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Posted on Wed, May 16, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Transportation debate: $300,000 to $3.5M — how deep will the cuts go in Ann Arbor schools?

By Danielle Arndt


Ann Arbor Public Schools is again weighing heavy cuts to busing for the 2012-13 school year. I Jeffrey Smith

Ann Arbor administrators have proposed a number of deep cuts to transportation for the 2012-13 school year. But at least one school board trustee is not pleased by the lack of details coming from officials in the busing conversation.

“Transportation is huge. It’s just huge,” said Board of Education member Simone Lightfoot. “I feel like we are not giving it the attention it requires and the time it requires.

“Whether we keep it, change it, modify it (from Ann Arbor’s current agreement with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District), it all has to be done before September. When do we hear how planning and conversations have been evolving? When do we get updated?” she said during last week’s board meeting.

Lightfoot said educating children should be the district’s No. 1 concern, but if children can’t get to school, teachers can’t educate them.

Ann Arbor Public Schools is facing a $17.8 million shortfall for 2012-13 and of the $7.3 million to nearly $13.5 million in cuts being considered, cuts to busing could equate to anywhere from $331,028 to $3.5 million.

The board will meet Wednesday night to hear more details on proposed budget cuts.


Simone Lightfoot

The $3.5 million savings would happen if the district chooses to eliminate busing entirely.

Lightfoot has openly criticized officials with both AAPS and the WISD for the lack of hard data there appears to be on the district’s current busing arrangement.

Since winter, the board has asked for a cost analysis and a report on various items related to how the current transportation system has been functioning, such as the timeliness of arrival and departure times, how full the buses are and call data to show the number of complaints coming in.

The WISD gave a transportation presentation in April showing the results of a busing survey that was open to Ypsilanti, Willow Run and Ann Arbor parents and riders. These three districts are part of a consolidated busing system through the ISD.

The results of the online survey can be viewed here.

Overall, Board of Education members were “underwhelmed” with the presentation and the survey results.

AAPS anticipated it would save $1 million to $1.5 million annually by joining the transportation consortium. However, the actual cost savings for 2011-12 was closer to $500,000.

According to a budget presentation at Monday’s community forum, busing cost about $5.6 million or 3.02 percent of the district’s $185.8 million in operating expenses for 2011-12. This figure does not include the cost of about 2,600 field trips the WISD reported it provided transportation to for AAPS.

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said funding for field trips is provided at the building level. Each school is given a percentage of discretionary fund dollars to decide how to spend. Classes and parent-teacher organizations also raise money for field trips, she said.

Thomas Moore, transportation director for the WISD, said his department runs a total of 107 routes per day for Ann Arbor. Eighty-two are general education routes, while 25 are special needs.

The district also has 45 mid-day shuttle runs, not including 25 kindergarten runs, Moore said. The kindergarten runs are being eliminated for the fall, with the district's switch to all-day kindergarten. The other mid-day runs are among the proposed cuts for the board to decide on soon.

Moore said the typical cost for operating a single bus on an average route, including driver wages, is $282 per day. Multiplied by 180 school days, each route is estimated to cost around $50,760.

AAPS has 131 buses, which includes 24 spares, and 120 drivers, Moore said. There are also about 32 bus monitors for Ann Arbor.

In January, the AAPS Board of Education charged administrators with reaching out to the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to discuss possible partnership opportunities as well as:

  • Speaking with the WISD to negotiate a better deal for the services it provides
  • Breaking ties with the WISD for busing and putting out a request for proposals to privatize transportation
  • Breaking ties with the WISD for busing and returning to operating its own busing system again, with cuts to routes and public sector employees
  • Eliminating busing entirely or eliminating busing to the district's high schools

Lightfoot said she had expected some type of report on transportation prior to passing the budget, revealing some alternatives and, in particular, what type of collaboration might exist with the AATA.

Superintendent Patricia Green said the administration has been in ongoing conversations with the AATA about busing passes and three routes that the district may be able to benefit from. But Green said AATA has not been able to give the district any definitive answers yet.

Lightfoot called Green’s update “unacceptable.”

Board President Deb Mexicotte said in a phone interview late last month, she does not anticipate any changes in the district's transportation provider for fall.

The board will hash out more details of the proposed budget cuts at a Committee of the Whole meeting at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Balas Administration Building.

