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Posted on Fri, May 17, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Surviving the budget cuts: Ann Arbor school board preserves $5,000 in food costs for meetings

By Danielle Arndt

Ann Arbor school board members OK'd slashing a $70,000 discretionary food budget from the general fund Wednesday night — all except a $5,000 allowance for food for board meetings.


Trustee Andy Thomas fought to have the school board give up its $5,000 food budget Wednesday night.

Angela J. Cesere | file photo

The Board of Education and district administrators receive meals and snacks paid for by the Ann Arbor Public Schools at regular meetings; study sessions, formerly called Committee of the Whole meetings; executive sessions; and student performances. The latter three of these meetings begin at 5:30 p.m., often requiring board members and school officials to skip dinner to attend.

Executive sessions also occur and are scheduled for before regular meetings, which begin at 7 p.m.

"We need to step it up. … Pack an apple," said board Secretary Andy Thomas, when met with protests from his fellow trustees about his suggestion to cut the board's $5,000 food budget.

"You better bring a whole lot of apples then," exclaimed Trustee Susan Baskett.

The board "works hard, works very late" and trustees come to the meetings straight from their respective jobs, said board President Deb Mexicotte. She added the food also feeds members of the administration and district staff who also are required to come straight from work and stay until midnight or later, when the board is done.

"When you talk about the public relations aspect of that… " Thomas said, shaking his head, of how keeping the board's money for meals but getting rid of funds for other events and meetings will be perceived in the community. But Thomas was interrupted by Mexicotte.

"When you talk about public relations, you have to talk about being reasonable," she said, stressing that the $5,000 is pennies in the broad scheme of the budget and helps the board and central administrators function more effectively.

Baskett said the board really does not ask for much and receives only a small stipend for its service. She said trustees earn about $130 per month for attending meetings.

The food, when there is extra, also is offered to members of the audience at the meetings.

Amy Osinski, executive assistance to the BOE, said at the end of the meetings the leftover food, which is not typical, must be discarded for health and safety reasons due to the length of time the food sits out.

Thomas was outnumbered, and the board took its $5,000 food budget off the chopping block for the 2013-14 academic year. Trustee Irene Patalan was in favor of saving the board's budget, but said she would like to know more about whether there are other groups who meet under similar circumstances and perhaps work just as hard and should be able to keep their food budgets, too.

The remaining $65,000 in discretionary food costs are from all of the food-related line items combined throughout the district's departments, said AAPS Communications Director Liz Margolis. For example, Margolis said she has a food budget of $1,500, which she hardly ever uses but is part of the district's $65,000 total.

She said this money is used to provide snacks for events and meetings throughout the district in the various buildings and departments. One such event is the "Opening Day," first-day-back-for-teachers celebration that annually takes place at Pioneer High School and includes staff from around the district.

Margolis said the district asks for and receives donations for this event each year. Chartwells, Ann Arbor Public Schools' contracted food provider, is hired to supply drinks, muffins, bagels, fruit, coffee and water for the district's staff. She said although the district receives donations from vendors for this annual kickoff, the district typically has to fund between $500 and $1,000 additionally. This money comes from the communications department's $1,500 line item, Margolis said.

Chartwells also caters the Board of Education's meetings. Osinski, who orders the food, said for the regular meetings, food is ordered for 15 people at a cost of about $80 per meeting.

Coffee, soft drinks and bottled water are standard at each meeting. Regular meetings offer a plate of sandwiches; a snack, such as fruit or trail mix; and a dessert.

At executive sessions, the menu is a salad, roll, hot entree and dessert ordered for 15 at a cost of $150 per meeting. At study sessions — which generally include presentations or informational items from administration that involves other members of the district's staff — food is ordered for 25 people ($250 per meeting). The menu also is a salad, roll, hot entree and dessert, Osinski said.

Prior to the Community, Huron, Pioneer and Skyline high school graduations, there are snacks and beverages provided for the board and administration. This cost is $300, Osinski said.

The board's $5,000 budget this year also paid for coffee, cookies and punch for 150 people at two meet-and-greet events when former Clague Middle School Principal Cindy Leaman was named the new principal at Pioneer High School.

Information about how much of the $70,000 discretionary food budget was spent in the 2011-12 school year was not available Thursday.

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



Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

The entitlement of the BOE members is absurd. Do they honestly think they are the only hard-working people who have such long days they miss meals? I am a full time graduate student who also has a full time job and I have long abandoned regular mealtimes due to my responsibilities. Like any reasonable person who knows how to properly operate a budget, I cook ahead of time and pack my lunch/dinners. Let's also be clear here - I make a very, very small fraction of the salaries of the BOE members and I make my schedule work without asking for thousands of taxpayer dollars because I feel like I deserve it. If you're going to cut items that are absolutely essential for proper education for AAPS students, you had better be sacrificing everything you can on your end as well.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

In comparison to the debt the school is running, $5,000 is unfortunately insignificant. The way you get debt this large is by viewing $5,000 of tax payer's money as insignificant. This approach has likely been applied across the entire budget and all labor contracts. The entire budget should be reviewed and labor contracts should be reopened before the canceling of bussing and additional fees. There is likely much much more if this is "just pennies".

$5,000 is just pennies

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

How many other $5,000 buckets of money are there in the AAPS budgets? Contrary to the BOE, these line items to add up. Again, we don't see the Balas admin cutting their budgets They have to buy into the problems as well.

Shawn Letwin

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 9:25 a.m.

