful. I think his openness about wanting to be a supt is refreshing....shows ambition, transparency, and confident in his abilities for the challenge. I prefer it to secrecy, surprise resignations and Not holding yourself accountable to the community. A big ego is not a bad thing.....if you have the credentials and work ethic and ability to back it up. I've seen him do this time and time again.

Jean Johnson a2

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

At towncryer...I know dr Edmondson is known as a respected expert nationally on the achievement gap and consults other districts in Michigan on this issue. Interesting that Ann arbor chose to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to an outsider from California to consult our district, yet the gap remains throughout the district. I know schools Dr Edmondson has been a principal at, this gap has narrowed under his leadership. I have known him to be very approachable, and I would encourage you and others to reach out to him and ask those questions. Call RC and have this discussion. Then let's ask the BOE why they had an expert internally, and ignored his expertise; yet chose to spend money elsewhere with little if ANY results.

J. A. Pieper

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

I would disagree with your recommendation for the next superintendent. Mr. Edmonson applies for many administrative jobs, and lets his staff know all about his applications/interviews at his staff meetings. He bemoans the fact that he is still stuck in a building principalship position, and one that does nor garner the respect of leading a comprehensive high school to boot. There is no track record that offers evidence he can function beyond leading a school building, and AAPS needs more that what he has to offer. In some ways he fits within the Galardi camp, his ego precedes him where ever he goes. AAPS has enough institutional ego through its current administration, and look where it is getting us!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

I just want to know Dr. Edmundson's feelings on how AAPS is currently handling the "discipline gap"? Is he for it or against it? Does he think it helps or hurts? I admire his dedication to the RC students and going above and beyond, I would just like to know his stand on this "discipline gap" that the exiting Super rolled out.

Debbie Harris

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Bottom line is this....staff, parents and community in general need to take some time and do your own inquiring and learn who is a better fit and qualified candidate to lead OUR district. Parents especially need to know that you have to make your voice heard, attend BOE meetings, email board members, call them, just speak up and demand you want better for our children. I know my children deserve the best education AAPS can possibly provide them, and I know we can do much better. The BOE must listen to taxpayers and their constituents....or it will be reflected at the next election.

Debbie Harris

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

Dr Edmondson has proven to be a courageous and visionary leader for our schools and students, at every level (elem,middle, high). He is superintendent certified in all 50 states, and knows this district and community. I know this because I went to him and asked his qualifications before putting my name out there supporting him as a potential internal candidate. For those that have a negative opinion of him, I urge you to call him at Clemente, sit down with him, hear his vision for students first, accountability, excellence, transparency...he definitely would not be hiding in an office, inaccessi

David Paris

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

I don't have sympathy for the "lost textbook" issue. For one thing, my kids 9th grade Biology text was nearly 15 years old, that's ridiculous for a science text. And secondly, if a text book is taken from one high school to another, as is stated, then it's not lost, and your $16,000 is imaginary. But hey, if that argument gets you more money for text books, then go for it!

Susie Q

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

There is a new Biology textbook that started being used Sept 2012.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

Basic Bob, So if I were a high school biology teacher in AAPS in 1998, took time off and returned in 2013 all I would have to do is blow dust off my text, open it up, pull out my old teaching plans and teach my class in 2013 the same way I taught my class in 1998? No updates, no new discoveries, no new innovation? Please tell me this isn't so.

Basic Bob

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

@thankfulmom132, Biology has changed very little in the last 15 years. Especially at the high school level. The new books will be either minor revisions of the old ones, or hopelessly full of unchecked errors.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

I am so sorry to hear AAPS is teaching Biology with a 15 year old textbook. Unbelievable! And to prepare for the 21st Century we need STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs filled. No wonder why we have to go out of the country to find applicants to fill these jobs. I would not expect this from Ann Arbor. Why aren't the parents demanding more from AAPS for their childrens' future?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Nothing to fear, Governor Nerd has it figured out. He has a crack team working on fixing public education once and for all.

