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Posted on Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Audience demands answers from Ann Arbor school administration, board members on proposed budget cuts

By Danielle Arndt


About 115 people showed up to comment on the proposed Ann Arbor schools budget at Wednesday's regular board meeting. The crowd was rowdier than at April's meeting, chastising the board for not answering its past questions. I Danielle Arndt

Editor's note: The location of Roberto Clemente Student Development Center has been corrected in this article.

Related story: Here are your chances to weigh in as Ann Arbor Public Schools budget talks continue

Concerned parents and students at Ann Arbor’s Board of Education meeting Wednesday essentially asked school leaders to put their mouths where the money is.

Many of the 32 audience members who spoke during public comment chastised the Ann Arbor Public Schools for not responding to questions raised at the last regular board meeting, as well as for not providing a more detailed explanation and breakdown of proposed budget cuts.

Three groups again were represented: those advocating for keeping Roberto Clemente Student Development Center at its current location, those campaigning for the multi-age eight-day district-wide summer band camp at Interlochen and those pleading for busing to and from Ann Arbor Open School.

It was a rowdy, heated and passionate crowd that often cheered, chanted and burst into applause — and tears — as their fellow community members spoke. There were both old and new faces in the gallery of about 115 people.

“Is the district conducting a traffic study over the summer?” Ann Arbor Open parent Jill Zimmerman said, questioning whether the district gave safety concerns at AAO any thought prior to recommending the school’s busing be cut. “Will there be time to make changes to the parking lot, time to organize these carpools we keep hearing about?

“(The school) repeatedly has asked how much busing to AAO will cost the district. … If we had this information and more time, we could make informed suggestions. … And frankly, attempts to cut transportation in the past have not always resulted in the expected savings.”

Cutting busing to AAO has been lumped into a proposal to reduce the district’s $17.8 million budget shortfall for 2012-13 by $266,400. The savings also would include eliminating busing to Roberto Clemente, Community and Skyline — the district’s other “choice” schools.

It is estimated Roberto Clemente transportation accounts for $108,000, leaving the other three schools to total $158,400.

AAO parent Ruth Ann Church said as was articulated during the recent technology bond millage campaign, the district clearly has a long-term technology plan.

“I am wondering where the board’s long-term transportation plan is?” she said.

Later in the meeting, Trustee Simon Lightfoot asked Superintendent Patricia Green about the process community members should employ to obtain information such as how much busing to AAO costs. Green said parents should use the Freedom of Information Act for these requests.

Trustee Susan Baskett said FOIAs cost money and are “not equitable to all.”

“That seems burdensome,” she said, adding as taxpayers, parents have the right to that information. “I hope we have a better procedure other than FOIA requests, and perhaps that is something we can develop in the future.”

Macenzie Caddell, London Renfroe and Tevin Cole, all students at Roberto Clemente, admonished board members for not taking them up on their offers to visit the school.

The three students spoke separately at the meeting in April, and each had invited the Board of Education to come to Roberto to see what the program is all about. Only Vice President Christine Stead accepted the invitation, they reported.

Caddell said according to the school’s count, four of the seven sitting board members have been inside Roberto Clemente to observe how the program is operated; three have not. She asked how the trustees could make informed decisions about Roberto’s location without understanding how it impacts the school’s success.

An emotional Marcus Buggs, a Clemente senior, explained the school was constructed on Textile Road in Pittsfield Township for a reason: to be away from downtown Ann Arbor and away from the bus lines to discourage skipping.

Closing the Roberto building and moving the program to Ann Arbor Technological High School, off Stone School Road near Packard Road, is among the proposals on the table to reduce Ann Arbor’s $17.8 million shortfall.

A number of people — represening both Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Open — wanted to know why there were no proposed cuts to the Balas Administration Building.

Former Roberto parent Sherry Witherspoon called the $100,000- and $200,000-plus salaries of the Balas administrators “erroneous spending.”


Ashley Brann, 15, and Nicole Rocha, 17, hold up signs at the April 25 school board meeting to "Save Roberto Clemente" from the Ann Arbor Public Schools budget cuts. file photo

“It appears the Balas building is not on the same financial diet that the rest of America is on,” said AAPS alumna Cassandra Parks, adding: “The concept of Roberto works. Huron and Pioneer are dropout factories.”

Roberto teacher Mike Smith said for a district that prides itself on data, research and planning, none has been presented on the potential decision to close the Roberto Clemente building.

When asked after the meeting whether cuts at Balas, specifically to administrator salaries, had been considered, Green responded: “The administration has put forward their proposed budget for this year and that wasn’t in there.”

Stead said the board has cut spending at Balas drastically in other ways in the past 10 years by reducing the number of full-time employees and departmental expenses. She said the administration building has become so “bare bones” and “depleted” of people that individuals have more responsibilities and things like data analysis, the handling of FOIAs and other operational tasks take longer.

Board trustees asked when a presentation about the consolidating of Roberto Clemente and A2 Tech could take place and President Deb Mexicotte said it would be premature to put it on the agenda prior to passing the budget.

“Something this big I can’t see coming to the board and not being approved,” Basket said. “It might help the community to communicate with them what this could look like. Do we have an idea of what this might look like? … My concern is, can we assure the public this will be well thought out and not just show up on Sept. 1?”

