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Posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 7:17 a.m.

Administrators hear parents' ideas for cutting $14M from Ann Arbor schools budget

By Danny Shaw


Huron High parent Andy Campbell, left, talks with Deputy Superintendent Robert Allen, right, on how to trim next year's budget.

Danny Shaw |

Merging schools, cutting out substitutes, or having parents provide more classroom supplies were some of the suggestions made Thursday at an Ann Arbor Public Schools budget forum.

Nearly 60 people attended the open forum at Huron High School to help AAPS administrators brainstorm money-saving ideas to help trim $14 million the district’s budget - a tactic Superintendent Patricia Green said will be extremely helpful in the coming months.

“We haven’t started developing the budget for next year yet, so we have a great opportunity to gather input from the public,” Green said. “We want to know what the parents think, what the staff thinks, about potential cuts and brainstorm with them.”

Green said the 2012-2013 budget deadline comes in June, and thinks “the earlier for input, the better.”


Julie Roth, left, and Ruth Kraut, right, discuss with their group ways to help save AAPS money.

Danny Shaw |

Seated at tables throughout the cafeteria, parents and AAPS members discussed questions like “What could we do differently to save money?” and “What suggestions do you have for revenue enhancements?”

Ideas discussed by the groups included decreasing energy consumption throughout school facilities, trimming administration salaries, and increase participation with AAPS alumni to help boost enrollment.

While the goal is to cut $14 million from the current $183 million budget, Ann Arbor Open School parent Julie Roth thinks it’s unattainable.

“There’s a general feeling that there aren’t anymore ideas for cutting big money, that the big money has been cut over the last several years,” Roth said. “The ideas that are coming forth are nickel- and dime-ing towards the $14 million deficit, but won’t reach it.”

Roth said she thinks more cuts will cause parents to enroll their children in charter and private schools and lead to lower-quality education.

“I cannot even imagine what another $14 million out of our school system will look like,” she said. “I can’t even envision it.”

Ruth Kraut, also an Ann Arbor Open parent, shared her idea of reallocating the time of principals in certain schools.

“When I look at the principal ratio, I wonder if some of the assistant principals could be pulled,” she said, “or maybe spend half their time teaching. That could help us save on substitutes, and possibly other teaching costs.”

While specifics about the 2012-2013 budget won’t be known until early next year, Robert Allen, deputy superintendent, said he can only plan based off the previous budget.

“We’re not sure what might increase or decrease at this point,” Allen explained to forum attendees. “But we are expecting it to stay relatively close to the current budget.”

Green said she encourages AAPS parents, students and staff to join the brainstorming sessions, which will continue Monday, Nov. 14, at Pioneer High School's Cafeteria Annex beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“I think people are feeling the pain of the cuts, that’s what stuck out in my mind,” said Green. “I felt that people were open and honest; they helped us generate some great ideas and it’s something that will impact how we manage the upcoming budget.”


Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

@Jack Panitch: To say that you are satisfied with AAPS being in the 70% percentile of scores when 60% of the students fail (using just the example of 5th grade science) is like saying that we are above average height in the land of midgets. Personally I want my two children to grow to be like Lake Woebegon's kids who as we know are "all above average", and not end up as intellectual midgets. The rest of the miserable AAPS MEAP scores are available for your perusal, so what more facts could you possibly need?

Jack Panitch

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 5:51 a.m.

Mr. Lange Ranzini: You are throwing a bunch of uninterpreted numbers up on a page. Objectively, you cannot be sure what those numbers mean, because you provide no comparison. I am providing the comparison that your numbers lack. I'm taking a report touted by the Mackinac Center, that bastion of liberal thought, and showing you that Ann Arbor ranks 70% among 14000 districts nationwide in math and 69% in reading. And then, I'm explaining that I don't have complete confidence in the numbers I cite: they might change for the better or for the worse if we tried to compare ourselves with similar districts nationwide. What are we to do, Mr. Lange Ranzini? The answer should be fairly clear: keep searching for the truth.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 5:21 a.m.

@Jack Panitch: I entered this debate with Ann Arbor's awful MEAP scores using the new MEAP test cut off levels. Please see again my post above and the replies to it for a complete understanding of the new scoring methodology and how it is constructed. My comment was: "The article and comments seem to indicate that the only problem with AAPS is the big budget shortfall. Here are some of the latest MEAP scores from Ann Arbor Public Schools. AAPS MEAP Fall 2010/11 Percent of Students Proficient with NEW STATE CUT SCORES:       SCIENCE       Grade       5                                       Fall '10        New All Students                     89               40 White                             95               47                       Black                               62                9 Asian                                91              47 Hispanic                          71               19 Multi-Ethnic                     91               35 Econ Disadvantaged         69               13 Limited English                33                0 Special Ed                        58               18 What are we to do about this?"

Jack Panitch

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 5:04 a.m.

Mr. Lange Ranzini: The subject of this article is cutting $14 million from the budget of the AAPS. You and A Voice of Reason were using state-wide numbers to get folks riled up about Ann Arbor. You are using an inappropriate comparison to influence public sentiment. It would be truly shocking if the Ann Arbor numbers turned out as bad as you portrayed them: but, in fact, they do not. We need to think things through clearly with a sense of urgency. Emphasis on the clearly part.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 3:06 a.m.

@Jack Panitch: The page report I was referring to and the page numbers and data were all from the report referenced above by @Voice of Reason from the U.S. Department of Education: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> If our schools statewide are in the bottom 16%, how are we going to grow our economy and provide our children with decent jobs and a decent standard of living? We will be Michissippi forever. It is time for bold action before it is too late!


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

Even when they were building Skyline many of us knew that Ann Arbor couldn't support another HS. They should close Pioneer (sell the land to U of M and use the money to support the schools) and redistrict they way it used to be with the old Pioneer feeder schools feeding into Skyline and the old Huron feeder school feeding into Huron. If people can't live without an Ann Arbor Pioneer HS they can just re-name Skyline to Pioneer I don't think anyone has gotten too attached to it's name yet. I also think they need to cut the Admin salaries. I think all K - 12 busing should be &quot;pay to use&quot; the people who are using the buses should pay for the costs out of pocket.

Jack Panitch

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 8:49 a.m.

O.k., Voice of Reason and Mr. Lange Ranzini. I'm not a statistician (I got a degree reading novels, if you can imagine that); but I took a look at the Mackinac Center report Voice of Reason linked, and the first thing that occurred to me is -60/14000 + 1 = 99.57%. The point being that all the researcher did was count down 60 from the top and try to sell us all on the shock-value idea that that method was some kind of indicator of anything, which it's not. So to get past the misleading presentation, I went and followed the link in the Mackinac report to see where Ann Arbor stacks up nationally, and the answer from the &quot;experts&quot; is 70% in math and 69% in reading. That's the entire District, so, a blended result: not the high schools, not the middle schools, not the elementary schools, not any single school, but the entire district. To fine-tune the result to get a realistic idea of what that means, we would have to make other adjustments to ensure that we were using appropriate comparables. The report doesn't do that, so it's a pretty blunt instrument. To sum this up, I find the numbers potentially troubling (meriting further investigation); but not the &quot;call to arms&quot; the experts at the Mackinac Center would have us all believe (at least for Ann Arbor). I'm not an expert, and I would be interested in the opinion of folks who really know this stuff and can point out the additional factors we should focus on in trying to draw an appropriate comparison. I would also love to hear from the folks who don't buy into the standardized-test-as-a-be-all-and-end-all measurement tool. Then, it would be good to go back and try to quantify where we really fall.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6 a.m.

@A Voice of Reason: thanks for the very interesting report! The chart of page 24 indicates that 22% of students in Michigan are &quot;Below Basic&quot; (fail) and 35% are &quot;Proficient&quot; or &quot;Advanced&quot;. The table on page 23 indicates that only the states of West Virginia, Tennessee, New Mexico, Mississippi, California, Arizona and Alabama have worse scores. That puts us tied with Alaska for 8th from the bottom. Awful!

A Voice of Reason

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

Here is the link to the national report card. In math, our 4th graders are no long last, we are ahead of Alabama and Alaska. We are maybe the 45th worst and look at the cut scores, only about 35% pass which is now similar to Ann Arbor. Please be concerned and not allow the status quo Mr. Panache. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

You had all weekend and you waited until 9:40 on Sunday night to start teaching your child something that you felt was important? I bet you would have had time earlier if you hadn't been busy reading 97 page reports and telling everyone how the educational sky is falling, all while your child sits there not understanding his math. No wonder our schools are failing.

