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Posted on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:01 a.m.

Music, theater, athletics among cuts on table as Ann Arbor schools seek to trim $17M

By Danielle Arndt


Deputy Superintendent of Operations Robert Allen, right, delivered a preliminary report on the possible budget reductions that the administration may ask the school board and the public to support in the coming school year. file photo

Editor's note: A quote from Patricia Green has been corrected in this article.

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials revealed their preliminary cost estimates of potential budget reductions for the 2013-14 academic year Wednesday night.

The Board of Education asked administration in November for an initial peek at the first $10 million to $12 million in budget cuts that could be necessary next fall.

Currently, AAPS projects a reduction of $17 million will be necessary to balance the budget.

School officials followed through on the board’s request, stressing the items on the list are not recommendations at this point.

“The board wanted us to cost out many of the working pieces, so we could have the dialogue with the public earlier this year,” said Superintendent Patricia Green. “… This is still a work in progress.”

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Robert Allen delivered the preliminary budget report, stating there are not many new items on the list. For his initial estimates, Allen targeted total instruction-related cuts of $10.36 million, operational expense reductions of $2.496 million and human resource reductions of $100,000.

The money saved in the HR department essentially would mean not hiring an assistant director of human resource services, Allen said, adding the position is currently open.

“Staffing is the largest part of out budget,” Allen said. “When we’re looking at trying to reduce the budget by $17 million after multiple years of reductions, we’re not going to be able to get around looking at staffing.”

Among the items on the potential cuts list related to employees are:

  • Reduce teaching staff by 32 FTE (full-time equivalents) for a savings of $3.2 million.
  • Eliminate all of the district’s reading intervention teachers (10 FTE), $1 million.
  • Reduce the number of counselors by 3 FTE, $300,000.
  • Share principals at the elementary schools (which would save an estimated 10 FTE), $1 million.
  • Decrease media center support staff by 12 FTE, $1.2 million.
  • Eliminate instrumental music for fifth graders (5 FTE), $500,000.
  • Eliminate the seventh-hour option at Huron and Pioneer (5 FTE), $500,000.
  • Reduce noon-hour supervisor costs by increasing student-to-supervisor ratios, $200,000.
  • Move Skyline to a semester schedule, saving an estimated 3 FTE, $300,000.
  • Eliminate block scheduling (3 FTE), $300,000.
  • Eliminate high school transportation, $466,000.
  • Eliminate middle school transportation, $1.2 million.
  • Reduce teacher assistants’ hours by one week per year, $160,000.

Allen said teacher assistants report to work one week before school starts for some additional professional development. Staff has discussed the possibility of eliminating this early report time.

Getting rid of instrumental music at the elementaries would mean students could not learn an instrument at school until sixth grade. This budget reduction, although just a preliminary cost estimate and not a recommendation, caused several school board members to sigh.

“I would have never learned to play the flute, ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,’” said Trustee Susan Baskett.

“Not a thing on here is something we want to do,” Green added.

The reduction of media center support staff could result in there being one media center personnel per three buildings, Allen said. Trustee Christine Stead asked about the logistics of that and the implications on students.

Allen said in a full implementation plan, those details would be fleshed out. Right now, the district simply is “costing out” some of the possible items.

Also on the list was moving the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center, an alternative program, in with Pioneer High School for a cost savings of $200,000.

“This is just administrative costs. Not any teaching staff would be eliminated. Building costs also would be reduced but not eliminated. The utilities would have to be maintained at some level,” Allen said.

A number of options were considered for Roberto Clemente in April during the budget discussions for 2012-13. Moving the program in with Pioneer or Ann Abor Technological High School, the district’s other alternative secondary education program, was one option. There also was talk of eliminating the Roberto Clemente program altogether.

In June, a decision on the alternative secondary program was postponed until the administration could study it more thoroughly, both its academic value and the implications of it no longer being an option for students. Baskett asked how the analysis was coming along.

“It’s under way,” Green said. “Folks have been visiting with the school. The cabinet (members) in particular have been going out in pairs … having conversations, looking at entrance criteria and exit criteria.”

A report should be coming very shortly, Green said.

Eliminating the district’s funding for the high school theater programs showed up on Wednesday’s preliminary list of budget reductions. Allen said currently AAPS contributes $200,000 toward the theater programs, while the group’s fundraising efforts contribute about another $200,000.

The money goes toward equipment and production costs, as well as supplemental pay for teachers who serve as stage crew and sound check operators and directors, etc.

Allen likened this possible reduction to the band camp elimination this fall. This school year, AAPS said it no longer could contribute its $60,000 to supplement the cost of band camp.

“There was a really good discussion around band camp last year and rallying various stakeholders. … Could they do more fundraising? And they looked at the total cost of the program now and said what are some of the things we have been doing but don’t necessarily have to do,” Allen said.

Reducing the district’s funding of athletics by $1 million made the list.

Currently, AAPS pays almost $3 million annually to operate its existing athletics programs, Allen said. If the board was willing to consider this cut, he said the administration would need to sit down with the athletic directors to talk about what type of a program $2 million could fund.

It could be a matter of cutting sports or increasing pay-to-participate fees, Allen said.

Stead said the district already cut $1 million from athletics during the past two years. In her perspective, AAPS needs to be looking at budget reductions this year through the lens of the initiatives coming out of Lansing, calling for choice.

“What do we offer that’s competitive with the choice that’s becoming law? What do we offer to compete with that storyline?” she asked trustees, adding some of what is integral to the Ann Arbor brand is its excellent arts, music, theater and athletics programs.

“That’s one of the major things that distinguishes us from the charter in a box down the road,” she said.

Right now, cutting sports and the arts is not a direction Stead said she could be persuaded to go.

Prior to Stead’s statement, Trustee Simone Lightfoot said she was about to turn to Allen to say let’s cut some more from athletics.

“But you’re right on the market viability piece, given what’s going on around us. So I really appreciate you sharing that perspective,” Lightfoot told Stead. “It’s like living in Detroit and taking Motown for granted. I grew up here so I guess I just figured we had good sports always, we had good music always.”

Green said when entering into these budget discussions, it is important to identify “what it is that people come to Ann Arbor for and stay in Ann Arbor for,” both what it is about the brand and the educational values.

Other items on the administration’s preliminary reductions list are:

  • Suspend furniture and fixture purchases for 2013-14, an estimated savings of $200,000.
  • Suspend the purchase of library materials for 2013-14, $100,000.
  • Renegotiate gas purchase costs for transportation, $100,000.
  • Reduce grounds personnel by 1 FTE for a $50,000 savings.
  • Eliminate all of the head custodians at the elementary schools (16 FTE), $600,000.

In total, the potential budget reductions report Allen presented Wednesday calls for the estimated reduction of 83 instructional staff and 102 staff members overall.

Stead said she was a little disappointed by the report.

“I thought we’d spent a great deal of time talking about how we need to deliver education differently and to not be so cut heavy,” she said. “And a lot of what I see here is that same type of ‘take a little bit here, take a little bit there’ method for balancing the budget. … I’d like to see something else, I guess. And I know that it’s hard and I know it’s a lot to ask.”

Stead said she worries the district will continue down this path of cutting to get by to the point where the cuts will deplete its core so greatly that AAPS will no longer have the capacity for innovation.

If the district has to cut 32 more teachers, “show me what those teachers will be doing so that we’re not raising class sizes and to bring in a different approach to education,” Stead said.

As the final part of his presentation, Allen compiled a grouping of “what if” cost estimates. He described these items as things people ask him about with regards to closing buildings and staff options.

He said the building figures represent potential savings in administrative and operational costs. With regards to closing buildings, the figures do not address property or building worth because if a building were to be closed and sold, the sale would show up on the revenue side of the budget.

  • Close Community High School, $1.4 million.
  • Close one middle school, $1 million.
  • Close one high school, $3 million.
  • Close three elementary schools, $1.5 million.
  • Eliminate elementary school transportation, $1.5 million.
  • Eliminate preschool and associated transportation, $800,000.
  • Implement a district-wide salary reduction of 1 percent, $1.3 million.
  • Implement one staff furlough day among staff district-wide, $500,000.
  • Outsource all non-teaching staff, $2 million.

Allen added obviously any changes to staff benefits and wages would have to be negotiated with their respective unions.

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


Momma G

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

When are the Principals going to give up their share of the 3% cut in pay? Also, how about making all secretaries in the schools, including middle and high school, 10+ employees.