Green said she and other administrators have been in ongoing discussions with the principals and leaders of both alternative high school programs. She said there are a number of possibilities being discussed. But it wouldn't be appropriate to go into detail quite yet, she said.

In her closing remarks at Wednesday’s meeting, Trustee Irene Patalan addressed the passion shown earlier by the public.

“I am concerned about public commenting,” she said. “I find I’m a little troubled by what seems like a lack of sticking to the rules and a lack of respect, and what is perceived by me as threats to the board or the superintendent or administration.

“I get anger and I get advocacy, but the board is feeling it too,” she said of the funding cuts to valuable programs and services.

Stead echoed Patalan’s remarks, encouraging the public to “work to change the legislation in a constructive way.”

She said the state government has prohibited communities from being able to reflect their own community values in education. She said rallying for an amendment to Proposal A that restores local levy power would be a good next step for community education advocates.

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



Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

My favorite comment in the article is "Stead said the board has cut spending at Balas drastically in other ways in the past 10 years by reducing the number of full-time employees and departmental expenses" Based on the 2004 FID filings by AAPS and the 2011 filings by AAPS while two of the categories that one can put administrators and overhead in have declined, the other two are up. The net result is that the increases in the two categories that are up armore than 2.5 times the declines in the other two. In the numbers below a negative number means AAPS is spending less in 2011, a positive number means more: School administration 2,624,609.31 General administration -2,940,034.74 Business office -504,880.94 Other support 5,764,005.62 Funny that the only numbers Mr. Allen shows in the presentation are the two that have declined, the others are hidden from plain sight. I have to wonder if the Board of Education really understands how the money is being spent, given Ms. Stead's comment. What do you think?


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

I would think this article would be featured in today's 'Top Stories', not buried deep in the 'Education' section.

Kathy Sabol

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

It was a "Top Story" yesterday.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

you will find that the education stories get buried very quickly, especially any that show aaps in an unflattering light. but hey, there's always UM football stories...

Monica R-W

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:18 a.m.

We at ROJS Radio LIVE have requested Dr. Green to come onto our program to talk about the proposed budget cuts for A2 Public Schools. The interview would take at the most 15 minutes on either Saturday or Sunday. Sadly, we've been rejected and put off until sometime maybe this summer. IDK but it would seem closing Roberto Clemente H.S. is a horrible idea! Would love to talk about this with Dr. Green before this proposed budget is voted on. Maybe someday....


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

how about interviewing some students from Roberto?

J. A. Pieper

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

Keep in mind that she goes home to Pennsylvania for three day weekends, so she is truly unavailable for the weekend!


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

I'm proud of our community. - We passed a millage even though we're concerned about the board oversight of an administration that seems unable to respond to legitimate taxpayer and parent concerns. - Parents are fighting for their kids and programs that they know make a difference. - Activists like DonBee are demanding accountability and transparency. - Extremely caring and talented people run for and serve of board. What an awesome town we live in! I hope Dr. Green immediately starts to embrace the chaos and messiness that comes with the job in this town. We really care about our schools and kids in this town and we expect transparency. If the transfer of busing to the WISD was a mistake admit it! Engaging this community is key. As Ronald Reagan might say - Dr. Green, tear down that wall! If you can't, the Board need to rethink the wisdom of their hiring decision.

Del Dunbar

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

The seemingly mean Green FOIA machine may want to think about choo chooing her way to her next job.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

I posted two articles on the other thread one that is the legal filing that AAPS made with the State of Michigan on expenditures, the other the 25 April Board presentation. The difference between what AAPS told the state in their mandatory FID (a state database) and what they told the board and the public on the 25th of April is Striking. Did you know that Mr. Allen is able to make $12 million in Adminstrative cost disappear in one powerpoint slide? Please look at the two posts and make up your own mind. My question is: IS the board and the administration being HONEST with the public?

J. A. Pieper

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:42 a.m.

Don Bee, of course they are, isn't one of their new goals "transparency" with everything they do? With this new superintendent, there will be less and less honesty with the public, we all get to talk to the "wall!"

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

Sorry. I looked. Nothing fitting the description. Could you post again here please, so that we can all see what you are referring to?


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

The one listed at the top of the comment section.

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

DonBee: What "other thread?" I will be delighted to join you in getting to the bottom of this.

Sharon Farr

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

I have a son who is now a young adult that went to the Clemente Program run by Joe Dulin. He was a very quiet kid who needed more one on one than is possible at the larger High Schools. He chose to go there because he wanted a small environment and it was honestly the best decesion he could have made. By the time he left there he was a very different kid. I can't stress enough how important this program is to the school community. To go and talk with your kids teachers and get to really know them and vice versa is incredible in itself. The monthly family breakfast was incredible and it was like family. This program is amazing because not every child can fit into the big mold of a big High School. Please think about the kids in this program who might not make it in a traditional school. Thank You!!

Tony Livingston

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

I think most of us are thinking about them. But, there are serious cuts that need to be made. Most of the comments/questions have to do with consolidating Clemente and Tech into 1 building. We never hear anything about why that would or would not work out. Everyone is suffering from the cuts. Lots of kids who don't do well at big schools are stuck at them and the class sizes are bigger and bigger. I think everyone should be asked to sacrifice.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

@John Spelling. No mention of CHS. But lots of talk of moving the city's school for the students most in need. Sad.