A Voice of Reason

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Here is the link that summarizes some of the national data. Being next to a world class university with bright students, smart people to be teachers, we should expect to be top in the nation, or at least in the top 60. I will try to get more information from NAPE. Need to go and reteach my child math because his teacher was not there to teach him math again. Most parents are reteaching at night.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

Huh? On page 25 there is a list of math scores for different states in different years, and all are within points of each other. The national average is 240 and Michigan is 236. So what exactly are you referencing?

Jack Panitch

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

Panache, huh? I'm doing a 360 looking all around, but that's gotta be me, right? The report you linked is 97 pages. Can you provide a cite to the specific data you want us to focus on? Also, if it's Michigan data and not Ann Arbor data, can you show how it translates through? That would really help focus things.

A Voice of Reason

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

Fire everyone like many companies do and have people reapply for their jobs. 1/2 the kids in this town are learning enough to pass to meet national standards. And for all you compassionate people out there, low income/african America kids, &lt;10% are passing the state test with the new cut scores (which are finally compatible to the national standards as passing). I guess as long as the wealthy, academic elite in this town children are successful, then no one is standing up those whom we are failing. I wonder if people will be upset about the quality of education in this town, the length of the school day, the lack of accountability that teacher's have, etc. We need to hire the best teachers, pay the the best amount we can, make them accountable so we stop loosing students to charter and private schools. It seems like the new cut scores are the answer and our only hope for addressing the quality issues which clearly more money has not and will not solve.

say it plain

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

@Grumpy, that does seem like a completely reasonable question... Do I want to get involved, even anonymously as I am here, in some back-and-forth about who does what for a living and who can't figure out what the asterisks and un-detailed cost-centers actually include on the AAPS budgets and audits and so on?! No, and it serves nobody well to do so. If the AAPS is serious about community involvement... and if the AAPS would like us to share their feelings about how little fat there is left to cut... Then *Show Us Where the Money Goes* to paraphrase a piece of pop culture ;-) Just use OpenBook like the city has done. Will people still complain that this or the other cost is silly? Probably. But at least this particular issue--of transparency--will necessarily be put to rest. I have been one to complain that it's not cool that we spend sooo much money on Varsity Sports, and that we pay money to transport kids during the middle of the school day so that they can take classes at buildings other than the ones in which they've enrolled. If the AAPS would like me to understand that these are *not* bigtime expenditures that might be best eliminated in our quest to cut costs, then they should *show me clearly* how much they amount to! As it stands, I now see at least how much money is spent on salaries and general fund expenditures for varsity sports from a couple of years ago. But is @DonBee wrong in pointing out that there are other costs for with these activities? Overtime costs, transportation costs, etc.? It becomes an issue especially when the District decides to cut out bussing for a lot of children for whom that cut might be *seriously* detrimental. How can we make decisions about funding if we can't see how it's being done now except in a cursory way? If they don't show us what they themselves see, then it's easy to imagine that this is merely a PR stunt...maybe a well-meaning PR 'outreach' attempt, but not so genuinely about &quot;parents' ideas&quot;...


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

@Jack Panitch, you seem to have your head on straight. Please PLEASE answer me this so I can stop following this thread. Wouldn't OpenBook &quot;kick out the cobwebs&quot; as you say and allow us to &quot;be able to engage in much higher level analysis of this material?&quot; Wouldn't OpenBook allow us to &quot;get out from behind our conspiracy theory mentality?&quot; Wouldn't OpenBook help the district make &quot;a sincere and responsible effort to provide us all the information we need to inform ourselves and then let them know what we value most?&quot; You say &quot;they need to ask for ideas and find out what we value most.&quot; They already know what DonBee and others value most. Their small vocal minority has been asking for it for years. Wouldn't OpenBook finally allow the district to easily provide answers to DonBee's questions so we CAN move on to this higher level analysis you speak of? Even Ron Miller is asking for further clarity wrt maintenance and admin costs. Even Steve Norton admits info that is provided is obscure. Wouldn't OpenBook easily solve DonBee's, Miller's, &amp; Norton's problems? Wouldn't OpenBook &quot;get a well-informed community discussion going, one based on reality and not fiction, one based on thoughtfulness and not misconception?&quot; If the answers are all YES, then why are people on both sides of this argument DEMANDING AAPS implement OpenBook?

say it plain

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

Fair enough, @Jack Panitch...

Jack Panitch

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Say it Plain: Different people have different levels of knowledge about the District's finances. The District has to get everyone on the same page, if we want a response that reflects the entire community's will. This is just the start of that process. So, folks need to show up and explain clearly what additional information they need and why they need it. Different segments will have different interests. Once it's clear what areas require greater focus, I would expect the District to be able to provide the level of information everyone needs to make and justify choices. There's nothing unreasonable about that. There could be a lot of excuses for the low turnout. Emphasis on the excuses. Because if you don't figure out some way to participate and provide your excellent input, you are letting someone else eat your lunch.

say it plain

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

Ah, but @JackPanitch, I presume that the SBE isn't asking for people to sit around tables and brainstorm about how to cut here and there enough to add up to $14 million dollars, right?! That might require a different level of 'transparency' if the AAPS is truly *serious* about asking community members how to achieve some real cost-savings. For instance...if they asked parents/stakeholders how *they* would cut $250K from varsity sports, they might have *not* come up with the answer the Athletic Directors did when they were asked to do this without community input, and decided to just eliminate freshman sports, right?! If the parents at these round-tables could see how much freshman sports cost, and how much *all* the sports expenses were from *all* cost-centers, then they might have been able to suggest savings-measures that wouldn't have required such unpleasant back-tracking. But instead, the AAPS did what they did, and waited for &quot;pushback&quot;. If they are really interested in being responsive, they could choose instead to make these sessions *real*...perhaps the lack of actual info is what's stopping people from coming in droves to participate?!

Jack Panitch

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:21 p.m.

That's a lot of questions to pepper me with. And I'm having a tough time following you: for example, take another look at your last question and maybe rewrite it to say what you meant to say. I'm not going to guess, because that would be too dangerous. But short answer: no. For starters, the District is already providing all of the transparency information required by the SBE. There may be a better way of being transparent, but the District is doing exactly what the law requires it to do. If we want the District to move to some other method, we would have to change regulatory requirements: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href=",1607,7-140-6530_6605-159882--,00.html" rel='nofollow'>,1607,7-140-6530_6605-159882--,00.html</a> (the check registers were a state-wide request/initiative of the Mackinac Center <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and the District's reporting appears to be in arears). And make no mistake: blogging here is no substitute for actual participation in the budget process. You have to participate for your voice to be heard: attend budget meetings and provide input, write letters, call and speak with Robert Allen, call and speak with a Trustee you may know, answer surveys, attend BOE meetings (or watch them on Channel 18). But that's not to say that the District should hide the information we, the community, need to aid us in making informed decisions, but it's also not to say that the District has ever done that in my experience. If I want answers, I ask questions, and I get real answers from real District employees in real time. See, if you participate, you can actually ask for relevant additional information, and if the request has merit, i.e., you can explain the important reason why it is needed, the District will provide it, because if they don't, the political repercussions will get out of hand. Folks who blog here but don't participate in the official process have no voice.

Karen Hart

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

Time to merge districts, or -- better yet -- go to a county-wide district, as is the norm in some other states. That definitely can cut administrative costs, better utilize buildings keep open only those buildings centrally located to population and have fewer, larger schools. If all that sounds too drastic (though it certainly seems inevitable, unless state law is changed re: how schools are funded), then take a hard look at how many functions can be shifted to the ISD (finance, payroll, personnel).


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

ISD has higher wages. Remember when ISD took over the bussing, it was having to post the administrator or the busses at a higher wage than AA was paying because their administrators are paid more. For an establishment that is set up to funnel funds from the state, there is a price premium. It is another layer that is not that effective. It would be nice to know their budget!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

@A2 Wookie  wrote: &quot;Ask Oprah to stop building schools in Africa and to help fund ours at home?&quot; Taking your thought up a notch, how about &quot;Ask the Administration to stop wasting $1 trillion on a war in Afghanistan?&quot;


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:53 a.m.

apparently members of the peanut gallery who did not attend the meeting, think that everyone who did and had concerns is from...the Tea Party! of course because we know that Ann Arbor's full of reactionaries and that we'd have more public art if it wasn't for the right-wing recession and climate change that led the perfectly maintained Stadium Bridge to almost dissolve over the last three years and require local government to have to make these unfortunate emergency expenditures despite their perfect public administration in attending to the core functions of government. thanks for the comic relief... but seriously, I have no clue (and don't care per se) about the mix of politics of those who did attend. they should be commended for coming out to raise their concerns and participate. those multiple folks who did go to the meeting and felt that what they were given was not adequate information, clearly have their legitimate opinion that the process was poorly done by AAPS. there appears to be no disagreement about who staffed the meeting in terms of the tables, and this is clearly counter to legitimate facilitation practices. so whatever one's opinion on the transparency of materials not handed out in the room the other evening, there's a legitimate factual basis for folks being circumspect about the significant BIAS at play here.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:19 a.m.

