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Posted on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

Letter: ACLU calls school board's decision to charge students for 7th hour 'misguided and illegal'

By Danielle Arndt

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan issued a letter to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education and Superintendent Patricia Green Wednesday calling the district's proposed fee for seventh-hour high school classes "misguided and illegal."


Ann Arbor school board Trustee Glenn Nelson said of the district's proposal to charge students for seventh hour: "I fully expect us to be sued for it."

Angela J. Cesere | file photo

Despite the letter, the school board went ahead with its proposal to charge Pioneer and Huron high school students who are interested in taking seven classes instead of six. The proposal was approved as part of the 2013-14 budget passed at about 2 a.m. Thursday.

Initially the board discussed charging students between $350 and $500 per semester for a class, up to $1,000 per student per year. But the board decided to call back this fee a bit to ease into the tuition program. It approved a fee of $100 per course, so up to $200 per student per year.

Treasurer Glenn Nelson said by treating next year as a transitional year, it will give the district time to see how many students would continue to enroll in the seventh-class option, as well as how many students would qualify for tuition reimbursement.

The district would offer some type of a scholarship or fee wavier to students who receive free or reduced-price lunch or can claim financial hardship, similar to how low-income students are waived from paying pay-to-participate fees for athletics.

Nelson also said transitioning into the tuition program gradually gives the district time to settle any legal challenges related to this proposal.

"I fully expect us to be sued for it," he said at Wednesday's regular Board of Education meeting.

Nelson explained he understands the desire people may have to vet the legality of the seventh-class option fee in court. "I believe it will stand," he said. "We have had some legal advice on this matter. … A year from now, we may need to be taking much more drastic steps (with the budget) and if we had the institutional arrangements and the structure in place, the legal settlings' established precedent, then we could go to a more robust tuition-based model."

The letter from the ACLU does not specifically state the civil liberties union or any other organization plans to pursue legal action against the district for the fee structure at this time. However, the ACLU does say it sees the course tuition proposal as a violation of the Michigan Constitution, which requires the State Legislature to maintain a free elementary and secondary public education system.

The organization says the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the guarantee of a free public education extends to any school activity that is considered "a necessary element of any school's activity" or an "integral fundamental part of the elementary and secondary education."

"Our system of free public education is founded on the idea that all children should have access to knowledge through teachers, classrooms, books and rigorous and varied curricula. The proposal of charging for seventh period flies in the face of this American tradition," wrote Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, who penned the letter.

Moss, who notes she is a graduate of Ann Arbor Public Schools and recently had a daughter go through the district, went on to say:

The AAPS has long enjoyed a reputation for providing exceptional educational opportunities to their students, including a wide range of arts, music and Advanced Placement courses. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, many students must take a seventh period class for at least one semester of their high school careers. When this opportunity comes at a cost to students, the schools will have effectively created a two-tiered system of public education that will benefit those who can afford to pay while those who cannot are forced into a different educational experience. Such a policy would be contrary to the basic principal that a key goal of public education is "to break down the social barriers between the classes and act as an equalizer." For a district that has struggled with the achievement gap, putting such a practice into place would only, presumably, impose yet another hurdle whose consequence would be to exacerbate this serious issue.

District officials said about 20 percent of high school students in the AAPS enroll in a seventh class.

AAPS board Secretary Andy Thomas said he would expect it's "almost a perfect overlay of the highest academic achieving students" in the district and those 20 percent of high-schoolers who take advantage of the extra class option.

"I would also expect you'd see a close correlation between those in seventh hour and those in a high socioeconomic class," he said. "… I would expect very few students will not be able to continue to take a seventh hour (under a fee-based enrollment model). For all intents and purposes, this is a very elite part of our school district. And in this day and age, it's not unreasonable to say: you want an elite education in the Ann Arbor Public Schools? Then you need to pony up a little bit to be able to do that."

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said Thursday district officials are not worried about being sued for charging students for a seventh class period.

"We wouldn't have moved forward if we weren't confident it was legal," she said.

Margolis explained the state's per pupil foundation allowance that districts receive is to provide the credit-hour equivalent of six courses for students. School districts legally are only required to offer six courses and are only paid to offer six courses, she said.

"So Ann Arbor has had the wonderful luxury for many years of being able to pay for students to have more options and take more classes," Margolis said. "But … it's now a reality that — it's a lot of ugly choices the board had to make."