John Spelling

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Very sad.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

The extent of agreement is amazing, the only thing now is: 1. Christine Stead for superintendent 2. Performance Pay for Administrators


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Stead voted in favor of raising the Superintendent's salary to $245,000/yr prior to hiring Green. Since the motion passed by one vote, it would not happened without her vote. I would certainly not advocate making her superintendent.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

I am quite concerned about Pat Green's new policy that all information should be FOIA'd. Not only does it make it harder for individuals to get information, but it also makes more work for staff. I just wrote a blog post about it: I'd like to thank Christine Stead for visiting both Ann Arbor Tech and Roberto Clemente, and I'd like to thank trustees Simone Lightfoot and Susan Baskett for asking about parents having trouble getting information. The problem with the proposed cuts to transportation and to these schools is not just that cuts were proposed (you may or may not think that is a problem), but rather--it is not clear exactly *what* is being cut and *what* is going to be saved. Details. We need details. For example: Is the proposal to merge RC into A2Tech? To have one principal? To merge A2Tech into RC? To have the programs run side by side? Obviously, those *details* affect the savings. And yet, to find out the details, we need to FOIA information? That seems wrong. The FOIA process may take longer than the budget process. In fact, the school district might find that they calm people down if they provide more information.

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:02 a.m.

We need a better process, but we probably can't have one until the funding model changes. I remember sitting in my first budget forum with you under Todd Roberts' leadership, and nothing about the District's approach has changed since then, so I don't see why you are singling out Pat Green in her first year of leadership. But back to the real need for timely, relevant information: as a practical matter, all we have to do is ask the right questions. The people making the final decisions (our elected representatives) are watching and listening. If we make a request for necessary, relevant information, they'll want it too.

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 4:26 a.m.

Ruth: I watched the give and take between Trustees Lightfoot and Baskett and Dr. Green, and I read your commentary here, and I think of Franz Kafka, and it all raises the image of a Mexican standoff prompted by sheer confusion. Here's the Michigan Legislature's stated purpose for enactment of the FOIA: "It is the public policy of this state that all persons . . . are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, consistent with this act. The people shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process." So, the FOIA, with all of its procedural safeguards is the Michigan legislature's attempt to get the people all the information to which they are entitled under the law to participate meaningfully in the democratic process. And when Pat Green responded to Simone Lightfoot's question, she was responding exactly the way an agency head is supposed to respond to that type of request. And then the fun begins. What blurs the lines for us, the public, is that the District seeks public input into the proposed budget but cannot anticipate the full spectrum of information the public needs to engage. It has to be a dialog, but it's more of a monolog with facilitators doing their best to shape the communication in a positive way. The model hasn't changed for four years, despite the fact that every member of the public who participates comes away feeling dissatisfied. The District can't do any meaningful budget planning until the information coming from the State gels into something better-formed than tea leaves, and by the time it all filters down to us, there isn't enough time to do much more than put on a last-minute show of involving us. We don't get full data, partly because the people presenting the plan aren't mind-readers. We don't know what fell on the cutting room floor and why. No real dialog ever develops.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

"Board trustees asked when a presentation to consolidate Roberto Clemente and A2 Tech could take place and President Deb Mexicotte said it would be premature to put it on the agenda prior to the passing of the budget." I am very confused about this statement. It seems to me that if consolidation is part of the strategy to cut the budget, then it is not premature to put it on the agenda at this time. The public need to know how this will impact the overall budget. Consolidation is an action that will affect not only the overall budget but the education of a particular segment of our student population. The citizens of this community need to have this information before a budget is adopted by the board. Why isn't Community part of this budget cutting discussion? I was under the impression that when organizations undertake large budget cuts, everything should considered..there are not sacred cows. This statement by Mexicotte leads me to believe that a decision regarding consolidation has already been made I was willing to give Dr. Green the benefit of the doubt early but I am quickly losing faith.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

@KeepingitReal I agree completely. Those were my exact thoughts when I read the article. Thanks for pointing out this contradiction.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

Why isn't Angell Elementary, which is surrounded and landlocked by UofM, closed and sold?


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Parents of Community High Students and this Technology School (which was created for pregnant single girls, and drop outs) should find their own busing, their own transportation. If you have to go to a school in the woods so you won't skip classes then maybe your parents should use their own dime. If your going to fail, do it. Stop holding everyone else responsible to pay for it.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

I am glad that the public is getting to see first hand the type of leadership and public relations skills that Supt. Green puts on display at these Board meetings. Absolutely appalling to suggest a FOIA request for info that should be readily available to ALL AAPS taxpayers. I encourage the public to continue to attend and speak during the public comment section each and every meeting. The Board are elected officials. Hold them accountable for all decisions they make with your taxpayer money. Public comments are for the public to bring up any and everything they see fit. Saying the problem is in Lansing with funding is a total defelction of the dysfunction of certain Board members and Supt Green in particular. Yes, Lansing has not helped local school districts in recent years, however, that is only part of the equation. You have to play the cards you have been dealt. Supt Green and the Board need to deal with the structural deficit at AAPS and do the job you were hired and elected to do!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

I believe there is an error in this sentence: "It is estimated Roberto Clemente transportation accounts for $108,000, leaving the other four schools to total $158,400." There would be 4 schools affected in total: Clemente, Ann Arbor Open, Community, and Skyline. Therefore, shouldn't the sentence read "the other three schools"?

