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Posted on Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

Ann Arbor schools finalize high school sports cuts

By Kyle Feldscher

This story has been updated

The final plan for the Ann Arbor schools 2011-12 athletic budget includes no increases to student participation fees, the elimination of eight sports and reduced funding for several teams, among other reductions.

Freshman football, boy’s basketball and volleyball will continue as fully funded sports due to their high participation numbers. Freshman girls’ basketball, baseball, softball and boys’ and girls’ soccer are all to be eliminated based on participation rates, costs and recommendations from coaches, according to an email sent to district families.

Boys’ and girls’ bowling at the junior varsity and varsity levels are set to be eliminated due to low participation numbers and youth league opportunities already available in the community. The teams have the option to become a club team if they are self-funded.

The fall crew season also will be eliminated. The district will still fund the spring season of crew and teams can continue the fall season if they become self-funded club teams.

Margolis said the district is confident that, despite eliminating three girls’ sports and two boys’ sports, the district will be satisfying all Title IX requirements.

“The ADs have looked at these as well as Dave (Comsa, assistant superintendent for human resources and legal services) and feel that we’re OK,” she said. “It’s about accommodation and opportunity and we still feel that we fall well within Title IX implications.”

According to the email to district families, all three high schools will contract out for their athletic trainers, Pioneer and Huron High School will reduce an athletic secretary position from full-time to part-time, non-Ann Arbor schools coaching staff will be contracted out and ice hockey teams will be required to contribute rental fees for ice time.

Cheerleading at Huron High School and dance at Skyline High School will continue as varsity sports.

The boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams will maintain their varsity status for the 2011-12 seasons and will move to club status in the 2012-13 seasons, according to the email. No other school in the Southeastern Conference funds lacrosse as a varsity sport.

Reductions coming from the Pioneer and Huron figure skating programs will consist of reducing the coaching salary to reflect hours and days of coaching, as well as schools not paying fees for competitions or ice time.

The junior varsity field hockey teams will no longer have the second junior varsity team coach funded by the school, but teams have the option to fund the coach themselves. The two junior varsity teams will rotate in competition.

Huron and Pioneer boys’ and girls’ track teams will each reduce one assistant coach position and Skyline will not add an assistant coach, bring the total coaching staff for each program to one head coach and two assistant coaches.

The district’s athletic budget was reduced by $475,000 for the 2011-12 school year as a part of the AAPS plan to fill an approximately $15 million deficit in the district’s budget.

The district originally announced cuts to athletics in late June before the three high school athletic directors were told to try again by the school board. The athletic directors met with booster groups and community members before the meeting where they presented their new recommendations.

Student athletes will pay $150 for their first sport, $75 for their second sport and no fee for any more sports. Middle school students will pay $50 annually to participate in sports. The committee had discussed a $250 flat fee or a $50 per sport increase, which would have raised revenue by an estimated $150,000.

At an Ann Arbor Board of Education planning committee meeting last week, the three high school athletic directors recommended increasing pay-to-participate fees to raise revenue.

Margolis said the decision to not raise participation fees came after the district realized some unexpected savings from an audit on who was and wasn’t eligible to be covered on the district’s health care plan. She said eliminating some ineligible users brought some unexpected savings.

“We found some favorable expenditures we had not counted on through some health care savings and we couldn’t justify raising the fee this year when we found some unexpected expenditures and came back in a more favorable position,” Margolis said.

A report from Michigan Capitol Confidential in June revealed that Ann Arbor schools spent $768,000 on ineligible dependents in 2010.

According to the email, the district will be investigating intramural programs for the 2011-12 school year.

“We will work with a committee to investigate the ability to form before and after-school intramural high school athletic activities to supplement competitive programs,” the email stated, mentioning that Community Education and Recreation Department may expand their programs to find opportunities for freshman baseball and girls’ basketball.

Margolis said there are no plans immediately for intramural teams to take place, but she said district officials will be looking to explore how feasible the idea is.

She said Pioneer principal Michael White has some experience working in a school with a intramural program and the district will work with parents and staff to explore the idea. Margolis said having a girl’s basketball program held in the gym before school or in the time immediately after school when the schools’ gyms are not being used for practice is an example of what might be able to work.