Reminds me of Dexter just a few years back when the Admin/BOE asked all groups to cut 10% from their budget and the BOE budget increased over 10%. Or even better when Dexter looked for input from the community to cut 3.5 million from the budget (which was done) but the BOE approved a budget for the next year that was only 2.5 million dollars less...never heard what happened to the1 million that was cut. Oh yeah. The board approved the start of the duplicate IB program and a contract that gave the teachers a cut of any monies that were left over at the end of the year. The Dexter Difference. Better or not, at least the Ann Arbor BOE/Admin sought input from the community about cuts. Dexter has to cut almost 10% of its budget for the next 3 years (before running out of all funds in a best case scenario) and DCS has not even held one community forum. Let alone they recently found agreement on a contract with the teachers, but could not negotiate the salary and benefits side of the agreement.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

I believe we are all on one big, statewide sinking ship.

Colorado Sun

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:23 a.m.

Deb Mexicotte neds to be voted out of office. Better yet, let's have a recall movement. Don't wait until election time.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

Eliminating high school busing and offering fee-based 7th hour courses sends what I hope to be an unintended message about what the board thinks about closing the achievement gap. These budget reductions appear to be systemic barriers that will make it more difficult to close the achievement gap that disproportionally impacts black and brown children. Regarding funds to pay for board meals.....A stunning decision when once considers the importance of instructional items that were eliminated from the budget.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

I think we should look into cutting off the heat to any of the buildings used for their meetings in the winter to save money. The BoE members can bring blankets or Sterno stoves to stay warm. For that matter, why are we paying for lighting at these meetings that go late into the night? They should bring their own flashlights! And I want to FOIA those credit card records to make sure no one's charging us for batteries. Who in their right mind would want to work for the AAPS?


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:39 a.m.

Cuts to teaching staff, cuts to transportation, but no cuts to the evening meeting food budget? You must be joking. "Information about how much of the $70,000 discretionary food budget was spent in the 2011-12 school year was not available Thursday." Major problem. The finance people for AAPS need to be looking for other jobs. No accounting of the discretionary food budget after a year has passed?


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:36 a.m.

So, if I have a meeting after a work day, I would pack another sandwich for the late meeting, along with a snack, that I pay for. There is no reason why people attending these late meetings can't bring their own food. Just because they go from work to a meeting that lasts all evening is no excuse. They were home in the morning, weren't they? They can pack a lunch, can't they? Then they can pack another "lunch" and eat it during the evening meal. Is this so hard?

martini man

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

Hey we gotta feed those liberals so that they can be at their best to make decisions that affect us all. Raise taxes, and spend, spend , and spend ,... then raise taxes and spend some more. it's working great so far ...aint it ?????


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

This CANNOT really be happening. Tell me they did NOT just do this. Shameful. Embarrassing. Disgusting. I can't believe I am saying this, but WHY would I choose to keep my family in a district that is so anti-education and (quietly) anti-special education (I'm looking at you SISS and the closure of the leveled ASD classrooms). WHY WOULD WE STAY?

Laurie Barrett

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:34 p.m.

To the Board :: If you're expecting all the high schoolers in the district to find their own way to school, you can find your own dinner.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

I am definitely voting for Andy Thomas when re-elections come around. Seriously? How hard is it to pack a dinner/drive-through, order something that comes to the meeting etc? They say they don't have time tThey talk about cutting 7th hour and busing, but what happened to taking one for the team? The $5000 could be put to good use, for example, athletics, etc. I really don't agree with Mexicotte when she says $5000 in pennies.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

There are so many parent volunteers who work in the Ann Arbor schools, helping out in the classrooms, running many academic enrichment and extracurricular activities. Many put in a few dozens of hours a year, a small percentage put in a lot more. I know a few parents who put in more than 100 hours a year. I don't think they receive a stipent, I don't think they ask the schools to buy them dinner, I don't think they get bottled water from the schools. I don't see why the BOE members can't do the same.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

There is absolutely no need for any amount of money to be budgeted for food at board meetings. We all have jobs and extracurricular activities after work, resulting in missed meals on occasion. Plan ahead and pack a lunch like everyone else. If that's too difficult for you, Deb Mexicotte, feel free to vacate your position as soon as possible. If the Board is unable to balance a budget without slashing teaching staff and charging for 7th hour at Huron and Pioneer, then the Board doesn't get to eat on my tax dollar nickle. The food budget should have been the first thing cut, and it should have been a long, long time ago. Kudos to Trustee Thomas for utilizing some common sense and making his stand against this; I only wish common sense was more prevalent on the Board!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

B.Y.O.D. Bring your own dinner.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

Well, this is how democracy works, folks! "We" voted for them, and we deserve what we get.

Wake Up A2

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 5 p.m.

The board must not order from the dollar menu. I hope folks remember this come voting time. Plus we could just recall them.

harry b

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Fire everyone single one of them except for Andy Thomas That kind of mentality is why Ann Arbor can not survive on the $12,000 budget the state gives them. They should be ashamed of themselves. When we go to our second job, we are not provided food. They can feed themselves. Its not like they are poor.

kathy coles

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Just a thought, nobody forced this board to run for election, it was a voluntary decision. My son does after school activities, sometimes not getting home till 7 and on game days not getting home until 9 or 10, again voluntary on his part. When we know it is going to be a late night we either give him extra money to get something to eat between school and the start of the activity or we pack a brown bag with nutritious food for him. He leaves our house at 7 in the morning, has to either eat a brown bag lunch, order something to be delivered or eat the in-eatable food the school is offering, which of course we have to pay for also at 11:30 am. If it is good enough for my child whom is required by law to go to school, why is it not ok for our officials to do the same?

Usual Suspect

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

Aye. Baseball double-headers. Food between games donated by parents.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

My daughter is involved in choir and has days like this as well and we pack her a brown bag dinner for those days. I think there are many students in this situation.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

Let them eat cake.....