Cindy Heflin

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Thank you. That's been corrected.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Don't understand the uproar with moving Clemente into Tech High?? It is the program we are trying to save, not the building? Both buildings are underpopulated, seems a waste to heat, maintain 2 buildings. Same goes for Community moving into a wing of Pioneer. It is an academic program, not a building. Yes, they can still have forum and similar classes in a seperate wing at Pioneer, and yes they can still take the AATA to get to classes on U of M campus, (always the big plug to stay where they are) but no, they won't be able to go to lunch at Kerrytown! We have too many buildings in AAPS that are underpopulated. Too many prinicipals. Pittsfield, Mitchell, Angell, Abbott, Lakewood: we should not be operating buildings with less tha 300-325 students. We could combine 5 middle schools into 4. Plenty of room. Several underpopulated middle schools. I know re-districting in diffiuclt, but running half empty buildings is not cost effective!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

davecj - The Skyline bond was used to reconfigure both Pioneer and Huron. The reconfiguration significantly reduced the possible student population in both buildings. Some of that was done getting rid of portable classrooms (YES!) and some was done by turning what were classrooms into non-classrooms and configuring these spaces so they CANNOT be easily converted back. There is no room for Clemente in either Pioneer or Huron, Stone is the best choice for a building. The issue is not moving, it is the perception by the parents and students that if they move the program, it will be consolidated with another program within a year. Given the track record of this administration and the Board of Education, I can understand their concern.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

Isn't part of the issue that the district has not said how they would handle moving Clemente into Ann Arbor Tech? Would they try to merge the programs? Keep them distinct? Keep one principal or two? Last night I also heard, for the first time, that Clemente was actually designed to be *away* from AATA buses and central Ann Arbor, so that it would be harder for kids to leave school in the middle of the day. Which is an interesting perspective too.

Tony Livingston

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Why would CHS come to Pioneer? We just got it down to a manageable size after years of way overcrowding and heavy use of portables. There is no room for 400 more students and the accompanying teachers and staff at Pioneer.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

I agree with Sue that we all seem to be on the same page here (no pun intended), and most comments are constructive (except xmo's about greedy teachers -yeah, that's why they go into teaching because they are sooooo greedy and want to get rich, NOT!) because we all have something in common which is the best interest of our students and having the best school district which ultimately has the perk of keeping up property values, too. No one wants good programs to be cut. I'm really concerned, too, after recently learning about Pontiac's 24 million shortfall and facing an EFM. We're at a 17 million shortfall, right, after several years of shortfalls? How far are WE from an EFM? That's MY concern! Just say NO to EFM's! We want to retain local control. You might not like some of the decisions our own elected board has made. But they are OURS!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

dogpaddle - Simple - the budget is not last year's spending, but rather it is a wish list that the administration puts together. They use a 5% annual increase in expected revenue when building the budget, so when they don't get their 5% increase, they have to cut. They have made the a big public deal each year, because it builds pressure to give the schools more money. Since they have to "cut and cut" every year. The reality is..only in 2011-2012 has the school recieved less money than in the prior year. I too would love a new BMW, but I had to settle for a used Ford.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Sadly, small groups monopolize meeting such as these to push their agenda's. Makes having contructive meetings quite hard.

Kathy Sabol

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

The BOE meetings have a preset amount of time for public speaking, that is what that part of the meeting is about. People have a voice, concern and opinion and it's their time to be heard. Have you attended a meeting to see how they're run? Seems not.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

When asked after the meeting whether cuts at Balas, specifically to administrator salaries, had been considered, Green responded: "The administration has put forward their proposed budget for this year and that wasn't in there." So the administration did not put anything in the proposed budget about cutting THEIR salaries. That's just rich.

Monica R-W

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:42 a.m.

Interesting... If additional cuts must be made, before closing a wonderful school like Roberto Clemente, all administrators should be willing to take a pay cut. Students SHOULD come first. It's a public school EDUCATIONAL institution we're talking about here.

Tony Livingston

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

I would like to see the cost of high school sports publicized. If there is no money, then this is something that needs to be considered for cuts. I know people will go crazy, but sports money is not distributed equally and it is benefitting a certain group of students. If money is so tight, we need to spend the money on academics and do it in a way that makes it accessible to as many students as possible.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Mr. Livingston - According the AAPS budget document (which is out of date) more than $3 million dollars was transferred from the general fund to the Athletic fund. An additional $12 million was spent from the last of the bond fund and the sinking fund in 2011-2012 on new Athlete only facilities at the high schools AAPS has refused several FOIA requests for the amount of money the boosters provide for sports, but evidence says it is several million additional dollars. Additionally there is a pay to play fee - but the number provided by AAPS for the number of students who play sports and the pay to play fee amount are so far out of alignment with each other (the dollar number is low) that I will not quote it here. AAPS additionally supports out of the maintenance funds the cleaning. mowing, and maintaining the fields, gyms and other sports facilities. They heat and cool them from the general fund. They pay overtime for custodians and others during game times outside of school hours, again from the general fund. The total amount is unclear and any attempt to make it a clear number has been rebuffed. David Jesse, when he was with AnnArbor.Com (and the Ann Arbor News prior to that) spent a huge amount of time trying to get to a real number.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