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Well, Jen G. kept our education system in the 1970's for 8 years. We are still living with her failed policies and control she gave the very rich $35,000,000 in assets MEA (teacher's union) including having a $1250 per teacher being added to the cost of their school district mandated MESSA insurance purchased through the teacher's union. Basically, school districts were funding the teacher's union.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Hurray, you got to get your dig in at the governor instead of making a specific comment about the article! Subtract points for not invoking "teapublikans" in your comment though :(


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

AAPS need not complicate the obvious: 1) Hire an internal candidate to fill the Superintendent role. This person must have the heart of a public servant with a 21st century vision. 2) Taxes in Ann Arbor are already way too high for the current services it offers. Don't even consider another millage. As Stephen Lange Ranzini and Don Bee have often suggested...Demand to have an internal audit of AAPS finances and cut the fat. Concentrate on getting the current cash to the students. 3) Class size will continue to be an issue because there is not enough money. Again, cut the fat as so many other districts in Michigan and the nation have already done. 4) Begin to put the needs of the students and their families first, rather than the needs of the adults and current system. 5) Humble yourselves....AAPS is proving to not be as smart as it perceives itself to be. Many districts in Michigan and nationwide are far more innovative and progressive. In summary, in order to survive: AAPS needs to quit clinging to its unions and $100 textbooks and step into the 21st Century.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 5:04 a.m.

1. Ok NAME THE PERSON. Unless you have a candidate who is QUALIFIED and you know wants the job, you are just wishing for something 2. And if the audit says things are fine will you complain about the cost of the audit? 3. Name what "fat" you want cut? SPECIFICS. Speaking in platitudes is uselss. Of course one persons fat is vERY important to another person. 4. How about parents and families put their child's EDUCATION instead o convenience first. Of course that wont happen because most of the parents feel the world revolves around the, and their "gifted"child 5. Name them. Again you have what YOU think is a solution without giving anything SPECIfIC.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Internal audit by a new/different auditing firm.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

A number of commenters here and at the Budget Session I attended yesterday have said that the district administration has not asked their employees foir cost-savings suggestions, and therefore they have only the forum of the BOE sessions for the general public in which to make them. There's nothing wrong with having staff members who are also engaged with the Board of Trustees and members of the public. Certainly if it hasn't been done already, every building principal should schedule an opportunity for staff to share cost reduction suggestions at their next staff meeting, as well as reporting those suggestions at the next higher level (Instructional Council?) meeting. However, the conduct of several staff members sunk to the point of bullying when some suggestions about creating large lecture or discussion sections for selected classes (AP English, History, Western Civ), flipped classrooms for advanced math courses, or using on-line classes / teleconferences to make advanced or low-enrollment classes available at all buildings without incurring transportation costs were booed or catcalled. Some others joined in, but the outcry was led by people who identified themselves as teachers when they made their comments or suggestions. Ann Arbor has a large population of college graduates and technophiles; teachers who automatically reject using technology or common university and business practices to extend educational opportunities to more students at lower costs do the school district and their profession a dis-service.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

I have it on good authority that distance learning capability (i.e., 'teleconferencing') is coming as one of the features of the tech bond. I have heard it will be coming to the 3 comprehensive high school, sooner than later, with the possibility of expansion to other buildings in the district. So, while those teachers may not like it, the technology is coming.

Susie Q

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

When the speaker who suggested large lecture classes spoke, she did not specify that these large classes were only for a few higher-end courses. The booing was unfortunate, but did not come from "union stooges"; many parents in the audience expressed disapproval of her ideas. In fact, there will be distance learning opportunities at the high schools, at least. These initiatives have not been opposed by teachers.