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



Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

From the Michigan Department of Education website: I. General Fees A. School districts may not make charges for any required or elective courses such as for: (a) General or registration fees (b) Course fees or materials ticket charges (c) Textbooks and school supplies B. School districts may charge fees for extracurricular activities when students are not graded or evaluated and academic credit is not given, or for any activity in which participation is not required for obtaining a diploma. Provision should be made on a reasonable basis so that students without financial means are not exclude This looks as if charging for a 7th for-credit class is not permissible under Michigan regulations, and the Pay-to-Play fees for athletics call into question the long-standing AAPS practice of giving a one semester (0.5) credit in PE for participating in a sport. This document is very clear. Schools may charge to participate in a class or activity OR they may give credit towards graduation. They may not do both.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Andy Thomas is a socialist trying to force the "elite" (or are they just motivated) into mediocrity.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

The school has required students to show they need 7th hour to get it. This means that students are taking classes they can prove are for a directed purpose (often music and language) to get a 7th hour. Trustee Thomas is fighting for these driven successful students. I would like to thank him for this. I encourage the board to examine the numbers and determine what % of students taking a 7th hour this past year could not afford a payment and find the means to support these students. I am confident Trustee Thomas will lead the way on this. He is an incredibly devoted board member.

Samuel Burns

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

"I would also expect you'd see a close correlation between those in seventh hour and those in a high socioeconomic class," he said. "… this is a very elite part of our school district. And in this day and age, it's not unreasonable to say: you want an elite education in the Ann Arbor Public Schools? Then you need to pony up a little bit to be able to do that." I find it hard to believe that a school board member actually said that. So he recognizes that there is an achievement gap that is based on socioeconomic class, but instead of trying to give students who aren't in a high SE class the help they need to catch up, he argues that an "elite" PUBLIC education should be limited to the socioeconomic elite?? Unbelievable.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:28 a.m.

Whew. I am glad to see my child who will have a 7th hour not get charged for it because my child has only 5 courses. Who on earth would want to take 7 straight classes anyway? Wow is that excessive.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Will family income now be required information on the back to school forms? That will make it easier for Mr. Thomas when he decides Ann Arbor elite should start paying for other public school related items. I understand what he was trying to imply but what a poor choice of words--donations oughta really pick up now...not!


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

I either have to pay for the 7th hour, or ask my son to drop band, language (both of which he has taken for 3 years) or Trailblazers. It's not just about electives. We already pay over $1,000 per year for sports, fees, testing, etc. It's high time the BOE stopped putting this on the backs of the parents and started consolidating schools and denying their own raises. There is no way any of them should make more than a teacher makes.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:12 a.m.

We pay for sports, we pay for rec Ed classes, why is it unheard of to pay for a 7th hour. I wish the district had the money to fund all of this but they do not. Paying for 7th hour gives the kids a choice to still take the classes they want and need for college. The school district provides funding for all required classes and some electives. If you want more, you pay. I don't see what the ACLU and the commenters here are concerned about with this.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:40 a.m.

Exactly just make some choices...personally....I would drop Trailblazers


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

I could not agree more with that phrase, life is about choices. If you want 7 classes? Then pay for it. Otherwise, mine takes 5 and glad to know I am going to pay for it. Whew. This is your choice.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

Life is about choices.

Chester Drawers

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

Once again, the BOE trustees are NOT paid employees of the district. They are elected officials who receive a small stipend for attending meetings (and some of them return their stipends to the Education Foundation). It kind of scares me that people who have children in school don't know the function of a Board of Education!


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

This is a setup by the BOE. It's a win win for them. If they win a court case they get to charge the fees. If they lose, they have an excuse to shove down parents throats when they completely eliminate 7th hour. Oh, and we all foot the bill.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Drips and drabs. AAPS is in economic crisis and needs to get serious about how they are paying for things. There is no financial support for students to take an additional class, the money comes out of our pockets. This option was eliminated about 5 years ago but was not supported by Balas and schools were then told to offer it. Charging for this option at this time seems like a coward's approach to dealing with a select few who still insist that we can afford to function above the bar. Rip the damn bandaid off, eliminate 7th hour. We can no longer afford such luxuries when other programs have been cut back or eliminated because of this financial crisis.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