Tina Bissell

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Cut transportation and watch the drop-out rate go up. I'd hate to see many of the program cuts suggested made but what difference does the programming make if kids can't get to school. AAPS will become schools for wealthy and middle class families only - those who have a car and a work schedule that allows them to get their kids to school. What about all the families without a car and/or limited public bus service? Or single parents dealing with multiple children of different ages and low-paying jobs which are the least likely to be flexible? I no longer have a child in the system... but his Clague and Huron experiences would have been much the poorer had they been socio-economically homogeneous. And that is what lack of transportation will do to our schools.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

No brainer- cut fifth grade music. Most kids don't practice their instrument, which makes it a waste of time. My kids would have been better off without it. If kids really want to play, go get yourself some private lessons. The kids screwing around during band or orchestra, or "forgetting" their instrument, no practice at home- what's the point of havingbthe program? Good riddance.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools is a Public School System. Why do we have a school of Choice, hence "Community High School". For starters Close Community and Sell the bldg. If people want choice for their kid's. There's plenty of Charter Schools, or private Schools to choose from. Roberto is another story. Keep it at all cost!


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Kids are tripping over themselves to get into Community. Applications go up every year. The same cant be said for Roberto Clemente. Or Skyline. Community is the districts one gem- it's a reward school. Clemente is not. Pioneer is not. Skyline is not. Huron is not. Fix what's broke- Community is working . Students at Community learn life skills, such as independence. They contribute to the community. They succeed.


Sun, Dec 16, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Why doesn't the AAPS return to the reality-based community and quit assuming 5% growth in their funds when creating the budget, thereby requiring so many arguments about so many phony cuts? The current word from Lansing is that schools will get at least as many dollars / pupil as last year, probably more. Our property values in the county and especially in Ann Arbor have started to rise again, so the funds collected from the existing millages (sinking fund, special education) will go up instead of down. I don't understand why or how Robert Allan is talking as if they'll get $10-12 million less than last year, unless they are expecting to loose 1,000 students, rather than the more likely 100 or so.


Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

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


Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

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


Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Decrease media center support staff by 12 FTE, $1.2 million. Understand that this is eliminating 12 library media specialists. This would eliminate the library program at some schools. Do you want this at your high school, middle school or elementary school? The program at my child's school is the backbone of her school experience. The librarian not only procures resources she also makes them known to the students and teachers and teaches aout finding, evaluating and using proper resources. With a strong reading initiative the librarian selects and makes available books that have helped raise reading scores and increased classroom readiness skills.


Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

This afternoon, some of my friends and I were painting prop bookshelves we made at Huron Players (Huron's theater group) and talking about this. Some of them go to Community because they hate high school. Many of us are in music programs. ALL of us are in theater and we love it. We love what it does for us and the friends we make are wonderful. Theater is part of our lives. We love our teachers. We don't want them to be forced into retirement or laid off because we can't afford them. I'm 15 years old and people far too often think teenagers don't know what they want or what they're talking about. Maybe you should give us a chance... Don't tell us we need to grow up not allow us to make decisions. Adults make decisions for themselves.

Nick Radant

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

I totally agree with you Micaela. I think that the voices of students should be heard above all others, particularly those students who are involved in the programs they want to cut.

Heidi Koester

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

DonBee said: "That way there is support for next year's millage because it will take an 80 percent yes vote from AAPS to cover the no vote from the rest of the county." Anybody know what millage he's talking about?


Sun, Dec 16, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

The *next* enhancement millage. The one the superintendents throughout Washtenaw County and Steve Norton's group of activist parents are tentatively planning for spring of 2014 in case they fail at fairness by returning the source of school funding in Michigan to local property taxes. The AAPS school board is stirring up our voters by centering the next round of cuts on student-facing staff and the individual school buildings instead of central administration.

harry b

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

Cut all salary's by 2%. Make all sports pay to play. Charge for parnets for students that use buses.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Ann Arbor is finally getting serious about cuts. Close and sell buildings first since we have the space to do it and start with Community. Institute pay to play sports, theatre, music. Reduce the number of instructional options to get closer to a core curricula.


Sun, Dec 16, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Sports, theater and music are already "pay to play" Ruth. The music and theater programs are much closer to self-sustaining from those fees than the sports programs are.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Have to comment again, because I truly believe that the top Administrators need to take a cut in salary -- us folks at the bottom of the salary scale have been hit several times over the past five years -- in fact, I've not have an increase in salary in six years (however, I do love what I do) -- and have had my hours cut as well. Not complaining here, but there are others doing what I do that could definitely use a little help. But I do not agree with a superintendent with a huge salary and then opening up another position and hiring another individual at a huge salary -- Start at the top and work your way down.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

This kind of budget crisis, deep program cut discussions happen a few times a year, it seems. And the proposed cut is always the programs that impact students the most. This time, a very reluctant "1% salary cut" is proposed, all the way down at the bottom of the list together with massive school closings. Honestly, how can parents trust these administrators would put students first even for one single second? This is going to be a vicious cycle. I'm sure more families will leave the district if programs are further cut and class sizes go further up. Then the district will lose more funds and have to make more cuts and the quality of education will further decline. Until the administrators are willing to put students first, it's hard to have any real change. And don't blame people who hesitate to put more money in the hands of this particular school district, I'm sure many of them are not afraid of spending money on education, they are afraid that the money collected will NOT be spent on education.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

I would argue that the arts programs are what enable children to be able to do well in other school programs. We need to nurture that part of the brain too. I am a product of the Detroit Public Schools from in the 60's and I would never have become the music teacher and performer that I am today without that public school start. By the way, the starting grade for instrumental music in those days was the 3rd grade!

Ann E.

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Yes. waiting until 6th grade to begin instrumental music would handicap the middle school and high school programs.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

There's a lot of talk about closing a high school, but why? Each of the comprehensive is at, or near, capacity. Skyline is only about 150 students shy of capacity so how could the school handle a major increase in students? For example if Community was closed there would not be space to add 500 students to Skyline or any of the high schools. The elementary and middle schools that are actually way under capacity need to be closed/consolidated into other schools. AAPS drags their feet about closing elementary and middle schools, saying they need to conduct surveys and collect data, that the process takes years, but when resources are scarce, tough decisions need to be made now - not years down the road.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

PhillyCheeseSteak - Remember as part of creating Skyline, the other high schools had their capacity reduced. There is space at Huron that is now used by organizations that are not part of AAPS. The goal of the capacity reduction was to make sure that there was no place to put the students from Community or AATech or Roberto Clemente. That was the administrative goal - to make it impossible to eliminate a building and in doing so cut administrative jobs. Mr. Allan knows how to take care of his cronies.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

The sky is falling......once again in AAPS. You have adequate funding per pupil but when are you going to learn how to spend it with fiscal responsibility.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

iI say start cutting at the top with administrators. I still find it amazing that they wish to cut noon hour supervisors and increase the ratio of children to supervisor, which for those who don't know it is already 35 student to one supervisor. If you were to do anything with noon hour, maybe those who are able to go home for lunch could do so. Nice break for them, lunch with mom or dad, and back to school --

mike gatti

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 10:13 a.m.

How about we just suck it up and pay what it cost to educate kids? I believe that children are our future. Hmmm...that is catchy.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 3:15 a.m.

Community High School should definitely be closed. AAPS can no longer afford the luxury of running what is essentially a private school. Alternatively, since it is unlikely that CHS would be closed without a protracted fight, parents should be forced to pay a SIGNIFICANT "pay to play" fee for this exceedingly special and expensive program. Anything less than this is exceedingly unfair to the students in the rest of the school district forced to make significant sacrifices.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Community has an increasing number of kids apply each year. Just because your kid didn't get in, it shouldn't be closed. It is the only reward high school in Ann Arbor. Look at Skyline- decreasing enrollment every year. It's failing already. Close Skyline- the power goes out on a regular basis anyways. Staff don't want to work there, unlike Community, where staff and kids WANT to be there. Change Skyline to semesters- trimesters are the luxury and not at all necessary. Cut high school bussing. Plenty of options, don't have to close the one thing that is actually working in the district. community stays- or many will LEAVE the district.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.



Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 4:41 a.m.

Agreed. I just don't see how school officials can justify operating Community. It serves what...a few hundred kids, compared to a few thousand in the other schools. To cut things like transportation, music and athletics while continuing to fund Community is simply unconscionable.

Nick Radant

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:51 a.m.

So, I go to Huron and I am very involved with the theatre program, along with being on the soccer team, in the Symphony orchestra, participating in a number of other school-sponsored clubs and extracurricular activities, and doing well in advanced classes. All of the programs that the school board is considering cuts to are the things that I love and consider an integral part of my high school experience. I do not want cuts to these programs that play such a strong role in making the Ann Arbor Public Schools such a good school system.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

Close the boutique school downtown. Roll them into Skyline.