People can demand all they want, but there is simply no real pressure for the district to change its ways. They want money? Sure, here it is, it's for the kids. They changed busing? They raised administrators salaries? Sure, angry people make some online comments and life goes on.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

If only these parents would direct their passion and anger toward Lansing. That's where the problem is. When you cut $470+ per student (to give businesses a $1 billion tax break), school boards have no choice but to make drastic cuts. PLEASE start putting the pressure on Lansing so we can restore the programs and services our children need and deserve.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

maestra27 - $407 out of the $14,500 per student the district was spending per student annually (when you add up all the revenue for 2011-2012 school year). This is a HUGE and DEEP cut! While I did not like to see a cut from Lansing on the school budget, Fixing the Business taxes was important. Employment in the state is up and the rate of employment growth is better than many other states. There is a good chance that the $407 will return this year, and maybe more. I wish I could say the same for my paycheck, and I am sure other tax payers are in the same boat.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Dr. Green is just another hiring mistake made by the School Board. The Board needs to get an impartial outside investigator to interview the administration in confidence to find out what is really going on. Dr. Green needs to go. I wonder what the financial ramifications of buying out her very expensive contract will be to this school district? We need capable leadership to survive this economic reality. She isn't it.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Way to go Ann Arbor. You just gave this "esteemed" school board another $50 million to flush.

information please

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

There is an error in this story: Clemente is in Pittsfield Township, not Ypsilanti Township

Cindy Heflin

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Thank you. That's been corrected.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Perhaps the Attorney General should come to Ann Arbor and remind the board and administration on the proper way to handle FOIA's. Like they did in Macon GA:

John Spelling

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Speaks volumes of the board and administration that they are considering turning the Clemente program upside down and absolutely not a peep on Community HS.

Tony Livingston

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Clemente and Community are not really comperable. The cost per student for CHS is very close to the cost at the big high schools. The cost per student at Clemente is about 3 times the cost per student at the big high schools. That said, of course, everything should be discussed.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Does spending more on schools really help the students or does it help the teachers and Administrators? Quite whining about Gov. Snyder cutting the school budgets and be happy that he is trying to save the students from the GREEDY Administrators and Teachers!

Monica R-W

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:38 a.m.

"The Greedy Teachers?" I believe A2 P.D. teachers have made cuts to both salaries and benefits (like most teachers in the state, thanks to Gov. Snyder's 80/20 health care mandate). So, why continue to pick on the teachers for doing a job that most folks, con't, won't or aren't trained and educated enough to do?

Sharon Farr

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

IT is not the teachers it is the administrators. I see this all the time. You obviously have no idea how hard and how much time our teachers put into their programs and kids. They have lost money but never the administrators. They contribute so much of their own money but you never hear about that at all. Please research before you lump the administrators and teachers together because one cares about the kids and the other doesn't.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

You can say greedy to the administrators at balas, but to clump the teachers into that category clearly shows that you are misinformed.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

While I've always felt that the teacher's and their union needed to make concessions, it's apparent that while the teachers have done their part, the administration is unwilling to do the same. There are numerous examples of companies that have outsourced their payroll and human resources functions. Why hasn't Ann Arbor Public Schools done the same? You can see what the administration's viewpoint is on cutting any funding to themselves by the statement of the superintendent; "The administration has put forward their proposed budget for this year and that wasn't in there." Shared sacrifice means exactly that, and the administration is apparently not willing to do that.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Sambra - The teachers have NOT done their part in Ann Arbor. They agreed to a freeze in the pay steps, but teachers did not take any pay cut at all and those teachers who completed education or reached length-of-service milestones got significant step raises. Under Sept. Todd Roberts, the top administrators took 8% pay cuts as the opening to negotiations with several unions, including teachers. The "1 am raises" recently given to several administrators slightly more than returned long-time employees to the salary levels they had before the cuts made back in 2010. That's exactly where the teachers are too! Yes, teachers (and school administrators) now must pay 3% towards their eventual pensions, but this was mandated by the State of Michigan who administers teacher pensions for every district. That wasn't locally negotiated at all. Further, the "pay freeze" contract amendment that was negotiated guarantees that teachers will get a large percentage of any additional money the school board obtains from any source. That "technology" bond that was just passed? Millions will be freed up in the general fund budget, and will provide raises for teachers.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Patricia Green was overhyped from the start. She was never as good of an administrator as the AAPS made her out to be, and if you look past the "diversity" nonsense and other trendy educational-speak, there is not much there. Except for a big glass wall, apparently.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:30 a.m.

And, does she still go home to Pennsylvania for a three day weekend, every weekend?


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

I think the board fell for her "diversity" and "equity" concerns hook, line and sinker. And now her baby seems to be the "discipline gap".