I have a question. My son, due to the school's inability to place him in a regular first-sixth hour for a required course, ended up with a 7th hour this semester. Would we have to pay for this 7th hour if it is their fault?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:16 a.m.

isn't facebook for bragging?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

Agreed, @jns131. My kid slept in this semester due to an online class. Some of his most productive days. My kid does quite well in school, and I don't feel the i have to drill the need to take every God-forsaken AP class on the planet, or take seven classes. Aren't the kids who jump off buildings the highly pressured ones? No thanks. My kid is just fine. I also wasn't one of the parents who feel the need to get their kid reading by age 4, and my kids passed those early readers up years ago with their comprehension. Oh, and they actually enjoy reading.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

Ours had 1st hour eliminated due the problem of a class not being offered. Ours slept in and got that extra hour of sleep. This time we are hoping for 1st and 2nd eliminated. Lots of time to get some things done.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

Danielle he also had a first hour, so he ended up with a total of seven hours with an extra elective in the middle of the day to fill the gap hour during which they could not put him in the required class. I would hope that if this situation happened again the family would not be required to pay.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

a2tude, no, you should not have to pay. It's not necessarily about a student taking a class during the seventh-hour slot. It's if your student is taking seven classes instead of six. A student could take classes second hour through seventh hour instead of first through sixth hour and still not have to pay. I hope that answers your question!

Chester Drawers

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

This is a great question. The same thing happened to one of my daughters a few years back. I am positive that this issue is something that never occurred to the board. Stuff like this should have been raised by central administration before the board voted.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Whether it is the ACLU on the left or Libertarians on the right, ideologies centered around "civil liberties" usually boil down to, "any individual has the right to make the exact decision that I think that the should."


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Wow, great idea. Now if we only charge the people with kids for all their education we can save the rest of us taxpayers quite a bit... Only in Oz would this come up.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

It's not that complicated, people: The state does not pay for 7th hour. A $100 per-semester fee (and no charge for kids who receive free or reduced-price lunch) -- is hardly exorbitant -- and the kids are getting something far more valuable than learning how to toss a ball. What a bunch of first-world whiners.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

I suspect you are totally correct Charles Curtis about this being a "trial for more addon fees." I envision a future where there will be no money for anything other than a bare bones education and the cost of any "extras" will be borne by the parents. And frankly, 7th hour is an extra. I don't see how it could be argued otherwise. My daughter took 7th hour classes because she was an ambitious student who took band, a foreign language, several AP's and Trailblazers. It certainly was a great opportunity for her but she would have adjusted if the option was eliminated or I would have paid $100.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

@$100 is a half price bargain. Summer school classes are $200+ apiece,

Charles Curtis

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

As long as all HS students are getting treated the same and have similar resources spent on them. The other hidden agenda is this is a trial for more addon fees for education, a public education. Whats next increase the 7th hour charge, rental fee on books, library fee, computer access fee... You can make a case for all those and I'm not sure any are mandated, but once the precedent is set, it will expand like everything the government does.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

"We have had some legal advice on this matter..." That just means that Nelson had a conversation with Dave Comsa, the district lawyer. And do you suppose Comsa, who was clearly angling for a promotion (and who is now the Top Man), told him what he wanted to hear???

Oleg Mihans

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

Well yes, that is true. However the public outcry that they will receive for it will be overwhelming, and I'm not sure whether the BOE is going to want to have a second inappropriate decision for the district under their belts - the first being hiring Patricia Green without completely looking into her previous job record and allowing her to commute back and forth from Maryland to Ann Arbor for a 4 day workweek, thus giving her absolutely no idea and no time to become part of the culture here in this city. You'd think that you'd want to put your own school district in the hands of someone who understands what is important to this community. However, ranting about Green is pointless as she has resigned, so I'll cap my post here.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Unless of course, they completely eliminate seventh hour. Then that will be that.