The proposed transportation cuts could include:

  • Combine bus runs for Bryant and Pattengill elementary schools for a budget reduction of $16,560
  • Eliminate the 4 p.m. middle school bus runs for students attending after-school programs ($84,284)
  • Eliminate the midday shuttles from the comprehensive high schools to Community High School ($230,184)
  • Eliminate transportation to and from the district’s “choice” schools, Ann Arbor Open, Skyline High School, Roberto Clemente and Community ($266,400)
  • Get rid of high school busing entirely ($545,000)
  • Get rid of busing to all schools, with the only exception being for special needs students ($3.5 million)

Download the district’s complete 2012-13 budget presentation here.

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



Mon, May 21, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

One final thought on this topic. Given the signature on Virtual Schools, how many children will move to home schools or virtual schools if no transportation exists in the district? Will the savings actually reduce the total enrollment in AAPS? Dropping 35 students would consume the whole of the $350,000 savings.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

If they were to implement the single bus, single start, 3 zone system, the costs would go down significantly. But the board won't even release the study they spent $300,000 on a few years ago. AATA does not cover 90% of the land area of the AAPS district, and even if the new millage passes for AATA's expanded service, only a few more students would have reasonable transportation options on AATA. NONE of the bridges over US-23, M-14, or I-94 have sidewalks, and a significant number of students live on the other side of these highways. How many 7th graders will decide to try to cross the freeway on a dare? There are other places to take the money from. There are other ways to save money in transportation. I suspect one of the Domino's Distribution people could find $1 million in the routing of the buses, based on what they have done with their store delivery system cost reductions. The UofM has a whole department focused on transportation research, I bet they could help too.


Fri, May 18, 2012 : 2:17 a.m.

jns131 - I made a call to the state department of transportation today. The areas you are calling sidewalks, the state calls "snow catchment areas". They are not plowed or shoveled in the winter and are NOT designed for people to use to walk across those bridges.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

Ah US 23 does. At Geddes, at Plymouth and I believe at Washtenaw. I don't think Michigan ave does though. If Milan is Washtenaw county then that one south of it does not either. As for M 14? I think it does at Miller/Maple. I 94? I think State does and then there is one near Platt Road. As for getting children to cross on a dare? They would. As for UM? Thats a toughie.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Very hard to know where expenses can be cut without first seeing the data. Thank you, Ms. Lightfoot for staying on this. I wonder if it would be possible to keep the school buses running as they are now and charging a fee per student or per family for families who can afford it, and subsidizing transportation for students who qualify for school lunches? Cutting busing in any way that would decrease equal ACCESS to education seems wrong. We need to be sure that all our kids can get to school.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

How about charging Balais and Ms Green per pupil fee?


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

I'm getting sick of this. For the amount of money we are paying Patricia Green it should all be HER headache and hers alone. Solve the budget problem, Ms. Green or out you go.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

"AAPS anticipated it would save $1 million to $1.5 million annually by joining the transportation consortium. However, the actual cost savings for 2011-12 was closer to $500,000." Yes, we screwed the AAPS bus drivers and custodians on the promise that millions would be saved, but what we really did was lower wages and security for many people that already make a low wage so more administrators (now at WISD) could get more money. Very sad.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

I really don't think the school board really knows what it is doing when it comes to keeping children safe. They are thinking dollars and not the bottom line. They want to keep their salaries and take from the children who sadly have nothing left in the classroom but pencils and out dated books. Start looking to Balais people. This is where you can shave and save some dough.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 9 p.m.

What are the costs that made such a difference between the expected and realized savings? Could these cost changes have been foreseen or were they due to some unexpected circumstance(s)? If the initial data was correct but wrongly analyzed, who was responsible for this? It seems to me that board members and a team of administrators should have been going over an analysis like this before a decision was made and, now, again before a decision is made about an on-going plan. No one person should be responsible for or have the authority to issue a report that does not have additional expert eyes on it before it is acted on. We have good people with lots of expertise here in A2. Let them work this stuff over!


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

Having 500+ cars idling in line while waiting to drop off their kids is an environmental disaster, not to mention the fumes are carcinogenic. I have absolutely no problem with paying my share for my children's transportation and sports and everything (and am happy to pay for some other less fortunate kids), but does everything really have to be a la carte? It seems incredibly inefficient to handle things this way.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

I could not agree more with this post. Have you seen after school at a charter? This would become a major issue especially if the teachers have to make sure their children going with the right car. The thought of organizing this would make any teacher scream. Then again that might not be a bad option. Remove busing and make the teachers realize they have to spend after school with their children getting to the right parent. Interesting.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Why don't they close Community High School (or sell it to a charter operator) before discussing cutting bus transportation? There is absolutely no benefit to keeping Community open!