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Superintendent Green is clearly out of her element, and the Board is not far behind. And despite recent evidence of poor fiscal management by this administration, the voters yesterday approved yet more money for the administration to mismanage. I don't care that yesterday's low-turnout vote was nominally for "technology" -- mismanagement of taxdollars is a problem in this district, regardless of how the money is earmarked. I am a solid "no confidence" vote. I voted NO yesterday, and I will vote for, and speak in favor of, a change in leadership every chance I get.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

I am really impressed with the content of the comments here this morning. Isn't int interesting that everyone sees this the same way?

J. A. Pieper

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

Barb, pretty amazing, isn't it? Too bad the school board is blind to the issues, they obviously don't get out and visit schools as they should. Oh, no one at Balas visits schools on a regular basis either, guess everyone follows the leadership style of the moment!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

When will people finally get the message that the current financial troubles of EVERY school district in this state start and end in Lansing?? Education has been sorely under-funded in this state for years. Every year, every district has to cut more and more. Until now, districts have attempted to keep those cuts "transparent" and "out of the classroom" as much as possible. Now, that is not possible anymore because there isn't anything left to cut. When the cuts start slicing deeper, and start really affecting the children, THEN and only then will people stand up and take note. It's very simple ...... if you want it all, you have to pay for it all.

Hot Sam

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

Lansing is a pauper compared to the money wasted in Washington...


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

Today's responses to last night's Board meeting are, for the first time, ALL well written, well thought out and did not make me mad. I just hope that Board members read these comments. You are all right on....visit the to teachers...and make this Superintendent accountable. After teaching in this district for 34 years and being so proud to call it home, I am very worried that we are rapidly disintegrating. We've been through ups and downs before, but the poor leadership and lack of communication are accelerating our demise. Help!!!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Thank you for your post.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

You are right on Sue. This board has no idea what is going on at the school level, with the teachers and students working through high class sizes and more program initiatives. It is time for the board to do their job, get out and talk with those responsible for implementing all the STUFF this super expects to have take place.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

I am concerned about Trustee Patalan's ***apparent*** lack of concern for the conditions under which our children are educated. Part of the role of elected officials is to lead. One of the premises of public (ie. OUR collective) education institutions is to "work with the student(s) in front of us." I would encourage Trustee Patalan to get on board and become a leader and stop complaining about concerned community members raising their voices toward the end of educating ALL children/youth in A2. Conversely, I would like to applaud Vice President Christine Stead for showing up and visiting students at Roberto Clemente. We need to save Roberto Clemente, fund music programs, busing and address safety concerns at Ann Arbor Open parking lot. We also need to work together to address funding issues at the state level. I am encouraged by Christine's interest on all of these fronts.

Monica R-W

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:33 a.m.

Totally agree with your comment and yes, Roberto Clemente H.S. needs to be SAVED! Hard to believe this wonderful school is on the chopping block!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

No one likes cutting programs but we must get costs in line with revenue. Public comment time has always been about the "squeaky wheel" trying to get the "grease" but now that cuts are getting close the comments are getting very personal. Everyone needs to step back and remember that we elect people to make decision for the good of the whole system. By the way, I supported Tuesday's millage.

John Spelling

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Granted it's a small budget item but transportation of children to choice schools has to end. Parents chose to remove the child from their neighborhood school. Don't ask me to pay for it.

John Spelling

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

@Philly - When attendance areas for the three high schools were mapped out they took in account socioeconomics. The attendance area for Skyline takes in much more than just the immedate neighborhoods. Choice does not solve diversity issues. @all - my thoughts are that transportation should just be available to one's own attenance area school. There should be no transportion to/from AA Open, CHS, Clemente, etc., or between any school. Except for perhaps Clemente, the high schools are served by AATA.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

We are in the Skyline attendance area and have no choice but to attend Skyline (or Community which is clearly a school of choice). My children should be able to ride a bus to school or have a choice (other than a lottery) to attend a closer high school.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

So would you prefer that a school such as Skyline High School only allow students from the nearby neighborhoods, which are very high socioeconomicly? Where's the justice and diversity in that? When the administration sold us on the idea of the new high school, it was with the condition that 400-500 places for students from all over the AAPS district could attend. There's a difference between a School of Choice, and a Magnet School, such as A.A. Open, Skyline H.S., and Community H.S.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

I don't think they do if it is school of choice. I do think they transport to Community though. Is that what you are referring to?

Lets Get Real

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

Building walls instead of bridges; using cost prohibitive FOIA procedures instead of open conversation; complaining about all the time spent fulfilling FOIA requests; chalking off problems to Prop A; diverting attention to political action to get Prop A ammended rather than focusing in on the true excessive costs - doesn't sound like Supt Green is off to a very good start. Educational leaders, who are entrusted with the educational well being of our youngsters, have become like our government leaders. They justify spending on their own self-important academic credentials and reward their inside trusted circle before results are realized. Students? Oh, ya, them; their well being comes later. I'm just horrified that this town just gave this entity $45 million more but are still talking about massive cuts. Did I really read that $108,000 + $158,000 is the transportation budget being discussed in this article? What is Green's salary? Perhaps we have a way to wipe out that shortfall easily. How about incentifying Green with deferred compensation based on her ability to solve problems. I think it is called pay for performance.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Good point about FOIA---flippantly telling people to use it and then complain that administrators are bogged down by fulfilling them.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