First of all, if the 2010 elections didn't say anything to you, you have a lot to read up on. Our governor and the many new tea party governors have plans to privatize education, the sooner the better. (Most, also including Republicans running for president, want to gut the Dept.of Ed.) Privatizing teachers is at the top of the list, mainly because the MEA is too powerful for them and this is payback.Next, public services, including fire and police dept.'s, are fair game--those darned unions. Now, about our schools...If all of you who feel there is no need for the number of principals at the high school, let's allow all those 14-18 year olds to take care of themselves during the day, including the lunch hour. If you haven't been in a high school, or middle school in a while, don't offer advice. Ask if you can shadow a principal for a day and you'd be SHOCKED! For that matter, ask if you can sit in on a class or two so that you can see how lazy, uncaring and under-worked those teachers are. And the counselors--they WISH that they had as much time in a day to counsel as many students who need their help. And in the spring, when juniors and especially seniors need letters of recommendation, counselors are breaking under their work load. Again, if you haven't been in a school for a a while, don't give advice! I certainly wouldn't assume that I'd be qualified to tell people in the private sector how best to do their jobs. @xmo, let's cut more in salaries, say 20%, so educators can see how 'bad' the &quot;Real World&quot; has it? And that would do what? Should everyone lose their homes to satisfy others who have suffered cuts? Pitting people against people is exactly what the right wing wants so that we forget about what happened in 2008. It's our fault, collectively? If you want to stay in the middle class, stick with your middle class brothers and sisters and TALK! Don't begrudge them what they might still have. I wonder what our gov. would propose. Maybe some bake sales.

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:53 a.m.

Or let's take the opposite approach. Hire lots of people. Raises for everybody. And who will pay? I know - the unemployed, incarcerated, and homeless.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

Ask Oprah to stop building schools in Africa and to help fund ours at home?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

So the duly audited budget report is not enough budget transparency for the &quot;usual suspects&quot;? Of course not. Because if it were, they'd have nothing to complain about, and they certainly could not offer any meaningful suggestions about where to find $14 million in savings. Much easier to complain about lack of transparency when there is plenty of transparency. Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

&quot;While the goal is to cut $14 million from the current $183 million budget, Ann Arbor Open School parent Julie Roth thinks it's unattainable.&quot; It is totally attainable. Get rid of Messa, make the the teachers &quot;entire&quot; benefits package mirror the private sector ( not touching current pay scales) and lock in any pay increases to inflation moving forward. Get rid of step raises, double digit sick days, professional days, etc. What you are looking at is cutting costs 10% , that is not a big deal at all. Try looking at what the private sector has done in Michigan the past 10 years ! &quot;"I think people are feeling the pain of the cuts, that's what stuck out in my mind," said Green. "I felt that people were open and honest; they helped us generate some great ideas and it's something that will impact how we manage the upcoming budget." Ms. Green , the parents and taxpayers feel the pain of cuts to &quot; their incomes&quot;, increased contributions to their healthcare costs, loss of pensions, and reduced home values. What they don't understand is why you public employees think only of yourselves as I look at your words just above ? Good Day Good Day

A Voice of Reason

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

&quot;No one can have better&quot; when we, the tax payers are footing the bill and the teachers/administrates have guaranteed a jobs for life and have no accountability for teaching our children. We are already at the bottom Mr. Ghost. Finally our test score cuts reflect the national test and not a test which only 30% is a passing score. Why would a Gov. allow test results like this? Don't we want to know how well our schools are performing? Please think about this sir. MESSA money goes to the teacher's union which is paying their leaders $350K , owns a $1million dollar building in Ann Arbor and sneaks in 1/2 of their Union leader's salary into our budget. They make sure schools boards are full of yes men/women. The union does not train their employees to be better teachers, protects bad teachers, drug dealers, etc. Please be for the children of our town. Jennifer G. and the MEA that has stolen money from our children. Stop protecting the adults. The new Gov. is rewarding successful school districts and giving incentives vs. maintaining the status quo. We are 48th in the nation in test scores and look at the numbers 1/2 are passing our meap and &lt;10% low income/african americans. If you are interested in keeping a permanent underclass, then leave things as they are with an open check book so the teachers are always happy. Brighton school board negotiated a contact that they could not afford, and the school district did not have the mean to raise any revenue. Please look at who is really making the calls in public education. It is not the children for sure.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:29 a.m.

&quot;It is totally attainable. Get rid of Messa&quot; You, apparently, have not been paying attention. 1) The state just enacted a law that requires 20% contribution by the vast majority of public employees toward their health care costs. This budget projection takes that into account. 2) MESSA is a red herring. Before the 20% mandatory contribution, the AAPS contribution was the same no matter the provider. The more expensive the plan, the larger the contribution by the employee. Teachers on MESSA were paying the difference. Under the 20% plan, they'll be paying more. 3) Gotta love the logic of your post. No one can have better than you. Race to the bottom logic, just like the guv's and his bought-and-paid-for legislature. 4) The private sector has made cuts mostly by reducing its work force. The state has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs, mostly in the auto industry (yes--the auto industry's woes are somehow Jenny's fault. LOL). So why don't you find where $14 million in jobs can be cut from the AAPS. 5) The guv has stolen money from the school aid fund so as to pay for tax cuts to his buddies. Restore that money and the AAPS and most other schools in the state are not in this pinch. But don't let facts get in the way of a good fairy tale. Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

Deputy Superintendent? You might get a millage passed if we were educating Ann Arbor students only. The cost of educating kids outside the district must end. Severe cuts to administration, sports, pledges, flags and other noneducational costs must go! If everyone would just buy more lotto tickets and we could somehow, allow high school kids to sell drinks to football drunks, we might get somewhere.

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:57 a.m.

Which children outside of the district?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

I think the point is that we can't cut any more money from the schools. So all this talk of where the cuts are going to come from shouldn't be happening. Give the school aid $ back to the schools and cut salaries in Lansing. Schools are a human right for all children. Not to mention, the children are the future.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

Consolidate local districts.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

@Grumpy: I believe that the last word there you meant to write was &quot;free&quot;! :-) I know you got cut off, it's happened to me, too. Seriously, thanks for your supportive comments! it would be really nice if the character limit in your software was actually the real limit not 20-30 characters less as @Grumpy (and others have found).


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:56 p.m.

@Ranzini. Thank you for answering my question. How is it possible that @Steve Norton can defend the status quo regarding AAPS financial transparency and mock the confusion that many have by putting the word secret in quotes in his post above. I did not go through all 90 pages of the document to which he provided a link, but is it really possible that @Steve is correct and there is no effort by the accountants to hide finances by combining the administrative costs with the janitorial costs? Is it possible that @Ranzini's report on Green's response to his question is false? Is it possible that @DonBee, who comes up with the same numerous questions regarding transparency year after year happened to miss the clarity that @Steve Norton believes is contained in these budget documents? @Steve Norton quickly dismisses A2hell's idea saying that only gets us halfway there. I would be extremely interested to read what @Steve Norton's response is to @DonBee's and @A2edu's suggestions in the previous article on this subject. Does @Steve Norton have his own suggestions to solve this latest budget shortfall or will he only slap down other's ideas? It seems to me someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong here. Is it @Steve Norton? Or is it the @Ranzini, @DonBee, @A2edu group? Which is the bigger bureaucracy in this town AAPS or AA City Gov't? I gotta believe it's the city, but I perhaps I'm wrong. If it is the city, why are they able to implement a program like OpenBook basically unsolicited and year after year after year, so many people have questions about the transparency of AAPS finances. Why aren't we all DEMANDING that AAPS use OpenBook as the city now does? If AAPS really cares about the taxpayers' and parents' ideas, they would implement this program immediately. @Ranzini &amp; @DonBee who take such an active interest in the AAPS would sit in their basements all night and pick these budgets apart. AAPS could take advantage of their services for F

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:16 a.m.