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

Are there any cooking-related classes/programs for students? If so, maybe the students could cook for the Board once in a while. It could give the students professional experience. Maybe instead of having the usual singing/dancing prior to the meeting, there could be a cooking demo by students, and they could cook enough for the Board to eat :)


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

I'm a volunteer too. No one pays for my gas or parking or dinner. I put in way more time than the board members volunteering. If you are on the BOE for the right reasons, you certainly aren't there for the free food.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

harry b - The Board of Ed are volunteers. They get paid just about enough to cover gas and parking while providing policy direction to and oversight of the $260M+ in annual expenditures made by our school district. The school district staff who are also fed should probably be chipping in for their dinners; they are the executive leadership of our district and are paid into 6 figures.

harry b

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

NO!! Let them feed themselves. They are not broke. Our places of employement does not feed us. Why should we feed them.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

I feel that the Board members should be given something to eat, especially considering how little they are paid. However, $10.00 per person seems expensive, when you hear ads on the radio (WWJ) from places (example: a chicken restaurant called Chicken Shack) claiming people can be fed for $4.00 - $5.00 per person. Maybe the Board could buy meat trays and allow the Board members to make their own sandwiches during the break. Taco Bell also has "Happier Hour," during which at least several items (including drinks) are reduced in price. Maybe the Board could arrange a special discount with them, since Happier Hour ends at 5 PM? Maybe the Board meetings could be sponsored by a local restaurant?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

The rest of us "volunteers" aren't paid a dime. We don't get a free dinner in addition to a stipend.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

How do other school districts handle their Board of Education meetings? Do their Board members get a food budget and monthly stipend? It would be very interesting to compare neighboring school districts with Ann Arbor, particularly Saline and any others that have higher academic rankings. Ann Arbor voters have only themselves to blame for the Board of Education. All of you who voted for the current group--how do you feel about them now? Thank you, Andy Thomas, for trying to do what's right.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

@MSG You said "Ann Arbor voters have only themselves to blame for the Board of Education. All of you who voted for the current group--how do you feel about them now? Thank you, Andy Thomas, for trying to do what's right." 1. Are you an "Ann Arbor Voter"? 2. Did ALL of the "Ann Arbor Voters" vote poorly?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Why do we always have to compare "how other people do it?" Why don't we just do what makes sense?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Maybe they should bring back the "Apple for the Teacher" tradition. Students performing for the Board should bring apples for the Board members.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Pencils -- Not Pretzels !!!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

5k would buy a great set of replacement texts for my classroom - there are holes in the pages of the ones I'm currently using. The pages are so yellowed and brittle, several are falling out. As teachers, we provide snacks for our own students (if we ever have snacks) or for our own meetings. While part of me realizes the pressure and volunteer aspect of being a board member, part of me also realizes that this is an important symbol (in many people's minds) of decadence in a time with major cuts.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Some suggestions keep repeating in multiple comments. I am probably leaving some out, but here's the list so far that stands out to me: --Drop this $5000 snack proposal from the budget --Shift that money to areas that directly benefit students such as 7th hour funding if that goes through, reading specialists or other needs --Have volunteers donate snacks; get a sign up sheet. --Have BOE pack their own snacks if they can possibly manage this being adults over the age of 40 it appears but not able to plan to feed themselves for their self-imposed marathon meetings --Shorten meetings by running them more efficiently. This may require leaderships changes or tutoring or training for President Mexicotte on these skills. -Do the celebration work, proclamations, treaties of praise read by trustees and then tirelessly commented on in attention-seeking ways by some trustees that serves to shift the focus of the meeting to the level of a 1970s rap session ---Student performances to celebrate great things students and staff do daily, while real and susbstantive teacher and staff input is consistently ignored is a sham. --Stop the feel-good proclamations and resolution. These Positive and celebratory events and resolutions should be grouped together to quarterly fun-only sessions held at a different date and time than the regular meetings and PTOs will bring snacks. --The BOE needs to get down to business earlier in the night, and then the meetings will be shorter and they won't be burden with having to pack quite so many snacks or need another meal to survive the marathon meetings.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4 p.m.



Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

$5000 = 10 Students having to pay for 7th period If we are going to make cuts, lets start by looking at our selves first and then at others. sad......


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

I sincerely hope people (voters) remember such things when it's election time. I am always baffled why the same folks get elected back to BOE time and again, when there is certainly much dissatisfaction in the community. Then, how many board meetings are there each year? How many people will eat at each meeting? What kind of food do you get? To justify $5000...


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Shameful, all this petty talk about food and still no reporting about the discontinuation of Domestic Partner benefits.

Usual Suspect

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Wait... domestic partners can't also be heterosexuals? The specific group of seventh-hour students are being "targeted." The specific group of middle-school athletes are being "targeted." The specific group of bus-riding high school students are being "targeted." The specific group of lunch-time supervisors are being "targeted." The specific group of high school athletes are being "targeted." Many things - other than the specific group of board members who are too lazy to bring their own food to meetings - are being cut. Everybody has a part to play. One of the above affect my wallet, but I'm not complaining. I am being realistic. Domestic partner benefits is a very big discretionary expense.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

OK, David


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

@ Usual Suspect - yes, cuts affect everyone, but when a specific group is targeted (in this case gays and lesbians) it merits some reporting and the story to be told.

Cindy Heflin

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

A2Westsider: We are working on story about this that we expect to publish soon.

Usual Suspect

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Cuts are going to affect everybody. Nobody can be shielded. There are many employers out there who do provide that coverage.

Macks Pizza

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

After lunch periods are over in most schools, some food items that are left over gets thrown in the trash. There's something known as wrap and store. Yes, let's get board members and district staff members to enjoy the same foods that our kids have to eat by Chartwells. Talk about saving money.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

Mack - The meals the Board gets currently are catered by Chartwells. And in at least a couple of cases, the Board of Ed meeting food is chosen from the same menu items as are served to high school students.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Maybe if they didn't have food, the Board would have more incentive to run its meetings more efficiently. They say they need the food because they have long meetings, which is understandable. But why do they have meetings that last so long? It simply doesn't have to be this way, and if the Board were invested in removing its dysfunction we'd all be happier.