“We don’t have a plan yet, but we’re committed to sitting down and seeing what’s feasible,” she said.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

I wish our area's talent pool in the major two (football, basketball) revenue producers would be better, but it's been poor for many years. Unfortunately this whole issue is the result of a lack of revenue from the big sports and economic crunch: cuts, downgrades and regression. The ultimate losers in all of this are the children who won't get the opportunities to play sports like they would have hoped in their freshman year. Seeing as how our area's athletes are not great enough to generate revenue to save the programs, I guess it's only natural that the sports programs take a hit. It's safe to assume that Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti's scholarly students are more important money wise than failing athletes who at most hope to move on to the lowest end of D1 or regular D2 schools. On the plus side, most of us are probably bigger fans of University of Michigan sports than any rag-tag high school events.


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

According to the AAPS proposed 2011/2012 budget about $5.3 million is budgeted for Rec & Ed. How much of the Rec & Ed budget is derived from user fees and how much is funded by AAPS?

Wake Up A2

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 8:57 a.m.

Kyle, So how many new "district" department chairs have been created? That is admin. level at balas? And at an average cost of? Also, how many consultants are still on the books? If the "new", over the past year, admin jobs were gone and two consultants dropped, we would of had enough money to keep the sports....... or look at it as, cut teachers and and admin....... Oh, I almost forgot...... How big is rec and ed in say, southfield? How many people on staff? How many kids do they serve? Then compare to A2?

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 9:34 a.m.

Rec/ed is fee based. How does it help to cut a program that is self-supporting?


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

anyone get the feeling we will be back here having the same conversation next year? I don't see the economic climate getting better in the near future. At some point , the district will have to make some real cuts. This is a just more nickle and dime cutting to keep us afloat. We have a real problem, and if we are not careful, the cuts will start impacting classrooms. They already have. And it will get worse before it gets better.


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 6:51 a.m.

The structural situation at AAPS demands an increase of revenue of approximately 5 percent per year to avoid "budget" cuts. The budget not being what they spent last year, but rather what they want to spend this year.


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

Let's c, still thinking waite,waite I got the answer nope that's not it. All I know people is I'm glad I grew up in a simpler time I wish my kid could have what I had, and just as an adult I wish I could retire at the same job like my mom, but that's not going to happen. The only way to solve the public school budget problem is to go back to public school's only, that means no academy's and no charter school. Public schools worked fine for my generation you went to school where you lived. Brighter minds told us academy's and charters was the way to go, that it would make public schools step there game up, well people I think in ten to twenty years there will be no public school's so hears a shout out to the people brighter then me. Parents just choose the school that makes your kid happy, choose the school that helps your kid learn the best, because when it's all said and done most of them we hope! will be productive human beings, not athletes...


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 11:51 p.m.

$768,000. spent on ineligible dependents, who is responsible for that 3/4 million dollar mistake? Who authorized the expenditure of those dependents and can those monies be recouped? That would pay for a whole year budget of athletic programs for the district. Are we just going to sweep that mistake under the rug and "move forward"? I would really like to know who is watching the budget and who will take the blame for this.


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 6:50 a.m.

zax - The transfer from the general fund to athletics is around $3 million a year, plus the cost of maintaining fields (general fund, but not athletic budget), the costs of maintaining the various facilities (sinking and bond funds - to to the tune of more than $4 million this year). Pay for play money, booster funds, club fees, fund raisers and more. The estimate is that AAPS has a total athletic budget that exceeds $12 million dollars a year. The $768,000 would pay for about 3 weeks of the athletic department.

average joe

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

"Margolis said the decision to not raise participation fees came after the district realized some unexpected savings from an audit on who was and wasn't eligible to be covered on the district's health care plan. She said eliminating some ineligible users brought some unexpected savings." Unless these 'ineligible' were only involved in the athletic dept, why were these savings (it appears totally) directed to sports. Isn't there some financial need in the academic area?


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

It's important to realize that there are scholarships available for those who cannot afford to "pay to play". Spread the word as I'm not sure everyone knows that! Athletics can be expensive but hopefully people will ask for help and get it when they need it. The support provided by sports teams can be invaluable for kids at that age, I hate to think that budget cuts are impacting that.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 10:26 p.m.

It's a shame that once again those on the socioeconomic fringe in A2 will feel the pain. I know when I was at Pioneer (class of '02) I would not have been playing sports if any extra fees were involved. Its a shame too because sports are often a great way to motivate young kids to do well in school.