West Side Mom

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

District needs to shrink its physical footprint. Student enrollment has been declining since before construction on Skyline was complete. Yet we operate one more high school and the same number of middle schools and elementary schools. The dilution of resources does not make sense in light of the deep cuts that need to be made in the next two years. Also, by focusing on cuts to programs and services, the District is only going to make it the District a less attractive option and push students into charters and private schools.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

As an AAPS school employee, I support the following proposed cuts: Eliminate all of the district's reading intervention teachers (10 FTE), $1 million.(Explain to the public the few number of students they service) Decrease media center support staff by 12 FTE, $1.2 million. Reduce noon-hour supervisor costs by increasing student-to-supervisor ratios, $200,000. Move Skyline to a semester schedule, saving an estimated 3 FTE, $300,000. Eliminate block scheduling (3 FTE), $300,000. Eliminate high school transportation, $466,000. Reduce teacher assistants' hours by one week per year, $160,000. Close Community High School, $1.4 million. Close three elementary schools, $1.5 million.Which ones? Outsource all non-teaching staff, $2 million.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

The block scheduling is only at Community High School.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 3:35 a.m.

Since there are no comments about eliminating or reducing top level district executives, I'm guessing this "AAPS school employee" is in that category.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

MIchigan's high school age population is declining. This was pointed out--repeatedly--when the decision was made to build Skyline. Building Skyline--and staffing it with a full-time principal for two years before it opened--was the result of short-sided planning and misguided enthusiasms. Unfortunately, no one is accountable. Board members have left and district administrators have departed. I see no evidence that the Board or District leadership can find a solution to these shortfalls that will protect the core academic mission of our schools.


Sun, Dec 16, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Ann - sure, the hallways were crowded, but, ironically, we actually have significantly LARGER class size now with Skyline than before. I don't care about the hallways, I care about class time and teaching, and the addition of Skyline has created a situation where AAPS students are now getting a lot less.


Sun, Dec 16, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Ann Arbor voters (or non-voters) are responsible for the Skyline fiasco. Most teachers where trying to voice our opposition to the plan, but were ignored by the administration, the AA News and the community.

Ann E.

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Did you have a child at Pioneer during this time? The school was severely overcrowded and fought desperately to educate the thousands of students who spilled out its doors. Skyline is off to a good start. Combining the students from both schools into a building lacking adequate classrooms, lunchroom, counselors, safety personnel, is irresponsible and not a recipe for success.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1 a.m.

It is outrageous that everything is being considered except administrative cuts. How about cutting direct services to kids LAST, not first.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

a2xarob - You don't understand, if they cut administration, it will not have an impact on parents, so parents will not vote yes for more money when they put the next millage request in front of the voters, Mr. Allan knows he has to make this set of cuts as painful as possible for parents and students. That way there is support for next year's millage because it will take an 80 percent yes vote from AAPS to cover the no vote from the rest of the county.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

Let's just pay teachers minimum wage, have them drive the buses, and then clean the schools at night. Think of the money that could be saved! I mean, come on, they only have master's degrees plus, they haven't had a raise in five years, are paying 20% of their health care, and have almost no retirement. What do you people want???????


Sun, Dec 16, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Don - meet me at Pioneer at 4 PM, and I'll personally walk you into the rooms of dozens of teachers who would like to meet you.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Gloria - I would suggest you look on the website for retirement benefits, many teachers I know have retired show up on that database - which only shows people who get more than $50,000 a year in retirement benefits from the state. No teacher gets - at least in AAPS - minimum wage, try finding a teacher in most buildings 15 minutes before first bell or after the last bell of the day. 20 percent of health care? Normal in today's society. Retirement at 47 (earliest possible for a teacher) - not normal in today's society, even the more normal 52 or 55 is not normal anymore. Defined benefit retirement - only public sector employees anymore, health care for life - again only public sector employees. You are trading salary today for early retirement, and retirement benefits as a teacher or other public employee. It used to be that public sector salaries were 50 to 60 percent of median for the category and the generous benefits covered the difference, now many public sector jobs pay private sector wages and have public sector benefits, including early (compared to the private sector) retirement. Don't like your compensation - find a different line of work.

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

Don't take it personal. Someone has to pay, and someone has to teach.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 11 p.m.

I was hoping all that money they spent on ipads and macbooks would have saved some money.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

As a student at Skyline high school, I prefer semester schedules instead of trimesters. This should definitely be changed.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

If we really want to save our schools, we need to reverse Prop A. We need to take control of our school budgets away from Lansing. They have divided up the budget and control it completely. Here is a document Mr. Allen presents from time to time, summarizing how the money is divided and how, through state law, it can't be moved around: Please inform yourselves, please activate yourselves and please help reverse Prop A

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

A federal judge might not feel inclined to implement a "hold harmless" adjustment for wealthy districts.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:11 a.m.

anonymous - If we go back to all local funding it will take less than a year, before Prop A is replaced by a federal judge who decides how the money is split. It will be based on Civil Rights issues, and the people bringing the case will include the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Education, the NAACP, and the ACLU. Then you will have less money in the AAPS schools.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

I think if one has to transport their child to and from school they may choose a charter school over a school system with financial problems.

Basic Bob

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

There is no problem in Ann Arbor, only choices.

Heidi Koester

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Are there any avenues for increasing revenue? I'm assuming not, but I didn't see this addressed in the article. In looking for more information about school funding in general, i found the following: Has some interesting slides showing revenue and other metrics across time. Haven't digested all the info yet, but thought others might be interested.

J. Zarman

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

An earlier poster says that music and athletics make money for the district. Music and sports generate some revenue, but they certainly don't turn a profit. Any revenue offsets the greater costs. Of course, cuts create savings, by not staging some concerts or productions, by not having certain music groups or opportunities in coming years. Likewise, the district finds savings from not forming teams, holding practices, buying equipment, or staging athletic events. My hope is that many past and coming cuts can be restored in financially sounder years.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

Mr. Allen, Regarding the item, "outsource all non-teaching staff;" does this include deputy superintendents?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

Have they considered outsourcing all staff? Would that take them out of the state teacher's retirement system and lower their benefit costs?


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

Goober - I love it - Principals too?

Heidi Koester

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

alan wrote: "Just to put this into perspective, I looked at the 2011-12 budget. $86,000,000 budgeted for basic educational programs paying 805FTE staff to support 16,255FTE pre-K through 12 students for a per student cost of $5,300. $15,000,000 budgeted for special education. 271FTE staff supporting 259FTE students at a cost of $58,000 per FTE student." It would be interesting to get a clear interpretation of these figures, because they're quite astounding on the face of it. It does seem like there must be more than 259FTE students in special education, but maybe many students are counted as a fraction of an FTE. I don't know much about this, but would like to understand it better.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

You are confusing students with full time equivalents anonymous.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

There are 1600 k-12 graders getting special services with an additional 200 pre-schoolers also receiving services.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

There are certainly more than 259 kids in special ed, but only 259FTE. 7 kids, each getting an hour per day is one FTE. Two staff members, each working 4 hours per day, is one FTE staff. That is the only accurate way to measure equivalent cost.

Ron Granger

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Where are the real numbers? Admin spending per pupil After school sports costs per pupil Facilities cost per pupil Sports facilities cost per pupil Etc.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

Mr. Granger - There are some budget numbers published, but the budget numbers that are published and the adjusted budget the district is running from are different. I do not have all the materials with me here on the road, but I can this weekend pull the complete numbers and give you an answer.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

Google AAPS annual budget. They are public. Here's one for a start.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Clearly our economic model is broken. It was different in the 60's when kids went to school in Ann Arbor. They had Music, Sports, Theatre, Busses, Janitors, Foreign Language, Art, Library, Machine Shop, and Home Economics (don't ask). We could even afford a school safety Patrol, a flag duty kid, field trips, one computer, a construction program and actually taught teenagers how to drive cars. We could make an equal education opportunity for all and give out generous promises for healthcare and retirement. I think the capital economic model including the hidden cost of overpopulation and globalization really needs to be understood and fixed before this public funding problem wll ever go away. So, is the AAPS system adequately educating its own problem solvers? Honestly?


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

LXIX, very insightful post. We have to figure out how to give our kids state of the art education when that means they are going to be competing with all the other kids in a 7 billion person globalized economy. Should we focus the schools on vocational traning for local service jobs that require physical presence? Local food production for locavores? Or should we focus the schools on doing a few things extremely well (e.g., music) in which we can compete globally? I don't know the answers, although my instinct is to focus on being the best at a few things rather than doing everything in a mediocre way.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:24 a.m.

I believe you actually hit on the root cause of about 90% of the fiscal issues facing our country and state. The world is getting smaller and we are no longer the only fish in the pond, even though we still would like to think we just sort of have it coming.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

Very perceptive. So, do the AAPS kids, or even the older kids who once made lofty promises, know how overpopulation and globalization in a limited resource environment undermines their local public school system? And what they could do about it?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

"generous promises for healthcare and retirement." Yep, and someday people expect you to keep your promises. Then the trouble starts.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Play some war games here. Maybe the question we should be asking is why we seem to have more money than the vast majority of districts, yet need to cry poor each year?