Basic Bob

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

they should take away the chairs

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

It's not understandable that the AAPS budget pays for their food when AAPS is in crisis. Make the board members responsible for their own biological needs.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Wondering why with other cuts that were made previously, why did the discretionary food budget finally get slashed now----could this not have been done sooner?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

I have an idea for the Board of Ed. Since it's obvious from the very small compensation they get that Board Members aren't doing this job for personal gain, could they arrange to transfer some of the $9,100 the 7 board members cost each school year to the Board Meeting Food account instead? That would both make sure that our board members and staff aren't famished at 10:00 pm when they finally get to the business of the meeting, and create a much better appearance of shared sacrifice. That would still leave them enough money per meeting to support the DDA by parking in the Library Lot during meetings.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Already suggested above. Great minds...


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

When the teachers have to go right from work to staff meetings or district level meetings we sign up to individually provide snacks out of our pocket. They also provide their own lunch or go out on training days. Perhaps the Board members could send around a sign up and coule provide drinks and snacks on a rotating basis?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Part of the problem is that the meetings are too long and the important decisions are made too late for most of the public to stay (or even watch). Remember the 1:00 am raises handed out to a select few of the administration? Whiles it's very NICE to have students perform and for the trustees to read out proclamations and thank just about everyone in the school system, that's not an efficient use of time. Our schools are in CRISIS and things need to change - including the normal agenda of a school board meeting. There is real work to be done! Perhaps the BOE could attend a concert at a school, instead of having the kids come to them? That would save some time at the board meetings and also provide an opportunity for the trustees to interact in the community. The public commentary is essential to maintain but must be managed effectively; some people ramble on for what seems like an eternity.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Set an example for your students, Ann Arbor School Board! You've got High School graduates who will soon be working 40 hours a week over the summer, saving every penny they earn, and living on $40/week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all to pay off tuition bills in the thousands, and you're spending $5,000 a year on SNACKS? If you were members of my family, you'd be facing one hell of a long parental lecture.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

$5,000 is only $1,000 less than my grocery budget for a family of six for a whole year. Seems ridiculous.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Didn't they also keep the funding for the clown uniforms?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

We could let them eat cake.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

I call BS. People making decent five and six figure salaries can just pack a lunch or order take out. What an entitlement mentality these educrats have developed. Basic fairness is what it is. There ain't many bleeding heart board members volunteering to drive my kids to school on nasty weather days but they just bleed compassion for the hundred grand a year deputy executive assistant department of redundancy department missing a meal or having to pack a snack. Go figure?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Since Mexicotte thinks $5,000 is pennies, then the $130 stipend is truly inconsequential in the board members pockets. Cut the stipend to $100 per month, so you can pay for the CONVENIENCE, not necessity, of having someone deliver you dinner. It's a convenience. You won't starve, there's not a one of you that looks like they ever miss a meal.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Don't you wish you had Scot Graden for a superintendant?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

I applaud Andy Thomas for being reasonable. The BOE should plan ahead and bring a box lunch when they know they have to come directly to a meeting from work. We should not be cutting services for STUDENTS and continue to pay for snacks/dinners for BOE members, regardless of what amount the food costs are. Mexicotte and other BOE members should be ASHAMED.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

At staff meetings in every building in Ann Arbor, teachers take turns providing food from home or pitch in to get pizzas or something else delivered. Not sure why this wouldn't work as well for the board.

Basic Bob

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

because you can bet one board member would always forget on their turn.

Joe Hood

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Why don't they have their meetings at some place sustainable, where they can adjourn for fifteen minutes and walk around the corner for a bite to eat?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

And when they meet at Balas there are drinking fountains, a pop machine and a snack machine less than fifty feet from the room where they meet.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Meetings are at the AADL downtown...restaurants everywhere downtown...


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

Critics need to consider that Incipient diabetes or hypoglycemia may well be endemic to The Board. The $5,000 required for instantaneous sugar intake is chicken feed compared to the alternative. People with such serious blood sugar issues can become impossibly cranky and child-like in their behavior without the ameliorating effects of Cheetos and such. If you think The Board now conducts itself like a third-grade class while the teacher's out of the room, just wait.

Usual Suspect

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Is there something stopping such people from bringing the food and/or drinks they need?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

Danielle, you have done a fantastic job - thank you so much for continuing to dig and show what is really going on. This is one more appalling example of how out of touch the Board is, with the exception of Trustee Thomas. We need to clean house and start over, the Board is so entrenched in 'business as usual,' they cannot conceive of what a legitimately new approach might actually look like - let alone have the ability to propose a number of them. Danielle, please continue to vigorously pursue all angles of the budget crisis, BOE issues and the superintendent search - you are providing an invaluable service to AAPS parents and the community.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

Thank you for the kind words.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

The uproar over $5,000 may sound silly, but in reality the board's attitude speaks loud and clear to this District and tells everyone where they are coming from. No wonder things are a mess.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

No justification. Pathetic. I'm disgusted.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Someone should really FOIA the school and city credit cards. Those are two different cost centers, but both would be very revealing.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Sadly I cannot take the fnancial, personal or professional risk of such a request. Sucks. Can a group be formed to do this?