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Chris - It would also be possible to AAPS to retain ownership of Community, and lease the property to a charter operator.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Turning Community into a charter school is probably the best option. It would be easier in many ways to keep its "unique" character if not saddled with public school rules. They already have a lottery to gain entrance and it wouldn't cost the parents any money to send their kids there. Ann Arbor Schools would lose the funding from 450 students, but would get a sizable one-time payment. Of course, once you sell the property, there's nothing stopping the new owner from putting up an ugly apartment building there, unless you could deed restrict it for school use only.

Michele Dziubinski

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

What part of the word "public" don't you get, Les Gov? If we eliminate busing to school and sporting contests, why don't we all just go to a private school? After all, if we just drive our kids to school, each family will spend more money on gas, pollute more, and require more time out of our day. Maybe you have the means to do this, but a lot of families do not. The school bus system was developed to ensure that all children have access to a public education. Without it, we are further separating the "haves" from the "have nots". Without an education, our country will continue to dwindle in productivity, jobs, the economy, and the well being of our people. Look at the big picture, dude.

Alan Benard

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

"Lightfoot has openly criticized officials with both AAPS and the WISD for the lack of hard data there appears to be on the district's current busing arrangement." The writer has a double-passive sentence here. This is astoundingly bad writing. Hard to understand and awkward.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

I'm with @JustSayin. Make a decision so families can plan accordingly. (Perhaps it means leaving the district.) I have to agree with Ms. Lightfoot, the superintendent's update is "unacceptable." It's not surprising. Based on my experience with WISD, I highly doubt that WISD staff-or the consultants with whom they have contracted-can respond to the transportation budget savings for Ann Arbor, Willow Run and Ypsilanti. Transportation to/from Community HS has never been as promised when school staff recruited students to apply. Please put the money into curriculum and instruction so when we do get our kids to school, they are doing more than just playing with new iPads.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

In a democratic society, everyone should have access to good public schools. While bussing is very expensive, I would think that access to an education is core to our beliefs as a country. If we all lived in town, there might not be an issue here, but we have many students who live in rural areas that will need transportation to get to school. I do not mind that they limit some of the routes and look for ways to consolidate. But cutting bussing is undemocratic and therefore unacceptable. Please Governor Snyder - find a creative way to fund public education! Think outside the box and solve these difficult economic issues. The local districts are doing what they can, but the real changes need come from the state. 17 million is too much and will hurt students and education in this great state.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Here is the logistical nightmare. 2 years ago revisited. AATA cannot operate in the black or red or whatever color you want to make up for removing school busing altogether. It just does not make sense. Especially to the special needs students who need these buses to get to and from Hi Point. We have to remember that ADA created these buses for them. Up to the age of 26. Some parents live so far out in the fringe that having their children catch an AATA is next to impossible. For some who do catch an AATA? They spend almost an hour with maybe 2 or three transfers to get to Pioneer or Huron or Skyline or Community. I shudder the thought of an elementary child on AATA? OMG. Then we have to look at Pontiac Trail. What about Plymouth Road? Or any other road that is not safe to walk on. The school needs to cut the money from Balais to pay for the busing services to keep our children safe. Yeah, OK you want to look elsewhere. Have you really looked at Trinity? First Student? I have. I would never put my child with one of those drivers. Ever. Folks we need a real wake up call to the fact that our school board is putting our children in danger not the other way around. Here is another nightmare for Ann Arbor denizens. If we do go AATA? Your taxes will go up and up to pay for AATA to get to your children. Just a thought next time you pay your property taxes.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Transportation again on the block. When will AAPS / BOE look at the waste at Balas!!! We over pay for a superindendant who doesn't seem to do much. We have too many administrators there that drain the budget. They cut administration at the HS level , now is the time to look around and cut Balas. Come on - LEAD by Example - give them an across the board cut or eliminate positions. Quit making the kids suffer.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

I totally agree. Cut Balais spending and get rid of that superintendent. What a mistake they made.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Cutting the AAPS transportation will force people to use public transportation, walk, ride bikes, and create car pools. Imagine that!!