I am concerned about public commenting," she said. "I find I'm a little troubled by what seems like a lack of sticking to the rules and a lack of respect, and what is perceived by me as threats to the board or the superintendent or administration" As a community member I feel disrespected. I have written letters to the Board and received limited responses (2 to be exact) which directed me to look to the State government for changes to funding. I have contacted Lansing (numerous times), but this Board bears the responsibility of their poor choices (raises for Balas and a bloated Superintendent salary) and I am sick and tired of them deflecting. Schoolboard: Own you business, THINK outside the box, look to your Community for help and LISTEN to them instead of just pretending to listen with your ridiculous Community Budget Forums where you already have your narrative in place but are placating the public. STOP and really LOOK to your highly educated Communtiy and Staff for creative solutions to the budget problems. And while your at it, why don't YOU contact Lansing. You could start a movement along with other school districts, and sue the State for lack of funding for education. BTW - I was at the meeting last night and there was nothing threatening about it. People are frustrated and want to be heard -deal with it.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:29 a.m.

Tish: Here's a direct quote from a female in the audience: "I'm your Terminator! I'll be back!" I'd say that was a little more than just feeling frustrated, and the individual who said it ought to go back . . . and apologize.


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

I second what thecompound wrote. As a parent of a kid at Thurston, reading the requirement to file FOIA requests is galling. We went that route and to no avail. If one were to read the response we got, the reaction would be utter disbelief. In essence, we got a non-answer. We are the 'owners' of this school system. How dare they require we file FOIAs in the first place to obtain answers? I wish I had the emotional fortitude to pursue this because for about a year now I've wondered if it is even legal for the admin to withhold such information, FOIA or no.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Good post.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

"I find I'm a little troubled by what seems like a lack of sticking to the rules and a lack of respect..." 2AM raises anyone?


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

Dr. Green has managed to completely isolate and insulate herself and her cabinet in the short time she's been in the district; it appears to be the only thing she has done. Her remarks about the total lack of administrative cuts and recommendation that parents file a FOIA to obtain reasonable information is *unreasonable* on her part. When are we parents going to band together and insist that her behavior is unacceptable? She was a huge mistake and needs to be replaced. Now.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Then we need to replace the Board! In my experience, it all starts at the Board level. Unfortunately, it is hard to get people who are really qualified fiduciaries to run for public office. We usually just get well intentioned people with no real knowledge or skill at managing a large district. Any volunteers with good management and fiduciary experience??


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Won't happen, board would look really bad for hiring her and our board isn't going to look bad!!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

Dr. Green has proven to be a terrible hire and i think the board and community are starting to see it. I think the board is going to have to take drastic measures sooner than later to solve this problem. Will this board make the tough decision even though they might look bad in the process? This board needs to go visit the schools, talks to teachers and even administrators at the building level and find out how all Dr. Greens initiatives and proposals are actually affecting schools. The high pay raise for her position, the raises she gave her board are starting to become an issue when families are seeing things they believe in being cut. Anyone been to Balas lately, can't get in to see Dr. Green. She had a glass wall built to her office to keep out the same people she works for, the residents of Ann Arbor. Her inability to connect with the people of Ann Arbor is becoming more evident every day.

Monica R-W

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:28 a.m.

Just a thought...if the Ann Arbor Community feel so strongly against Dr. Green, please remember YOUR taxable dollars pay the salary. With that, use your voice via the tax dollars invested in A2 P.S., and demand change of some sort to fix this situation! Parents and residents of a community assisting with the operational budget of a public school district should ALWAYS be able to approach administrative officials discuss issues. Again...just a thought....

J. A. Pieper

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

Local, even teachers can't get in to see her! AAPS school board will never admit that they made a mistake in hiring her. Rumor has it among AAPS staff that her former district is so thankful they were able to divest themselves of their "problem."


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

A glass wall? O my. Does she have a crown and scepter to go with it?


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

What a horrible mistake of a hire. I agree with you, Dr. Green does not respect the citizens of this community and she has very little feel for how to interact with us.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

The wall she had built has been the talk of the parent meetings I've been to lately. It's just tangible evidence of her attitude. She doesn't want to talk to parents or the people that work in the schools. She is beyond unapproachable. Now it's literal, too.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

The goal of the administration and the board is clear. It is not the education of the children of the community. Not at all. If it was different cuts would be made. Starting with: - $5 million discretionary fund the administration hid from the board -$3 million transfer from the general fund to the athletic fund -Some of the $13 million in administrative costs (building plus general) -Implementation of the busing study (OBTW - never released to the public) -Sale of the Dixboro School and other surplus property No, the goal is to make you and I angry enough to sign a petition. The telling remark is: "She said the state government has prohibited communities from being able to reflect their own community values in education. She said rallying for an amendment to Proposal A that restores local levy power would be a good next step for community education advocates." At this point it is all about politics, not about education of the children of the community. Different cuts would keep every teacher in the classroom, different cuts would keep almost all of the harm out of the classrooms, even at Clemente. Different cuts are possible.

mike gatti

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

two fronts. we have to work for the world we want and adapt to the world we have. Her answer is straight from dreamland. Just what does she propose we do until the day Prop A is amended. Wish I could FOIA that.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

Schoolmuse - Sorry, wrong report. It was an outside report done in 2008-2009 looking at transportation efficiency. The board and the administration have both refused both via FOIA and verbal request to release the actual report. I got to look at a copy in a meeting when the consultant was reporting out on the report. The copy was removed from the table I was sitting at by an administrator because, the public should not see this "raw report". Thank you for the report you did post it is very useful.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

I wrote a blog post about the transportation evaluation. I did get a copy of the full report from the WISD, and I posted a link within the blog post, but I will also post it here:


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Correction to my post: Dixboro School has NOT fit their demographic plan for 25 years (closed in 1987).