Oleg Mihans

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

Chances are that the school lawyer doesn't actually do much of the work himself. It is likely that he simply farms the work out to different law firms, and with that there is no saying that if he gets an answer he doesn't like that he just sends the information out to a different law firm to get one that he does like. At this stage, there is no saying how this situation will develop legally. If the school board's decision is taken to court, chances are that a judge will see that it violates the state constitution and require the fees to be completely dismissed, and that will be that.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

School districts legally are only required to offer six courses and are only paid to offer six courses, if you only have funds for 6 courses why would they need to pay for the 7th? It's pay to play, the ACLU doesn't have a chance, other than to tell you go to a private school.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Legally? Where did you get this. They could also "legally" offer five hours and adjust their graduation requirements. Has been done and is being done in a few school districts. Five hour day, all teachers have prep either before or after the five hours.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

Yep, you need to 'pony up' if you want an elite education in Ann Arbor and it's mostly the financially upper level who take the classes anyway so what's the big deal? If that's your thinking AAPS board Secretary Andy Thomas, then you have no business in this position and should resign immediately. And don't try sneaking out any tax payer bought snacks on your way out.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Regular profile in courage opposing the snacks that were in the original budget proposal. Lol. And yes, we expect a world class eduation for everyone in the district. What's wrong with that goal and expectation? But to say, most people have the money to pay for the 7th class so what's the big deal is clueless, arrogant and elitist.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Most Ann Arbor students do lead a privileged life compared to so many other districts. Everyone thinks they're entitled to the best of everything, and if something has to go, well it better not affect THEIR precious programs. And as to your last barb, you might recall that it was Mr. Thomas who suggested the board eliminate its $5,000 food budget.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 4:36 a.m.

Perhaps Andy Thomas would be more comfortable working in the private sector than in public education. He doesn't work for the wealthy elite. He works for the citizen of Ann Arbor, rich and poor. If he can't represent their interests equally then he needs to step down. Considering the tax payers of Ann Arbor ponied up to pay his salary, he has a lot of nerve.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

Charles, I believe there is also credit recovery available in summer school.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7 p.m.

@Charles Curtis, YOUR points are valid. Though would it not prove more challenging for a student who is already struggling to repeat a class, having seven classes total? Are the sizes of classes an issue because 20% of the district takes an extra class? Perhaps if every kid only took six, class sizes would decrease, benefitting every kid, including those who are struggling. Smaller classes means more time for teachers to help those who need it.

Charles Curtis

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Its not just the overachievers or advanced kids that use the 7th hour. There are class size issues, availability issues, some students who fail use the 7th hour to repeat courses. Students cannot always take the classes mandated in the 6 hour schedule. That may very well be another district problem. I want to see equal amount of money spent on all HS students, regardless of the HS they attend. The district has not published that stat as of yet.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

I agree, Chester. A stipend of $100+ does not equate a "salary" by any means. And since he is one of the board members who donates his stipend to the Ann Arbor Educational Foundation, essentially he's working or free. It is interesting to see the vacillation of support for Mr. Thomas. First he's a great guy, the lone supporter of cutting the $5,000 food budget, then the daggers come out. Interesting. I am curious why 80% of students are able to fit the required six courses and 22 credits into their schedule, while others cannot. Is it due to the electives they want to take?

Chester Drawers

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:29 a.m.

Andy Thomas is not a salaried employee of the AAPS. He is an elected trustee on the Board of Education, a position for which he receives a small stipend (whether or not that stipend is justified is fodder for another conversation). I am not particularly a Thomas (or any other trustee) fan, but I think it is important to be factual in these discussions.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:33 a.m.

"And in this day and age, it's not unreasonable to say: you want an elite education in the Ann Arbor Public Schools? Then you need to pony up a little bit to be able to do that." This statement makes me sick.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

If some teachers have scheduled classes from 1st to 6th hour and others have scheduled classes from 2nd to 7th hour, where is the additional costs and savings? Teachers are paid for a specific number of classes taught. I don't see with an staggered schedule where the issue lies.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

Here's how it costs more: For example, say there are 3000 students who each need to take six classes. 3000x 6= 18000 spots needed. 18000/ 30 kids in a class= 600 classes needed. If each teacher teaches 5 classes, that's 120 teachers. Now say 20% of that 3000, or 600 of those kids take an extra class. So 18000+ 600 additional spots needed= 18,600 total spots needed. 18,600/30 = 620 classes needed. Each teacher has 5 classes, that's 124 teachers needed. Four additional teachers at $100,000 each= $400,000 extra needed to pay for an extra class for only 20% of the students in the district. This also potentially affects class sizes- the extra classes equal more students in the system to find a spot for. Perhaps if ALL students took the required 6 classes, more students could fit their classes into six hours, whether that is first thru sixth hour, or second thru seventh hour. I do not have a kid at Pioneer or Huron currently, but I'm just saying that in my perspective, it does cost more and impact class size, which are two relevant issues.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