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

According to this, we get close to 2k more than Saline/pupil. HOW do they manage? If the Green fiasco is just the tip of the iceberg, that would explain a lot.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

I just went to look at the report that he quoted and found that his statement was not supported. I have no idea how accurate it is.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

alan - Neigher number, yours or EyeHeartA2's is complete. When I get time on Saturday, if this thread is still active, I will pull out the actual numbers. Like most reports both reports that you are looking at "Cherry Pick" some of the numbers and ignore others.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

That's not true. I'm not sure what you're looking at but I looked at the report and AAPS is just about at the state average for total revenue per student and total expenditures per student. Per student revenue of $13,788/student vs the statewide average of 13,406/student. They spend 6.7% more than the state average per pupil on education and save 24% over the state average for "other uses". The per pupil revenue pales in comparison to places like Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills. They get 22% less per pupil than even Detroit Public Schools.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

How about "Eliminate 10 Board and District administrator positions, $1.5 million"?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

First, for the context of my remarks: I am not and never have been an employee of the AAPS, and I am not a parent. I am, however, a product of an effective public-school instrumental program in another state. Per Trustee Baskett's comment on 5th-grade music, plus another comment requesting information about high-level performers and other professionals who have come out of the Ann Arbor Public Schools: There is one local professional musician who got his start in 5th grade. "Pay to play" would never have worked in his situation; the money would not have been available. He came through the schools' program as a stellar performer. He returned to Ann Arbor after receiving his degree elsewhere (thanks to a good scholarship!) and is now in a position to give back to the community that first gave so much to him. Further, I trust that Ms. Baskett knows she received much more in 5th-grade instrumental music than the ability to play "Happy Birthday" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Perhaps it was that reduced a more far-reaching statement to a cute sound bite. If not, I hope Ms. Baskett will think about and, if necessary, consult current literature on, the variety of skills gained even in 5th grade instrumental music. To those unfamiliar with the program, they need to know that, in Ann Arbor, all students in 5th grade play an instrument, free of charge. I hope we're past thinking of such an opportunity as a mere frill. I could live with eliminating 5th-grade instrumental music only if everyone in the 6th grade would be required to play an instrument for at least a full semester.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

Thank you for your post. I fondly recall playing Borodin in the 6th grade recital. I never cease to be amazed at the ability of children to learn music. I recall attending numerous middle school band camp performances to watch my kids and being absolutely blown away by musical ability of these young people.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

How much does Greene make again?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.

I believe it's about the same amount as the Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools, which is a much more populous city and district with many more problems.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

I wouldn't mind the salary, if I thought she had buy-in to the community and the schools. It is tough when you bring in a total outsider. I believe she still has strong ties to her home community, travels there many weekend (i.e., Fri-Sun), and doesn't really know A2. It would be difficult for any outside person, and I would personally prefer someone with first hand knowledge of the community, its families, and its history....


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

I think that will continue to be a sore sport for all AA taxpayers for however long Green remains employed here.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

How could anyone ever be serious about fixing the achievement gap yet propose cutting all reading intervention teachers? What's the saying---penny wise, pound foolish?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

What evidence is there that the program using reading intervention teachers is making a measurable difference in the achievement gap?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Actually, I could see the development of a volunteer program that trains people to go into schools and work with kids behind in reading. I was once involved in a literacy program (in another state) that worked with immigrants to teach them to read English. (I believe there is a similar program in Washtenaw co.). We received extensive training and the program was successful for the participants and rewarding for the volunteers. Obviously, not ideal but we're at the point where we need to start thinking creatively.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Look at the forecast for the following school year when the school system will bascially have to be dissolved. Cuttiing $26 million or more in 2013-14 won't be possible. This year we will gut the school system of most extra curricular activities and strip it down to the bare essentials. The administration has given away the farm for too many years. There are legacy costs that cannot be paid for much longer under the current model. Teachers can retire in their 50's and leave the costs to the taxpayers. That is money that cannot be used to educate the children. Private schools can provide education at an equal or lower cost as can charters but they don't pay as much or have the fringes that the public schools offer Somehow they attract good teachers and they make a living. The general public is expected to work harder and for less money/benefits and will be asked to reach into their bank accounts and savings to pay more on top of tax increases coming down from the federal government. This is something you can count on. They have you in a position where you don't have much choice and they know it. When does it end? When do we take our schools back? How long does this continue?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

All of the private school teachers that I know earn a much better living than public school teachers. Most of the charter school teachers that I know earn less and leave at the first opportunity. High teacher turnover is not a solution.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I'm sure that I'll get a lot of thumbs down but I'm not advocating any position. It's just interesting to note that per pupil special ed funding has grown at a rate roughly ten times that of overall per pupil funding in just the last decade alone. In the last 50 years it has been astronomical, sucking up almost all nominal increases in funding. Some schools have as many as 30% of their students receiving special services at a cost, on average, of 50% more than the overall population. 50 years ago special ed funding accounted for less than 5% of spending. I realize that the parents of these children have a vested interest but there comes a point when it is unsustainable for society overall. I, for one, would like to see some studies measuring the future benefit of all this present cost. It's nice to be kind but maybe severely disabled kids don't belong in school. Every active 6 year old boy does not need to be drugged and receive special attention. They are just 6 year old boys. Resetting special ed funding to the level of 40 years ago would not only correct all budget deficits nationwide, it would actually increase per pupil funding and allow for teacher wage increases to attract more talented people. I just don't understand why this issue is never discussed.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

Yes anonymous, those numbers are directly from the AAPS budget report and they are full time equivalents. $58,000 per FTE certainly translates to about your figure if a child is receiving special assistance for an hour per day. In other words, a kid receiving one hour per day at 8,330/year translates to 8,330x7=$58,310 per FTE per year. They are paying 271 teachers to interact, on average, with less than one student at a time. The student/teacher ratio for basic education is closer to 20-1, not 1-1. You can't just count up the total number of kids.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

Alan, you're numbers are not correct. There are 1600 k-12 students receiving special services and an additional 200 pre-schoolers. The cost per child is $8,330 per not 58,000. By the way, the ADA mandates the laws. Additionally, some of that money allotted to serve these children comes from the Federal Government, not from Lansing.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

Again, I made no claims regarding all of a group. And no, you are incorrect. The exclusion of minorities, women, etc. were founded on ignorant, biased, preconceived, unsubstantiated beliefs about groups of people based on external differences. There is plenty of sound economic and sociological research that demonstrates that those beliefs were incorrect. There is zero evidence that I am aware of that shows any economic benefit to society from spending $58,000 annually to keep a severely mentally handicapped child in an environment where he really has no chance of success. It is an emotional decision. The issue at hand is economic. We can all agree, as a society, to make the economically correct decision or we can all agree to make the wrong economic decision for the emotional benefit of a few and then stop complaining about the economic impact on everyone else. You just can't have it both ways and you can't ignore the overwhelming cost and then blame it on everyone else who is not costing money. The latter is what appears to occur most frequently. Blame the teachers, blame the administrators, blame the taxpayers. I don't mean to sound cold, but I really don't want to pay more than a whole years salary because someone needs someone else to take care of their mentally handicapped child and I would certainly never expect that if it were my child. Of course, maybe that spending has just gotten ridiculously out of control. Does it really cost $58,000/year for one kid on average? I doubt it. I suspect that we're picking up the tab for a lot of extras but I don't really know.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

I did not call you ignorant. I stated the viewpoint you were expressing regarding special education was ignorant. You are making claims regarding an entire population of individuals ONLY because they have a disability and somehow will have less quantifiable value in society. If you feel I have poor rhetorical skill so be it. I stand on my position that the same justifications you are using to exclude children with disabilities does in fact stem from the same ideologies which did exclude black children from education and women from voting. I have gleaned this information from my advanced degrees in Social Work and Psychology. It is also reminiscent of the justifications used in the eugenics movement ( I have not made the issue one of emotion. I am basing my argument in well documented historical fact. Yes, money is an issue. But not the only issue.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

Just to put this into perspective, I looked at the 2011-12 budget. $86,000,000 budgeted for basic educational programs paying 805FTE staff to support 16,255FTE pre-K through 12 students for a per student cost of $5,300. $15,000,000 budgeted for special education. 271FTE staff supporting 259FTE students at a cost of $58,000 per FTE student. That's more than the average annual wage of one parent. It is unsustainable. We can ignore it while it gets worse or discuss solutions.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

As I said, I advocate no position yet people still jump to conclusions. Calling people ignorant demonstrates poor rhetorical skill. We are talking about money and resources and those resources are sucked up disproportionately by a small group of kids with no evidence of any economic return from that disproportionate distribution of resources. If you have evidence of a return I would be very interested. To make every kid suffer for the emotional benefit of a few makes no long run sense. Secondly, I did not say that no kid with special needs belongs in school. I did say that there is evidence that a lot of kids who receive special assistance don't really need it at the cost provided and there may be some from which society will never see a return. Lastly, comparing this to keeping women from voting or preventing black children from attending school is ridiculous. Every single study ever done shows no difference in ability or educational attainment among races when controlling for parental educational attainment or family income. In fact, I believe that it is very well established that providing additional resources for educationally or economically disadvantaged children has a very positive economic return. While doubling down on funding for a kid with Down's syndrome may have some emotional return for those vested, it certainly has no economic return. In fact, it deprives other students of badly needed resources at a future cost. The issue here is money. If you prefer that the issue be emotion, then money will continue to be a problem. Everyone wants to blame teachers and administrators and taxpayers, etc. without addressing the root cause of the financial problems. It does need to be addressed. I don't have a solution either, but pretending it doesn't exist is not helpful.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