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

I am not an expert at it. But: There are costs associated, and often governments will attempt to make those costs prohibitive. You need to write your FOIA to comprehensively cover that which you are seeking. For example, if you only ask for credit card use you may miss debit cards. Or, if you only ask for credit and debit cards, you may miss "gas cards" or "gift cards". See what I mean? Your name will be on the FOIA. And you may find that some people will quietly attempt to seek retribution for your "meddling". It can happen in all sorts of different ways. But people who seek information from government are often targeted. Where do you work? Can they get you fired? Can they get your spouse fired? Do you rent? Maybe someone knows your landlord. Plan for that. You'd be amazed at the retribution, and grudges, that can happen, especially in small towns. How dare you enforce the open meetings law! Etc.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

How does one go about doing that?

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

No bottled water should be bought with public dollars, whether by the schools or the city admin. Apparently some of the board aren't aware that many parents work multiple jobs and travel directly between them. And yet, somehow, they aren't asking taxpayers to feed them. Order takeout or pack a lunch.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

You have to be F'ing kidding me. Where does this aristocracy get off exempting themselves from shared sacrifice? Go order pizza's and spilt the tab among the attendees. You need coffee? Great, ever hear of Starbucks or McDonalds or a thermos? Bring your own food and do your jobs as intended without the frills.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

Well said Goober. There is obviously too much money spent on these overpaid people.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

You are aware that the AA BOE in not only inept, clueless and entitled, but they are also arrogant. How dare we question their decision to spend tax payer money to feed their faces. We also have to remember that every single board member wanted their position on the board. No one was forced to take the job. It should be an honor to serve.

Ann Arbor Parents For Students

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Dear Ann Arbor.Com, This is a very "light" article when the community has asked for number of teacher's that actually teach in the classroom (have their own class) and substitute hours per year. Thank you.

J. A. Pieper

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.

Ann Arbor Parent For Students - I am one of your teachers. I am rarely absent, and could stay out for a whole school year with my sick time. I come to work with a cold, hey, I probably got it from one of your children! I have been out due to deaths in the family, emergency surgery, ( I am one who has other surgeries scheduled during the summer). I have used my own sick days to do assessments, or for meetings that I am required to attend. My families know that I am at work on a regular basis, it is part of my reputation. Please do not lump all of us in your one category, there are many of us who live by the belief that we have a job, we love it, we need to be there. I was scheduled for a workshop on the first Monday after a vacation once, a terrible day for a teacher to be out. I couldn't believe the district scheduled it for that day, so I didn't attend. I was so glad, the students and I were so thrilled to be together that day.

Paula Gardner

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Those answers haven't been made available yet, but reporting can't stop in the meantime. We're approaching the budget story from many angles. Here's the overall story from the budget discussion on Wednesday:


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Do as I say, not as I do. Classic.

Jack Gladney

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Mexicotte's belief that $5,000 is just pennies points to one of the reasons the school system has a budget problem. Every line in the budget is just pennies, using her logic. But that's the fun part of spending public funds or someone else's money. Go, Deb!

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

In business we are taught every penny counts...


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

welcome to Washington. better name for this is called "PORK"


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

AAPS needs to look south to Saline for an example of how to run a school district. They have a per pupil allocation that is significantly less than Ann Arbor and have outstanding achievement among their students. Their administrative costs per pupil are some of the lowest in the state. Their superintendent grew up in Saline and has a vested interest in the community. He has four children in Saline Schools. By the way, he makes less than half of what the AAPS superintendant makes.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Salon HS is on trimesters, may contribute to their success.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Cut Reading Intervention to at-risk six year olds but keep dinners for BOE meetings? Does this sound like intelligent decision making to you?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

I don't begrudge the BOE a meal for these long meetings. I just think with these drastic cuts, they could be more creative with coming up with it. This would be a good time for some business to give back to the community. Or businesses commit to one or two meetings a year to provide food. Or as many have said, set up a hospitality website to provide food. I do also think someone needs to be better about ordering food if they are throwing it away or giving it to the audience. I've always felt, though, that some AAPS schools use food to lure parents to participate in school activities.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Vote for Andy Thomas in the next election! He's not afraid to stand up for what is right and reasonable. Why not have the school lunch menu served at the Board of Education meetings? Pretty cheap eats.

J. A. Pieper

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Oh, what a great idea. Then they can gorge on the carbs they feed our children!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

This is a joke, right? Could this board be any more tone deaf? They are elected officials who have a right to not run for election, thus being able to eat at McDonalds or at Zingermans at their leisure.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Interestingly in a picture on a related news story, I saw a lot of bottled water and in this picture, there is a diet coke. Just eliminating the bottled water ought to save $$. And it's good for the environment too. Who ARE these people?

Charles Curtis

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:15 p.m. ought to create a new subject header or tab just for the public school funding issues and discussions. Be nice to have them all in one spot, since many topics have died behind pages of other news.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2 p.m.

I agree that it should be easier for readers to find related articles. I had a difficult time recently finding the article about the excellent cost cutting suggestions made by the AAAA (school principals). Almost none of their ideas are being considered. For those interested:

Kyle Mattson

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Hi Charles, we have something of that sort. If you click on the 'tags' below each story you'll be able to pull stories with similar tags. Here is the one for budget cuts: I'll get with Danielle to make sure we have a consistent one being used for reader reference.

Urban Sombrero

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

Have none of these people ever heard of delivery, or drive thrus? I can see that Andy Thomas will be the ONLY one I'll vote for when election time comes.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Have you ever heard of brown bagging it? So they are more for themselves then the kids.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

Yes, and many of their students AND teachers brown bag it at school!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Why bottled water? Can't they bring a water bottle or a cup, or is that too much to ask. Wouldn't want them to make an effort. That would be unusual.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

I think the BOE should be required to get their water from school drinking fountains.

