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Posted on Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 9:35 a.m.

State to host public meeting on education spending and reforms Monday at Ann Arbor Pioneer

By Danielle Arndt

The State Board of Education has launched a series of public events around the state to discuss education policies and reform.

The series will make a stop at Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School from 6-8 p.m. Monday, March 11.


State Board of Education President John Austin

MLive file photo

The State Board is helping to convene a number of community forums this winter and spring to "encourage engagement and facilitate public engagement and thoughtful discussion of current education issues, education reforms, financing proposals and potential legislation," according to the Michigan Department of Education.

The Washtenaw Alliance for Education is hosting Ann Arbor's forum. The Alliance for Education is a joint committee of superintendents and two school board members from each of the county's 10 traditional public school districts. It was formed in February 2012.

State Board President John Austin, State Board member Eileen Weiser and several local education officials are expected to speak at the event.

Austin, a Democrat from Ann Arbor, was re-elected to the position of president for the state board in January. He first was elected to Michigan's State Board of Education in 2000.

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



Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

I am wondering EFM might be on the horizon. AAPS has been a mess for some time now. Otherwise, can't make it to this meeting. But let me know how goes.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 3:26 a.m.

Sounds like you would welcome this. Obviously you have enough money for private schools or don't have ant kids.

Susie Q

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

I hope there will be a big turnout. Mr Snyder's "reforms" have cost AAPS about $600 per student for the past few years. Hence, the need to cut $17 million from next year's budget. He claims that his 2014 budget will increase education spending by 2%. His math is fuzzy.....AAPS will receive LESS funding next year from the state. I don't believe we can afford any more "reforms". Big government in Lansing needs to hear that we want less involvement by politicians who know little or nothing about education. Whatever happened to local control?


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 3:24 a.m.

Interesting take on the state cuts in education. The state cut the K-12 foundation grant by 15% last year because of the nearly $2B cut in business taxes. This is not just a one year cut, then back to normal funding, adding 2% Bach this year still keeps the cut at 13% from 2 years ago. This is why AA and all other districts are hurting. Our public education is at risk because of 30 years of mindless state tax cuts by the government haters in the Republican Party. Where did all the high school technical education go? Mindless tax cuts years ago did it in. Now we need it back because of auto production growth in the state but there is no money to restart these fairly costly programs. Plus all the experienced teachers who taught these courses have retired or left the profession. People, we are screwed because of the government haters who strangled the "beast" by cutting taxes for 30 years. What they didn't realize is that government includes education and public safety.


Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Don Bee, you are dead wrong. Real dollars ARE inflation-adjusted. Read your economics text book. And you are also wrong to say that funding only decreased one time. Using the Consumer Price Index, over the past ten years there's been a cumulative inflation rate of almost 25%. Yet school funding has increased only about 2 - 3% in NOMINAL dollars. Do I need to do the math for you to explain that this really is a whopping net loss for schools?


Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

Real dollars are non-inflation adjusted, Dotdash. The problem is there are 4 or 5 ways to inflation adjust dollars, your report and website don't tell people what method you used. Different methods can give very different answers. As the old saying go, there are lies, &^%* lies and statistics. I unfortunately have to work, so I will not be at your meeting, I would love to dig into your report but far to much is missing from it (just like the AAPS budget) to actually do a reasonable job of verification, so I will relegate to the propaganda pile.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

DonBee - the topic of the panel discussion Monday is state contribution to education, which as been going down for years. The fact that millages, bond issues, etc have gone up just underscores how hard it is for the school districts to make it all work on what they are provided from the School Fund. I'm all for an open discussion of the issues, which is why I encouraged people -- no matter what your stance on this issue -- to go to the meeting. But let's be fair with the numbers we use. There is no reason to look at "non-inflation-adjusted" dollars, since they don't exist. Real dollar contributions from the state have gone down consistently.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 9:58 p.m.

dotdash - If all you count is state funding you are correct. If you count all the revenue sources our local schools collect money from you are not. State funding in non-adjusted dollars under proposition A have only fallen 1 time in the last decade. Otherwise they have grown year over year. If you adjust for inflation, you can argue that they have fallen. Local funding from bonds, sinking funds, special education millages, etc have risen much faster than inflation. While the state funding is only about $9,000 a student - the total funding the district gets from all sources is hovering close to $15,000 a student. That rivals what many good private schools ask for from parents. But, it is more fun to pick on Prop A, than to talk about the total funding.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