Wow. You actually take a very valid point about the over medication of our children and completely overshadow it with an ignorant view on special education. What future benefit? So, does that mean we need to prescreen all children entering the AAPS to see if they, as an individual, will benefit society in some way in the future? How exactly are you defining "benefit." How are you measuring it? To state that ANY child doesn't belong in school because they are disabled is nothing short of the same argument keeping black children from attending school, women from voting, and poor children working in factories.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

We label kids and drug them, that's the American model. They do behave better and are more manageable. We should be requiring physical education and cut back on the stringent academic requirements. Many kids can no longer attain them. They get bored, feel helpless, and do what any kid would do in that situation. We've moved college down to the high school level. This has made it so certain groups are failing miserably (achievement gap). The teachers are frustrated with those who can't keep up, the administration wants to ship them the Clemente and AA Tech. Many students just can't pass two years of foreign language, others can't handle the math. Maybe those kids would have become artists, mechanics, or technicians but we'll never know because we have failed them. We don't have more "special" kids we have just raised the bar above their heads and made them feel like failures. The answer from all of our educators is to keep raising the bar, but we just leave more children behind with the new requirements. Many boys do not even develop to the point they can do well in school until they are out of high school because of their brain development, so they are drugged and pushed to failure. I personally know three high school drop-outs who have been failed by the system, I have seen the difference in behavior when the kids are drugged, it changes their personalities.............the whole thing is sad and really is avoidable.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

It cannot be reset, because vastly more students with needs are being served in public schools today than before. In our day, students with Down's syndrome, or who were autistic, or who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, were not allowed in mainstream classes. Today, they are, but need services. I think that's the right decision even if it is a costly one in the short run. What would you have the district do with such students? Shall we hide them away like we used to? And ADHD kids are not getting any special attention that I have seen. Is there an over-diagnosis of kids who need help? I'm betting there is. But suggesting that we can somehow move completely backwards on special ed funding is not compatible with an inclusive public education system.

Tony Livingston

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

Sports should definitely be looked at. My child was in a high school sport with a total of 16 participants. There were 3 coaches. The same child was in a math class with 34 students and 1 teacher.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Your kids coaches are not paid anywhere near what a teacher is, if paid at all, many are volunteers and many would volunteer even if funding were removed. Many of those kids would have a tougher time in school if not for sports. Some work to keep their GPA up so they can play. Take sports away and many will fail, the achievement gap will get larger..................mark my words..


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

What is a "staff furlough day"? And would elementary school head custodians be outsourced or eliminated? Wondering who would then be left to deal with things like vomit....


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

So a "furlough day" would mean a day that teachers have off but aren't paid for? That doesn't sound bad to me, especially for the savings it would generate. And I don't want to see custodians either cut or outsourced, Paul - I know well how much they do and how important they are to the schools!


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Don't even think about outsourcing your custodians. They look out for your kids, and know all the families. They are invaluable to your schools. You may not realize that, but it's true.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

A furlough is a mandatory, unpaid leave.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

There is no such thing as an overpaid teacher. Cutting teacher salaries should be the absolute last resort. Of course what we really need is to raise more revenue for public education, but the Republicans are dead set against that. They are eager to cut public school funding, thereby forcing public schools to fail, which gives them the opportunity to vilify teachers and public education in general as they push their corporate-backed charter schools, home schooling, and other dreadful alternatives. Education and Republican ideology do not mix.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Yes, there is such thing as an overpaid teacher. I do not feel my children are receiving an education compensatory with a teacher making $75,0000 plus a year. I'm all for the voucher system where parents get to make a decision with how/where their tax dollars will be spent on their childrens education. Then the public school system will be forced to correct their deficiencies to compete with the private sector.

Basic Bob

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

People who work more hours than teachers are still considered part-time.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

I agree, $90k with cadillac benefits for 9 months of work is a joke. They deserve much more..............


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Reduce administrator and teacher salaries to handle all of the deficit.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

May I suggest the same to your annual salary. Are you willing to donate that to the school?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Since the U of M actually owns the city of Ann Arbor, maybe they could kick in a bit of their athletic department fortunes to help A2 public education system.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

where is Lansing help. where is the lotto money? business first education second. does he know that the ones in schools will lead business later. nice job snyder!


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

golfer - Not business first, but Medicare/Medicaid first - unfunded mandates from the Federal Government that the state has to cover. Then it is repaying the unemployment money borrowed from the Federal Government, then other Federal programs that Washington is not fully funding. Then it is unfunded pensions for state pension funds. These all need more and more money each year. This is where your taxes are going. Check the state budget for the last decade if you don't believe me.

Basic Bob

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

When 90% of the state took massive pay cuts during the Granholm years, the state took a major hit in tax revenue. The state borrowed money to pay unemployment benefits to people who either worked under the table and left the state when the money ran out. Granholm let prison costs build up, and gave unsustainable amounts of money to her union supporters in public service. We have run out of money. How about some good suggestions for solving that problem. Peanut butter for lunch, and macaroni and cheese for dinner instead of $6 lattes sound like a good start.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

No golfer, they don't understand that knowledge driven economies are the most vibrant economies. They think that promising everyone a $10/hour job will get them votes.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Lansing isn't going to help.they're to busy right winging things.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

The state tax cuts for businesses take another 100 well paying jobs out of AA. Probably thousands across the state. What do we replace them with? Low wage jobs in Right To Work state. Most of the comments here talk about the bloated administration, Don showed us exactly how much we could save by getting rid of 40% of them or cutting their salaries by 40%. Not close to $17M. If we get rid of all the extra cirriculars, we will lose students to other districts, more cuts from that loss of revenue. Folks, we are screwed! 30 years of mindless tax cuts at the state level are devastating our once excellent public education system. The final blow was the change in state business taxes that will reduce tax revenues by $2.8B in just two years and about $1.7B a year ongoing. We also have laid off thousands of teachers In the last couple of years and these people either left the state or are working at lower wages, more tax revenue loss for the state. Third state is in a death spiral, more tax cuts, more layoffs in education, less revenue to the s


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

The voice of our former Governor stating "we're going to make the corporations pay" rings in my ears. Guess what happened....the corporations left or didn't come. If you want more jobs you need to offer corporations a reason to come to our state.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

+If we get rid of all the extra cirriculars, we will lose students to other districts," Willow Run? Ypsi? Ypsi-Run? How will they get there? Nope, this is our problem to fix.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

There is no such thing as businesses paying taxes. Every service provided and goods sold just pass that cost along to consumers. So in reality you are paying the business tax increases everytime you buy something. Whether you pay higher property taxes or pay more for everything you buy there is no such thing as a free lunch my friend............


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

From what I have been seeing in the AA news, Ann Arbor has been adding jobs. The new right to work law should bring in more companies/jobs. Maybe not atwages like a teacher but it is better than welfare and unemployment.............


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

Right on point. When you're at the point of cutting the Music program, there's a TRUE and REAL problem. As Leaguebus stated, the business tax cuts will not make this depressing situation at any, anytime soon.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

so you're damned if u do and damned if u don't.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

I vote yes to raise my taxes for every school millage! I pay $4500 in taxes a year for a city lot. Our children need the programs. Quit spending my money on green belt property, and educate our children.

Dog Guy

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it; Not a penny was there in it, Only ribbon round it. So Lucy scheduled a $30M Kinesics Programs Millage vote for May.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

I think transition to semester is a good idea for Skyline. the timester system is a joke. Whoever thought of it should have had their head examined. Kids, in general, do not have an attention period for more than an hour. Keep the 7th hour for pioneer and Huron. It is awonderful experience. Need to keep music for 5th grade- maybe pay to play also Maybe you can have a "pay to play" option for the 7 th hour. We already do it for sports, and the parents seem to be willing to pay for that. I thought education was more important. Why do we have 3 full time folks to handle diversity at Skyline. Why did we need to build SKyline in the first place. Pioneer was "over-crowded" for years. I think, they closed off a section of the school for REC and Ed. What was the point.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

How about a district wide salary reduction of 5 percent instead of 1 percent? That looks like the choicest line item of all.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

The larger issue is the addition to the contract for the teachers - which promises then a percentage of any new revenue to the existing teachers in raises. That has to be fixed or we will see an ever shrinking number of teachers in the classrooms.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Heaven forbid, I worked for the Federal Government the last 4 years and we did not get any raises for 2 years other than step increases, I worked in the private sector and we went without a number of times, plus an increase in workloads this is reality, don't expect the same with school systems it's forbidden.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Why not cut 25% and really take care of the problem?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

I won't speak for DJBudSonic, but I work for a small company where my pay is tied to how well we do. If the company is struggling, I make less money. If the company does well, I make more. It isn't that teachers don't work hard -- of course they do. Teaching is very difficult work -- I know I couldn't do it, and I have great respect for those who do. AAPS teachers and administrators do live outside the mainstream norm of funding, salary and benefits, however. Compare their salary/benefit/workload/retirement to those of teachers in districts downriver, or in many other states. Ann Arbor is an island apart from reality.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

And perhaps the same for you? Nope? Thought not.