Basic Bob

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

i know for sure those water dispensers with the built in refrigeration and filtration are cheaper to operate, also less plastic waste. they could make an ecology statement and save money. so simple i bet a second grader could come up with the idea.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

This is so absurd. I agree with Andy Thomas. It's a huge public relations issue. Last year when they proposed cutting the funding for band camp, Andy Thomas told us that the money saved was a relatively small sacrifice for families to make, and it was therefore easy to make the decision to cut. He said it was preferable to cutting teachers. Good to see that he takes the same stance when it comes to cutting something that affects him directly. I can't believe the other BOE members voted this down. They could certainly plan for meals or have food delivered if needed. There are countless school activities that force families to do this every day. For example, kids who go to school at 7:15 am, go to a sports practice after school until 6 pm then attend a music rehearsal until 9 pm. These things happen. Can you please clarify exactly which board members voted each way in case there are others who supported Andy's point of view? Thank you.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Thanks for the added information, Danielle. It's too bad that none of the other board members were vocal in agreeing with Andy Thomas since he is clearly right on with public opinion on this matter.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Hi hattrix, there was no vote on this matter because the discussion took place at the board's study session. The focus of these meetings (study sessions) is planning and fleshing out of important issues and giving the administration direction on certain topics or initiatives, such as the budget. During a study session, the board gives direction usually not through a vote but through consensus. The discussion on the board's $5,000 food line item was brief, and these meetings also are less formal and sometimes several board members will be talking and sharing an opinion at once, as was the case with this issue. So, Andy Thomas was the most vocal against keeping the food budget. I did not hear anyone else make a statement supporting his arguments, but there is a chance another trustee may not have been in favor as well. But because there is no vote, the consensus of the majority was to keep the line item in the budget.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

I agree. Get the menu out via email, place an order, collect from each person, have it delivered. Good practice in PLANNING.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

The hogs feeding at the taxpayers trough tighten their belts ? good luck many comments said this, like the " sequester ' and the kabukie politics played in DC is just smoke and mirrors covering the real " feed fest "...


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

I'm more naive than I thought and didn't even know that *any* taxpayer funds were used to feed board members. Zero dollars for food makes much more sense, especially in a time of fiscal crisis.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

$5000 is my entire summer property tax bill -- the majority of which goes to the AAPS --, and I have struggled to come up with the money for the past several years since being laid off. It is not "pennies." The board needs to set an example for all of those being hit by the budget reductions, not insult literally everyone else who works so hard. There's no shame in brown-bagging it, and I daresay that the interminable meetings would be shorter if people's stomachs were growling. Do the right thing, board, and eliminate the $5000.

Jay Thomas

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11 p.m.

Maybe you could make a more favorable tax arrangement if you just agreed to feed them directly?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

Wow! What a big discussion about $5000. The real money is in the salaries of all personnel, but that has not been talked about. If you cut just about everything except personnel costs you'd fix the problem.

tom swift jr.

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

A huge PR mistake... And this.. "The food, when there is extra, also is offered to members of the audience at the meetings." heh... do people not think about what they are saying?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

This is a joke. The real numbers are in personnel. Drag the unions to the table and get the concessions you need or become Detroit...................Quit skirting around the real issue and do your job!


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

DonBee - you are right, so it will take an emergency manager; maybe two years...............


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

Mike - They just rushed a new 5 (Yes, Five) year contract through for the teachers. We don't know quite what is in it, since it is not posted yet, but the rumor mill says there were few changes beyond the 3% pay reduction. That contract locked up most of the money the district gets for its general fund for the next 5 years. Or as they used to say: "That ship has sailed". As far as I know, the board give little or no direction to the people who did the negotiations. The BOE had a wonderful opportunity to make significant changes in the contracts.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

This is further evidence that the board is tone deaf.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

The AAPS BoE meets Wednesday, May 22 at 7:00 PM on the 4th floor of the downtown library. If you come to the meeting, please bring a bag of apples for the board.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Careful what you wish for . . . apples are easy to throw . . .


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

YpsiLivin, that's not a bad idea. I just might do it!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

*wearing Craig's "$5000 is pennies" T-shirt, lol


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

How about a bag of rotten apples?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

That would be epic! Bring a bag of apples for the board to the next meeting.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

It would be hysterical if several people showed up with a bag of apples. Sends a message. If they are doing this job for the free dinner or the stipend, better to resign so we can find someone who is in it for the best reasons.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

The good news is they are going over the budget with a "fine toothed comb". Of course, since there is lice in some classrooms this might not be the best analogy to use.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

and when we begin cleaning classrooms only every other day at the elementary level, we can expect more lice and more sick kids.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

True leaders don't ask for the team to make a sacrifice without first making a sacrifice themselves. The trustees should be kicking in their $130 a month stipend too! All but one of these trustees apparently are clueless about the basics of how to be true and good leaders.


Sun, May 19, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

O.k., let's put this differently. Does a good leader get defensive and deflect, or does he take constructive criticism, think about it and do what's right? From Rudyard Kipling's "If" If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too: If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; If you can dream---and not make dreams your master; If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same:. If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools; If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings, And never breathe a word about your loss: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!" If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much: If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! [end of quote]

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

@Tinker: When I wrote these columns on the AAPS, my ideas were in some cases deemed provocative and some of the comments that got a lot of votes were critical: Today, they seem very mainstream based on the reactions I get now in when I post them in articles that are relevant. Part of the job of a civic leader is to advance the dialogue and understanding in the direction that it needs to go. I don't think that it would be accurate to say that advocating for children to go to school 9-5, for the balanced calendar, for elementary school age children in public schools to start their education in age cohorts, for more funding for Head Start, and advocating for a strong internal audit program is targeting "low hanging fruit".