Grumpy - I put the word &quot;secret&quot; in quotes because the information was sitting there on the AAPS web site. It may have been obscure information, but it was there. I'm not sure how many people were &quot;confused&quot; by this situation other than a handful of posters on this site. Claiming that the district was keeping information secret was a clear untruth being used for political purposes. DonBee - once again, you print claims about me and my work in a public forum that are false and could be actionable. Yet you do this from behind the protection of a pseudonym. In my private sector work, I do web development and communications work for small business and nonprofits. As ED of Michigan Parents for Schools, I do grassroots lobbying work on school funding issues. As a parent and citizen of AAPS, I have volunteered to help campaign for a few millage renewals and one new tax. I have never been paid for any of the millage campaign work, and neither were any of my colleagues on the Citizens Millage Committee. Your statement strongly implies otherwise. I demand that you explain yourself and retract your wholly false accusations.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:53 a.m.

Mr. Norton is a marketing and communications person working with school districts to get millages passed. He wants to see both millages passed for the district.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

The article and comments seem to indicate that the only problem with AAPS is the big budget shortfall. Here are some of the latest MEAP scores from Ann Arbor Public Schools. AAPS MEAP Fall 2010/11 Percent of Students Proficient with NEW STATE CUT SCORES:       SCIENCE       Grade       5                                       Fall '10        New All Students                     89               40 White                             95               47                       Black                               62                9 Asian                                91              47 Hispanic                          71               19 Multi-Ethnic                     91               35 Econ Disadvantaged         69               13 Limited English                33                0 Special Ed                        58               18 What are we to do about this?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

@A Voice of Reason: thanks for the very interesting report! The chart of page 24 indicates that 22% of students in Michigan are &quot;Below Basic&quot; (fail) and 35% are &quot;Proficient&quot; or &quot;Advanced&quot;. The table on page 23 indicates that only the states of West Virginia, Tennessee, New Mexico, Mississippi, California, Arizona and Alabama have worse scores. That puts us tied with Alaska for 8th from the bottom. Awful!

A Voice of Reason

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

Here is a link to the national report card for 4th grade math. Michigan is near the bottom next to Alaska and Alabama. Our new cut scores where changes to reflect national standards, and because Michigan does not have a choice but to get its act together! If this is success to you, then keep the status quo. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6 p.m.

@sh1: The State Board of Education implemented the new cut scores in a bi-partisan vote. The methodology was established as follows (from the Q&amp;A at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;11. How were new cut scores established? The recommendations were the result of an intensive collaborative research study conducted by ACT, the National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA) and the BAA Measurement Research and Psychometric unit with significant contributions from the BAA Technical Advisory Committee, Michigan's institutes of higher education, and others. The cut scores were officially established in September 2011 when the State Board of Education adopted the new cut score recommendations.&quot; Under the old MEAP scoring system, a score of 40% out of 100% was generally a passing grade. Under the new system a score of about 66% is a passing grade. 30+ years ago when I was in public school, a 40 was a F as was 56 or less, and a 66 was a D+. The standards of our public schools being too low in the past are why 21-23% of our children graduate as functional illiterates, a burden on society and unable to pay their way through life since being a productive member of the information society requires not just functional literacy but being able to use Information Technology effectively.

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:04 a.m.

The problem with the old scores - it is difficult to see change when you have 95% year after year. At least we can visualize improvement with the lower scores. And you better believe there is room to improve in how we teach science to fifth graders. A successful program will show improvement (not necessarily parity) in all ethnic groups. So what are we to do about this? The answer is to spend wisely so we are free to teach effectively. These annual budget wars are not helping.

Jack Panitch

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:50 a.m.

Part of the reason for starting the discussions this early is to get everyone onto the same page. Mr. Lange Ranzini has just given us a great example of why this is so important. He misleads the reader by not providing a full explanation of the change in the cut scores. The approach has the effect of creating an emotional response and tends to disrupt the conversation. I'm not saying that's his intent, but that's certainly the effect. And actually, that's kind of a good thing at this stage of the conversation. The freer people feel to speak their minds openly, the better off we can be at rooting out misconception. By January, if we all stay focused, we will have kicked out the cobwebs and be able to engage in much higher level analysis of this material. If we can get out from behind our conspiracy theory mentality (you know who you are), we're going to find that the District is making a sincere and responsible effort to provide us all the information we need to inform ourselves and then let them know what we value most, so they, the experts, can get us to where we want to be with the painful choices that we, as a community, not AMOC, not a Voice of Reason, not DonBee, not Jack Panitch, not Steve Norton, not any of us individually, but all of us together have to make. So they need to ask for ideas, and they need to talk to us to find out what we value most, and they need to do simulations to think everything out to its nth logical conclusion in the real world and they need to come back to us with real world proposals and everything else that fell on the cutting room floor and why sufficiently in advance of June 30th to get our final community &quot;sense of the budget&quot; so that the trustees can make the best informed decisions to get something in place by June 30th. Again, to get a well-informed community discussion going, one based on reality and not fiction, one based on thoughtfulness and not misconception, you have to start the discussion early.

J. A. Pieper

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:45 a.m.

Very interesting, the district hasn't shared this with staff yet. I am not surprised though - how can a student be PROFICIENT with a skill when they get 1 out of 4 items correct? This is how the test has been graded in the past, which has been a total lie to the parents, students, and community. Now that same student has to get 3 out of 4 correct to be proficient, which makes more sense to me. What do the reading and math scores look like?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

The cuts scores are arbitrary. Don't put too much stock in them. It's just a way to make privatization look more plausible to the public.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

@Steven Harper Piziks: 60% of the students in AAPS failed that MEAP test. It's just one illustration of a very serious problem. What are our +$180 million a year buying? Bad results for our children? You don't care? I hope you were trying to make an joke?

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

Who cares?

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

To &quot;A2hell&quot; about administrators: Administration, especially central admin, has taken the burden of all the budget cuts before the last couple of years - they weren't this big, but they added up. This has come at a cost, as the district's ability to take action has been curtailed. But to take one cut at answering your question, from the 2009-10 audit report: General Administration $1.44 million Central Business Services $1.87 million Central Activities $3.95 million Total central administration: $7.26 million. In other words, eliminate all central administration and departments completely (as some people say, &quot;blow up Balas&quot;), and you are still only half way there. Hard to run district with no central services.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

DonBee, I was responding to &quot;A2Hell's&quot; comment. I took that to be about central administration; perhaps I was wrong. If your argument is that we should have district-wide principal sharing, please present it as such. I think you would have found a large group of parents at that meeting quite ready to respond to that. It's not honest to talk about &quot;cutting administration,&quot; including principals and deputy superintendents, unless you are willing to specify specifically which ones you believe should be removed. Which schools do you believe should share principals? How do you pair them up? Which of the two deputy superintendents do you believe should be fired: instruction or operations? They already have a pretty small administrative team. The burden is on you to prove that those people are not needed, and to say which ones you think we can do without. Generalizations simply won't wash.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

And building administration is....? and when you add the two together you get numbers that are way over the top on a per student basis. TIme to trim principals and deputy and assistant superintendents, as well as the consultants that are hired by the deputy and assistant superintendents. There seems to be a flock of former Southfield administrators doing consulting work in AAPS right now. I did not know Southfield was that much better of a school district that we should be learning from them.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

Cut the AD's. That's over a $350,000 savings. Then trim more of the fat of administration. The administrative staff at Balas would probably cover the deficit.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

The fat at Balas Administration Building is ENORMOUS. Cut there first.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Yes, Mr. Miller - Plymouth-Canton has one Athletic director and one assistant.

Russ Miller

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:23 a.m.

Does Plymouth Canton make do with one AD? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> P-CEP Athletic Directors: Sue Heinzman (734) 416-2925 and Tom Willette (734) 416-7775


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

The real number is closer to $1 million dollars - At each high school, AD and Trainer comes to approximately $250,000. Please staff that is not included in this audit report as athletic costs, but rather buried in the cost of school administration. I would suggest if Plymouth-Canton can do with a single athletic director and 3 high schools with sports teams (and more students) that AAPS should be able to also. Call it $700,000 or about 5%.

Kara H

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

$300K is only 2 of the ADs. With the third, it's probably more like $400K. Add each of their secretaries and trainers and it gets much larger. Anyway, simply cutting ADs isn't much of a solution, but that it's only 2.6% or whatever of the total is a silly position. Cutting school spending by this much in this economy with property values down and per pupil state funding being cut will have to be done 2% and 5% at a time. Lather, rinse, repeat until desired effect is achieved.

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:52 p.m.