The school already required students to prove they needed a 7th hour to take it, which was typically those in music and a language. So, it may not have been tuition, but the 7th hour was not an option for all students before this decision. The alternative to tuition was to do away with a 7th hour. I believe the ACLU does a lot of good drawing attention to unjust actions. But, in this instance, they are misguided. The new policy should be compared to the old policy (who will have access now versus who did under the old policy) as well as compared to the alternative, no 7th hour and thus kids having to get their health and PE requirements done as CRs or online, which also have fees.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:04 a.m.

But students taking a language and music, will take it in addition to 6 classes. It may be a paid 7th hour or it may be a CR or online class. But few of the kids in language and music not have to pay for the health and PE requirement if they do away with a 7th hour.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

If an online or CR course is one of the six courses every student is entitled to take, then there is no extra charge. This is assuming there will still be a CR and/or online program available next year.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:51 a.m.

Wow ! Ms. Margolis sure is confident about this being legal. Im sure there is going to be some student and there lawyer to take the case. Seeing that almost every school in the district is a focus school(achievement gap issues) I would think the last thing they would want to do is create a program that would continue their problem. Lets just hope they are offering scholarships to the first student who needs the extra credit but cant come up with the money or they wont have to wait long to be in court.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

It is legal.. It's an additional option and it is legal to charge for it. If it were required it would be illegal to charge for it.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

I'm afraid more and more families of academically high performing students are going to chose private school options for high school, just like they do for K-8 (thanks to the lack of honors/enrichment classes).


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

@YpsiLivin, thanks for the info. I fully support a parent making the right choice for their child, whatever that may be. We have four kids, two are still in school. I shudder to think if I had a young child at this point in elementary school. I don't think that having to pay $100 for a class would send parents in droves to private schools. I think the bigger picture is more important. I have always actively advocated for my kids, and I'm currently comfortable, though not ecstatic, with the teachers they have (a few were not so great). My kids are both academically high performing, and always have been. We are not wealthy, but we find a way to get our kids what they need,at times making the personal sacrifices. I also participate in my kids schools, with countless volunteer hours- more than willing to lend an extra hand to a teacher. Thanks again for your perspective. Kind of refreshing.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

anotherannarborite, Parents won't flock in droves to private high schools because there aren't really that many private options available here. Setting money aside, the private high schools here are - for the most part - operating at or near capacity, so adding students isn't going to happen. TTBO, I send my children to a private school and have since they started kindergarten. People don't make the decision to educate their children privately because it's economical. They base their decisions on factors other than money, so yes, some parents would rather pay private school tuition than pay $100 to the local school district for extra services. In the last 10 years, I've watched my local public school district cut programs; close schools; lay off teachers; hire, fire and retire school administrators multiple times; re-configure schools; turn its rainy-day fund into pocket lint; make absurd budget predictions; shuffle school-level administrators; spend millions more than it has (because apparently I have the money to guarantee debt repayment), and consolidate. How has this affected my children? It hasn't, because through all of this chaos, my children went to the same school, had the same teachers, and hung out with the same kids. There were no cuts to middle school electives; sports have always been pay-to-play; and transportation and lunches have been "privatized" since day one. The "technology millage" comes right out of my pocketbook. On the plus side, foreign language is now taught to every student in the school building, and the middle school has a tablet-based learning program. Apply any means test you want to my household. I'm not wealthy. The decision to educate our children privately was difficult and it's demanded a lot of sacrifices from us. We've given up a lot do to this, but at the end of the day, stability for a kid is priceless. I'll happily pay for theater; I just don't want drama.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

Are you saying they would rather pay private school tuition, rather than $100 per semester? Just curious.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:54 a.m.

There are roughly 4,000 students at Pioneer, Huron, and Community. If 20% take the optional 7th hour at $200 per year, that's $160,000, assuming that none of those students receive waivers. What will it cost to defend this in court?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

Students who pass their classes have no NEED for a 7th hour. Students who fail classes and have to make up credits might need 7th hour. Why shouldn't they pay for it? Why should the rest of us finance their failure?