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

It's crazy to think that the board would rather hold on to old property and cut good teachers. Dixboro School has fit their demographic plan for 25 years (closed in 1987). how many teachers have been cut in that time? What other surplus properties are on their books? Stick a For Sale sign on them and generate some revenue to keep teachers in the classroom!

Chip Reed

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11 a.m.

"The administration has put forward their proposed budget for this year and that (cuts to administrative salaries) wasn't in there." "I find I'm a little troubled by what seems like a lack of sticking to the rules and a lack of respect..." Could these possibly be related? (please don't perceive this as a threat!)

Les Gov

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:53 a.m.

"state government has prohibited communities from being able to reflect their own community values in education. She said rallying for an amendment to Proposal A ".... For the record I voted against Proposal A......I tried to get everyone to vote against Proposal A. Everyone told me I was "nuts" and Proposal A was a good thing..........hmmm.....guess we all know who was right now. You want to give control to end up paying a huge price.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

"I want to see this too, but as usual, instead of spending the money to bring everyone up to the funding that created our great school district, we're all forced to fall to the bottom with the rest so it's 'fair'." But we have a number of nearby district (Saline, Chelsea, Dexter) producing excellent results with much less money than Ann Arbor spends. The problem with AAPS is not lack of funding, it is inefficiency.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

DonBee said "I want to see ALL students in the state educated. I want to see equal access to good teachers, and schools." I want to see this too, but as usual, instead of spending the money to bring everyone up to the funding that created our great school district, we're all forced to fall to the bottom with the rest so it's "fair". When I was in high school (a long time ago now) I had several friends whose parents chose to rent apartments in the town when they probably could have paid less rent in neighboring towns. My parents were able to buy a house, but a much smaller one than we used to have. My dad had an hour commute to work. They made these sacrifices for me because we had lived in an area with bad public schools and they didn't want that for me. They valued their kids education more than the size of the house or the extra commute time to work and made it a priority to get in the district. Nobody seems willing to sacrifice for anything anymore. Just a "gimme attitude" because I surely deserve it.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

Les Gov - If Proposal A is repealed, and the funding inequity returns...the control will not be in Lansing, but in Washington via a federal judge who decides which district gets how much. It will take only a few weeks for the NAACP and others to file discrimination lawsuits if the majority white, rich districts get the freedom to spend as much as they want and the majority black, poor districts are left to fend for themselves. I want to see ALL students in the state educated. I want to see equal access to good teachers, and schools. Right now 1 in 4 children who start kindergarden in Detroit eventually graduate. This is not sustainable for Michigan. Nor is it fair to the children in Detroit. So, your choice is Proposal A or a federal judge, which do you prefer?


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:43 a.m.

I can't wait to see how the funds raised by the technology millage will really be spent. We'll probably have to use the FOI act to find out. What a waste.

Momma G

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.

I like the students' comments about the superintendent & other Balas administrators visiting the schools. That has always been a problem. The superintendent has no clue how the schools are run and what the staff of these buildings go through day-to-day. If they would spend a day or two in the buildings they might have a different outlook.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

Maybe if the school district had not made such an major mistake in consolidating with WISD for the busing, which in essence cost more and provided less desirable service, busing for all could have continued.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

You can read an evaluation of the transportation debacle here: You can read the full WISD report here:


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

Could not agree more.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:36 a.m.

It is outrageous that the superintendent said to file a FOIA request for the public to see transportation requests. Balas needs an emergency manager. They have some staff that are not overpaid, but also not competent. Replace them with a competent person and get more done.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

A2comments - some of us who have worked for AAPS over the years can attest to the fact that there are incompetent people working at Balas, maybe not all are overpaid, but too many are!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

Apparently my comment got deleted and I am going to continue to repeat myself. Balais needs an EM right now and right away. They have over priced staff as it is. I can name one.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:35 a.m.

"Later in the meeting, Trustee Simon Lightfoot asked Superintendent Patricia Green about the process community members should employ to obtain information such as how much busing to AAO costs. Green said parents should use the Freedom of Information Act for these requests." If this statement is true, then Green should be tossed out of her job and run out of town on a rail. If this is how Green is 'open and transparent' about the way her office operates, then she has no business running the Ann Arbor school system.

Monica R-W

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:21 a.m.

Interesting comment. Thanks Alan Goldsmith!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

My FOIA request was partially denied because "no witness statements exist in written format". Apparently they only take verbal witness statements as to not leave a paper trail. And while i detest the new buzzword "equitable", Baskett is correct, the cost may be a hardship for some.


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

We have to use the FOIA to find out information from our own school board??!!! What kind of craziness is this??!!!!


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 10:50 a.m.

Mr. Goldsmith - Then when you do FOIA, the administration uses privacy as a reason to deny the request.