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

The teacher's union send "union stooges" in to act like this to intimidate parents who speak out again the teachers in any way. I am calling them out by name so parents can avoid them as teachers. Mr. Hoeflinger, a science teacher from Clague was behaving like this at the first budget meeting, and I was hoping that my children would never have to have him as a teacher. SCARY!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

The behavior of some of the teachers who self identified in the meeting was poor and a poor representation of the profession they represent. Cat calling and boo'ing is something I would expect of hourly workers at an auto plant, not articulate, well educated, and well spoken professionals whose job it is to help teach young people how to behave in society. What a role model these people were yesterday. I am so glad that my children were not at the meeting. They owe the community an apology for not acting like professionals.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Seems like we need a "suggestion box" or something along that line, where you could submit anonymously, either paper or online somewhere.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

There have been a lot of issues with building principals lately, I'm not sure if teachers would be comfortable or their opinion valued by some of these principals. Your second paragraph is very disheartening, I would not have expected that behavior.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Some solid suggestions, unusual.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

I was there too, and I heartily agree with the suggestion that the school district needs to minimize the disruption and expense of half-days off, and especially they need to end scheduling different days off for high school, middle school and elementary school students in the same week or 2 week period. This practice is hard on families, wastes money for both the district and families, and disrupts educational routines. Hold all or most teacher PD (which also desperately needs improvement!) either before or after the normal school year or during the Winter / Spring breaks. We should also realign our schedules to either match the end of the semester with the long Winter / New Years break or reduce the late winter and spring breaks to a 4 day weekend each. Many other local districts have much more convenient schedules and few or no random days or half-days off, in spite of Trustee Nelson's claim (blame?) that the legislature forced schools into adopting a county-wide (ISD wide in truth) common schedule. Those mid-week days with no school happen "Only in Ann Arbor." By default, we should schedule IEP and Achievement Team meetings involving parents before or after school to completely eliminate the need for subs, allow a students' entire educational team to collaborate, and better match the availability of most parents. The other suggestion from Saturday's session involved holding district-wide meetings for teachers and principals outside school hours as well to minimize the need for classroom subs and keep more principals in their buildings during dismissal time. Both of these are great ideas that would save money and improve the educational climate of the schools. BUT, and it is a big but, they are both in conflict with the AAEA and AAAA contracts as currently written. Those contracts were just extended last month for an unprecedented 5 years, without these, or other serious issues having been addressed by the District's negotiators.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

I didn't think that the AAAA contract was extended recently.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Danielle, I believe the expression is 'tendered her resignation,' not 'tenured...' FYI.

Danielle Arndt

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Thanks, Will. You are correct. It's been fixed.

r treat

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

I believe this comment section is about math. G-mar doesn't ride shotgun when money crisis is in the car. Get for real - will... oops, should of used capital W

r treat

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Local - I would not give up my... Its this mindset that creates these problems in the first place. In the private sector you "give up" or get out.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Do people really think doctors and other professionals do not have work related activities/conference calls/research after their "scheduled work day"?

r treat

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

Local! You told Topher you would not give up your planning time and I commented above. Now your saying others give up time after their scheduled work day and you agree. Geez! It's too cold for flip-flops.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10 p.m.

Really, doctors and other professionals give up time after their scheduled work day to have meetings take place. That is what many people would like to see. Lets have IEP's take place from 4:00-5:00 and 5:00-6:00 and teachers can just stay after to be part of these meetings, thus needing no subs. That is crazy!!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

I cannot see how there is any long term solution to the ongoing budget crisis in Ann Arbor except at the state level. While the local district must continually strive to make the necessary adjustments to live within its means, the scenario calls for a continual downward trend, especially for districts in the state like Ann Arbor. Prior state legislation, in conjunction with the economic downturn, have been the main causes for the situation Ann Arbor now finds itself in. I suspect Green, Roberts, and Allen have gone to greener pastures because they see the handwriting on the wall. They are in a situation that is in a continued downward trend, and there is not much they can do about it without a change at the state level that does not appear to be on the horizon.

Jack Panitch

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

AMOC's reply is a cleverly cherry-picked explanation of the structural deficit and its causes. The Michigan legislature, Wall Street and ORS are far more responsible than school districts for creating the problem. The rules, the market, the investment decisions; school districts have no control over those. Moving current employees and their contributions out of a defined benefit plan to staunch the bleeding: again, school districts have no control. This is a complicated subject, and there are few people with the time to investigate it or the tools to fully understand it: two great sources are Rick Olson, R. Brighton, and our own Glenn Nelson. Anyone who wants a much more complete and straightforward explanation of the problem and the current approaches to solving it can read the legislative materials at the following links:


