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Posted on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:30 a.m.

List: 80 employees, high school busing, middle school pools among $8.67M in proposed cuts

By Danielle Arndt


Pioneer High School students board an Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus on the first day of school in September. More students may be taking the public transit to get to class in the AAPS, if the school board approves the administration's recommendation to eliminate high school busing. file photo

The Ann Arbor Public Schools administration presented its recommendation for how to close an $8.67-million budget gap Wednesday.

The budget proposal for the 2013-14 academic year includes eliminating high school transportation, closing the middle school pools and cutting a total of 80 staff members, including teachers, counselors, custodians, a theater technician and central office staff.

It also outlines $287,685 in reductions to the athletics department budget and an estimated $225,000 in additional revenue through higher pay-to-participate fees and other increases to the contributions players must make to their sports.

The list of recommended cuts presented on Wednesday did not differ much from the list of preliminary proposals presented by the administration in December. The Roberto Clemente Student Development Center for academically and socially struggling teens was pulled from the chopping block, as was a proposal to eliminate instrumental music for fifth-graders and to reduce the number of media specialists in the district's libraries.

Superintendent Patricia Green said a decision on Roberto Clemente will be delayed until the administration can complete its redistricting study that the board requested in December. Green and her administrative team have been working on a series of reports on the district's capacity and enrollment trends, transportation costs, building replacement costs and maintenance of the district's physical properties. She also previously expressed a desire to have an outside consultant complete a feasibility study.

"That redistricting study may impact school closures ... so until that piece comes full circle, it's being delayed," she said of the Roberto Clemente proposal.

Green added cutting fifth-grade music and changing the number of media specialists in the district both ended up being contractual issues the administration could not pursue. She said the instrumental music is contractual in terms of it is required planning time for the elementary school teachers.

The proposal to eliminate block scheduling at Community High School also was taken off the table until the administration can engage in a second phase of studying the district's alternative education programs, of which Community is one. The first phase was the administration's research into Roberto Clemente, Green said.

Sharing elementary school principals was reconsidered as well and removed from the list of proposals.

"Looking at the size alone of the students of what some of the principals would be responsible for, I had some concerns about the safety of our young people, especially in light of some of the tragedies that have taken place around the country," Green said.

Read the complete list of what was recommended below.

Recommended budget reductions to instructional services:

  • Reduce teaching staff by 32 FTE (full-time equivalents) for a savings of $3.2 million.
  • Eliminate all of the district's reading intervention teachers (10 FTE), $1 million.
  • Reduce the number of counselors by 3 FTE, $300,000.
  • Reduce fine arts and physical education positions through attrition (3 FTE), $200,000.
  • Reduce theater funding by $77,068, or 38.5 percent of their budget.
  • Eliminate the theater technician (1 FTE) at Pioneer High School to make the Pioneer program equitable with the other high schools, $50,000.
  • Eliminate the seventh-hour option at Huron and Pioneer (5 FTE), $500,000.
  • Reduce noon-hour supervisors by $71,000 and recruit volunteers.
  • Freeze library material purchases for one year to save $100,000.
  • Eliminate high school transportation, $466,000.

Recommended budget reductions to athletics:

  • Increase fees for ice hockey to $600 per student to help cover rink rentals, $36,000.
  • Increase fees for golf to between $225 and $400 per student for tee times, $21,000.
  • Reduce district funding of equipment by $30,000.
  • Reduce athletics transportation funding by $120,000.
  • Reduce the number of middle school club sports from 28 to 23 for a savings of $18,989.
  • Eliminate middle school baseball and softball, $31,000.
  • Eliminate seventh-grade girls and boys basketball, $30,696.
  • Increase pay-to-participate fee at middle schools from $50 to $100 for $75,000 in revenue.
  • Increase pay-to-participate fee at high schools from $150 for the first sport to $250, $150,000 in revenue.

Recommended budget reductions to district operations:

  • Freeze furniture and fixtures purchases for one year to save $200,000.
  • Reduce natural gas purchases by negotiating a lower price, $100,000.
  • Energy savings of $200,000 through previous sinking fund improvement projects.
  • Reduce grounds personnel by 1 FTE, $50,000.
  • Restructure custodial services (15 FTE), $600,000.
  • Eliminate custodial crew chief (1 FTE), $80,000.
  • Reduce 100 percent of the district's food allowance for meetings, $70,000.
  • Reduce conference and travel expenses by 33 percent for a $50,000 savings.
  • Close the middle school pools, $70,000.
  • No longer rent tables for school events and activities, $15,000
  • Reduce central office positions (6 FTE) and restructure, $477,540.

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



Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

Ann Arbor gets more per pupil (several thousand) more than other nearby districts of similar size, so I'm not sure why cuts are in such important parts of school system like transportation. In defense of media specialists, as a possible item to cut, the one at the school where I work (not Ann Arbor) is integral to the literacy of students. She gets students from K to 5 into whatever kinds of books "hook" them. She knows all the books in the library, takes care of, and adds to our collection. She helps teachers with new books selections and projects. She runs multiple reading programs for a variety of grade levels. She motivates and inspires students to read books because it is her area of expertise. She is an expert in technology and helps maintain our lab and helps with other forms of technology. She does a summer reading program and opens the library in the summer to students. She does two week long book fairs each year, that get more books into students' hands and into our library. Without our media specialist, our library would be just another room in the school. Cutting all the district reading interventionists is worrisome, because this an integral way to catch kids early who need extra one-on-one help to start reading. Without these programs, many more students could be identified as needing special education services.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

No word from the unions willing to renegotiate contracts to accommodate revenue? Imagine that. City taxpayers already subsidize the public golf courses to the tune of 400 grand per year. Athletic program costs are really out of control these days. Isn't it more important teaching kids how to read and write, with a decent PE program than it is to pay enormous amounts money to win a few games. Athletic sports should be eliminated when it comes to learning or playing. I'd suggest playtime come to an end. It's time to get serious.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

So I guess the option of making Skyline a semester school is off the table too. Great.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

@ Goober- The information I looked up on recalling BOE members, if I am reading it correctly, requires getting a number of signatures needed from the county clerk based on how many votes were cast overall in the election. A recall ballot could appear on the November election ballot at the same time I would predict the BOE will also post a millage vote. The two proposals are not incompatible. Voters could affirm a millage and oust the board president at the same time. Stranger things have happened, such as rehiring a national firm for a superintendent search that botched the first one and Mexicotte ignoring feedback from community and trustees at the meeting urging that an internal candidate be hired. I am curious if other board members would sign a recall petition for Mexicotte and/or Nelson and even be grateful to the community for generating this effort. Steps to Recall an Official The Petition Form Recall petitions must conform to the specifications prescribed by the Secretary of State (168.952). A separate petition must be circulated for each officer whose recall is sought (168.958a). Recall language printed on the recall petitions that are circulated must be the same language approved by the Board of County Election Commissioners or Circuit Court (168.952).


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Another way to save thousands is to have Jeff Kass review the superintendent search candidates, select a couple of people (one should be an internal candidate) and have four minute conversations with each, as Kass indicated at last weekend's community forum he could have told the Board that Dr. Green was not the right person after talking to her for four minutes.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Where are the cuts from the Principals and Baylis? My understanding the principals have no intention of reducing their income.....Seems like we all "own" the problem, we should all "own" the solution.