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

donbee? The Amish do it, why not. I love this idea. Lets go for it.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

Me717 - Since mine will be in high school, but way to young to drive, I am thinking about horses for transportation. I wonder how the school will deal with horse and buggy in the parking lot?


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

So you guys are okay with kindergarten kids riding their bikes to school next to busy streets in the middle of winter? I guess if everyone stops texting while driving, it might be slightly safe.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

jns131- With a level 2 graduated license (which can be obtained when you are 16, the following applies: Shall not operate a motor vehicle at any time with more than one passenger in the vehicle who is less than 21 years old except: *When the additional passengers are immediate family members That would allow the 16 year to drive the younger sibling to school.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Imagine your child of age 7 trying to get to school because the parent only has one car. Imagine that child not making it to school because that childs street is too dangerous to walk on. Some parents have 2 jobs and cannot get their child to school. Plus Michigan did something else to limit car rides. Their driving sibs between age 16 and 18? Cannot drive them because of shudder the thought there is more then one person in that car. What a mess.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

I was just about to make a similar comment. It's funny how everyone immediately jumps to driving kids to school in their minds. I'm sure some parents already drive their kids one mile or less to school. Or kids ride the bus for a whole two miles. Everyone has access to a bike, even low income families. A used bike costs maybe $20. Skip four Big Macs and buy your kid a bike. Hey, we may even solve our childhood obesity problem as well!

Dr. I. Emsayin

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

High school students, and all students who live in remote areas, economically challenged areas (ie: mom carpools not easy to come by), and areas where there is no nearby public transportation need a school bus to get to school. Trustee Lightfoot knows what she is talking about, she attended AAPS and she understands the needs of the community for whom she speaks. We elected her because she is a voice for many who do not feel their voice is heard.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

What is the cost/requirement of AAPS to provide transportation for non-public school students to Greenhills and Emerson? Do we also provide for St. Francis and Gabriel Richard? Is this being discussed?


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

St. Francis kids get bus service only if they walk across to Tappan and get on there.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

Bluetonguedlizard, You can check the state laws on school transportation if you like (I provided the references), but that's what the law says. Charter schools do not receive busing services from the "local" district because charter schools are considered to be independent school districts. If they want busing, they need to provide their own.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Not sure if that is true ypsiLivin, charter schools do not get "free busing" that's why their kids a driven to and from school by parents as it saves a boat load of money. Emerson and the like pay for AAPS to bus their kids.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Under the Michigan State Constitution, the state legislature may provide transportation to and from school for nonpublic school students. Michigan Const. Art. 8, Sec. 2. Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1217. Local school districts that provide transportation to resident pupils must provide free transportation to nonpublic school students with some limitations. Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1321, 1322. Next.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

What is the requirement for transporting stu

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

It is time to seriously look at high school sports. They are expensive, non academic, and they serve only a certain population. It is no longer practical to have varsity sports in public high school and it is no longer necessary. Most of the kids that make the teams and get the playing time have already been playing in private club sports for years. Club sports are readily available in every sport with a wide range of skill levels and costs.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Really? Varsity sports serve way more than one population and provide invaluable morals, responsibility and comradery for high school students. I played sports in both high school and club settings. Club sports are way more expensive and mainly cater to athletes who have above average abilities. Playing a varsity sport in high school was one of the best experiences of my life. It was the highlight of my high school experience. Oh and also, I got into Michigan and am applying to medical school. I couldn't have gotten to this point in my life without high school sports.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Great. Another person that can't comprehend the benefit of sports.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

I'm concerned that if transportation is eliminated to and from the district's "choice" schools (Ann Arbor Open, Skyline High School, Roberto Clemente and Community) then those schools cease functioning as public schools open to all students in the AAPS district. They will become schools for those families who have the resources and time to transport their children to and from school. This is will change the diversity in those schools. For example, remember that Skyline H.S. was built in a high socioeconomic neighborhood with promises from the Administration that a portion of the student body would be comprised of students from all over the AAPS district. (On a side note, I seem to recall from the Community H.S. informational meetings that school bus transportation is not provided to and from school.)