$350,000 is about 2.6% of $13M.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.


Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

At an A2Y Chamber &quot;meet and greet&quot; event in the past month I asked Superintendent Green why the district would not release the rest of the check registers showing how AAPS spent it's +$180 millon for the last full fiscal year prior to the school board election? At that time seven months were available on the AAPS website and five months were missing. I reasoned that AAPS needs to build trust with the voters and that full transparency would help rebuild that trust. Her reply was that the staff &quot;was busy working on the annual audit and would get around to it after the annual audit was finished.&quot; I found her perspective on the need for transparency very unsatisfactory. I am curious if there is some expense so important that it needed to be hidden from the voters? I'm not sure what the point was of having of these sessions? Should they not be held after the expenses for the prior year are fully disclosed to the public and we can compare the budget versus the actual expenses at a fine level of detail and know exactly what the money was spent on? Without the information it is just an exercise in PR and that is perhaps another reason why so few people showed up. They know that AAPS is not so interested in transparency.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:27 a.m.

I agree completely. When the public finally finds out how much this community spends on failed administrators, communications directors, art &amp; music coordinators - all who are totally unnecessary, and have NOTHING to do with student achievement, there will be demands for cutting at Balas. This community needs to elect better school board members who are able to address this major problem.

Kara H

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

@stephen: I agree. I wrote to the school district to inquire about the audited financial report for 10/11 and if it was available for review in preparation for these forums, but not surprisingly received no response. But I'm with you, I can't see the point of forums/meetings to talk about the next budget until the previous full one is closed out and the actuals are available. It does kind of smack of being a PR stunt and little else.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

Just wanted to comment on all this &quot;secret&quot; budget stuff. I made this reply to an earlier comment asking about bowling (facetiously, I imagine): I invite you to look at the most recent (2009-10) annual audit report, where on page 59 and following you will see revenues and expenditures for each sport at each high school. Boys and Girls bowling at Huron cost $19,309 that year. Last year's audit report should be out next week or so. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> We can, and probably will, argue about what ought to be spent on this programming. But &quot;secret,&quot; it is not.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Russ Miller - The transfer money and how it is spent is detailed. In the audit, the balance of the $15 to 17 million spent on sports, sports facilities, and sports transportation is not. Nor is the reduced class load that some coaches get included in that break down or the staff that is in the building administration included. So you have the detail of the surface of the ice berg, but not the rest of it.

Russ Miller

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:53 a.m.

DonBee - Annual financial reports have been posted for years on the AAPS site and the detailed athletic fund expenditures go back to at least the 05-06 school year. You've repeatedly raised the issue of Booster funds. Those aren't paid by the district, so what's the problem? The booster organizations are separate 501c(3) organizations with non-secret annual IRS form 990's on file if you want to know how much money is involved. They serve as account holders for some club teams and offer limited fundraising opportunities to teams by working consessions, etc. The 2010-11 report doesn't include pay to participate revenue because the fees hadn't been imposed yet. The insurance benefit fee revenue is shown. I believe transportation costs are included in the report. For the sports my kids have been involved with at Huron I'm certain that they are. Finally, I too would like to see a breakout for maintenance costs. Tell us about teaching overtime related to athletics, and what makes you believe that it's is not included in the athletic fund?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:44 a.m.

Yes, Steve this is how the spend the $3 million from the general fund. It does NOT include booster money, fees from students to play, cost of field maintenance, sinking fund and bond fund spending on athletics. Overtime, reducing in class load for coaches, bussing to games, etc. It is however better than any previous report, because is shows at least 10 percent of the money spend on Varsity sports. Now get the district to give us the rest of the spending and we will have something to discuss.

Kara H

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 11:12 p.m.

I'm glad you found that. I was going to post the link for you once I got done with work for the day. If people back up just one level in the URL provided, they can download audited Financial Reports for the past several years. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It also links to the check registers that Stephen mentions below, but as he also points out, they're not up to date. IMHO, only the audited Financial Reports are worth the effort to analyze. The &quot;User Friendly&quot; budget format is difficult to follow, not detailed enough, and folds too many expenses into too few overarching categories.

Andy Price

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10 p.m.

This is a HUGE amount of money to cut from just one school district, and I think this fiscal breaking point shows us that we cannot continue to cut, cut, cut taxes for the rich and corporations. Not unless we're prepared to go without things like public education, police, fire, and emergency services, and other infrastructure that keep us from being a third world country.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 7 p.m.

I find it odd that the new highly paid superintendent has not at least come out with some ideas. Instead she has the school system solicit ideas from the parents. This is like having the chef send the patrons to the grocery store and figure out what will be on the menu. With her experience, Green should be providing direction, potential solutions, and leadership for the austerity process. Seems as though she as delegated this to Deputy Super Robert Allen. If our school system management cannot figure out how to become more efficient, then maybe they should be replaced.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

As an employee in the district, I can tell you that she stays at the Balas building. We've not seen her in the schools. She is surrounded by Balas lackeys who no doubt have bent her ear. It's like the blind leading the blind over there.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

Completely agree. I would be curious to know if people on the &quot;inside&quot;, i.e. teachers, etc...feel Green is living up to her salary/expectations? Are there things we, the public, don't see that she is doing? Personally I think these parent/public forums are a way of stroking the public to make it look like they are willing to try anything, when in fact they are not, just my personal opinion.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

I agree with A2anon. We need local control back, since Lansing has been instituting someone else's values, not ours.

Andrew Smith

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:14 p.m.

It is true that, relative to the total number of students we have in the district, we have a few too many administrators; we can distinguish between central administrators, who are not in schools, and building administrators, who are principals and assistant principals. It is also true that the per-head spending is not the same at the various schools in the district; Skyline and Community high schools cost more per student than Huron and Pioneer. Within any one school, there is also a substantial variation in per-student costs.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

Balas will fight tooth and nail to make sure this info does not get out.

say it plain

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Right, like the ones who do all the extra-curriculars we never are allowed to see the spending on!


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

I like local's idea of opening a magnet school for gifted/talented. We can talk about how bad the economy is, but I know of tons of people who go to private schools at the elementary level because the public schools don't have any programs for accelerated kids. The kids come back in middle/high school when we offer individualized classes by achievement level instead of by age. These private schools cost A LOT of money that people are somehow able to cough up in these tough economic times. Imagine if we could recapture the per pupil revenue of all these elementary kids, not to mention the PTO dues and fundraising money of their parents who now have a bunch of disposable income because they aren't paying $15,000 or more in tuition anymore. I know many people don't support special programs for elementary advanced kids because they would rather spend the money trying to reduce the achievement gap, but we are losing so many of our kids that should be in our local public schools. Are they all actually gifted? Of course not, most just learn at a quicker pace. But we have to offer something for those kids or we will continue to lose them and their money.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

Ann Arbor's gifted and talented kids from poor and working class families rely on on our pubic schools to appropriately develop their talents. Those families can't afford the excellent private schools catering to gifted kids from affluent families. High school is too late to differentiate; too many kids have shut down for lack of challenge. As a matter of equity, we need a free, transportation-provided gifted and talented program in Ann Arbor. Plymouth-Canton can afford an excellent program, on $1k less per student than Ann Arbor gets. Why?


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

State and Federal guidelines give schools incentives to bring people UP to the average, i.e. work with students that are having issues. That's why we have a high number of teachers/aides to deal with students with problems. Having programs to work with gifted students get little focus. In another state, we got so disgusted with this that we skipped our child over 6th grade, at the objection of his elementary school principal, but with full support of his new middle school principal. He thrived on the challenge, and attended Huron High and found a great selection of AP and advanced courses to pick from. Students can also take a class if they qualify at WCC, and Calc is often taken there, and mostly paid for by the high school (because that level isn't offered in our schools).

Tony Livingston

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

I would agree that a gifted and talented program would be really helpful. And yes, there are a lot of gifted and very smart and talented students in Ann Arbor and many, many, many of them are in AAPS high schools. Ann Arbor draws some of the smartest and most talented people in the world so it makes sense that there would be a large group of very talented students here also. But, I cannot imagine administering something like this --- who gets in and who doesn't. Talk about unhappy parents to deal with.

Kara H

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

So now we're Lake Wobegon, &quot;where all the children are above average&quot; ? :-) I'm OK educating all our kids equally well. Just want to make sure we're doing that at least.

say it plain

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

It is kind of odd that in such an 'above average' kinda town as Ann Arbor, we can't seem to work out a place in the public schools for all those gifted children we breed here ;-) They manage it in other cities somehow...