Actually, AMOC, by almost any measure, state support of K-12 education has decreased precipitously in the past 12 years. Michigan ranked 10th in per-pupil spending in 2000 and now we rank 26th. K-12 state appropriations have decreased 18% in those 12 years.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

SusieQ, The reason AAPS has to cut $17 million from their budget is NOT that they will receive less money from the state of Michigan in the 2014 budget than they did in 2012 or 2013. It's because AAPS has consistently and repeatedly chosen to budget for 5% or greater increases in expenditures year-over-year. For all the complaints about Proposal A we've been hearing for the past 2-3 years, that mechanism kept school funding increasing slightly or level for the first 10 years of Michigan's 14-year-long economic slump. State and local revenues have fallen by 15-35% between 1998 and 2012, when we finally seem to have hit bottom and started on the way up. The state is projecting a 2% increase in the per-pupil funding in 2013-14, 2/3 of which has already been contractually obligated to pay raises for teachers in AAPS.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

This is something worth going to. The panel discussion will focus on the education reforms that are on the legislative agenda this term. Those "financing proposals"? Everyone should be keeping an eye on them. I believe that they involve "unbundling" student support so that one student's School Fund money could go to multiple schools or online institutions, depending on which classes they took where. Our local school districts could lose a huge amount of money to for-profit online institutions. That's money that was raised in our communities leaving our communities. Here's the discussion of another one of these forums. You can see the importance of the issues on the table...


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

AMOC - I appreciate your frustration and your hope that "mixing and matching" will be good for students. What I worry about is that online and other new institutions will grow by offering only the cheapest courses (huge online programs) -- leaving the expensive pieces behind (special ed, science lab courses, sports, arts, music, etc.) for public schools to provide, but now with fewer dollars. Enrollment restrictions for the new schools could also be removed, meaning that new schools would not have to take everyone (as charters and public schools do now), but could restrict by all manner of metrics. I do encourage everyone to go because people have all kinds of legitimate concerns. These will be huge changes if they happen, and the more people who contribute ideas and values to the process the better. I hope you will be there.

say it plain

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

That was a very nicely articulated argument in favor of giving families flexibility, and students the freedom to learn freely and safely for themselves, @AMOC! I understand the fears and concerns of those worried about the future of public education, but also agree that we can tend to be limited in our imagination of alternatives that could work better for *students*, the future we need to consider most centrally.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 8 p.m.

Dotdash - Are teachers, administrators and other school employees now required to live in the districts where they work? Do school districts only purchase textbooks, computers and supplies from manufacturers within their own borders? How ridiculous to say that only supposedly "for profit" schools cause money spent on education to leave our communities. Everyone who's professionally engaged in education is being paid, and seeking to profit from our tax dollars, and the staff of AAPS are among the most successful in the state at collecting those dollars for themselves and their families. Since there are safeguards to assure that each education provider is accredited and that students are actually learning before government funds are released, the proposed "unbundling" of student aid would be a very welcome change. I would love to see state-wide portability Let each family mix and match providers to find the pace, place and format of material that best suits their students. The American public have made a fetish of socialization in schools, but my kids have experienced frequent bullying and harassment from both their fellow students and some staff members while attending AAPS schools. It would be a huge improvement to be able to afford access to the on-line courses taught by excellent instructors more concerned with teaching math, history or geography than with propagandizing for political correctness.

Susie Q

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

DonBee, AAPS DOES welcome home-schooled students into the high schools and middle schools. I don't know about elementary.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

dotdash - This may or may not be a net loss to the district. IF AAPS were to welcome home schooled children for partial days in the schools, then the net may be positive. If they were to welcome high schoolers from charter schools for chemistry and other classes it might be a net positive. If they keep the "full time only" sign up, then yes it will be a net negative for the district. AAPS does not do a good job of marketing what it has in the way of education to the public at large and the most visible services to the community as a whole seem to be the ones most under budget pressure, while services that are purely internal seem to survive, reducing the desire of people to get their children enrolled at AAPS.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Big Brother? School District Tracks Kids with RFID, curious if the board has any opinions on this, recent school district implemented this program in a Texas school district with 4200 students making it a requirement to wear these lanyards. Some positives and many cons?


Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Where does it state lanyards? You really think teen brains are going to remember to wear them? They can't seem to get out the door without forgetting something.

Dog Guy

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

If I can't get there by 6:00 on the 11th, feel free to start without me.