A Voice of Reason

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

Well, I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but let's look at substitute hours and teaching hours. Our teachers only have to be in the buildings 7 hours which includes a planning period and lunch, and all meetings are also done during school hours -accept planned weekly staff meetings. I am not saying that the great teachers are not working during their lunches and need a planning hour, but all other meetings should be done after school. Maybe IEPs should be done before the school year starts or in the summer. The number of substitute hours for coaches leaving early for matches, parent meetings, BALAS, etc. needs to be changed. Also elective surgery, and trips during the school year for teachers that require subs, needs to end too. Teachers are important! In addition, teachers make extra money by running after school clubs, providing homework help, etc. It seems like doing one of these activities or events should be part of the job vs. being paid extra for it. $100,000 (average salary and benefits) for 65% employment is not bad, so asking a little more on the work-end, at least an 8 hour day, seems fair and would save our districts a lot of money.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

School financing at the state level and local property taxes creates the race to the bottom, competitive interstate struggle for comparative advantage for the powers that be. Flexibility cuts, media cuts, teacher cuts, library cuts, arts cuts, lunch supervisor cuts, etc, are all quality cuts and contribute to the drop outs, school to prison pipelines, and the general dumbing down that has over the years contributed to citizen numbness and the bend over and take it passivity characterizing our civic dilemma of hollow democracy. For those who missed the inspired and brief commencement address at the University a few years ago, by Bob Moses, famed civil rights activist of the "Freedom Schools" in Mississippi, I will repeat it, more or less verbatim: "I want to enlist all who hear this in the common mission of guaranteeing quality public education for everyone in the United States, as a matter of right, secured by the Federal Government, by amendment to the Constitution." He then repeated this clear message, to make sure people heard, and then sat down. " form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty..." does not specifically include "quality public education." It should. Interstate competition has lead to the two tier, "sharecropper education" system that prevails here and elsewhere. A larger system change is needed beyond reshuffling inadequate local resources. An educated public is essential for a functioning democracy. To learn more of this effort, carried forward by students, search for the "Algebra Project" and the "Young People's Project." The Gray Panthers of Washtenaw are having a discussion on education in Michigan on Saturday, May 4, 10 am at the Turner Senior Center on Plymouth Road. The Washtenaw Community Action Team is hosting an education panel on Thurs


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

,,,Thursday May 16, 7PM, 330 East Liberty, 3rd Floor. This last detail got cut off, even though I had 1 character left. "Fighting Back Against Austerity in the Public Schools."

the artist

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

I was at one of the discussions with the community meetings and I brought up the issue of Lansing eliminating Art, Music and Physical Education and wanted to make sure this was not on the table at AAPS. the board President said "Oh no, they were evil, we won't let that happen here" and the other board members agreed. So as of right now, there are cuts through attrition for art and physical education, and major cuts to the theater arts program and the music program. Please, do no evil, or at least admit it.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

The consistent opinion of the commenters is that the administration should make big cuts FIRST. If the BOE would listen to the public, all of those out for their own personal agendas with cutbacks would no longer have anything to argue about. Athletics, reading intervention cuts- just cut the fat and then some from the administration and likely everything else will fall in place.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Seams like Stone School, Roberto Clemente and possibly Community High are luxuries we can no longer afford.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

RE: Noon hour, I surely hope that they take a very hard look at what is occurring during the noon hour. I resigned from that position two years ago because there were not enough supervisors to properly take care of the needs of the children. In addition, I felt that the children were not given adequate time to even eat their lunches. PLEASE for the sake of the children, - take a GOOD hard look at the noon hour situation. Maybe it was only at the school I worked at, but it was not and still is not good.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:21 p.m.

Andy, having worked as a supervisor, I can tell you for a fact that most kids would like to have more than 10 minutes to eat their lunches. I challenge you and your administrators to follow a lunch routine that some of the children have to follow.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Seems too short to me as well, but educators / administrators always say the kids eat in 10 minutes no matter how much time is allowed.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

You're right. There are kids who have about 8 minutes to eat their lunch. It's nuts.

Nick Danger

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:33 a.m.

What!No cuts at Balas?

You Don't Say

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

Being fiscally responsible is not rocket science school board administrators. Why cut teaching positions and close swimming pools when you can simply restructure contracts for not just the teachers but the maintenance workers as well. Lets see how accommodating the unions will be to help out. NOT. I would rather see the school yard grass cut less often and the trash emptied two less times a week than cutting teaching positions. As far as athletics, every student should pay for their uniform and equipment and keep it when they are done playing. A reasonable surcharge for bus fuel and thats it. Everything else should be covered by the taxpayer. Paying to play hurts those families with many kids that want to play high school sports. Saline high school kids pay $325 to play. Then the parents have to pay to see their kid play. Then there is revenue generated from fund raising and concessions. Where is all of that revenue going? Salaries and administrative costs. What a waste. Come on Ann Arbor. Can the cities Liberal Arts budget and other useless wastes of the taxpayers money and focus on the essential things to keep Ann Arbor functional like city services, road repair and our schools. Pay to play? How about a city surcharge tax on everything purchased in Ann Arbor and a city tax increase? Boom! Instant revenue stream.

Fat Bill

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:13 a.m.

21st century public education... bring on the mediocrity. Soon, there will be nothing special about the Ann Arbor schools.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

Close Northside. It is underutilized, while other elementaries are bursting. There is a reason for this. Underperforming and underenrolled schools needs to be closed, and excellent schools expanded and properly staffed.

J. A. Pieper

Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

My school went through many rough years with a horrid principal, many complaints, even when the principal kicked and punched a student. The Balas people said that there was nothing to the claim even though teachers saw it happen. So the person was back! We had to wait until retirement also, meanwhile the principal was doing anything possible to ruin the school. This is how effective AAPS administration is, and what we will have to continually face in the future!


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Fixing the personnel problems at Northside by the end of the school year would probably add 100 or more students who are currently in charters back into the district, netting the district an easy $902,000 in additional revenue of about 10 percent of the budget hole. Too bad they will not fix it or other personnel issues with union members until those members retire.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Northside is underutilized because it has been allowed to be run into the ground by poor administration, despite years (7+) of constant complaints and attempts at improvement actions by parents of Northside students. The efforts to improve the school have been stymied by 3 different central administration turnovers, and Union protectionism on behalf of the current principle, who has FAILED to provide the students with a safe learning environment.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

Can't do that because that would affect the principal gap.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

You say hat excellent schools need to be expanded and properly staffed. That INCLUDES Community, which is an EXCELLENT reward school!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Administrators make too much $$ in the district. Not only the super, but also the assistant supers, principals, assistant principals, etc. Cut all of their salaries by 15-20% and they would still be doing just fine. That is the place to start. Given how high their salaries are, it would save big bucks. Eliminating the 7th hour option is a good idea. Many of those students just hang out in hallways and cause disturbances. They are not in classes. Sell Community High. AAPS can't afford the luxury of a very small, select high school, complete with all the support staff and teachers, for a handful of AAPS students. Merge Roberto and Stone Schools. Running those two separate facilities is really wasteful when the district is looking at cutting teachers. Strong principals at those schools will probably object, but there is not a justification to keep both open. Don't cut teachers. Getting rid of the lunch hour supervisors is a mistake. Lunchrooms are loud and boisterous places. There is little control as it is. Fights and punching are common at many levels and schools. Keep the paid staff in place.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

JRW, I agree with you that eliminating noon-hour supervisors is a bad idea. I'm a noon-hour supervisor at one of the elementary schools here, and our hours were recently cut. We do our best here, but the sad truth is we don't have eyes in the backs of our heads and as a result of these cuts, not only do we lose income that we don't get a lot of anyway, but more importantly these kids do NOT receive adequate supervision and this is a disaster just waiting to happen. BOE, cut the fat not the muscle!!!