Elijah Shalis

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Time to reverse Engler's Prop A and stop milking cities tax dollars for rural schools.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

aamom - You may disagree with me, but becareful what you wish for. If you get Prop A overturned, you school funding may be determined by a federal judge, and you may end up with less money, since parents have more resources than in other districts. Think of it like the slogan from the President "The rich need to pay more". If a federal judge takes over funding for the state, AAPS, will be considered a "rich" district and we will pay more to other districts.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 3:41 a.m.

I disagree DonBee. I think the state should determine a $ amount that they think is sufficient to provide a decent, free education and distribute that equally across the state. That is the part that is fair. I believe all children deserve to receive a decent, free education. Then if members of a community all vote to add to that number to provide some extras, they should have the ability to do so. No one ends up with a crappy education in that scenario, and you don't have all the people of means leaving the public schools for private. Let's face it, even within our district schools aren't funded equally. Some PTO's have many times the budget of others, especially at the elementary level. Burns Park has been funding their own spanish teacher for years. Is that fair? Yes, because they paid for it. I wish my school community found that valuable enough to pay for, but they don't or can't afford it. Doesn't mean my child got a bad education. She got a decent, free education without added bells and whistles.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Elijah Shalis - The largest transfer of money is not from the cities to the rural districts, but from the suburban areas to the cities in the state. Reversing Prop A would mean that the NAACP and the ACLU would be in court within days with the support of the US Department of Justice for Civil Rights violations. Prop A was put in place only weeks before these groups would have filed against Michigan (go back and read some of the news papers from around that time, not the revised history that is on the web). Like it or not, fair funding for schools is what we owe all children in the state, it is not fair to say "My kid should have more", if you want to enhance your child's education, go for it. But it is unfair to say "you don't have as much, so you get less chance at education".


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

I couldn't agree more!


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

I chuckle to see that "what edge?" receives the most vote in the poll. This so accurately catches the mood of parents that I know. But I doubt the district and the board would care. I would suggest adding one choice in the poll: families who highly value education and parent volunteers. I think this is the real (or only) edge at this district. I have seen so many parent volunteers working in classrooms, fund-raising, running so many school activities, taking the lead to build high-impact academic, cultural enrichment activities. I think the district is good because we have so many awesome families who care about education and act on it. I still hold grudge over the wild salary raise for the superintendent and for the top administrators which happened at a board meeting after midnight. It's impossible for me to read anything that the district says without cynicism.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.



Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

"I chuckle to see 'what edge?' receives the most votes..." Yes, I do as well a2schoolparent. I also find it rather amusingly self-serving when parents openly advocate to eliminate funding for say, sports in favor of theater just because that's what their own particular child does. I think music, theater and sports are all equally valuable and despair at cuts to any or all of them. And I'm not advocating for eliminating high school bus transportation just because my own kids have a way of getting to school. I think this would be a distinct hardship for many families. I don't see how parents can take time off work to pick their kids up at 2:30 pm.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Completely agree. It is the families, the children, and the teachers that make A2 schools great. I think AAPS administration needs to work to support what goes on at the local level, not pay a lot of money for curriculum developers and support staff who are too many rungs removed.....


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Here are cuts Mr. Allan will not talk about but should be done. 1) Cut the building administration budget by 40% - that would be about $ 5 million 2) Cut the executive administration budget by 40% - that would be another roughly $ 500,000 3) Cut the consulting budget used by the administration by 50% - another $500,000 4) Sell the pre-school to a private operator - net annual savings $150,000 More revenue? 1) Adult education - a major source of revenue in other districts is almost non-existent in AAPS 2) Sell the Dixboro schoool and Stone School - or at least make the rents market rates and stop using school employees to do daily maintenance in Dixboro School 3) Lease school facilities to sports camps in the summer time - AAPS has college level facilities, they should get some value out of them 4) Open a distance learning program and take advantage of the new funding formulas that the state is working on 5) Replace the people with issues in some buildings and allow people to return to their home school - that would open more grades and seats for schools of choice - making it easier to attract families There are dozens of other changes that can be done that would have little or no impact on the classroom, but Mr. Allan and the Administration will NEVER suggest major cuts to their fellow travelers in the Ann Arbor Admistrator's Association (AAAA). No administrator will be harmed in the creation of the AAPS budget and the Board will let them get away with it.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

I don't always agree with your thoughts, DonBee, but I think that your opinions almost always have merit. I truly wish that you were running for School Board. Personally, I CAN'T BELIEVE that there is no mention of a structural reduction in the budget of the administrative group. Ridiculous.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

"Lease school facilities to sports camps in the summer time - AAPS has college level facilities, they should get some value out of them" Bingo. When you go to other towns, the school facilities are seen as community resources. Here in Ann Arbor the high school baseball fields, for example, are padlocked. And renting them is out of the question.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Lets hire more superintendents and give them another raise.

Tony Livingston

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

At Pioneer, theater is one of the most inclusive activities in the entire school. Anyone can join and have a part behind the stage, on the stage, or both. On the other hand, sports is one of the most exclusive activities there. Ordinary kids from ordinary families are not able to compete with the kids who have been in private sports clubs with paid coaches and numerous out of town (even out of state) competitions. Everyone thinks about football and basketball, but what about soccer, swimming, tennis, ice hockey, ice skating, field hockey? The kids that are making these teams and actually playing are the ones from the travel/private clubs with years of training. If high school sports are trimmed down, even more will become available outside of school. The kids who are benefitting most from high school sports are already involved in private sports anyway. How can we cut reading specialists and not cut sports? This is crazy to even discuss.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

If Pioneer Theater really wanted to be inclusive they would make one of their major performances a regular play. Their three annual shows are always 2 musicals and Futurestars all of which require singing/dancing/musical talent. What about the kids who would like a chance to act (but can't sing) and could do so if a regular play was offered.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Concerned Parent: I also had a child involved in Pioneer Theater Guild for 4 years 2008-2011. She enjoyed it immensely but even backstage, she found it difficult to break into some of the jobs as they were held by the same kids for years. Sure, there are a couple of dozen kids involved in painting scenes and what not, but it is the same handful of kids who get all the roles and other plum jobs like being in charge of the lighting and sound. I am objecting to the assertion that the theater program is more valuable than sports because it is more inclusive. That simply is just not true. There are many sports that have no cuts and everyone gets to compete...cross country, track, swimming, water polo, tennis. ..are just a few that I'm aware of. The most talented kids get "prime time" exposure in both theater and sports and that's just life. Both sports and theater can involve rejection but there is room for everybody if they so choose. To say that one program is more valuable than the other is what I find objectionable.

Concerned Parent123

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5 p.m.

In Response to KMS, I had a child in theatre guild for four years. During the time she did theatre, (2008-2012) I did food for tech week, and from what I saw there were at least a hundred kids in every show, and throughout the year, I saw around two hundred to two hundred and fifty kids in the program (1/8 of the school) making it the second largest program at Pioneer (Football is the largest). I am friends with many of the parents in the program, and many of their children, (recent leads) have not had voice lessons or acting. So while some of the students have had voice lessons and acting, the program still is incredibly accepting and has always allowed kids who didn't get in to do tech. Sincerely, Concerned Parent123


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Pioneer theater may be inclusive but it certainly does not have the participation numbers that all the sports do. The same group of kids are in all the shows..both onstage and backstage. ...probably no more than 50 kids as opposed to the hundreds who participate in sports. One of my kids auditioned a couple of times but did not get a role so there is certainly rejection in theater as well as sports. The kids who get the theater roles have been taking acting and singing lessons for what's the difference between them and sports kids who have been playing club sports? Your argument just doesn't ring true.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Several sports are more inclusive than you suggest, and I've known tons of kids who have made teams without private training but rather gained their experience through Rec & Ed programs. But even so, why are we punishing kids who have been practicing their sport for many years? Would you suggest that music get cut because the kids who make the top band are all privately tutored so it's not fair? Or that we cut AP classes because those kids had tutors, and summer learning programs, and have been going to Kumon since the first grade? Most everything favors the kids with the most resources -- sports can actually be an equalizer because at some point, talent means more than how much money your folks have. Sports programs have a place in schools. It is a unique and valuable experience to represent the school, and frankly, it's nice to see teams that actually cut - everything else around here is a sport you can "make" if you have enough money. I feel no need to shield my kids from the reality than some kids may be better or have more experience. What would be nice to know is how the $3 million is distributed across sports. If one is sucking up a considerable amount of funds (ahem, football), we should consider whether that is an equitable situation. I say this as a huge fan of football with a former player. Time to make some hard choices, but throwing out sports as a whole would be yet another reason to send kids packing for the private schools.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