Terry Star21

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

I missed the part where they announced overpaid administrative cuts and personnel cuts at the Balas Building - you know, the positions that don't directly effect the students. Is A2 schools about educating the students and providing extracurricular activities to enhance the students character, respect and leadership - or continuing to support administration, their wages and unnecessary personnel ?


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

Fail. The Skyline High School debacle is killing the district. Ann Arbor is still struggling to figure out what to do with 200 less students in the district compared to. There is excess capacity. And, that is $80 million out the window. So, that is ancient history now, I guess. But how about the current administration quit taking opportunities away from students and start making some real decisions - such as.... Fix the wide variation in school staffing: At the elementary level, with Pittsfield having 15.3 students per instructor while Mitchell has 22.2 based on last years budget meetings that I sat through. Pioneer has 1 support person for every 38 students, while community has 24.7. Clague Middle School has 47.7 support people per student while Scarlett has 33.6. The inefficiencies, or the imbalance, are across the board on all levels. Ann Arbor isn't overrated, but it is getting there. <a href=""></a>

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 9:31 a.m.

It's not really fair to judge Scarlett on number of support staff. Their attendance is low because the administration won't move the district boundary further north or west where &quot;regular&quot; Ann Arbor people live. It's getting dangerously close to Montgomery Burns Park, and those people are going to Tappan no matter what.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

47.7 support people per student at Clague Middle School? Those poor students must be absolutely overwhelmed.

Wake Up A2

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

You will never know the true budget. Take for instance the Deputy Super who just retired. She did 2 jobs for 130k. Now shes gone and in her place will be two people at what could be the max salary of $260k. Wow, retire one, hire two......... for twice the price. Both jobs are currently posted......... Yet didn't report that...... So who is pay attention??????


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 10:39 p.m.

Why don't you run for school board if you are so passionate about cutting what you see as fat in the district? It's probably a lot easier just to post on and use lots of ellipses.............right?

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

LeeAnn Dickinson-Kelley did not do two jobs, she was the interim deputy superintendent for instruction during her final year in the district and Ruth Williams returned to the district to be the interim administrator for elementary instruction, which was Ms. Dickinson-Kelley's former position.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools claim to be all about equity, and have sure spent a lot of money on this idea. Now it looks like that's limited to issues of race, and not gender. I feel my daughter is not having the same opportunities as the boys and that's a shame, for her and the district.


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Gee, there is girls field hockey but no boys field hockey. There is girls cheerleading but no boys cheerleading. Check you inequalities before complaining.

Tony Livingston

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

The schools are very concerned with equity when it comes to MEAP scores. But there is no concern about it at all in sports. It is all about winning. They simply cherry pick the kids who have had years of private training so they can build the most competitive teams.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

I'd love to hear why you believe your daughter is not receiving equal opportunities. I would guess a lot of thought went into the gender equity of this plan, seeing as a single title IX lawsuit would probably wipe out the savings obtained through the new policy.

John B.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

How so?


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

&quot;Margolis said the district is confident that, despite eliminating three girls' sports and two boys' sports, the district will be satisfying all Title IX requirements.&quot; Someone help me with Margolis's math. The article claims that freshman basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, and bowling are to be eliminated for the girls, and freshman soccer and bowling are to be eliminated for the boys. Aren't five girls' sports and not three actually being eliminated?

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

Baseball is a boys' sport, so it's actually four girls' sports and three boys' sports overall.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

&quot;and starting this year also responsible for transportation to matches within the county. &quot; Wow, tax payers were transporting sports teams within the county? Really? How is it we've been cutting the school budget for years and in-county transportation is only now being impacted? The needs to do an article on the details of this budget.. And let us know just which portions the school admin refuses to disclose.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Our family had decided that if the the pay-to-play fee was raised to $250, my son would not play on his high school tennis team. The parents are responsible for purchasing the expensive equipment (racquets &amp; shoes), and starting this year also responsible for transportation to matches within the county. Not a good bargain. I'm glad the proposal was revised and these fees were not raised for the upcoming school year.