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

God forbid your kid not be able to hand pick his courses or start at second hour. If you want flexibility or classes at UM, it's called summer school. Your dime. 7th hour is unnecessary. You can still dual enroll, you just can't have it the way you want it. One reason the jazz program works is that it is centrally located at CHS. Not so at Skyline. Community makes the district money, since it brings in additional revenue as a reward school, unlike Pioneer and Huron. 7th hours are an unneeded expensive perk. Welcome to the real world where you may not always get the classes you want.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Elimination of the 7th hour does several bad things. 1) eliminates any flexibility in course selection, resulting in a cookie cutter education. 2) eliminates the possibility of dual enrollment (jazz at CHS, school at Huron for example), 3) eliminates the ability to take classes at UM (e.g. Higher level math courses, etc.), 4) eliminates ability to schedule starting your day during 2nd hour (attend 2-7). Who would buy Community? I'd start with moving Community to Skyline. Alternatively, sell or lease Huron to a private school, redistrict to Pioneer/Skyline buildings and rename Skyline as Huron. The Huron legacy lives on and they get a new building. Win Win. That would go a long way towards saving costs!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

$40,000 is spent on each Sprecial Ed student. That is $18 million, for about 390 kids. Where are the cuts and efficiencies for these programs? Why are we allowed to fund these programs with millages, but not General Education? Where is the City of Ann Arbor, working with the district to see how they can help? And why agree to a Teachers contract that doesn't do enough to solve the budget issue?


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 6:01 p.m.

belboz - Roughly 10% of the students in AAPS have IEPs or get some form of service from special education. The real number has never been released by AAPS. The 390 FTE number is based on a formula on count day, and only on that formula. It is red herring to use the number. So of the 16,000 students in the district, approximately 1,600 are getting some form of special education support. WISD reimburses the district between 60 and 68 percent of the money, because of the Durant settlement, the state also reimburses a chunk of the money (roughly 28 percent) and there is medicaid and other sources of reimbursement. So at worst AAPS is getting 88 percent of the money they spend on special education (including the overhead of running the buildings and having and administration) and at the best they are getting close to (or maybe even over) 100 percent. The cost to the district to help 1,600 children is then roughly (at most) $4,800,000 out of the general fund, about 50% more than the district spends out of the general fund for Varsity Athletics. Cutting 100 dollars from special education will net the district a $12 or less savings to the general fund. This is the wrong tree to go after, the cuts would have to be huge, to get any real savings and the impact on the general education classrooms and progress of many students would be out of proportion to the savings.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

You're way off in the cost of special education and the fact that when there is an aide in the room for a student with an IEP, that aide also assists others in need. Federal law protects the rights of students who have disabilities; it's not the place for a district to cut to fatten other programs.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

The city could, and maybe does, I don't know, work with the schools in areas like rates for water and sewer, taxes, etc. it would be nice if the city coffers, which benefit from the schools reputation, and the UM reputation, reached out more to work with both entities. Best case scenario? Give more to the public schools in the form of operating expense reductions, and take more from the UM in lieu of property taxes lost to development.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

The numbers you are using are way way off. First, there are a lot more than 390 students getting special education services in the AAPS. Second, 40K per student for special education students is not true. The number per student might be half that, but it is more likely 1/3 of that. One thing to consider is much of that special education money DOES NOT come from funds available to the district for any other purpose. Those funds are provided by the state and federal government for the specific use within the program they are provided for. Cutting special education services is not as simple as that. There are numerous federal and state laws regarding the education of special education services that must legally be followed. These laws all cost money and are often paid for by the government for that purpose and that purpose ONLY. Simply put, it is very difficult to cut any funding to those programs under the law. Why can they be funded with millages but not the general fund can't. That is one of those legal questions that only the leaders in Lansing can answer. It all goes back to Proposal A which was passed by the voters of this state. I'm really not sure what the City of Ann Arbor can do to help the budget. First, they are not exactly flush with money (despite their actions making it seem like they are). Second, the AAPS and the City are not in any way controlled together. What could they do to help the AAPS? Why agree to a contract that doesn't do enough to solve the budget issue? At some point the district administion will know darn well that if you cut the teachers too mcuh you lose the teachers and are left with lesser quality teachers working in the district. AAPS demands the teachers do a certain job, but if they are not willing to pay for that job to be done the employees will go elsewhere. Teachers in this state have already taken huge cuts, both in pay and in benefits in recent years. If the district tries cutting those further they risk trouble.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

Lady Green should not be part of these negotiations or be leading this effort of budget cuts. She has resigned. She will not be part of the solution. Unbelievable. She's out. Get the people who are in the district for the long haul to lead the budget cuts, not a lame duck individual who had little commitment in the first place.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

Devil's advocate: maybe Green has nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the best job possible of this, which makes her involvement a poitive thing. It doesn't matter who here hates her afterwards,she's gone anyway. but should she decide to come out of her comfy retirement and "step in" to another highly paid Super position, it would be quite a bullet pount on a resume. IF she did a sound job financially. let's face it, apart from the food for the BOE mee6tings, there's nothing we will all agree on. Maybe she needs to make the tough decisions and "take one for the team", so the new super can start with a clean slate?


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

Green should absolutely not be a part of any budget decisions. She gave up that privilage when she decided after almost 2 years and grumbling to give up some of that fat salary to retire. Whatever happened to the pay cuts from the Balas administrators? They could start with that early a.m. pay increase Green inserted at the last minute. I'm all for cuts but the teachers, office staff, custodians, bus drivers have all took pay cuts for the district...what about the administrators at Balas. This should have been the first starting point as well as looking into that huge amount of money wasted from loss of books. As for cutting the custodial staff and the crew chief....has anyone asked the teachers how clean classrooms are these days? Cut the Balas administrators salaries before cutting the custodian support and having children stay in dirty classrooms.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

Isn't this the Great Lakes State? How many kids do we need to drown on the first hot days of summer before we realize this is the only opportunity many kids have to learn to swim? $70K seems a small price to pay, especially given how much AAPS charges to rent their pools for those tenacious enough to make it through the red tape. And yet there is demand -Goldfish Swim school built its own pool. Here's a study from a few years back which highlights the importance of learning to swim. I'm the parent of two high school kids who need to bus to school, both are athletes, one a hockey player I can live with those cuts/increases. My kids could swim before they went to elementary school, we didn't need the pools. But there are so many who do -who are old enough to explore under their own steam in summer (and are left to their own devices for long periods of time), but who cannot swim. I hope the pool suggestion is just a heavy-handed threat to ease the blow of the cut they actually intend to make.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

It used to be that you had to learn to swim to meet the requirements of a swim test to graduate from the University of Michigan. How many U students could do that today?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10 p.m.

Danielle, does the cut in teaching staff by 32 FTE mean increase in class sizes again? Because class sizes are ridiculous already. And this could be a serious deal-breaker for many families. Do you know?

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

I never considered taking a school bus during high school. Good grief, get a bike already! Isn't this supposed to be bike town?