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

Does a "moderate voice," especially a civic leader, target low hanging fruit -- after all, that's easy -- or does he constantly remind himself "High road, high road, high road" and demand the same of those around him? We're none of us perfect, it's only a target, but one we ought not fall too short of. When I fall, I'll look to you to pick me up. Thanks for giving this some thought.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

@Tinker: Thanks for sharing that very interesting article link! This is a really interesting finding from that article: "Overall, 53 percent [Michigan's local government leaders] trust their citizens to be responsible participants in governance nearly always or most of the time. This is encouraging because other research shows that when local leaders trust their citizens, they are more likely to foster citizen engagement with the government." "In turn, the MPPS also finds that in communities where citizens are highly engaged with the government, leaders express even higher levels of trust in their citizens. So there may be a positive feedback loop, where engaged citizens make their leaders more trusting, thereby causing leaders to engage more citizens more deeply in the governments' work. Now that's of the people, for the people, by the people." One of the reasons why I got involved early on with including serving on their Editorial Board, making public comments using my own name and writing the "Common Cents" column is exactly what is being discussed here, to have a public dialogue about issues that aren't being effectively addressed and need 360 degree public engagement to get them fixed. I do plenty of discussion behind the scenes too, and that is often my first path, but find that some A2 organizations & some local leaders are led by people uninterested in public engagement, unfortunately, or who would rather make decisions behind closed doors & then proceed with a patina of public engagement. Having literally made hundreds and hundreds of comments I think my track record of being a moderate voice is clear. Having said that, AAPS' leadership has evidenced repeatedly to me a lack of willingness to listen and consider good ideas and have evidenced a "Just FOIA That!" mentality. It has to change and in my mind, it's an open question as to whether or not the current board is up to the challenge.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Just some things to ponder. . . . Does a good leader take every opportunity to sensationalize issues and whip others up to a frenzy, or does he try to keep constructive civil discourse going? Does a good leader step in and aggravate the problem or does he use his influence to calm things down? Does a good leader work behind the scenes to effect change while leaving others their dignity, or does he get out there with everyone else and burn down the barn? One thing you said rings true: a good leader has to better understand political symbolism. Throwing yourself on a figurative grenade to take one for the rest of the team is an excellent leadership quality, but ignoring the politics is short-sighted when they are likely to be even more detrimental to the team. Anyway, there is a huge bystander effect going on in this town, and then when civic leaders catch the mob mentality and sensationalize, the whole town is lost. Civility is gone. We have nothing, not even dignity. Bystanders need to jump back in and restore some sense of proportion, and there are hopeful signs that some are doing just that. The civic leaders need to better understand the effect and potential harm or value of their engagement. Folks elsewhere in the commentary are lauding Andy Thomas in this article and then pillorying him in earlier articles. That's nonsense, by the way. I'm not going to defend the decision here. I'm going to point out that it isn't a decision yet. I'm going to repeat the whole OMA fishbowl concept that a lot of folks who haven't lived it don't "get." (I haven't lived it, and I at least try to understand.) I'm going to point out that you are calling for greater sacrifice from some folks who throw themselves and their good names out there week in and week out and try to slog through these issues, basically uncompensated, with 360-degree exposure.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

If they are upset about the pittance and aggravation of the job they signed up to do, they can resign which would be a more honest solution. I salute Andy Thomas for saying he took this job and I don't imagine he is having much fun, but he will pack his own snacks and take care of himself and not be as entitled as the board president. If this was a board meeting and I said this, this is where Glen Nelson clicks on his mike and says something tangential to praise and express gratitude to someone in the district or something touching that occurs. We need better leadership on the BOE. Mexicotte should resign from being president at the very least. Put Stead in the position and make Thomas treasurer and Baskett vice president.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

@Mike: I am told (but have not confirmed it) that state law doesn't allow them to be paid any more than that. I have to agree that this is a lot of aggravation for a pittance in pay. However, not everyone is motivated by money. Having said that, $130 is so small, they ought to just toss it into the kitty as a symbolic gesture since everyone will be hurt to balance the AAPS operating budget which runs about $190 million a year. Frankly, because this is such a large and complex enterprise, the state law ought to be changed to allow payment at a more reasonable level comparable to what county commissioners, road commissioners and city council in Ann Arbor are paid, which is around $16,000 a year. You might then see some better candidates vie for the seats on the board.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

Who would want to be on the board for $130/month? And the public doesn't even want to feed them? People expect a lot from basically unpaid volunteers. That's why eventually it will take an emergency manager to fix this problem and cut salaries to where they need to be to sustain the school system related to it's revenues. A bunch of volunteers are not going to take the heat required to fix the problem.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

It is sad that the AA BOE has an entitlement attitude. All others need to cut, but not us! Go figure!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

BTW, bringing your own apple to a meeting is called PLANNING. Try it.

Blazingly Busy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

Planning, not one of the BoE's strongpoints...

Fat Bill

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

I'm with Thoughtful; Jimmy John's and Domino's both deliver. If you can't hit a drive through on the way to a meeting, get your dinner delivered...


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

I'd rather go hungry.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

If you don't want to do your fair share, use your stipend to have our own lunch delivered, or do a pot luck. If you don like it, resign your BOE position, so we can look for someone competent to fill your spot who doesn't mind bringing an apple. Please.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

This is a distraction from the bigger issues.