This is due to two failures of AAPS Rec & Ed. The first is the lack of offerings at high school ages. For example, Rec & Ed does not offer baseball above the 8th grade level. Therefore, if you can't make the high school team (which of course not everybody can due simply to numbers), then Ann Arbor has nothing to offer you. Second, AAPS Rec & Ed does not provide competitive sports offerings any more. Years ago Ann Arbor Rec & Ed dropped competitive sports leagues because, "some children may be disappointed by not making a team." They also do not offer any training or growth opportunities in their sports leagues. As a result, participation in their sports leagues do not lead to an advancement of skills. The result of this, using baseball as an example since that's what I know, is the creation of several independent programs around the city. These are the "travel/private" clubs you mention, and while some of them are hot-shots, most of them are simply at the level of what used to be offered by our own city. In the Ann Arbor area - again, in baseball - there are three multi-age organizations: the A's, the Mustangs, and the Blue Jays. The first two are decent programs, while the latter is poorly run and mostly a money grab, but they all exist because Ann Arbor does not provide it's own citizens these services. They shouldn't have to exist, at least not in these numbers - Ann Arbor should be offering it's own citizens competitive and instructional sports. Other municipalities provide both competitive and "house" (everybody plays) leagues, with instruction and advancement included, but "Ann Arbor does it up different," you know.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

"'It's under way,' Green said. 'Folks have been visiting with the school. The cabinet (members) in particular have been going out in droves … having conversations, looking at entrance criteria and exit criteria.' A report should be coming very shortly, Green said." Will we have to FOIA that to see it?


Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

With you, Unusual Suspect. "It's under way" is about the most non-committal comment one could make.

Basic Bob

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Shortly - which means longer than it will take for Simone Lightfoot to get an update on the football brawl. I would guess that even with a FOI request it will be available approximately NEVER.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Didn't we go through this last year? $17 million in cuts? So another $17 million this year will add up to $34 million this year (assuming that we keep the same cost saving measures from last year as well)? Also, by looking at the options listed (some ridiculous), don't you get the feeling that the board feels that they have no accountability to the general public, but more to the school administrators?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

6 High Schools. Time to close one. Rename Skyline to Pioneer. Sell Pioneer to UM for $100 million. There is no educational reason not to, only emotional. Or, close Community and sell it. If not, then cut teacher salaries to make up for the deficit. I am tired of paying high taxes here in Ann Arbor and losing services from the school system.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

You can't relocate Community, it's actually something that is WORKING in the district. The whole premise is that it is located within the community. Eliminate bussing to schools of choice- if you want to go somewhere other than AAPS mainstream, do it on your own. No private school hand offs, no AA open, no Skyline, no Community bussing. If you really want your kid somewhere other than your home school, get them there on your own dime. The reason parents send their bright students to Community, is because Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline AREN'T WORKING. Fix what's broke- leave Community alone! Community is a REWARD school. Perhaps the district could look at what works- duh. It's certainly not trimesters.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

jns- it's BALAS! At least be educated when you comment four times and misspell this over paid part of the AAPS.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.

Close Clementie and combine with Stone school. Cut Balais and its fat cats and try to save everything else.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

You don't have to move all of Pioneer to Skyline only half. The other half could go to Huron. But the problem remains, we have a $14 to $17 million short fall every year. Even if we got $100 million from Dave Brandon, in six years we would need to sell something else. The problem is the tax code and Prop A. We pay way more than we receive back from Lansing.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

I do think in time..5 years maybe? ....that one of the big high schools will be sold. Perhaps's the oldest and also has the most valuable real estate due to its prime location. Perhaps Skyline....a beautiful new building but not ideally located...maybe Washtenaw Community College could buy it for a satellite location. In the immediate future, I think most people agree that as beloved as Community remains a luxury and the funding well is running dry. At least sell the building and relocate the actual program to an existing school. As many have said, most Community students already participate in classes and sports at either Huron and Pioneer.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Community won't be touched. The money they could make would be huge, but the fuss those parents would make will be bigger.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

CLX - I completely agree with you about Community being a luxury, not a necessity. Most of the Community students are involved with programs at Huron, Skyline, or Pioneer since Community is not a full-service high school (e.g. sports and music). The idea of an "alternative" high school carried a lot more meaning back in the 60s/70s, when it truly was a departure from an aging educational system. Now, most of the positive changes to the system which had their roots in those 60s/70s alternative schools have made their way in to the mainstream. Huron, Skyline, and Pioneer do a great job serving a modern, diverse student body. The article cites an estimate of $1.4M in cost savings if Community is closed - I think this is misleading in that it focuses only on building operating expenses. The cost savings would be much more significant when taking in to account staff and administration jobs (and yes, possibly a few teaching jobs) no longer needed. My gut tells me that the true cost savings of shuttering Community would be $4-5M. I'd be shocked if it actually happened, though - this is truly a sacred cow.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Pioneer and Skyline are too large to combine. That would also be a horrific choice because Skyline is not very accessible as it is, so adding more bodies heading that way would worsen the problem. Community is a luxury, and in tough times, luxuries should be on the chopping block, not schools that serve the broader community.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

$17 million is nothing compared to the loss these students will suffer. They did that to me in Detroit Public Schools in the 70's. Probably cost me a scholarship. How about cutting overpaid teachers' and administrators' salaries? Where are all the hotshot Professional and Musical alumni during all of this? I'm waiting! Also, music and sports MAKE money for the district. The kids are always held hostage.

A Voice of Reason

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 5:33 a.m.

That is 100K for 65% of all the possible work days possible. Summers are off.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Don't fool yourself, there are very few teachers in AA making $38-45,000. I know several teachers that make $75-85,000 a year, and enjoy approximately 78 days off a years with breaks. They teach at the elementary school level. As someone else mentioned, with health insurance etc, their employment package is $104,000+. And, yes, as with private industry, insurance, etc... is considered part of a compensatory package. Where in the private sector can you find a job like that pays this much and offers this much vacation time. No where....I have only met one teacher in the school district so far that I believe is worthy of a $70-80,000 income and she's probably not one of the ones receiving it. In private industry pay raises are earned not automatically handed out in increments because you show up at work.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

MSUTeach - While most teachers do not make $100,000 a year, AAPS reports (their number) that an average teacher costs them $104,000 a year to have. This cost includes salary, benefits, retirement, substitutes for times when they miss class, etc. That number often gets quoted as what a teacher makes. On the other hand retirement and other benefits are part of compensation according to the US Department of Labor definition, so any discussion of what a teacher is paid, needs to look at both salary and total compensation.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

Paul - I am sorry you took looking at the audit report and putting the numbers from the audit into the discussion as an attack on sports. AAPS between sinking fund, bond fund, maintenance of grounds and facilities, general fund transfer and teachers salaries, as well as booster money spent something between 15 and 30 million on sports last year. Because the maintenace of grounds and facilities is not broken out and the booster money is secret, there no way of getting the real number. I am HIGHLY in favor of EVERY student having a 15 to 30 minute morning exercise period that is manditory and physical education. I am NOT in favor of spending tens of thousands of dollars on new oars for a crew skull - even if the money comes from the boosters. Physical education should be a daily requirement for every student in K-12.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Paul, A teacher must have a bachelors degree to teach, and then a Masters degree for permanent certification, however permanent means you still must take continuing education to keep your permanent certification, mind you, at your own expense. Very few teachers make anything close to $100,000 per year. Most are earning $35K to $70k per year. But if you think about it, a teacher must manage 30 to 35 kids each hour, then another 30 to 35 the next, althroughout the day. Totals over 210 direct reports for each teacher. There is no management position in any government organization or private industry that has management overseeing that many direct reports. Yet teachers must manage behavior, educate, test, evalute, and councel each one of them. That is a lot for the salary. Yet you say they are overpaid. Take a walk in their shoes and find out how easy it is. You'll probably say they need a pay raise.