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

Try riding a bike to school on an icy road.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

This would require a change in start time - switch with the elementary schools so there is some LIGHT during the time HS kids are riding their bikes. Short of reversing the GWBUSH daylight savings revision, that is all you can do to make it a little safer for the kids on bicycles. What a frickin mess. I'm so glas for all we get for our $12,000 in property taxes per year here in AA!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

Jay Thomas - I will tell you what - an hour before high school starts, get on your bike and ride from Gotfredsen and Plymouth-Ann Arbor to Huron or from the Saline Fair Grounds to Pioneer. See how much you would trust a 14 year old on these roads with 55MPH speed limits and semi-trucks moving at 65 MPH and commuters are 70 MPH


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Why don't they also reduce bloated salaries to administrators also. Could probably save 200,000 grand


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Perhaps the public could be schooled on what exactly Reading Intervention teachers do before they are quick to judge. It is my understanding that this is a half-time position per school and mainly services twelve 1st grade students in groups of 2-4 at a time? Sometimes they may work with a 2nd grader or a kindergarten student, but primarily first grade. I would be interested in knowing facts. How many students per year? How many students per group? How many of these students remain in AAPS after intervention? What grade(s) receive Reading Intervention? I do know it's not 3-5. They have their own intervention which is usually the classroom teachers.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

@DonBee How is that fair at all? To limit children's choices and opportunities because AAPS cut funding?


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

I don't understand the context of your post, sorry.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Ann Arbor is finally feeling the pain other districts felt a few years ago. We were protected by our savings but even that is dwindling now. AAPS administrators must definitely be cut but AAPS teachers have had it good for too long. There is nothing sacred about the teaching profession. Teachers must sacrifice just like every other worker in Michigan. If AAPS teachers insist on protecting their vacation time, "planning time" and short work day then they must deal with the consequences: layoffs and fewer jobs. It's not Governer Snyder's fault that our economy is in the tank. I have many neighbors in Ann Arbor who home-school or send their kids to charter and private schools. Public education must compete like everyone else or they will be out of business soon.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

According to MSG..."Teachers in AAPS have had it good for too long, must sacrifice just like every worker, and insist on protecting their vacation time, planning time and short work day... Wow! The vitriol, hate and zero knowledge about teachers in AAPS is vicious and highlights a complete lack of knowledge about teaching, and especially what is the reality of teaching in AAPS really is....LOL, short work day, vacation time, planning time, not sacrificing....

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10 p.m.

The tax cuts are not as "massive" as you make them out to be. Nor are the spending cuts really that great. It would have been the same had Granholm been able to serve a third term. It's all from declining property values and at least property values are now starting to climb once again.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

No economic downturn isn't his fault - but it is Governers Snyder's fault that per pupil spending on public education is being slashed at the same time that business are being given massive tax breaks. As to teacher, as a profession they put in as much, and often far more time and effort, than other comparable professions that require a similar degree of education - and they have to put up with far more than many other professions.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

Pioneer does have an excellent theater program. Why are you punishing it to make it more "like the other school's theater programs". Why not think of a way to combine the programs and share the excellence? I hope everyone comes to see Shrek this weekend and next at PiHi. It's quite an honor that they were given this script from MTI (at no charge) to kick off future school productions of Shrek. Fox 2 even did a segment about them! Here's the link Please buy tickets at Come support the program and show AAPS that this is more valuable then they can imagine.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

Skigirl50 It is illegal in the state of Michigan to charge for school busing. Talk to the legislature about that one, not the school board. Also, with all the accounting software on the market today, I can't imagine that doing your own payroll is a big deal.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Realistically, why isn't theater 'pay to play' just as sports? After all, shouldn't all extra curricular activities such as sports/music/theater/clubs be in the same boat. Remember in these times, the schools only have to educate our children, they don't HAVE to provide after school activities. They don't have to bus ANY general education children. In parts of California for example, if students want to take the school bus they pay bus tuition, not a daily fee but a monthly fee whether they ride the bus once a month or every day. Families qualifying for free and reduced lunch get scholarships. I'm still amazed that AAPS still does their own payroll - who does their own payroll anymore? Why isn't contracting payroll out on the table??


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

How does Tappan fund their theatre program?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Cutting 7th grade basketball definitely enters new territory in being the only class A school in the area who doesn't offer 7th grade girls and boys basketball in order to save $30k. As someone noted on another post Ann Arbor already is behind the development programs of Saline, Dexter, etc. (at least for basketball and soccer ) that will makes families start to consider whether they should move in order to be able to make sure their kids have access to sports, music, etc. that other schools still offer. Families moving out of Ann Arbor surely won't help the budget problem. Eliminating high school busing would also affect families who do not live near city buses. We live miles from a city bus stop and would require walking along Geddes road which has no sidewalks ... no one walks along that road because it is too dangerous. My daughters will not be old enough to drive until they are a Junior so this will be problematic for two years.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

kathryn You are accusing these people of not using due diligence to their needs when buying the home they live in. However, if they needed transportation to school and the home is on a school bus route, then they did in fact use due diligence. Please stop implying that somehow they are getting what they deserve for living where AATA doesn't go if they didn't need AATA when they bought it.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

I agree that cuts to programs are hard....and cuts to busing will be inconvenient for parents, but you did choose to buy a house far away from the school and off the bus routes. There are trade-offs when you choose to live on the edge of town.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

SmithGoBlue, you are right, the families that can afford to move will leave the district, leaving AAPS with...


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:43 p.m.

Blight, horrible roads, school budget cuts. By all means, keep mayor Hieftje and his administration around for many more years. Has anyone ever received more of a free pass?


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

They are Ann Arbor public schools, but the city as no direct control over them. There are however operating agreements in place. I saw at one school board meeting that the board leased the access rights to the city to install new water mains across the school property for $1. That seems odd to me, I wonder how many other arrangements are in place? Do the schools pay property taxes? Are there discounts to be had for water and sewer services? How about discounts from utilities? The BOE needs to look at not just cutting line items, but negotiating better deals for the items they have and want to keep.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

The mayor has absolutely no control over the AAPS budget.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

It isn't as much the townies that are keeping him BUT THE UOFM STUDENTS.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

I agree with Jessica about the middle school pools. My kids swim outside of school, but we get to see up-close what having a pool available in gym and after school means for some of their classmates. I'm also shocked at the $70,000 food allowance. Seems like that should have been on a chopping block in previous budget go-rounds. This isn't the first year we've faced cuts. The conference number seems high, too. Our PTSO just awarded a teacher grant for a conference that we thought would be valuable - and this teacher was paying for a fair amount of the overall cost out-of-pocket. I'm curious about how much of that budget reached the classroom teachers. I'm also surprised that the district wants to supervise volunteers as lunchroom assistants. I have a family member in that role, and know that while it may seem easy - it's actually a job that requires some skill and training. Bullying, food allergies and safety are big issues in elementaries. So is finding enough volunteers for just about anything.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

I wonder if that's true about the Slauson pool. I know that at Scarlett, my sixth-grader has been swimming in gym class at least once a week almost every week this year.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

It is true only for the weeks the gym classes need it for swimming.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I had a middle school teacher tell me the Slauson pool is only open for 9 weeks of the year anyway. Can this be true?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

There is currently $70,000 in the budget allocated for food & beverages for meetings? Shameful. And instead of 33%, how about removing 99% of travel/conference funds to free up $150,000?!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

"Reduce 100 percent of the district's food allowance for meetings, $70,000." Indeed! Ditto. (See previous comment above about servicing lobster...)