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

The residents of Michigan (with and without kids) have taken a hit. The school teachers have taken a hit. The kids have taking a hit. I don't see the administrators taking a hit ... ____ (insert #) of Administrators that need to be fired = $14 Million or ____ (insert %) of all Administrators Salary to be reduced = $14 Million How hard is that, no meetings needed.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:15 a.m.

This is the elephant in the room. For the life of me, I cannot understand why this community doesn't demand the firing of half the employees at Balas. We'd save 6-8 million right there. . . . . and I bet student achievement would actually go up.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

There are a lot of administrators in the high schools, or Skyline specifically that could be cut. If you had better computer software to generate student's schedules, the high school counselors would no longer be needed. They could also cut the teachers that are NOT teaching. The teachers that teach directly and only from the textbook could be cut and replaced with an online course. There is fat to be trimmed that that school.......

say it plain

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

I agree that counselors need to help students with their schedules, @Steven Harper Piziks, but it seems for some reason that this is close to *all* they do sometimes...they hardly schedule time to get to know the kids or talk to them about larger plans and strategies for taking courses, graduating, etc., unless a problem arises. Really, in part, I suspect that it's because they have too much busywork to do and are handed too many kids per counselor to even make it feasible to get to know the kids--at least at the comprehensive high schools in town. Community gets much much better counseling, for a number of reasons.

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

Uh . . . schools =do= use a computer program to schedule students. But someone has to talk to the students and figure out what class to put them in. (&quot;Kiddo, you failed a semester of English, and now you have to make it up. Your schedule currently has you in a music class, but we'll have to give you a repeat English class instead. Except there isn't such a class during your music class, so let's see . . . we can move you into a fourth hour math class instead--oh, no, wait--that class is full. How about we try . . . &quot; You can't do this with just a computer program.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

High school or middle school counselors aren't supposed to do schedules. Ann Arbor is one of the few districts that requires it's counselors to have a teachers certification and also one of the few districts that treat them like school counselors. They do more scheduling than counseling! Counselors are extremely needed to help counsel kids. I'm in agreement, get a computer program to schedule kids in classes and let counselors do the jobs they are trained to do!


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

High School Counselors replaced by computers? Really? You clearly don't know what a counselor is supposed to do all day. That said, one of our children attended Huron, and they had way TOO FEW counselors for the kids, the ratio was absurd. The counselor got nothing done on time, was ill-prepared for any type of discussion, and at graduation it was embarrassing that she had to read the names off a list, and mispronounce them, because she didn't know her kids (the other counselor did know his kids). This isn't a problem limited to AAPS. In another state we experienced the same issue, counselors are poorly suited for the job, and often hold other positions (like a coach of a team), and can't begin to give good advice to the students, especially where college is concerned.

say it plain

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

No, high school *counselors* are desperately needed... But you're right...currently, apparently, way too much effort seems to be spent working out the problems/intricacies with coordinating students' schedules! Counselors would be much better utilized getting to know the students well enough to advise/counsel them!


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

I think we should close a small elementary school and try to re-district with as minimal disruption as possible. With that school we make it a talented and gifted school (revenue maker). Charge parents a fee to apply to the program. Charge the parents a fee to take a standard test to check whether a child is truly talented and/or gifted. And those that meet the cut get admitted to the school. No transportation provided for these students, and parents would know that going in. The parents wouldn't pay the fee of a private school, but would have to pay smaller fees for application and test taking. Yes, I know all parents think their child is talented and gifted, but this could be a way to create a unique school and make revenue along the way. If the numbers get to high with applications, it becomes a lottery.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

not charging to attend. charging to apply to attend. We have to weed out the truly gifted and talented, and it cost to have someone administer and score a test to check for that.

J. A. Pieper

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

AAPS won't do this, they cut their gifted and talented program years ago, they also cut out having class rankings at the HS levels (there is no first in class, etc., you are just in the top 5 % or whatever), they lowered the entry point for National Honor Society, they won't have a developmental kindergarten, why? Because there is a lack of students in these areas from one culture...

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

That would violate the state Constitution's requirement that it provide a &quot;free and adequate&quot; public education. Can't charge tuition to attend.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

you hold a tennis ball in your right hand above your head. then you drop it. when it hits the ground it will bounce up. we are at the ground now. unless it bounces up we are going to be once again in trouble. do not know how to do 14 mil. not even close.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

Lets see, Reduce the number of Administrators, reduce the pay and benefits given to teachers an staff. Less paid time off during the school year for teachers and staff. I think that these types of cuts have never been tried in the Academic World but they worked real well in the Real World. This stuff about about that there is no where else to cut is just a JOKE!

Steve in MI

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

The Michigan legislature is intentionally punishing public schools with these budget cuts. Public schools have committed the dual mortal sins of being staffed by unionized professionals, and failing to provide religious indoctrination for their students. This legislature WILL NOT STOP the budgetary punishment until either the public schools crumble and are replaced by a faith-based charter schoool system, or the citizens of Michigan vote in better legislators. I favor the latter approach.

Kara H

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

Amen! I mean, Arg!


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Unless something changes soon, the days of public school teaching being a moderately well paid, secure, middle class job with good benefits may be coming to an end.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

I attended this forum, along with one of my neighbors who is not an AAPS parent, but is a district taxpayer and an employee of a Wayne County school district. Approximately half the people at the event were AAPS employees, including Superintendent Pat Green, who opened the meeting and covered the school district's long-neglected Strategic Plan. Trustee Glenn Nelson also attended, and served as spokesperson for his &quot;table talk&quot; group. As with last years' budget forums, the discussion was limited almost entirely to the general education operating budget, with few or no details provided about sinking fund expenditures, Special Education, Federal grant funds, or outside agency grants which support some programs. The district used the same &quot;User Friendly Budget&quot; format, which lumps building administrators (principals, assistants, athletic directors) with secretaries, teachers' aides, and custodians to disguise how top-heavy our district still is. That format also obscures operating expenses for athletic department facilities, many of which are never accessed by anyone except athletes and coaches. In spite of continuing some ineffective behavior from past years, it was great to see AAPS asking for community input early enough to be genuinely useful in developing next year's budget. Hearing about plans to inform all parent about the expected budget impacts was good too. And renewed emphasis on the Strategic Plan with its' focus on academic success and effective instruction was welcomed by the folks in my group. Almost all the suggestions I heard were reasonable and offered in a spirit of helpfulness, not spite against some group or program perceived as favored by the administration.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

&quot;I have copies of all the material used in the budget session in front of me, I believe AMOC correctly stated the situation.&quot; This statement, of course, presumes that you are representing their content accurately. Given your misrepresentation of an article you linked in another sub-thread in this discussion regarding lawsuits over state funding of education, I think it highly likely that your understanding of those documents is not correct. Good Night and Good Luck


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

I have copies of all the material used in the budget session in front of me, I believe AMOC correctly stated the situation.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Actually, we also had extracts from the 09-10 audit report on the table with plenty of detail. But fear not, it's on the web site in full.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:49 a.m.

Grumpy – The question sheet asked if the info given was clear and sufficient. The facilitator at our table reported that our group wanted more detail on a long list of specific expenses. I hope the more-detailed "Audited Budget" format will be available for the meetings planned for spring of 2012. Last night we didn't even have the User Friendly Budget from this year on the tables, just a few pie charts showing very broad categories of costs and general fund revenue estimates. TheCompound – I have formal training and a lot of experience in small-group facilitation and process development. I strongly believe that AAPS's practice of using their staff to facilitate the discussion and record the input of community members has led to "steering" the discussions and selective recording or editing of comments from the community members who participated in this and previous forums. I further believe that parents self-censor their comments when their kids' teacher, coach, or principal is at the table or at the meeting. I said as much to Superintendent Green last night after the meeting.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10 p.m.

@Grumpy: Your answer is in my post below.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

@AMOC, did you feel that by having half those attending being AAPS employees altered or influenced the discussions? In another comment section someone mentioned they thought having a parent or non-AAPS employee taking notes would be better so as to not steer the conversation in a different direction. Did you feel that was happening at all? I appreciate your feedback, I was not aware of this budget forum but am aware of the one next week.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Did you ask the direct question of Ms. Green - &quot;Will you show us the expenses that make up this big number, that disguise how top-heavy our district still is and obscures athletic department numbers&quot;? Or are you just stating that they still aren't tell us this info?


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:33 p.m.