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Augustine - AAPS receives from the state more per student than other districts in the county: 81904 Ann Arbor Learning Community - 7,110 81010 Ann Arbor Public Schools 9,020 81040 Chelsea School District 7,180 81050 Dexter Community School District 7,468 81120 Saline Area Schools 7,173 81020 School District of Ypsilanti 7,513 81150 Willow Run Community Schools 7,310 In fact AAPS is the #18 on the list of state funding per student out of 906 schools on the list. If people in AAPS think our funding is so bad, how would they like it if a Federal Judge stepped in and leveled the playing field and made the district operate on the current minimum of $6,966 per student?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

You nailed it, Augustine. The only other thing would be a real fundamental change in the structure of the district, and because people who live here generally like the schools the way they are, that is nearly impossible without tearing everything apart, because no one wants it. Very sad...


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Augustine - There is not really an "ongoing budget crisis" in Ann Arbor. The structural deficit that our school board loves to go on about was created by the fact that school districts are responsible for funding teacher pensions and medical insurance statewide, since the level of those expenses is determined by the generosity or moderation of the contracts school districts have negotiated with their teachers. Those unsustainable pension promises and the short-sighted encouragement of senior teachers to take early retirement are why the small or zero funding increases K-12 education has received from the State of Michigan during a decade when state tax revenues have dropped by 20% are being mis-labelled as cuts. It's true there is less money for current employees when 30% of every general fund dollar goes to fund pensions and Cadillac-level health insurance for current teacher and administrator retirees. It's been made worse due to Michigan's falling population, especially a falling population of school-aged children. That means there are fewer current students generating revenue for the school districts, and fewer currently-employed teachers to pay for the pensions of retirees. However, the Michigan legislature and Gov. Snyder have decided to cover the increase in retirement costs for the 2013-14 fiscal year, as well as to provide a 2% (or more) increase in funds to all those school districts receiving the minimum Foundation Allowance grant. Using the logic that called increases in MSPERS costs a "funding cut", I would expect AAPS to label this action as a funding increase. I'm not holding my breath.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Regarding the comment - "There were a few suggestions regarding waste in the system and how to identify and remove it, but Nelson stated that there was not enough waste in the system to offset the "massive cuts." Yes, individually or collectively, they may not add up to enough to offset the massive cuts. However, you have to start somewhere. All those "little" things add up over time. Another example of wasteful spending is the amount of catered food events that go on at Balas - holiday parties, farewell parties, breakfast or lunch meetings, etc.- all paid for by district monies. That's money spent that does NOT benefit students. When students go without textbooks or other supplies or we have such large class sizes, and Balas administration is wasting money on catered food, that's shameful! I understand Dave Comsa has been one of the worst offenders with catered food for all his meetings. Let people bring their own food if they must have it for a meeting! I certainly hope that they will not be spending district money on a farewell party for Dr. Green!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Back at a previous job, when there were budget cuts, the drill was to reduce "training, travel, doughnuts and employee moves." Spending on these items could still be done, but it required a higher level of approval than normal. AAPS seems to have learned nothing from every other organization that has found ways to live within their means.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

If there is an "enhancement millage" big chunks of the money are already promised to the Teachers under the previous agreement. So don't expect that it will make a big difference to class sizes or other items that potential cuts. Expect that the administrators who are part of AAAA will want a big chunk too. After all can't have the teachers earning more than they earn. So there goes most, if not all of the enhancement millage, and nothing changes structurally. Glenn Nelson's comments on Special Educations costs was almost comical. The VAST majority of those costs are reimbursed, based on a percentage of money spent. So reducing Special Education costs by 100 dollars would reduced reimbursement by about 84 dollars, a net savings of maybe 16 dollars. The district is getting Medicaid, State, County, Federal and private insurance money for various services, sometimes billing the same service out multiple times to get reimbursement. But, because the budget is so hard to understand, finding all this out takes digging. So if Glenn Nelson wants to find more money in Special Education he will have to cut about 8 TIMES the amount that he wants to save the district. He was the one person on the board that I thought got it. The mix in the room was interesting of the 60 people, roughly half were district employees. The major push was not find out how to run the district more efficiently but "get rid of Proposal A and give us MORE money". EIther by voting for the enhancement millage (spoken for) or let us vote for local money and do away with state equalized funding (which will bring out the NAACP lawyers in a heart beat).