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

How about telecommuting to conferences? Make the meetings potluck! What a waste - I could save the excellent theater program and save some reading intervention teachers too.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

There are many students who can't take public transportation to school. When I went to Huron the closest public bus stop was a 40 minute walk away from my house. Getting rid of provided transportation is an incredibly foolish thing to do.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

No, the AATA does go to skyline in the morning. I think they have 2-3 runs.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

And the AATA bus doesn't even *go* to Skyline in the morning, according to the schedule. It only has afternoon runs.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

sidwally - You will see some families decide that other options for their children work better with the loss of transportation, not everyone in the high school level has a drivers license (remember many of these students are 14 and 15) and not every family has a car. forgot to add in the additional revenue from more parking passes at the high schools.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

How did they come up with some of these numbers, specifically the cost of a teacher/counselor at 100K per? Seems doubtful after looking over the posted pay schedule (for 2011-2012) that those who are likely to be let go (i.e. the youngest/least experienced) are making 100K with salaries and benefits. More likely, they are making near the bottom of the pay scale. Let's say 50K in salary and generously 25K in benefits. That's 75K per position. At 35 total positions likely to be cut, the estimate in savings is probably off by nearly 900K. Or 10% of the total current projected shortfall. I realize these are just estimates, but they are off by approx. 25% in teaching/counseling staffing savings alone. If anyone has insights into salaries, benefits etc. please share.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Mr (or Ms) Death - The numbers are an average. They are based on that fact that with benefits and retirement an average member of the teacher's union costs the school $104,000 a year. The benefit and retirement part is $36,500 and the salary averages $67,500 a year. So that is where the number comes from. I hope this helps. With roughly 20-30 upper end teachers union members retiring, and the rest coming from the newest members of the union, the average is probably a reasonable place to start. Remember many of the cuts will come from voluntary retirements, in fact they all may in the long run, as people get "re-purposed" because of seniority in the union if enough people retire.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

Teachers and administrators never want to hear the words 'pay cut" yet that is what virtually every other industry is facing. Workers in many sectors have either had to adjust to pay cuts or worse, lose their livelihood altogether. I would think that teachers and administrators would rather have more educational opportunities for everyone, and keep more jobs if it means people get paid less. If the $60,000 average salary figure I have heard is accurate, it is unrealistically high. Also why does a superintendent need $220,000? Half that is a lot of money. Finally, there are other ways to achieve savings, such as increasing costs of retiree health care, which other employers are also doing. But no, just take it out on the students and then different sides point fingers at each other.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

Pardon, you don't know what you're talking about. Teachers in Ann Arbor have known the word "pay cut" and "shared sacrifice" for many, many years...and they are taking another pay cut. The administrators don't know the word "pay cut or shared sacrifice". Maybe you should talk to a real teacher.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

+1 for grye's comment above. Teachers are under-compensated and under-appreciated in our society for the amount of work they do and the amount of BS they have to deal with on a daily basis.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

Teachers have had pay cuts and benefit cuts for the last few years...they're going through the same pain the private sector has.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

$60k is unrealistically high? Given the responsibilities teachers have, it is rather low. Teacher salaries are extremely low given the educational requirements. Tack on their classroom responsibilities of managing 150 kids each day, make sure they are educated, deal with the multiude of personal issues, parents, administration, and beloved govt intervention, then take pay cuts, delayed pay raises, changes to the retirement system, and then merit increases bases on whether a child decides to learn well or not, the job may not be all that great. Teachers have it much more difficult than most any job out there.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

Okay, Ann Arborites, has the extreme funding cuts from the State of Michigan for school aid gotten your attention. Although many blame poor financial stewardship on the part of AAPS, how can you ignore years of financial failure on the part of the State to adequately fund our schools. The State has taken away hundreds of dollars in per-pupil funding. It impacted the districts that solely relied on State funding first, but now it is causing problems with the districts that had more financial resources. Even wealthy tri-county districts are facing painful choices. It is time to make it clear to our State representatives that education is our highest priority.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

Good grief, it's a couple percent because the funding source (real estate) went down. Definitely another case of "first world problems".


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

Janofmi - There have not been extreme funding cuts in Michigan. K-12 education as a whole has been mostly "held harmless" while state revenue in Michigan has dropped by 20%. In 2010-11 was the very first time the per-pupil foundation allowance was cut, by a total of 2.2%. The next year those cuts were restored. The Michigan Legislature is currently planning to give the lowest funded schools a 2.2% raise in their foundation allowance for the 2013-14 school year.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

This. Call Lansing, yell at Lansing. No mention of the $400 million appears in stories about education's money the state took from the schools and is using for higher education funding...

Jessica Webster

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Devastated to hear that closing the middle school pools is being suggested. Swimming is one of the best ways for kids to stay in shape, and my 5th grader has been talking non-stop about how excited he is to be entering middle school and joining the swimming club. Now the only way we'll be able to keep him swimming year-round is to continue to pay through the nose to swim with one of the local clubs.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

So does Ypsilanti. At the high school. So, if Ann Arbor trashes what remains of a healthy PE? You can send to the schools that are merging.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Jessica, you might be interested to know that Willow Run High School offers an affordable swim lesson program as well as three open swim sessions per week. My son has taken lessons there several times and we've been happy with it. They have a great facility.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

No discussion of reducing health care costs? Freezing retiree benefits?


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

For the umpteenth time people, pensions are run by the state, not the school systems. Rest assured that Snyder and the legislature have made significant changes to the system that is saving the schools money by reducing what they put in and upping what the employee puts in. New hires will also be on a totally different plan than costs even less, so these costs will continue to fall - assuming that anyone actually gets hired.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

That's not true Don. The teachers (state wide) had to make choices about new contributions to their state retirement system. My wife's a teacher. Her check's smaller as of a month ago.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

That boat sailed with the new teacher's contract.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Close Community. Waste of money.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

As I posted above, the cost per student at Community is comparable to Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline. Please see Chart 1 found in this Chronicle article:

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

No! They must be allowed to wander downtown at lunch!

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

Close it... no. The support it has is overwhelming. If choice matters... well, people are choosing it. But it could be moved into Skyline. People would complain, because they are not downtown anymore, but so what if it would save money.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Actually - community makes the district money. They are one of the top performing schools in the entire state, and as a "reward" school they bring additional state money into the district. Furthermore, enrollment at community remains high (and in demand) because the program attracts students that would otherwise LEAVE the district and go to private or charter schools - losing the district even more money. Furthermore, the cost-per-pupil at community at right in line with other schools - so there isn't an inherent savings to be had from closing it.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

One relevant point to this list of cost cutting. Rec and Ed uses the Middle School pools for swimming lessons, adult water aerobics and community access. The high school pools are never used; supposedly the school water polo, swim and dive teams need them available 24/7 for practices and uncontaminated by non-athletes. If we close the pools at the Middle Schools and allow the High School pools to remain "students only" , that means only people who can afford Family Y or other gym memberships will have access to swimming pools between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Part of the justification for making our third High School a "comprehensive" school was that the athletic facilities would benefit the whole community. So far, I haven't seen that happen at ANY of our 3 large high schools, even when school is out for the summer.

Russ Miller

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

Not quite zero. Rec and Ed schedules Adult and HS water polo at Huron. I know of some classes in the Huron and Skyline weight rooms. Dance yoga and fitness at Clague, Tappan, Thurston, Scarlett, Community, AAOpen, AATech. Tennis at Pio. That's not a comprehensive list, just a quick flip through the Rec&Ed catalog.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:35 a.m.

Interesting that you say the high school pools are "students only." My son had the last of five swim nights with his Boy Scout troop at Skyline tonight. Few of the kids in the troop are students at Skyline - the troop rents the pool for the evening. I would love to see the Ann Arbor high schools doing what Willow Run High School has done for years. They run a great, affordable swim lesson program and also have an open swim three times a week.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Well, SAES does live within walking distance of Skyline, so that could be a legitimate concern.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Even the Skyline track is padlocked so runners/walkers can't use it on weekends or evenings. Not sure the reason for this...concern about vandalism perhaps?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Folks, there are much better schools north of Ann Arbor in another county still run by educators and producing talent that has worth to the community and the local and national economy (not a lot of future Art History majors here). I feel sorry for the children of parents who put up with this nonsense in the name of (fill in the blank). Likewise there are much better home values here, too. Sorry you have to live in $300,000 cracker boxes. Our school soccer teams have nice fields and could use some extra players (but not too many).