I think your point about not detailing sinking fund expenditures, special ed, federal grant funs and outside agency grants is these are variable costs and income, nothing is for sure about them. Who knows how much special ed kids will cost, who knows if they will get grant money? Sinking funds are set I believe, and are assigned to particular areas, building for instance. What's really is left is people salaries, once busing is cut and athletics. The thing about cutting busing is that it will begin to affect some kids attendence. Leaving where it is is probably best case. Most schools are big and need two principals, and some schools need different principals than the ones they have, but that's a different story.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

AMOC, I'm curious what the administrator's response was to your (and Ron Granger's) point in paragraph #2 in your post above. Did they indicate they were currently working on providing complete transparency to the taxpayers? Or did your point fall on deaf ears?

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

We need to know how the school district spends our money on extracurricular activities like sports. We need specifics. How much are they spending on bowling? Should they be spending any of our money on bowling? But so far, the schools are unwilling to disclose their secret &quot;sports&quot; budget. Secrecy has no place in public budgets. We must have transparency!


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

Mr. Norton - knowing what I know about Community and other buildings, having spent time in them, really looking at the energy infrastructure, that $11 million could have made a big, difference. But, no we spent it on Athletics instead. Each choice on how each piece of the budget is spent has an impact on the rest of the budget. For instance the decision to build a comprehensive, instead of a magnet high school. The decision to spend &quot;left over&quot; sinking fund and bond money on Athletics facilities, instead of energy efficiency or for technology - that the district is now crying poor about (and yes, some of the bond money and sinking fund money could have gone for data center upgrades, and backbone upgrades - maybe not laptops). Treating each piece of the budget, as if it has no impact on the others, your method, causes larger and larger structural problems in the district. Only a holistic look at the spending makes sense. Because there are impacts. The whole $220 million plus is the budget for AAPS, not the $180 million that the &quot;we need more money&quot; folks want to claim. That other $40 million does have an impact on how the first $180 million has to be spent in the future. I am on topic.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 6:35 a.m.

Actually, my understanding is that the district had an energy efficiency program that was generating savings, as well as using the sinking fund for numerous capital upgrades that would cut energy use and repair costs (new boilers, and so on). Why do you assume that whatever was spent on athletic facilities came at the expense of other improvements? I also seem to remember that dramatic cuts to district-paid athletic busing were implemented for this year as well, though I cannot recall the precise details. Finally, I also understood Skyline as a solution to the overcrowding problem at Pioneer (in particular) and at Huron - that's certainly why I voted for the bond. And that has actually come to pass. I don't think there was any conspiracy to build a bigger school just to have more athletics. I'm not necessarily defending high levels of spending on varsity sports, but we need to stay on topic here. It's the general fund that's in deficit, and the solutions need to come from the GF, new revenue, or shifting anything we can out of the GF and onto other revenue streams (capital expenditures).


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

Mr Norton - Again not true. You want to purely focus on the general fund and claim it is insufficient, you desire to ignore the other 30+ million dollars a year the district gets. If that $11 million this year had been spent on energy efficiency and AAPS had gotten the same level of results as other districts, the structural deficit would have been reduced by approximately 7 percent of that 11 million or $770,000 a year. But instead it was spent on grandstands, weight rooms, and changing rooms. So we the taxpayers have to find an additional $770,000 a year in the general fund. If we had built Skyline as a magnet school (the majority choice of the people in the two forums I attended) it would be 70% small in volume (no gym, etc) and would cost less to staff and run. But, the administration decided that Athletics were too important. The magnet programs promised and the new staffing of only 19 (the promise of the then administration) new staff members have never been kept. Overtime for grounds keeping, custodial services, support staff for the athletic directors, buses to away games are not in the transfer to the athletic fund, but come out of school budgets - as far as anything public indicates. In total we are probably looking at Athletics eating more like $5 to 7 million of the general fund and another 5 million or so a year of sinking and bond fund money - which could reduce energy use by about $300,000 a year. But, why let facts get in the way?

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

DonBee, the only thing that is relevant to the topic of this article - how to close the general fund deficit - is the amount of general fund money that goes to athletics. If you want to question our community's love of varsity sports, by all means do. But recognize that it is a separate question. Just because the AAPS admins have not had time to slice and dice data to your specifications does not mean that things are not transparent. We have the GF numbers we need for the budget discussion.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

This is the transfer from the general fund. There is a lot more that gets spent on Athletics. 1) Over $11 million of sinking fund and bond money in 2011 2) Booster money of an untold amount for various sports (AAPS has twice refused FOIA requests on this point) 3) Custodial overtime and grounds keeping costs 4) Staff costs for the Athletic Directors (in the building administration rather than the transfer from general fund) 5) busing to away games 6) etc. The last estimate that was worked up was that Athletics at AAPS was more than $20 million a year, all in from all sources.

Brian Kuehn

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:07 a.m.

Thanks, Steve. I never would have found that display of data on my own. So it looks like roughly $3,000,000 of direct expense for varsity sports. A starting point any way.

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

Why are you so hung up on bowling? $19,000 is about .14% of $13M.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

I invite you to look at the most recent (2009-10) annual audit report, where on page 59 and following you will see revenues and expenditures for each sport at each high school. Boys and Girls bowling at Huron cost $19,309 that year. Last year's audit report should be out next week or so. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2 p.m.

See, here's the thing. Look at the numbers. We could completely eliminate all bussing and all sports funding, and we'd still not even be half way toward eliminating the $14 million deficit. This is a structural deficit that is unsustainable. Teacher retirement funding needs to be fixed. And Lansing needs to restore the money to K-12 that they stole from the school aid fund. Or give us back local control, since they obviously cannot be trusted with our money.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

It's true: the taxation of pensions, cuts to the EITC, elimination of deductions and other such changes roughly covered the state budget deficit. The cuts to K-12 so that the school aid fund could cover a lot of university and community college funding were to cover the huge tax cut that results from phasing out the MBT. They chose tax cuts to business over education spending, and were pretty explicit about it at the time.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

Lansing took the K-12 money and gave it to higher ed, who has the ability to raise money in other ways. They then took the higher ed money to pay for the big tax cuts to businesses. I disagree with choices completely.

Basic Bob

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

I think it would be great if Lansing restored the school money. But who is going to restore the tax receipts to them to pay for it? Local funding works great in Ann Arbor with its high property values, but consider the impact that would have on less affluent communities in the state. I personally don't think it's fair for Detroit and Flint to fail because they can't collect the same tax we do. Maybe for some this is a tea party issue, but mostly it's just how it is.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

Suggestions here are nice to read but what if the people who make the decisions don't read this site? The place to make the suggestions is in front of them, at the meetings.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Just as good - email the Board with your ideas: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> They even have a handy email-them-all-at-once email address:


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

Actually, I believe some of the people responsible for the decisions do read this site. Last night, school board trust school Glenn Nelson read from a list of suggestions that sounded like a print-out of previous-article comments from

Andrew Smith

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

We have shown that we can save money by trimming the busing program; it could be trimmed still more, and yet students would arrive safely at school, if we are creative enough in finding alternative transportation for them.

Basic Bob

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

After trimming the buses in my neighborhood, they had to immediately add them back in. You see, kids in my neighborhood use the bus to get to school. (except for the one professor's kid who gets to use Daddy's car) What alternative would you suggest for students who live 7 miles from school and 3 miles from the nearest AATA stop?


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

I know this idea will go over like a lead balloon in Ann Arbor, but cut extracurriclar activities. Lets worry about the 3 R's first. Start cutting a few sports, band, drama or make them 100% pay to play.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 3:15 a.m.

Lead balloon indeed. Families will stampede for the charter schools. Arts are superacademic, not extracurricular. They integrate the various intelligences, foster critical thinkers, and add the fourth R: relevance of education.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

@DonBee: Do you ever actually READ the links you provide before you post them? The article you link has strongly suggests that the former system would pass muster. Let me explain. The article starts by pointing out that in the recent past 20 states had had their educational funding model thrown out as unconstitutional ACCORDING TO THEIR STATE'S CONSTITUTION. Also, it is worth noting that 9 of the 20 states are southern states, a region whose history of under-funding public education is well know and, of the other 11, 7 are states with very small minority populations (e.g., Wyoming), so I doubt the NAACP (your original post) was at issue there. But the core of the article was this: that those state constitutions required either an "adequate," "basic," or "thorough and efficient" education for all children and if the STATE did not provide one it was found to have violated ITS OWN constitution. The Michigan Consitution requires none of the above. Article Eight Section 1 reads: Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be ENCOURAGED. Nope, the article you posted is not about our state. But even if it were, there is nothing in it to suggest that what one local school district levies for its own operation in any way comes to bear on what any other local school district levies for theirs. In that case, the Milliken precedent controls, because that is exactly what was at issue there. So, thanks for pointing out that article. Proves my point, actually. GN&amp;GL


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:16 a.m.