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

Mr. Thomas - It is nice to see you step into the discussion. I agree the equity fund has to double in size. I doubt that is as impossible as you suggest with a new enhancement millage, and I suspect that the AAEA will frown on any other use of the money - unless you allow them the money promised in the agreement. It should have been removed, explicitly as part of the contract you just agreed to. As to the retirement fund, if the Governor's proposed budget passes, with no changes (and I don't know how likely that is) a big part of any increase will be paid for directly by the state. Taking some of the burden off of the districts. I still expect that you will have a VERY HARD time not honoring the agreement with the AAEA and people like Brit Satchwell will work hard to make you honor it. But technically you are right, you can find ways to spend any money that comes in the door and never increase the equity fund, voiding the agreement with the teachers. I just don't think that that is what will happen. They will get their money. I think you proved that with the contract you just approved.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

AMOC you are incorrect. We just renegotiated for what could be a 3 year deal if funding doesn't decline again from state. If state funding is cut or declines, we are forced to open up contract again next year. The pay back that you quoted from Brit Satchell, who mind you wasn't part of negotiation and shouldn't be speaking on behalf of the union, is incorrect. That was in place in a previous contract, but not in the one that was just passed. From what I know, that 2.2% that teachers took a few years back is no longer in play unless a HUGE increase in funding from state takes place.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Unlikely or definitely not happening?

Andrew Thomas

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

I usually try to stay out of these discussions, but I do need to correct some inaccuracies in DonBee's post. The "revenue sharing" agreement between the District and the AAEA does not go into effect until and unless the District's fund equity equals or exceeds 10% of general fund expenditures. Currently, there is approximately $9 million in fund equity while general fund expenditures are around $182 million. So unless our fund equity doubles (unlikely in the near future) this provision will never go into effect. Another point: Any increase to general fund revenues will be reduced by any increase in mandatory contributions by MPSERS (the retirement system). So if revenue increases by $3 million, but MPSERs increases by the same amount, it's a wash. This provision makes it even less likely that the revenue sharing will take effect anytime soon. To summarize: It is extremely unlikely that any increased revenue due to an enhancement millage (or any other source, for that matter) will be siphened off by the AAEA contract, as DonBee suggest it would.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

Babmay11 - Go look at the last two years of audit reports. That is probably the best place to start.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

No offense Don B, but I have a financial background, and you often make inaccurate comments about the budget and contracts. I will be looking at both financial statements and the contract more closely before I would concur with what you say. Also, I was just making the point that mathematically, you must either increase revenue and or cut teacher pay (to hire more teachers at a lower rate) if you want smaller class sizes. Otherwise it's not possible.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

babmay11 - You are correct some 85 - 88% of the funds go to people costs. The balance is for other costs of the GENERAL fund. Sinking fund, bond money, etc (another roughly $40 million a year) goes to buy buses, computers, fix the roof and other costs. The board and the various unions want the general public to IGNORE this additional money and pretend it does not exist, because it can not be used directly to raise the employee's pay and benefits. The deal between the teacher's union and the district means that 75 percent of any NEW money that comes into the district has to go to pay and benefits of the EXISTING employees. So, more money will NOT mean smaller classes. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to fool you.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

thecompound - Rec&Ed is already a zero or near zero cost to the district. The fees paid are adjusted so that the schools are not out any money. If you look closely at the audit report, the schools even cover much of the cost of maintaining the fields during most of the year from Rec&Ed as well as building staffing and utilities for the few things that are allowed to happen in the school buildings. In short, any millage for Rec&Ed would be purely a revenue increase for AAPS, unless the fees for Rec&Ed were reduced by the amount brought in. The district already spun out the Library, and they got their own millage, giving the schools a net increase in operating funds out of the deal (they no longer spent money supporting the AADL and still get use of the facilities for board meetings, etc for next to nothing).