Tony Livingston

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

@Dennis.... high school sports teams are filled with kids from private clubs and travel teams. There is no equity. The days of &quot;sports as the great equalizer&quot; are long gone. My distress at seeing the freshman teams go away is because those are the only teams many kids can make. These changes will not hurt the travel/private club set. They are already getting the coaching and playing time. It will hurt the ordinary kids who depend on our tax funded school programs for their sport experience.


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 2:15 a.m.

Jriley: While I am concerned as to how any increase in fees may hinder childrens ability to become involved in athletics, I also have some background in tennis. Your son, being highly ranked, playing in Midwestern and National tournaments incurs an expense significantly more than any possible increase to an amount of $250.00 for pay to play. At the level his is competing, club membership, coaching and lessons alone would make any pay to play fee pale in comparison. I would venture to say that for any varsity involvment in, Ann Arbor, in sports such as golf, tennis, etc. (country club sports), a pay to play fee may be the cost of 2-3 lessons at the most. I wish your son well in which ever tennis competiton choice he makes. We are fortunate to have High School tennis with teams (past state champions) ranked so high as Pioneer, Huron, and yes, even Saline. Greenhills (former state champs) and Garbiel Richard also represent the area well.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

Mike, we drive and pay plenty. My son is highly ranked &amp; plays Midwest and national tournaments. My point was that if the fees were raised, we would choose to continue with the travel &amp; USTA tournaments but not add high school tennis on top of that.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

@CBG the whole point of HS athletics is equity. If everyone could afford club teams there wouldn't really be a reason for HS teams. I didn't play a sport other than rec&amp;ed baseball as a kid because my parents could not afford $150 for pee-wee football or $800 for hockey. It was actually nice for me to get to high school and have my participation be based more on my talent and less on my parents income. It's really great that you can afford the club sports for your kids, there are a lot of people who cannot. $ 150 is probably your monthly cable bill, but for some people in A2 that is a week or 2 of groceries for their whole family.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

What did we all do before they played sports in high school? We drove and paid more

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

The funny thing, coming from involvement on a travel team, is that this all seems pretty cheap. $150 to play, and I just have to drive my kid to 10 away games instead of 20 home and 20 away games? Not bad! But all-in-all, I see it as beyond the education fundamentals and don't mind paying for it. And working for it, as well, since as parents we will be dragged into volunteering for fundraising, etc.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

&quot;The district's athletic budget was reduced by $475,000 for the 2011-12 school year as a part of the AAPS plan to fill an approximately $15 million deficit in the district's budget.&quot; So what is the total budget? What is the budget per sport? How many athletes of each gender, for each sport? I recall being forced to participate in an after school track event as part of high school gym. In retrospect, it was certainly an attempt to skew the participation numbers as part of some funding scheme.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

&quot;Boys' and girls' bowling at the junior varsity and varsity levels are set to be eliminated due to low participation numbers and youth league opportunities already available in the community.&quot; Are you kidding? Taxpayers have been paying for bowling? No wonder the details of the sports budget are secret! The secrecy must end! We need transparency in anything funded by taxpayers.


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

Indeed, what is wrong with bowling teams? To prove this is a school we are talking about, let's eliminate the American football team. I don't see how an activity that involves having teams line-up and bash their heads full-force into competing teams has any place in the School District or any other place in the civilized world. Oh, silly me. If we can give these youths enough concussions and can lower their cognitive abilities far enough, these youth would qualify to be CEO of a major organization, company, or government....

Tony Livingston

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

What is the matter with having a bowling team? They also have equestrian and figure skating. Bowling has been a legitimate American sport for a very long time.

Ron Granger

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

The sports budget has been deemed a secret by the board and they have refused to release it to in response to FOIA requests. I don't read student sports news for my funding news, sorry.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 11:43 p.m.

I know the &quot;secrecy&quot; of just finding out about bowling in Ann Arbor high schools now! If only there was a newspaper/website that covered these things, we'd find out about these &quot;secret&quot; activities that are being nefariously funded without taxpayer knowledge. Oh wait... <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a> ...etc


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

I knew Huron was funding bowling, I'm sure if you made an effort to find out it was easily accessible info. The &quot;Secrecy must end&quot; bit just make you sound like a crazy libertarian.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

Comments blaming Rick Snyder to follow... Good Night and Good Grief


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Gee, with such a login name and signoff, one makes it clear that one is here to throw up one's hands and complain. Hope that's therapeutic. If such a person had something important to say, it would be lost in the grief.