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Thanks for the example, Steve. So you're saying that the primary use of a seventh class is to explore electives? Can you imagine what it would be like if every kid in high school wanted to take a seventh hour to explore electives? My kid took a class in summer school as an elective, in order to have the schedule he wanted the next fall. I paid over $200 for that "elective." I would understand if its needed to have the requirements fit, but if 80% of the district doesn't NEED it, it must be because kids want to have every single option. My kid has never gotten the classes he prefers yet, in 3.5 years, which includes next fall. My greater concern is whether the 20% of the district that wants to take a seventh class is one of the main reasons classes are so full at Pioneer and Huron. If that's the case, then the 20% of kids taking an "extra, unnecessary class are impacting the 80% who do not. Doesn't seem that would be fair.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

Trying to be Objective-Kids use the seventh hour option to give them an opportunity to continue with or explore other areas of interest. One of the attractions of trimesters is the additional elective time which often hits on a students interest. 7th hour allowed Pioneer and Huron to give kids this option without changing their bell schedule. My child took 7th hour every year, the last two years in Jazz Band which was only offered during 7th hour. Also, remember, 7th hour isn't just electives. In order for my son to take other classes during the day, he did have his Math and his Spanish class during seventh hour. Electives are also more than music and language. There is art, gym, computer programing, additional math/science/english/social studies courses. 7th hour gives kids options. It gives kids the opportunity to explore areas of interest, it gives kids the opportunity to put additional focus on an area while still covering their graduation requirements.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

I think the key word is "optional." If 22 credits are required for graduation, and most kids take a first year language while they are still in middle school, how many electives in music or language create this "need" to take an extra class? Is it the course scheduIe as to when the class occurs, conflicting with other required classes? can they change the schedule? Please give an example, as I'd like to understand. My kid took two languages, and never took a seventh hour.

Charles Curtis

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

We need to know how much per student is spent by district by HS. If Skyline can offer more credits per year for the same cost as Pioneer/Huron costs for 6 classes, no issue. If not then sue away and lets waste more tax money. Community, Pioneer, Huron and Skyline ought to be spending about the same per student. If not I have a big problem with the policy. So many are up in arms that a good portion of our taxes get shipped around the state to other districts, how can we have a smaller version of that happening here in the district? There is no possible excuse for not having equal spending on each student or close to equal.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

It costs more for trimesters. Period.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

There are two other high schools in Ann Arbor- Roberto Clemente and A2Tech.

Wake Up A2

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Kary should know since her daughter went to pihi. How many times has the district been in legal trouble? Shouldnt the new interim have told pat about the legal issues? Oh wait maybe that isnt covered under his 14% raise.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:35 a.m.

Another federal lawsuit? Job security for lawyers! And we all pay.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

So if it's illegal to charge for the 7th hr, just drop 7th hr. altogether. No more problem or whiners.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

If the kids take their classes seriously from the start, they do not have to worry about summer school.. 7th hour is nice, but those who want it should pay for it.

Oleg Mihans

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

The amount of negative effects that this would have upon the school district would be innumerable.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

@grimmk, they don't have to make up missed credits, they have to make choices. What do they want to take the most? I don't know about you, but I haven't always gotten whatever I wanted. My kid as never had the "perfect schedule." But that's life.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 5:54 a.m.

And have all the kids make up the missed credits during summer school? No thanks!


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

That was my initial thought.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

No wonder Green cut and run. All talk, and her only action was to flee. This board is completely disfunctional and delusional.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:13 a.m.

Nicholas - You do understand that she worked FOR the BoE, not the other way around, right? I am not trying in any way to defend Green's record while in AAPS, but let's aportion the blame where it is really due. The AAPS BoE were the ones who set a pay rate before even beginning interviews. The AAPS BoE were the ones who then brought Green in for that obscene salary in the midst of financial crisis. The AAPS BoE were the ones who barely slapped Green's wrist when she hired an assistant superintendent without consulting them (to the tune of $140K). The AAPS BoE were the ones who approved the 1AM promotions and pay increases last year (and the new interim superintendent was the beneficiary of one of those promotion/increases). The AAPS BoE were the ones who chose to take in excess of $6,000,000 from the district's fund equity last year instead of making the tough choices. The AAPS BoE were the ones who last night decided to take nearly $1,200,000 more from the fund equity. The AAPS BoE were the ones who chose to open up a $10,000,000 line of credit for the district; a district that has never borrowed money before. The AAPS BoE are the ones who have once again specified a generous pay range for the superintendent position before a single candidate has been identified. Does anyone else see a pattern developing...?