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

2 more years and I can watch the implosion from the safety of my sofa reading these posts. What a mess.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

Brad, give them some more diversity and you'll have the gap.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

How is Livingston County doing on that diversity gap these days?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

Unfortunately, probably out of the US.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Livingston County schools are in the same crisis and gutting programs as well. If you want to live someplace that values education and your children, you'll need to move out of Michigan.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

Move to Brighton? Yeah right!

Chris Blackstone

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

In looking at current enrollment data, the number of students combined in Middle Schools in 2010 is significantly less than the building capacity of the high schools (3569 vs. 5811). Is AAPS assuming that a significant amount of students will join AAPS for High School to fill out all those HS spots? If not, there are going to be some very empty high schools. 2010-2011 Enrollment Data AAPS Building Capacity Data

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

Americans started having less children some time ago and the number of schools I have seen close that I am familiar with here in MI is amazing.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Also, keep in mind that in addition to these valid points made in response, that the middle schools cover three years and the high schools four. Therefore, if you multiple 3569 x 4/3, you'll get 4759. Add in the others and the enrollment isn't very different.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

Chris - Because the vast majority of charter schools in Washtenaw County cover grades K-8, and because the parish/congregation based religious schools also cover grades K-8, there are usually a few hundred more freshmen that enroll in AAPS high schools than there were 8th graders enrolled in AAPS. Private high schools cost significantly more than private elementary schools, and there are so few charter high school slots available in the county that any program with a multi-year track record has to hold lotteries just like at Community.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

With emaciated sports, musical and theater programs in our future, it is very doubtful that a "significant amount of students will join AAPS for high school."


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Ms. Green should not be part of this process. She no longer has skin in the game. The new 'internal candidate' superintendent can lead this budget process once in place. I believe that there are internal candidates and propose the following: Seeing that the Ann Arbor BOE is clueless when it comes to identifying internal talent that could fill the Superintendent position (the same applies to most Balas positions – clueless when it comes to knowing their own team members), what I have done successfully when confronted with a challenge such as this (having to pick a solution when I do not know the people) would be as follows: • Pick the best team facilitator in the current AA school system to facilitate a meeting • Invite the true talent of the AA school system to the meeting (all of them) – the school teachers • Notify the group ahead of time as to the objective of the meeting which would be to identify and select 2 to 5 internal candidates who would be a good interim superintendent • Notify the group ahead of time that this is the only objective for the meeting – identifying internal candidates • Provide lunch or breakfast for the group. Oh – yes, we have no money for this, but I'll bet that we could easily find several local businesses willing to pay for the meals on the basis that what is going to be accomplished is in the best interest of the community The end result of this activity would be identification of internal talent that can take the open position. Once filled this way, the group can then see if they just selected the permanent candidate based on interim performance. If the group likes this idea, I can then advise on how to pick from the 2 to 5 internal candidates identified by the teachers. Go figure!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:41 a.m.

I had a clueless BOE once: he kept showing up everywhere like a whack-a-mole with flowers. Hit him over the head with my purse to make him disappear, but he kept coming back for more. Then I realized it was just some poor Ann Arbor dry cleaner: I had dropped my laundry list, so he took the liberty of suggesting improvements and was obsessed with returning it. Go figure!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Where are the proposals to eliminate a percentage of paid administrators, completely eliminate travel and food allowances and reduce the remaining administrators salaries? Also, eliminating high school busing will increase congestion around the schools (already a huge problem), increase the number of students driving to school or put more burdens on families. Any thought about what might happen if you put more inexperienced drivers behind the wheel at already very busy times of day? I didn't think so. Cut the fat from the administrators first before going after teachers.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Regarding eliminating high school busing - Didn't Brighton try that a few years ago? If my memory serves me, they gave it up after just a couple of months because it was such a disastrous step. Schools that have been built on the idea that a significant number of students will arrive via a limited number of buses generally fail when the busing is eliminated because of the planning process in building design.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Start by taking a 10% (or better yet 15%) at the building and central administration - the sacred cow of the BOE. From that $14 million - you could save 14-20 teacher positions. Next sell Dixboro and save the rest of the teachers for at least 2 years. I said yesterday that the principal sharing would not be on the table and I was right, the BOE will do whatever AAAA and Mr. Allen suggest. The board does not even have a clue what things cost (yesterday's posts by board members on per student costs for the high schools) or what the staff does. I will lay 3 to 1 odds that no board member, without looking it up (and then they may need an FOIA) can tell us how many people are members of AAAA and what they do, nor can they tell us how many members there are in AAEA and how many of them are actually classroom teachers. The board has drifted along letting the administration make all the decisions, creating a laundry list of priorities and focused on nothing long enough to make a real fix. Under all the budget talks that are going on, in the background, the Administration is significantly changing the Special Education programs, enough so, that many students will see massive changes in their learning environments next year, and most will not happy changes. The administration has snowed the board with the FTE costs for special education, a total false way of looking at special education. In one high school alone the number of students with IEPs exceeds the number the board casually throws around, students who get between 1 hour a week and 1 hour every two months of support. Support that keeps many of them from dropping out or going to Roberto Clemente. This is just one example of what the board seems to be completely clueless about. It truly surprises me too because Ms. Mexicotte ran on a special education platform originally. WOW! Just WOW.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

the district still owns Dixboro? That's weak...sell sell sell...


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Community is a great school---one of my kids went there. But where is the fairness in not touching it at all? Block scheduling? Forum, which creates the need for more teacher FTEs? Their extracurriculars? Shouldn't everyone have feel some of this pain?


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

Community High School does bring in a lot of revenue for AAPS though. It's smaller environment has attracted students that previously enrolled in private or charter schools and if these students had not had access to Community High School, many of them would not have chosen to enter the public school system thus losing several thousand dollars for the district. Plus, high standardized test scores and rankings in the state have continued to support Community High School's system.

say it plain

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

That chart, @acorn, doesn't include the costs for Community students to take courses and do sports at the other schools, which very many of them do. In previous years' reports that show costs per building a note is made about how the figures do not account for this, while this chart does not, but I am pretty certain it does indeed fail to include those extra costs. Indeed, it never included the extra costs of something like 250K per year to bus the CHS students to the other schools, which would put just for that an extra cost of $500/ student at Community?! I'm thinking the extra FTE equivalents for Forum are also not factored in when the comparisons are made on a per-student basis. The employees in the other buildings that are attached to some of the high-ticket desirables Community students used to get bussed to participate in, however, only show up as costs for the comprehensive schools, so CHS can look comparable on paper and not be comparable in reality.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

Also, annarborfan, there is most certainly still a lottery to get into Community. There were something like 450 applicants for approx. 125 spaces this year, which should tell you how much Ann Arbor families want the project-based, not test-driven learning Community offers. (Here are the results: And Jay Thomas, no, Community does not have an Assistant Principal.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

I'm not sure where kris gets the figures s/he mentions. The cost per student at Community is comparable to Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline. Please see the Chart 1 found in this Chronicle article: (You'll need to scroll down a bit.)

say it plain

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

Oh, please, as though CHS students will "feel the pain" of the cuts to the big schools! If they are allowed to keep Forum which costs extra, and keep block scheduling which costs extra, and keep that downtown building when they could be instead distributed to their 'home schools' or moved, and...and this is the most ridiculous "and" because clearly they therefore get *all* the good stuff that AAPS has to offer...can still participate in any of the big-draw programs at the big schools that they want (those expensive sports and theater and music programs), then there is an incredible level of unfairness here. It only seems like it's comparable cost on some analyses for Community to other schools because some of the accounting hides the differences. If you look at what each student takes from the system, and at those lovely extras like Forum and block scheduling and other forms of comfort and aid provided in that community versus the big schools, it is obvious. I'm really coming to believe that the AAPS would be providing much better education to our high school kids if they didn't have this too-small alternative option and instead created a workable program that could meet demand for a *true* alternative style of education. One step in that direction would be to make it so that kids who went to Community stayed in their building, which would also be 'fairer' anyway.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:21 p.m.