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

People clearly do not understand the budget. It is mostly personnel costs, which are salaries, wages, benefits and pensions. About 75-80% or so. So if you have any kind of revenue increase, most of that is going to go to these costs. You want smaller class sizes with a declining budget? Only way to get that is to pay a LOT less, because you would need to hire more teachers at lower wages. But people don't want to do that either. But an increase in revenue will go mostlty to salaries & be fits because that is what most expenses in a school district are.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

DonBee, what is your opinion about the Rec & Ed millage suggested?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Uh, local, if you are an Ann Arbor teacher, you haven't been reading your contract very well. And seeing as your union signed you up to it for the next 5 years, you really should. There is a clause in the contract that 75% of ANY additional General Fund revenue received by AAPS from any source will be used to increase teacher salaries or to reduce the amount that employees contribute towards their health insurance. Britt Satchwell, the former AAEA president who originally negotiated this deal, was extensively quoted here on about this clause in the stories about the new contract. I, for one, will campaign against an enhancement millage as long as that clause is in effect.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

It is the only time district employees can be heard is in this public forums. God forbid the BOE comes to schools and talks with teachers about possible cuts. And as much as I enjoy reading your comments generally DonBee, the money grab comment by teachers is off base. Yes, it would be great to get a small raise, hell a 1/2 % raise would be something. With that being said, we just took a 3% cut to help the district, as did the secretaries. (a few years back, we took a 2.2 % pay cut) Then to hear that the district shortfall wasn't 17 million, but was actually lower, was a huge slap in the face to both the teachers and secretarial units. Since I am in school everyday doing my job, I can assure you that it is the teachers and the secretaries that are busting their butts and doing the hard work that goes into educating kids. Bottom line, teachers are continuing to do their part to help out with financial issues, we continue to give, work for less, and are required to do more.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

As a teacher, PD days need to be improved. Their is no reason why secondary has a PD day and elementary is in school, then have the opposite happen when elementary has a PD day and secondary is in school. They could save on cleaning, busing, electricity, etc.... Maintaining better inventory sounds like a solid plan, saving a little money is always good. I still think 5th grade instrumental music could be cut, it could save 1/2 million dollars and families who want their kids in music could spend their own money to do so outside of school (like many do already). We could still make Instrumental music a semester elective in middle school for kids to try out and continue if they want. Their is waste out there, but I'm not sure they want to listen to those who are actually part of it on a daily basis.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

Please know that "there" is proper in this instance, and NOT "their".

Linda Peck

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

Hiring from within and reducing class size are suggestions that have been made repeatedly in comments here. I support these two myself. It seems obvious. What also seems obvious is that building huge high schools as Ann Arbor has done over the last many years has made the environment for teenage students impersonal and overwhelming. Take a look at the Community High School as a good example of an atmosphere that works for young people and build on that model, rather than going in the opposite direction. There should be more sensitivity for the feelings of young people, rather than some odd (and probably adult) fantasy of grandeur on the football fields of gigantic high schools.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

More NIMBY speak, sigh.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Anyone who knows anything about Community High is well aware that one reason it functions so well is because of its location. Putting it in the middle of nowhere at Skyline does not make it part of the community. For example, the Community students will be doing community service which requires walking to various areas this week, and if it were at Skyline, they would need busses. Walking is FREE. Skyline has enough issues as well, looking for a replacement to Sulura who will bring a better work environment and cohesiveness to staff, for starters.

Basic Bob

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

The large high schools are not impersonal and overwhelming for most students. If you want a small school, there are plenty of other options: public schools in smaller communities, charter schools, and private schools. Due to their smaller size, these schools are also less likely to have the myriad special programs, nationally recognized music programs, connections with a large local university, water polo, lacrosse, field hockey, chess, and robotics teams. And if you are a teenager and fall out of favor with your clique, there are far fewer options for new friends. Not to mention that the big schools are what we have on hand. If Community is that much better than Huron, Pioneer, or Skyline (that's subjective, there's no proof of that) we should expand it and move it to one of the other schools. The extra 100 students per year should fit in nicely into Skyline. Think of it as CHS @ Skyline.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

There was a suggestion by one teacher that the district "just not open the doors in the fall" until the legislature sent more money. None of the BoE members present batted an eye at this. I would have expected leadership to counsel against what would in essence be an illegal strike.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Sounds more like a union flexing its muscles if they dont get what they want, such a novel idea.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

What does a superintendent even do?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11 a.m.