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

This is one of the few times I am in agreement with the ACLU.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Colorado In looking at some of your post I think we are in agreement on more than you might think.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.


Colorado Sun

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

This is one of the first times I am in greement with jcj.


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 11:03 p.m.

"...a more robust tuition-based model." What does that suggest? That the year after next we will have to start paying for more than just 7th hour? Aren't my taxes my kids tuition?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

above post ended up in the wrong spot.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Colorado In looking at some of your post I think we are in agreement on more than you might think.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:02 a.m.

Actually, as Ann Arbor is a "Hold Harmless" district, our taxes are not only paying for our own children, but for children in less affluent districts also. Ann Arbor has proven to be a city that cares about supporting public education, but our public schools are not getting the benefit of all of that funding.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:53 a.m.

DJ - Your property taxes are your kids tuition just as much as my property taxes are your kids tuition.

Colorado Sun

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union has my support on this one. Charging public school students is both unconstitutional and appalling. The latest garbage from the Ann Arbor School Board. Let's organize a recall.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

@Colorado Sun, they are providing you with a free education- six classes for FREE. It's the EXTRA one that costs less than half of a summer school course. You have a choice. 20% of the district is impacting class sizes for the other 80%. What about the rights of those 80%?


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

I don't have a problem buying my kids their school supplies. It's part of the back to school fun, and we enjoy it. It parents cannot afford to, then I fully support schools providing supplies. We will purchase our own. There are also many charities who help provide supplies.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I agree with craigjjs. In fact, it was a parent from Eberwhite Elementary School in Ann Arbor (Arthur Carpenter, a well-known attorney) who challenged the fact that parents then had to buy/pay for books and school supplies. If public education is free, that means free. It went all the way to the State Supreme Court and he won. That is why students no longer have to buy their books and supplies. However, in an effort to save money for other things, teachers and administrators are "asking" parents to buy school supplies. Parents who don't understand the law think they must buy the materials. In fact, AT EBERWHITE, no less, parents will receive in the envelope with their child's report card today, a list of "suggested" supplies to send to school with their child in the fall. Arthur Carpenter must be screaming from his grave. It further showcases the haves and the have-nots. Shame on you Eberwhite.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

teeters - Actually there is a mention of free, public school in the State Constitution. I am not sure this program violates it, but it exists.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:38 a.m.

Ok, this is wrong, but calling it unconstitutional is taking it way too far. Take a look at the constitution, there is no mention of free, public education.


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

Even if it is legal for a public school system to charge for credits beyond the state-mandated minimum, there is an obvious disparate impact on the students at Pioneer, Huron and Community high schools vs. those at Skyline. The trimester schedule of 5 classes per trimester means that Skyline students can complete 15 credits per academic year for free, vs only 12 at each of the other high schools. Even when 7th hour was free, there was a disparity of one full credit per year in the opportunities made available to Skyline students vs. other high school students. This was exacerbated by the transportation policy that required families to arrange their own transportation for 7th hour. It may help balance the budget, but charging for 7th hour is not equitable, and not what I expect to see from AAPS.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Skyline specifically has to cut three staff due to trimester scheduling. Certainly there are openings at Skyline, if a parent would like the same opportunity to take 15 classes. There is also a disparity as to how much it costs to educate the 20% who take seven classes, as opposed to the 80% who take the required six. If I wanted my kid to have that option to take 15 classes, sure, I'd send him to Skyline. But that would be a WANT, not a need. There's a difference. Since Skyline is open to the entire district to attend, everyone has the same opportunity, if they WANT it.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

It doesn't seem that students are particularly interested in racking up 15 credits per academic year, otherwise Skyline's enrollment would be increasing rather than decreasing. Now that the high schools are open to all, people can choose whichever one fits their needs.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

KJM, I met with a teacher at Skyline earlier this week and she indicated that for the 2013-14 school year Skyline would still be on Trimesters. Once again, however, SKYLINE = BAD. This is getting old.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

KJM - Has the new principal decided that? It was not a done deal in the budget, nor did the board mandate that change.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:04 a.m.

Skyline is being switch from trimesters to semesters as part of the changes. Your point is now moot.