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

I went to Community and I caught a bus to Huron and then booked it to make it to the transfer bus. But getting home I used the AATA (school gave us free passes if we had late classes). I tried one semester to go Huron for Orchestra but I ended up just missing two other classes and always ended up late to Orchestra by 20 minutes. It wasn't worth it. :( I knew a lot of kids who took 1/2 their classes at either Pioneer or Huron and finished their day at Community. I guess we were just lucky back then. Now we can tell the next few generations we walked uphill both ways in the snow and rain.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

I moved to AA from a Detroit suburb laid out a lot like AA. The school district had no buses.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Why can't we use AATA for say a local 5-15 mile radius to reduce cost? Retain existing school busses for secluded areas...


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

I agree, that's how they do it in Australia and the UK!


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

AAPS buses kids from the Pattengill neighborhood to Bryant, and Bryant kids to Pattengill as part of the "Superpair". A 45 min. bus ride each way for elemenatry school kids when there is a school in each neighborhood. Talk about waste.

just say'n

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

A decision needs to be made about bussing ASAP. Should bussing be eliminated, families need ample time to come up with a plan of how to get their children to school starting in September. Carpooling, increased AATA service, etc., it's going to be a logistical nightmare for families. Larger problems will develop if bussing is eliminated. Traffic patterns around schools are already terrible...who is going to be managing the drop-offs in front of the school in the morning & in the afternoon? Has anyone thought about our children's safety on school property & surrounding areas if bussing is eliminated? Obviously, the number of vehicles at these times will increase significantly. Thus, it will be impossible for families to drop off or pick up 400-1800 children at one building (actual number depends on the school) in a 5-10 minute window before school starts or after it ends. Will the buildings open early for those students who need to or can only be dropped off earlier? Will there be supervision after school while 400-1800 children are waiting for a ride home? Who is responsible for the safety of our children before the actual start of the school day/after the school day ends? This list can go on & on. Additionally, I haven't heard any discussion about if bussing between the high schools & middle schools are being eliminated since talk amongst shuttles between the high schools are potentially on the chopping block. Shuttles are run daily after 1st or 2nd hour for middle school students that are taking high school level classes. The district is transporting these students back to their "home" middle school after these classes. I'm not saying that these should be cut...but if AAPS is looking at cutting bussing, than everything needs to be looked at. The big picture needs to be looked at as the decision to eliminate bussing is considered. Once again, AAPS is dropping the ball as they only focus on one aspect of this issue.

just say'n

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

@ YpsiLivin...AAPS schools are in the middle of neighborhoods. They were not built with the idea that families would be driving their kids to school. The school driveways & surrounding areas just can't handle this amount of traffic in a short time frame. I have seen multiple near-misses (vehicles just missing hitting children) in both the driveways & on the streets at both elementary & middle schools. Drivers are in much more of a rush than they were even 15 years ago. Cell phone usuage while driving is another hazard when driving around lots of children. I'm just sayng that our schools already have issues with drop-offs & pick-ups (vehicles & children). Increasing the number of vehicles significantly & ensuring our childrens' safety needs to be addressed at the same time as the discussion of eliminating bussing occurs.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

just say'n, I went to a parochial high school that had 2,000 students and no buses. The school drew students from about a 15 mile radius, so it was within walking distance for only a very small number of kids who attended. For good measure, the school was located at the intersection of a state highway and a 7-lane road. As a result, most parents drove their kids, or sometimes, the older kids drove themselves. The Earth's orbit around the Sun was never impacted by the school's lack of free transportation, and we all survived just fine. School without transportation can be done, and it IS done every single day. Free transportation for general education students places a large and unnecessary cost burden on the school district. If busing didn't exist, parents would get their children to school some other way. People can be highly resourceful, especially when you stop absolving them of small responsibilities.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

My daughter was one of these students who went to high school 1st hour and then was transported by bus back to her middle school for the remainder of the day. There were about 10-12 students riding with her, on a full-sized bus! This should definitely be looked at. Perhaps it's cheaper to have a teacher in the middle school teach these dozen students, or maybe a shuttle/van would be more economical. I don't know - just saying it should be evaluated.