Despite having a small student body I recall Community having a Principal and assistant Principal. I wonder if this is still the case.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

I am a 1979 graduate of Comy High. I needed to complete my senior year for a diploma. This school was for drop outs, pregnant teenagers and gays who were not yet accepted. The school is not like that today. It gets preferential treatment and most university professor's kids go there. There is no lottery, they hand pick their students. Why is it other alternative schools are picked on and not Community. Step up to the plate. I like the principal sharing idea whomever mentioned this. One man or woman could principal three high schools.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Cutting 7th hour will be a disaster for high schoolers to schedule all the classes they need when it is already difficult enough now with 7 hours offered. This is an idea that should be off the table relative to the amount saved or be something offered that is made more economical. There needs to be 7 hours offered in a day at Huron and Pioneer. This is just a bad idea in my opinon


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

"Many Community High students play sports at Skyline, Huron and Pioneer. And many Community students participate in Pioneer's excellent theater guild programs like FutureStars and large scale musical productions. " Well there you go. I guess they will feel the pain with everyone else then.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Many Community High students play sports at Skyline, Huron and Pioneer. And many Community students participate in Pioneer's excellent theater guild programs like FutureStars and large scale musical productions. Also, in a previous article the cost spent per student was listed at around $8000 per for Community, $5000 per at Skyline, Huron, Pioneer. It would certainly seem to the public that the lucky few who get to attend Community are, in fact, receiving preferential benefits.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Because there are no sports teams (or facilities for them) Community itself has mostly very low-cost extra-curriculars. I think it's perfectly fair to leave Community untouched if Roberto Clemente and AA TEch/Stone School are, especially since the expense per Communty student is right in line with the other high schools.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

>> Close the middle school pools, $70,000. Middle school pools? Do they serve lobster at lunch at these schools also?


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

Only to those who need something to do at detention.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

@aaparent, those are great questions. I intend to do a follow up story on the pools anyway and will we see about getting those questions answered.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

@alaricto--- Is Mack pool rented by the city so that AAPS receives $ in return or does the city own the pool? I am asking what this looks like on paper. I had always thought the the city operates and runs Mack pool but that the AAPS owns the pool. I am unclear on the costs to staff or supervise a pool, the maintenance of the pool, and the physical pool itself. Are all of the middle schools pools in poor shape or too expensive to maintain or are some adequate enough they could be rented out and be a source of income


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

@ Danielle -- Will the pools be closed and out of operation or just closed and not paid to run by AAPS and rented out to Rec & Ed for them to manage and run? If the pools will be closed and not used, what happens to that space in each building with an empty unfilled pool?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

I know everyone has their own "sacred cow," but I really hope they don't close the middle school pools. They are actively used - my son has had swimming during gym class at least once a week nearly every week this school year. It would be a particular shame to see the Scarlett pool closed, because it's likely that a lot of the lower-income kids who attend that school do not have other opportunities to learn water safety/swimming.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

aamom - Mack Pool is run by the City of Ann Arbor, not AAPS. It simply shares spoace in the facility.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

well, it used to be part of physical education and unlike other forms of PE, everyone was able to participate. Closing these pools will also limit options for affordable swim classes in the area, where will the Rec & Ed dept hold swimming classes?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

I had a middle school pool way back in the day. Never occurred to me that was anything fancy. I suppose that means that the swim available to the public at Mack Open will be ending?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Only at Forsythe! Go Vikings!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Cut 32 teaching positions - 3.2 million Cut 6 central office positions - 477 thousand How about cutting more administrative positions?


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

Because why would you cut administration in a school system? The obvious first choice is the teachers. Gosh, Arboriginal, stop talking sense!


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

How about teachers not showing up for class 2 weeks in a row and subs are filling in doing what? Nothing? Happening at Pioneer.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

finger hit wrong vote button -- I agree, how about cutting administration. And, why are there subs in classrooms when the teachers are in the building?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

Amen to that. You beat me to the posting.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

I wonder how much we could save if we just eliminated the football program. hmm???


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

That's the wrong place to put the wind turbines. Put them at Balas and at the BOE meetings. There is enough hot air flowing there to create a lot or wind energy revenue.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

If you dropped football, you could fill the stadiums with wind turbines to make up for the lost revenue. It just might work!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

Let's see, eliminate the football program. How much would that save? How much would it cost the district in lost revnue? What lost revenue? First, football is a sport that many student athletes participate in. Those student athletes will find another school district to attend that doesn't drop the football program, such as Saline, Ypsi, Lincoln, Milan, Dexter, Chelsea, ect, ect, ect. If you cut football from the athletic budget you risk losing a lot of students. If 100 high school students left the district because they dropped football, you are looking at close to $1,000,000 in lost revenue from the state just in lost students. That doesn't include the lost revenue from parents of non-high school students who see the writing on the wall and will jump districts because football has been dropped. Is that the only lost revenue? Nope, you also lose the revenue from ticket sales at games, money that goes right back into the athletic budget. Even if you only average 1,000 fans per game, that is $5,000 per game in ticket sales or $20,000 - $25,000 per season just for Varsity games. It might not be a lot of money, but it is still an amount that could pay for some other coaches in the district. You would also lose advertisers, who don't spend a lot advertising at high school games, but they do spend some. You would lose the business support of the community as well. One final thing. Schools that have dropped football often see a drop in alumni support from people who participated in those sports that get dropped. The simple fact is cutting football would not save the district money, it would create a deeper hole for the district because of the revenue it would remove from the district.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Huron and Pioneer high schools lose 7th hour. Skyline H.S. loses trimesters. But Community H.S. keeps block scheduling? Where's the fairness in that?


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

Community isn't a fair practice. It's where all the special snowflakes go to feel good about themselves and suck resources away from the students at the other schools.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

It's what happens when one school's students and parents are willing to go advocate for themselves while others don't.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

You forget what they did the choir budget last year. Increased spending for parents to send them to choir, band and orchestra camp. We are paying thru the nose on this one. Now theater? I am wondering if this is a back lash to the out cry of putting dysfunctional Clemente children inside Pioneer? I mean Pioneer can't handle this. Put them inside Stone School. They have the capability to do such. Man what a back lash against Pioneer.

A Voice of Reason

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Also, theater funding is given out based on building not number of students.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.


Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

The sad thing is that some people are falling for the story that the problem is that we don't have enough government debt or enough government spending, believing instead that the problem is we're not paying enough in taxes. But you are right, that the debt is the reason so many good things can't be paid for.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

Where's the fairness in any of this? How are we as a country so far in debt to ourselves that we are taking away parts of our education and sacrificing our future. It just doesn't make any sense...


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

It was obvious by the tit-for-tat comments by some board members concerning bussing, etc.... that Community is a sacred cow.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

I'm suddenly finding myself very happy my kids aren't involved in golf or hockey! I thought I spent a lot on a baseball bat this year, but not when compared to what those parents have to dish out for equipment and such.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

I'd like to see Green out of the picture when it comes to important and long-term decisions, because she's going to be leaving.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

Oh, like that's going to happen, Joe.