I was there. I was disappointed. There were a few suggestions regarding waste in the system and how to identify and remove it, but Nelson stated that there was not enough waste in the system to offset the "massive cuts." I didn't find his statements to be very convincing. There is "waste" (in the sense that Deming used the term) in *every* system. Most comments were pleas to not cut specific programs. There was a lot of whining about how they couldn't do the job without more money, and schemes over how to get more money. Expect another millage on the ballot in November. This one will most likely be Ann Arbor specific, as it was stated that the last millage was defeated by people who live outside of the district. A recurring theme was that all of our problems are caused by outsiders. County residents that live outside of Ann Arbor were blamed for the millage defeat. The Governor and Legislature were blamed for not valuing children and education. The room seemed to be filled with an unwillingness to face reality.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:42 a.m.

In the article Slauson Middle School teacher Jon Strite and Susan McKee, a media specialist at Huron High School, had several solid suggestions for ways to both save money and improve operations. I'd bet if the entire staff were surveyed, the board could find a large number of cost savings that could help close the $8.6 million budget deficit. Of course, then the board would have to have the will to implement them and the administration would have to follow through and make them happen!

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

Let's have the IEP meetings after school. Seems like subs impact our kids education. Professionals work more that a 7 hour day or even 8 hour day. I constantly see teacher having elective surgery during the school year, taking "educational" week long trips during the school year, attending district meetings during class time, etc.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Topher, I am a teacher and I would not give up my planning time for these types of meeting, that time is way to valuable for me to get work done. When people talk about subs for IEP's and such, that sub floats from teacher to teacher. So you could have three IEP's in the afternoon and that sub goes from room to room as each teacher is pulled out to attend. Sub cost, 35.00 for a half day!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

McKee's comments on textbooks are right on point. The district has contracts that include online resources for many books and teachers are not always told the complete information. Some students could be using E-books for textbook that are sitting in book depositories but not distributed because my understanding is that there is not a centralized coordinator who manages not only textbook but other educational resources because of various disconnects between schools, departments and whether a resource is for special ed only or "regular" ed. Hats off to teachers and staff like Strite, Kass and McKee who spoke publicly at this meeting. We need more of this information out there by people who are in the buildings not over at Balas


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

Stephen - Yup, you're right about the follow through. One element someone pointed out was IEPs and how often they're run when teachers are forced to get a sub. to cover instruction time. I worked in a previous district where every attempt was made to have me (the teacher) come in during my planning time. This meant that I didn't need a sub. and that my students didn't miss instruction time.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

[Slauson Middle School teacher Jon] Strite suggested eliminating as many of the district's half-days for professional development as possible. He said half-days are expensive and can be inconvenient for families ... It doesn't make sense in terms of having to clean and heat the building," Strite said. The professional development days, however, are a contractual piece, determined by collective bargaining, [AAPS Board President] Mexicotte said. "But it's a piece we certainly want to look at." Wouldn't it have been smarter for the board to look at any contractual changes you wanted *before* extending the union contract last month to June 2016?


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

@johnnya2 - Read the article next time! This was a teacher making a suggestion to streamline costs, and make things more convenient for the school families.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 4:49 a.m.

In what world does the building not need to be heated and cleaned? This is another one of those parents complaining about half days because it inconveniences them. Hey listen up parents., SCHOOL IS NOT YOU BABYSITTER These are scheduled well in advance. Make arrangements.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:34 p.m.

Even though the children are not in the building during a PD day, the teachers often are... having professional development. Buildings still need to be cleaned and heated.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

The main goal of the contract extension was to avoid the new law affecting the school unions, specifically union management. If they tried to make too many changes, they would have missed the deadline and would have been unable to force financial contribution to union coffers by non union members.