Nick Danger

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Cutting bus service will have a disproportionate adverse effect on the poor. Putting up obstacles to getting to school is both cruel and shortsighted. Sure middle class parents will have the resources to make sure their children will have transportation to attend school. Unfortunately many do not share those resources How about extending the school day by a half hour and shortining the school year to save money.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

sorry dude im willing to keep paying for busing. sure i have the means to get them there but its a real pain the rear when both parents are working. just dont give a crap that my tax dollers are spent for busing. its worth it. frankly i dont care if you like it or not. its been that way for 60 years and I see why it cant stay that way. take away some rich aholes tax break to pay for it.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

Give the poor transportation vouchers. Making people pay to transport there kids to school is the answer. Dont let 15% of the people (the poor) stop this from happening.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

School year is based on "seat time" not number of days. If the school days are longer then there could be less days of school.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Lengthening the school day to shorten the school year doesn't work because state law mandates a certain number of classroom days a year (I believe it's 180).

Tex Treeder

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

The whole transportation paradigm we have here is on its head. School start times are ridiculously early in order to accommodate bus transportation. Shouldn't that be the other way around? For a long term goal, let's reduce the size of the warehouse high schools and return to a more rationally sized, neighborhood-based high school system. I suspect that the number of kids who can reasonably be expected walk to high school must be less than 10%, most of them around Pioneer. Almost no one lives within walking distance of Huron or Skyline.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

So Tex Treeder, you're proposing to build a ton of new smaller high schools so they can be a bit closer to the students. That seems rather expensive. Now taking YpsiLivin's good points, makes it even more expensive. I think the cost/benefit here kills your proposal.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Elementary education is comparatively cheap to provide. Middle school education is more expensive. High school education is most expensive of all. The reason students are consolidated at the high school level is to spread the cost of providing the most expensive kind of education over the largest number of students possible. At the elementary level, there is no need to provide curricular options. Spelling is spelling, grammar is grammar and math is math. As the student ages out of elementary/middle school education, differentiated instruction is required, often by the State. Schools offer Spanish, French, German and Latin instead of just Spanish, for example. In math, they might offer remedial math, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, Differential Equations and Calculus. In high school, you will find a similar array of class choices in English, Science and Social Science. All of those classes meet at least one curriculum objective of the state, and all require a teacher and a classroom. "Neighborhood schools" don't have the room or the resources to provide that much instruction for a small number of students. Why should the district hire 7 Spanish teachers to work at 7 different buildings when it can hire one teacher for one building and bring all of the students together over seven hours every day?

Tex Treeder

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

Here are some obvious cuts that would not affect the schools' true (allegedly, anyway) goal of teaching our kids: 1. Eliminate athletic directors. I'm sure they do something. I'm also sure they're not necessary. 2. Cut non-teaching admin at schools. Does each grade in high school need its own vice principal? 3. Cut the ballast at Balas. We're not getting much bang for the buck there.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

SusieQ - You forget counselors and other support staff in the high schools that do not exist in the grade schools. In the building by building budget the number of administrative staff by building was included, the ratio was higher in the high schools was higher. Unfortunately AAPS has removed the document, instead of updating it.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

You forgot...Get rid of the teachers union and start paying teachers what private school teachers make. The teachers have been on this gravy train way too long.

Susie Q

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Two high school asst principals at each comprehensive HS HAVE been eliminated in the last two years (6 positions). Each grade does not have their "own principal". There are 3 administrators for each hs, each school has approx 1550-1650 students. Scarlett has 2 principals for about 500 students. Most elementary buildings have fewer than 400 students and they each have their own full time administrator. High school administration is not over-staffed if you compare them to the rest of the schools.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

How much would it save to not have the busses idle for hours every day. With the cost of fuel and the cost to the environment it's simply ridiculous!!


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 10:51 a.m.

We live in an era of constant cutbacks, from cutting bus funding to requiring children to pay for sports...what the heck happened? I guarantee most of these cutback proponents grew up in an era where these things weren't required. I can also imagine that we didn't have overpaid and overstaffed school administrations like we do now. The playing field needs to be leveled back in favor of students...and school districts need to remember that they work for their students first and foremost. Secondly, they work for the taxpayers who help to pay their (overpaid) salaries.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

A2James You are seeing the effect of a democratic (or liberal society). Growing the government bigger and bigger with higher salaries than the public workforce is never the answer.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

Thank you Simone Lightfoot. Keep up the questions! When the board asks for something from the Administration, they should specify what the report is to look like and when it is due, then hold Superintendent Green ACCOUNTABLE. The word accountable is in the dictionary...


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Good post, A2comments. She should be held accountable for the salaries of Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Legal Services, Dave Comsa, and Deputy Superintendent of Operations, Robert Allen. Their salaries were bumped up to $140,000 each. Comsa's pay was hiked 14.7 percent and Allen scored a 7.2 percent raise.