Christopher Berry is assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Charles Wysong is a student at Stanford Law School. Disagree with you Ghost, sorry. Check out: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> In 20 states lawsuits have succeed on school finance and in almost every case it dealt with discrimination against low income schools.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

&quot;Returning to local taxation to run each school district is discriminatory and will get the Federal Government involved in running our schools and distributing the funds for the schools. &quot; You can, of course, cite case law that substantiates this ridiculous statement? Because, were it true, there'd already have been a suit filed because, on a per pupil basis, the state gives more money to A2 than it does to Detroit. If the state can get away with such inequities, there is no way that it is the responsibility of one school district to hold itself to what another district can or cannot do. This is the finding of the Supreme Court in Milliken v. Bradley (1974). Though the issue in that case was cross-district busing, its logic hold here. So, no, returning the state to local funding holds ZERO chance of a federal lawsuit being filed, much less won. Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

johnnya2 - Sorry Returning to local taxation to run each school district is discriminatory and will get the Federal Government involved in running our schools and distributing the funds for the schools. I number of states were sued successfully on this point by groups like the NAACP. Proposition A was designed to offer some local enhancement, while keeping things close enough to avoid federal oversight.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

@thecompound We CAN have both, it is just moronic voters through the rest of the state who decide a community like Ann Arbor can not determine what tax rate is best for their school system. Music, drama, the arts, and physical fitness ARE part of a well rounded education. I wonder how the people who advocate the three R's think that will prepare a student for the future. There are no computer classes in the three R's. In fact, is reading Shakespeare any more valuable in the real world than playing Mozart? Is writing a paper on the symbolism of Moby Dick more valuable than learning how the human body works? Is learning quadratic equations any more valuable than learning how to make Excel spread sheets?


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

@ Steve, while I agree with the sentiment, I guess we need to decide what is more important for the disadvantaged, the enrichments or reasonable class sizes, etc...It appears we can no longer have both.

Steve in MI

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

&quot;Pay to play&quot; is a very bad way to save money, and a very good way to widen the achievement gap between students from poorer families and students from wealthier families. Students who are active in sports and extracurriculars do better in school, period. Students from poorer families already enter school at a disadvantage; we spend HUGE sums of money trying to close that gap. Making it harder for those students to access the enrichment programs that can help them would undercut the academic support efforts that the schools are rightly making for at-risk students.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

AAPS sports teams are already pay-to-play, although the fees don't come close to covering the costs of facilities and coaches'. I found out at the budget forum last night that Skyline's choir, bands and drama groups also &quot;pay to play&quot; through a booster club, the &quot;Skyline Friends of the Arts&quot;. There are, and should be, classes during the school day in music, drama, literature and art, as well as &quot;physical education&quot;. Those disciplines are part of what it means to be educated. We can and should keep those classes, even if all the funds for sports, after-school clubs and extra-curricular activities are raised privately.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

Many believe that band, drama, and art are just as much of a well rounded education as the 3 R's and are not extra-curricular. Maybe not specific sports, but physical fitness also.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

Hire another consultant. Then pay a lot of legal fees to review the findings. Hire a new administrator to oversee it.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Have kids clean up after themselves, eliminate the bus system and have kids be responsible for getting to school, and have teachers, students, and administrators bring their own lunches from home. Do all this and the schools will survive.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:01 a.m.

I'm confused, I didn't realize the Ann Arbor teachers were given lunch every day. Huh. I must have missed the memo, as I've been providing my own lunch for the past 15 years. If you eat a school lunch, you PAY for the school lunch. Seriously? You think they give us lunch every day?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

I highly doubt that teachers and administrators eat the slop that they are passing off as food.

Andy Price

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

yeah, that's not $14 million though. Not even close.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Do you really think teachers and administrators don't already pay for their own lunches?


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

Have students bring their own flags from home to say the pledge.

Steve in MI

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

@CBG - we have them, we just don't make a public display of worshipping them or forcing non-religious people to say &quot;one nation under god&quot; every morning.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

It's Ann Arbor. Most households don't have American flags.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

Kill the bus system and the lunch programs. Kids should be able to make it to school and feed the,selves going forward.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Food has already been taken out of the equation. it actually MAKES money for the district. So if you do that, the gap is larger than 14 million. Eliminating bus service is the mentality of the wealthy or those with automobiles. EVERY citizen has a right to an education, not just those who were born to a family that can afford a car or transportation.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

In any case, food service has already been outsourced and no longer represents a cost to the district (I believe) since Chartwells covers their costs from the price of food. Students receiving free and reduced lunch are generally covered by Federal and State grants.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Getting rid of lunch isn't an option; uou obviously have no idea how many AAPS students get a free or reduced price lunch (or breakfast in come cases!).


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

So, was Green at this meeting or not? It wasn't clear from the article when she said the things quoted. AT the meeting? on the phone? When? Thanks.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

Superintendent Green was at the meeting. In person. She was still there when I left, and there was evidence when I arrived that there had been a pre-meeting of the AAPS presenters and &quot;discussion facilitators&quot;.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.

I wonder how much could be saved by going to a four-day school week.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 3:10 a.m.

Teachers would have to teach every hour and the fifth day would be their preparatory day. The buildings would have to be open. fugeddaboutit.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

Less than 20% and more than 5% of busing, heating and lighting expenses, and cleaning/custodian wages. Not even close to enough by itself, but every little bit helps.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

There would be transportation and custodial savings, though don't know how much.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

Not much, since the state mandates the number of days/hours of schooling each year. Cut the week, and you'd have to extend the day. Would probably be a near wash.

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

Ann Arbor is BIG on education. So 60 out of how many parents attended this? That number might work in some little burg, but Ann Arbor? What's going on here? Is it apathy, disinterest, too busy, disgust or what?


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 3:08 a.m.

a2edu nails it. They held meetings to brainstorm Middle School Restructuring and it became clear that the plan was already laid. They intended to remove the Advisory program from middle schools; calculated it would save X; then told the public &quot;we must shave X from the middle school budget, please give us your ideas.&quot;


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.

AAPS has a long (and not so proud) history of asking for input and then disregarding it because the decision has already been made. Why attend a meeting that deals with chump change issues when HUGE structural cuts need to happen? I think the low turnout is because Ann Arborites are hip to this sort of posturing by AAPS administrators.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

Two points to make here - the budget forum was the very first thing on this week's Clague Newsletter, and the administration sent out another email on the fifth on MEAP testing and the budget forums. So if you have a student in the district, you probably did get something about it. But in fairness to us parents, they buried the forums under the &quot;MEAP&quot; headline, and most of us probably just trashed that email. Second, it's darned hard for a number of us parents with two or more kids in the district to make it to things like that, particularly when you have kids at different schools. Besides, these forums are largely a waste of time. You can have a much bigger impact by just sending email to the school Board, and then you don't have to worry about the administration spinning your comment when they report it back to the Board.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.

Marilyn asked, &quot;How do you think the word should get out? &quot; If only they would invent something that allows people to send messages electronically to each other. They could call it electronic mail, but shorten it to email. Or they could invent a service that takes information to each persons home. They could deliver these items 6 days a week. To quote John Lennon, &quot;Maybe I'm just a dreamer, but I'm not the only one&quot;

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

AMOC, thanks for explaining that. How do you think the word should get out? It seems to me that just about everyone in town used to read the Ann Arbor News at one time. Now, I'm not so sure they have transferred over to


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

It wasn't even 60 parents. Around half of the people at this event were AAPS employees. Part of the problem was that there was no AAPS announcement of the forum to all AAPS parents. Only the most dedicated and involved parent group officers would have heard of this in time to plan for childcare, etc. Or people who read the announcement here 2 weeks ago.

Andrew Smith

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

At the high school level, it would be possible to do without substitute teachers in some situations; students can be given assignments and sent to a study hall in the cafeteria, for example.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

Yeah, leaving kids to their own devices is a good move. I know there has never been a high school age kid who did anything stupid like do drugs, drink and drive, have unprotected sex, poop on their rivals football field. If this is a solution, the cost off the resulting issues will car exceed $14 million

Andy Price

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:49 p.m.

Yeah, because 14-18 years olds can be left unattended with no problems whatsoever. Ask a teacher if this isn't an ignorant suggestion.

Steven Harper Piziks

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

And who would oversee the students in the study hall in the cafeteria . . . ?