J. Zarman

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

Perhaps Paul would have better put it as: Music and sports generate some revenue. Of course, that revenue offsets costs which would be saved by not staging some concerts, productions, athletic events. Additionally, the district finds savings from not forming teams & holding practices, from not having selected bands or productions in coming years. My hope is that many past and coming cuts can be restored in financially sounder years.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Paul- I'm not sure where you get your numbers but the majority of teachers in Ann Arbor don't make $100,000. Starting salary is $38,500 with an increase of approximately $2,000 each year. When you reach the top of the pay scale, approximately 10 years of teaching you're close to $67,000 (if you have a master's degree $5,000 more). In addition, the average teacher's pension is $38,000 depending on the level of education and years at retirement. While I appreciate your need to throw numbers out, it'd make more sense if they were accurate.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

No, DonB was just correcting your egregiously incorrect statement about sports making money.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

So, DonB you are now putting a price on the children's health and well-being? What does mathematics cost? (since you have figures right at your fingertips) Are they going to cut art next? The cuts need to come from the top, not the kids! Teachers make $100k now. Why? Then $55k for the rest of their life! Again I ask, WHY? Busting these Unions will be good for the taxpayers, and the kids. Let teachers put away for their retirement everybody else. The gravytrain is over!


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Paul - General fund transfer to Athletics - more than $3,000,000.00 - total ticket sales for sports a little less than $200,000. Sports do NOT make money (at least a net profit) for the schools, neither does music, the cost of the teachers for the music program far outwieghs the income from concerts.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

What are health care costs? What are retiree costs?

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Yes, the purpose of the AAPS is to educate students and is not to be a free flowing well of entitlements.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

That's your idea? Cut the sick! Cut the elderly!


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Retiree costs run approximately 28- to 30 percent of the total payroll for AAPS. The state retirement fund for teachers is badly underfunded and 8 years of Governor Granholm doing nothing to fix this (zero contributions from the state to any pension fund durinng her 8 years in office) just made issues worse going forward.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Good news: we have pretty good fairness (uniformity of funding) across the state Bad news: we have uniformly low funding It is a shame that Michigan provides so little. US average is $10,500; Michigan $10,100. Down there with Appalachia? That's never a good spot to be in. (page 14)


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Dotdash - 19th is not "below the median". We are between 3rd and 5th based on a number of metrics. We are also in the between 2nd and 5th in Teacher total compensation for teachers, depending on the study. The 19th number does not include ISD millages in the state and a number of other funding sources that are not general fund monies. You have to actually read the supporting materials on the website that the report you cite is on and the methodology. Then you have to go to the websites for each state and start looking at all the funding methods in the states. Your report only tells part of the story. Many of the "highly funded" states don't have bond funds, sinking funds, special education millages, ect. They only have 1 or 2 funding sources and so all the money gets picked up in this study. I don't have all my research on the road with me, but the average in Michigan when you use all the funding sources is more than $13,000 per student and in AAPS is more than $14,000. The real numbers are higher, but again I don't have the numbers in front of me, so I am choosing lower numbers that I know are low. Using those numbers Michigan moves from 19th to 6th. That does not sound like it is below the median, but you are the teacher here, so I suspect you have more experience teaching statistics than I do.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:21 a.m.

Come on, DonBee. I have seen many studies of per-pupil spending and Michigan in below the median, or average, or however they measure, on all of them. They all same the same thing. We are underfunding education relative to states we wish we were competitive with.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Dotdash - Thank you for this report, too bad the data in it is from 2007-9. I find it interesting that Michigan gets an "A" for the percentage of GDP that is spent on K-12 education and an "A" for the fairness of state funding. Since this report was done average GDP in Michigan has fallen by over $4,000 per person, while school funding is only down about $200, I wonder if we would get an "A+" for keeping school funding as level as we have using their measures? You may not think Michigan spends enough, but Education Week in this report ranks Michigan 5th of 51 in spending "effort" - not a bad place to be. If we are 5th nationally, than I guess you would say the other 45 states are all completely incompetent in their spending on education?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

brimble: No, AAPS is NOT well funded. That is the point. While some parts of Appalachia may do even worse, that doesn't mean AAPS does well. This is an educated population that for some inexplicable reason is allowing their kids to be educated at an Appalachian level.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Averages are dangerous numbers. Down there in Appalachia, North Carolina spends an average of $8,409 per student (45th in the country), but Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools (home to UNC-Chapel Hill) spends $11,167 per. Still, AAPS is very well funded. It is just a poor steward of the funds it has.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

DonBee - Respectfully, I have to disagree. $14,000 per pupil puts Ann Arbor NOWHERE NEAR the top public school spending per pupil. NJ schools average $17,000 per pupil, and some of the school districts out on Long Island spend $25,000+ per pupil. NYC spends more than $19,000 per pupil; Washington DC spends $15,000. Many, many suburban school districts across the country spend $20,000+ per pupil. Michigan just has to get over this idea that their school funding is adequate for a state with ambitions.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

DotDash - Many states do not have local millages. The fact that AAPS spends over $14,000 a student each year puts it near the top of both the state and the nation in public school spending per student.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

In the Grosse Pointe District it is approx. $13,300 per student.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

We're going to end up with 50 kids in a classroom designed for 20 with 1 over worked and egregiously under paid teacher. Don't worry though, because a decent portion of students won't be able to make it to school because there's no transportation. Which, by the way, will disproportionally affect the poor. Who needs school when you got swag.

Basic Bob

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

"Plus there are kids from Ypsilanti that get bussed in to the Ann Arbor schools" False. They live in parts of the Ann Arbor school district who receive their mail from the Ypsilanti post office. There is a difference between zip code, school district boundaries, and city corporation limits. We had three children in AAPS who rode the bus from "Ypsilanti", actually Pittsfield Township.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

@Sunny, because Ann Arbor has decided to integrate the schools by socioeconomic status and race, they are bussed all over town. Plus there are kids from Ypsilanti that get bussed in to the Ann Arbor schools. Walking is not an option on any grade level for these children.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

I realize the immensity (at least in our minds) of the Glorious People's Democratic Republic of Ann Arbor, but, seriously, where can you possibly have to walk ten miles (up hill, both ways, no less) to an elementary school?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Yeah, because walking 10+ miles a day is TOTALLY reasonable for a 1st grader.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Don't these students have legs?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

I get the impression from previous stories, comments, and talking with Ann Arborites that there is a lot of fat in the staffing department. It seems like there are a lot of assistants and administrative staff. I don't recall teachers having asistants when I went to school. Part of this conversation should be about how wisely they spend money, not just where to cut. I recall one of the schools spending a large amount of money on some third-party software that basically just made it possible for people to share files instead of making copies every time there was a change. In other words, the same extraordinarily basic function that several websites, free accessories with existing software, etc. do. I think it's safe to extrapolate from that one horrifying and depressing example that there is a good amount of waste in IT and other expenditures as well.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

oops, I replied to the wrong thread with my comment about walking to school


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

I no longer have any elementary school kids, but if I did, we are 8 miles away from the school. There actually is a closer school but for some reason, that is not the one our neighborhood is assigned to.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

At the elementary level, when class size goes above 31 a teacher is given a half-time assistant. Assistants are also given to the few mainstreamed students who have exceptional needs. Don't get the wrong idea that there is a lot of money to be saved out there by eliminating these positions.

Charley Sullivan

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

RUK: When you and I likely went to school, teachers weren't having to handle large numbers of IEPs for students will all sorts of individual needs, there were vastly fewer reporting requirements, and most importantly, class sizes were smaller. Assistants are a compromise to having what should be fewer students to allow teachers to get done everything that needs to get done in a day, and still teach.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

everybody has got to have an assistant don't you know that?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Some general AAPS district budget questions: What is the total budget amount for the 2013-14 academic year, including deficit amount? Of this, how much is attributed to personnel costs, both contract and non contract? Of this, how much is administrative? If personal property tax reform passes, what percent is this in terms of overall budget?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

A lot of tough choices to make. How about the most obvious one - administration pay cuts? Okay now kids. Let's take it again from the top at the top. "A penny for a spool of thread, A penny for a needle. That's the way the money goes, Pop! goes the weasel"


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 4:06 a.m.

I totally agree. Teacher pay freezes 2 years. They make too much. Cut Balais and save everything else.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Administrators should show leadership and take the same percentage cuts as teachers and other staff. That being said all the administrative salaries together wouldn't be a very big percentage of the total budget. The hard truth is that teacher salaries and compensation are by far the biggest part of the budget (as they should be) and therefore take the brunt of the cuts when finances fall short.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

No mention of cuts to Balas employees? Cut teachers, cut support staff, cut Reading Intervention, Inst. Music, etc... But the palace that is BALAS stays untouched. The board keeps asking for different ways to cut, but there isn't much more they can cut folks. At some point, this board is going to have to make some tough choices and it is going to ruffle some feathers in the community.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

One of these days, the people of Ann Arbor are going to wake up and look at Balas administrative bloat and say, "what were we thinking?" Why was there no mention of Balas cuts? Because that would mean cutting themselves, and in politics, who does that?


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 4:05 a.m.

Green missed it again. Cut out the Balais admin staff. Save a lot of money. No to transportation unless you plan to privatize it. I hate to say it, children will not go to school if they have no ride. Going to be a nice fun year. Cut Balais Green. But she ain't listening.