Joe Hood

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

Quite the opposite. She can do the dirty work that needs to be done to fix things right.

Linda Peck

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

I notice the tiny reduction for competitive sports. How disappointing. It shows where the true culture lies here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Very near the Stadium and Main.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Linda Do you know in fact that it is a 'tiny reduction'? What percentage of the athletic budget does this represent? By what percentage has the athletic budget been cut in the last 3 or 4 years? And I am talking about budget money. Not bond funds which were passed by the community with specific knowledge of what the money would be used for. And I am not talking about the money that the boosters and parents provide outside of the budget. And the pay-to-participate fees - do they go directly to the athletic department or do they get washed through the general fund first? If the latter, then you are counting money that the athletic department raises as general fund support. The athletic reduction was 3.3% of the total reductions. Plus the added income expected is 2.6% of the reduction. That means almost 6% of the changes affect the athletic department. Does the athletic department represent 6% of the school budget? I really don't know, but I suspect it is significantly less. I think the word tiny is inappropriate here.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

I WISH the AA culture embraced sports like Saline does. Athletics/Theater/Band comprise 1% of the budget, yet the budget has been reduced by 50% over the past two years. As parents, we pay for our own uniforms, we raise money for buses, etc. The culture in AA is that the extreme minority that screams the loudest gets what it wants. AA needs a large scale private school now. It didn't before but it does not. Lease Huron to a private school and compete against Pioneer and Huron (the renamed Skyline in my plan) for students. Won't take long for the AAPS to shape up when they lose the best and brightest...


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Mr (or Ms) Down - I agree parents should be able to raise and spend what they want individually for sports. But why spend millions on sports from the general fund and cut reading teachers? That is my rub.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

DonBee - I'm not sure what you mean by 'booster money', but it seems to me that if parents and students are willing to fund raise for and contribute to their own kids' sports than that's their business and not yours. The fact that crew is supported by its parents and much of the community while it is not an MHSAA sport seems to me a positive thing. It's people getting behind a sport they love that isn't promising them pro contracts or fame. Nothing wrong with that.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Mr Lounsbury - If you only take the General Fund transfer, I might agree. But when you take $11 million in one year of sinking fund and bond money to build new facilities, and then take a couple million the next year for more facilities, none of which are in any master plan or budget, one has to wonder. Then add the booster money, which is a black hole from a budget standpoint. We know that the high schools row crew, a sport that is not an MSHAA sport, each shell is in the range of $50,000 or more. Add fuel for chase boats and other expenses, I suspect the boosters for that ONE sport lay out more than $500,000 a year. The budget money is the tip of the iceberg, literally. One of the former AA.Com reporters tried to get to the real numbers and he was north of $20 million a year spent by the schools, boosters and parents for sports in AAPS. Up to you to decide what is reasonable spending.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

To be fair one would need to compare our per capita spending on sports to that of other school districts. I would guess we are not too far off of many other districts. If I'm right the "culture of sports" is pretty wide spread.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

I thought the Ann Arbor Board of Education could re-open the Teacher Contract as needed if they wanted to reduce media specialist or to eliminate 5th grade band? Why are we protecting Media Specialist? I understand that you need a teacher because it is planning time for classes, but can you use a long term sub? What about the marketing budget? E-news? PR, etc?

A Voice of Reason

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Yep, you can say that I am ignorant or just a realist. I can justify any job, but the world has changed. My kids are actually teaching their teachers about the internet and citation formatting and flashcard websites. Great teachers are capable and are doing everything you said that a media specialists are doing. Any supporting materials needed for the curriculum should be provided by the district or can be looked up during teacher planning time. The Rotarians volunteer in the schools and are trusted with teaching our kids to read too. This group could handle reading to kids and assisting them check out books. Reading is important and having a library is important, but I would rather have 5 less kids in a classroom for 180 days a year than a media specialist with a master's degree.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

What Don mentioned is simply absurd. The BOE should be negotiating with all of them. At UofM it should be the Regents. The administration cannot be trusted and is the reason we get these bad deals. At the city level it is the city manager. A manager whose salary is likely to go up by a similar amount to whatever the rank and file union people get. The taxpayer is nowhere to be found. Absolutely crazy system!

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

I was never impressed with the media specialist position. Reminds me of the necessity of the horseshoer still on the payroll at the Detroit Water Department. I recall when they didn't show up one time so we didn't do anything. Couldn't someone in the school do this?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6 p.m.

The teachers didn't want to push through the new contract. The union wanted it and negotiated with the school board to include a pay cut for the teachers. It was kind of shoved down their collective throats.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

Continued: This role also encompasses many activities relating to technology including the integration of resources in a variety of formats: periodical databases; Web sites; digital video segments; podcasts; blog and wiki content; digital images; virtual classrooms, etc. School librarians are often responsible for audio-visual equipment and are sometimes in charge of school computers and computer networks. As program administrators, school librarians define, lead, and manage school library media programs by establishing library policies; overseeing the library budget; planning the physical and virtual library space; and maintaining a welcoming, positive, and innovative learning atmosphere. "A Voice of Reason" is showing it's ignorance.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

The school librarian performs four main leadership roles: teacher, instructional partner, information specialist, and program administrator. In the teacher role, the school librarian develops and implements curricula relating to information literacy and inquiry. School librarians may read to children, assist them in selecting books, and assist with schoolwork. Some school librarians see classes on a "flexible schedule". A flexible schedule means that rather than having students come to the library for instruction at a fixed time every week, the classroom teacher schedules library time when the expertise of the school librarian, library and information skills, or materials are needed as part of a learning experience. In the instructional partner role, school librarians collaborate with classroom teachers to create independent learners by fostering students' research, information literacy, technology, communication, and critical thinking skills. As information specialists, school librarians develop a resource base for the school by using the curriculum and student interests to identify and obtain library materials, organize and maintain the library collection in order to promote independent reading and lifelong learning. Materials in the library collection can be located using an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:37 p.m. isn't about books. Just as reading does not equal literacy. There is a reason that Media Specialists are no longer called 'librarians'. They are highly skilled, master level teachers who facilitate instruction across the curriculum. They work with teachers across subject areas and grade levels.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

low income/achieving kids, not low rush.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

I agree, but we have a great library system that we pay a lot of money for in our town. Seems like getting books to low rush kids can be accomplshed less expensively. We have the books and parents can run the libraries--the PTO's need a purpose and this would be a good one. There are lot of library science majors at U of M that need something to do too. It is nice to have a library at schools, so I am not saying it should go away, I am just not sure we need a $100,000 plus a year person to run it vs. have smaller class sizes.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Voice...they could have. Instead, Comsa used it as a trump card to force a 3% cut on teacher's salaries...Interestingly enough, miraculously the district has now found an extra $8-9 million dollars in the budget after pleading poverty to the teachers to extract their pretty penny. The level of trust between teachers and central administration (and building administration to some extent; maybe throw in the union to some degree as well) is close to zero. Hopefully next year we will get a superintendent that doesn't tell the buildings that there will be no documentation of any problems...the crap always filters down. No consequences = decreasing standard of conduct by a small, but significant portion of the students. The lunatics are getting one step closer to running the asylum.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Media Specialists provide a huge benefit to the school, not for planning time. I would refer you to


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Mr Reason - Simple the administration and teachers union were in such a hurry to finish a contract, that no one thought about the issues with the budget. Because one union was negotiating with another union (AAAA for the administration and the AAEA for the teachers) none of the hard issues were touched. In 5 years we can revisit these issues, until then they are locked like Fort Knox.