Basic Bob

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Oh, but she has done something - hiring additional associate superintendents, deputy superintendents, whatever she wants to call them. I call them people who interfere with Mr. Allen running the district, since no one else seems to be involved in the process. Fancy titles and big salaries only fluff up their resumes for the big superintendent job down the road. Sadly, they will be ill-prepared if they don't learn how to manage, and will just join the traveling circus of school administrators going from town to town.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

She isn't accountable for anything, haven't we all figured this out. She has made zero decisions so far and sits down at Balas behind behind her glass wall and pretends the community isn't around. It is time Dr. Green for you to step up and make some of the tough decisions you were hired to do.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

I agree, if the kids can't make it to school, then what is the point? Here is an idea: cut ALL high-level administrative pay 10% (starting with Patricia Green). That will surely raise a couple thousand dollars. If they actually live up to their promises, they could earn their original salary the business world we call it "pay for performance"...but cutting bus funding should be the last thing we do, except consolidating routes with minimal impact.

Les Gov

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 10:35 a.m.

We have been over this. The real question is why hasn't the board already taken action on this? AAPS needs to stop paying for all busing now. Parents that want their kids on a bus will have to contract with an external bus company. You have pay to play sports...well now you are going to have pay to ride busing. Set all of the emotions aside......"busing cost about $5.6 million " Within a very short time this number is going to skyrocket. Schools just can't afford to provide this service. This isn't a service the schools are required to provide. AAPS needs deal with the problem head on. Keep the money in the class room. Eliminate busing now.


Thu, May 17, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

Les Gov - While there is some pay to play for sports, they still get a $3.2 million dollar transfer from the general fund, in addition to all the support for mowing, maintenance, heat, etc. Sports actually consumes more of the general fund than transportation.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

By that argument we shouldn't even have public schools since they're "sponging off taxpayers". Ann Arbor schools have provided bus service for, what, 60 years now? Hardly "mission creep". There are more than 16,000 students in Ann Arbor schools or 5.6 million pickups and drop-offs per year - do you *really* want that much additional traffic every day? Not to mention the cost of repaving the school parking lots and roads more often. If you think public schools are a bad idea, just admit it.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

ChrisW Walking 5 miles to school is ridiculous. It should be the parents responsibilty to get there kid to school not the tax payers. You and I had them. Stop sponging off the taxpayers for everything and take care of your kids yourself.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Work together as communities. What ever happened to everyone helping each other out? If you work before school, have the neighbor watch your child and take them to school. Carpoool so that not everyone is driving to school. This is how it was in the past and there is no reason why it can not happen now. It can work if everyone tries to think outside the box.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

What about the students that do not live near an AATA bus stop? There are areas of Ann Arbor where AATA does not provide service. What about those children? Are you saying let my 1st grader walk 3 miles to the AATA bus stop? What about a parents that do not have their own transportation? Many of the communities do not have community schools. The closest school near my neighborhood is a 5 mile walk. I understand the bussing may not be a priority t osome, but for others it is the only way.

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Speaking of pay to play, transportation is much more important to schools than high school sports. What the school charges for sports does not nearly cover the cost. Millions are spent on high school sports and it is time to look at cutting that loose. Virtually every sport is available at the club level outside of school. We can no longer afford this.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

apples, Apparently you don't. It appears to cost AAPS about $375/student to operate busing service, and that's including every student in the Ann Arbor district. If only half of the students actually use the buses, the cost per user would exceed $700 per year with current figures and will only rise as fewer students use the services and/or the cost of providing the service rises. Your school taxes DO NOT cover the cost of busing, except at the expense of other services the school must also provide, including direct classroom expenses. If you want to spend less per-pupil, then keep the buses. If you want to spend the same or more per pupil, then cut transportation. The free, public education mandate doesn't say anything about free transportation to and from school. What you're seeing is the classic result of "mission creep." The school's mission is to educate students, not drive them around, feed them, provide health care services and take over for parents who can't or won't meet their minimum legal obligations to their children.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Ridiculous suggestion. Walking 5 miles to school is not a realistic option and it makes zero sense to put thousands of additional vehicles on the roads twice a day, especially since both parents work in many households.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 10:54 a.m.

We pay enough in taxes to have busing for our children!Free Public Education for all children !