Jay Thomas

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

Part of a pattern.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Curious as to how many hours a month these meeting ususally run. If given that we could figure out how much an hour these people are making and have some idea if the job is really a chore or easy money. Would be nice to know.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Greg - I've been monitoring board meetings for a while now. While meetings have lengthened over the past school year as a number of issues have come up, a typical board meeting runs from 5:30 or 6 pm (executive sessions are held early and are closed to public) until after midnight. There are two of these each month of the school year, minimum. There are almost always additional meetings and school events that board members attend, and there will be even more meetings for members as the board returns to a committee structure. So for 12 or more hours of official board meetings, the members get $130 / month or ~$10/hour. If you count all the time board members spend at all their meetings, it's closer to $5/hour. That doesn't sound like easy money to me. You may disagree.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

They last so long because of long-winded speakers who have to use personal anecdotes with every comment they make and other speakers who have to give a five minute preamble thanking this person and that person before getting to the point!!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

WHY do the meetings last so long??? Perhaps our BoE should resign and let others who are professionally capable of leading meetings take their positions

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

"$5,000 is pennies " now that's a classic. I think I'll have a tee-shirt made.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Craig, that sounds like a fundraiser! Get shirts made and sell them! No more budget cuts!

Hot Sam

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

In Washington they say that about a billion :-)


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

Mexicotte never fails to impress me with her absurd comments. She needs to step down from her position as board president. This is an embarrassment that she said $5000 is pennies. It is not pennies to kids in the district who are invisible and don't take advantage of pay-to-play for sports because their families might be so strained they don't know help is available. $5000 in pennies would pay for 10 kids to take a 7th hour class in the proposed budget. Will the 7th hour classes offered be ones to meet graduation requirements? Will you need to come from a family that can afford to pay for you to get that extra class in order to get your diploma. Mexicotte needs to go.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:38 a.m.

Give up the $5,000 food cost for board meetings -- this is totally stupid.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

Well, that's lovely. The BoE talks about effectively charging kids to go to school (7th hour classes), yet they still find the budget money to buy food to shovel into their mouths.

Jeff Gaynor

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

Educators used to get treated as professionals. Years ago, we were offered drinks (coffee, tea, lemonade) and cookies at after school district department meetings. No more, but we do get paid, if less and less, year by year. The board members, who put in long hours of public service, for a pittance, deserve better. Let's not lose sight: this is a state funding issue for public education; not cause for petty infighting.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : noon

And the high schoolers DESERVE busing to school!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Either Tex Treeder is hilarious or just completely unaware at the irony of his/her comment.

Tex Treeder

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

I immediately take umbrage to anyone who styles him/herself an "educator". This is just pompous self-aggrandizement.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Jeff - In what profession do professionals get paid overtime for attending normal business meetings? And further, in what profession do they expect snacks to be provided as part of the business for a 1-2 hour meeting? The last time that was a norm in professions like accounting, consulting, engineering, law, etc was back in the '70s. That said, a meeting that goes on for 6-8 hours should include planned breaks and a meal or snack. We should not demand that anyone make decision about our children's education if they are both tired and hungry. Especially if we want good decisions.

Charles Curtis

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

I would support your position IF the BOE had done it job properly. They have not budgeted properly for years (yes there have been others contributing to the mess), and why they hell should the kids take an extra $5000 cut on anything because the BOE cannot pack a lunch or ask for donations from local eateries? Respect is something that is earned, its not something you get with a title, so if people want to be treated with respect and as professionals, they need to demonstrate why by actions and not just show us their title. Its called leadership, and good leadership leads by example.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

I completely disagree with your position. The board members of course deserve food. Given the fiscal crisis in the district which is their responsibility to manage and their choice to file the papers to run for office, they should not use any tax dollars for their snacks during meetings. The community could support their efforts by supplying donations or a hospitality effort like many school building PTOs or athletic booster groups do now with the click of an email and a sign up sheet.

Wake Up A2

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

Oh, They paid money for Cindy's meet the greet.... WOW!!!! Can we get our tax dollars back for that one...... How many ways can you stay MISTAKE!


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

I think someone must have spiked the "punch" that night.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

Several posters have had an excellent question; why, with the allocation per student being such a large amount of money, are we in this budget crisis? This whole zero-based budgeting must take place NOW, and not with some years-long transition. There is a LOT of money being spent, and with the terrible budget/overspending "surprises" that have cropped up recently, you KNOW there's a lot worse going on that just hasn't come to light yet. This is what happens when people get too much money and don't do a good job. It is a very predictable process. And if they're talking about $5,000, why do I not see a decision NOT to spend $14,000 on the wind turbines that have been acknowledged by EVERYONE to not actually produce enough electricity to pay for even one thousandth of their cost? I am baffled about why I do NOT see this project being UN-approved. Why does the school system own unused real estate? This school system needs a rigorous PUBLIC audit by an impartial party. There are thousands of cracks this money is falling through, and they don't seem to lead to education.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

RUKiddingMe - The wind turbine number is $40,000, according to at least 1 article. No one is clear yet if it is the City or the School District's responsibility to do the maintenance of the turbines. Of course the district does not care about these expenses, because they come from the sinking fund, not the general operations fund, and since the sinking fund is restricted and can't pay salaries, the Board does not care if someone wastes some of this money.

Wake Up A2

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:29 a.m.

Real World $5000... 1) 2/3 of a high schools science budget 2) 1/8 of the grant writers salary.... remember the one who makes you money.... 3) 40% of the Pioneer Theater techs salary... To the board it's not a lot, but once again when they are in contact with the kids, they loose sight on how much a little can go a long way....


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

$5,000 may also teach students the difference between loose and lose.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:20 a.m.

No. The Board does not need a $5000 budget for food at meetings in a time of fiscal crisis. Give the $5000 back to any area of proposed cuts, example athletics: ask parent booster groups who already are masters at running concessions and post-event meals to take turns bringing modest and satisfying snacks to our Board members. All the school buildings PTOs in the district could take turns bringing ample snacks to our trustees who do not have time to pack snacks. Hats off to Trustee Thomas for speaking out against this. President Mexicotte who whines about her late nights (her fault in part because she is so impressively disorganized running the meetings) can have her volunteer-made snack delivered on a plate decorated with crowns. Trustee Baskett says the board would need a lot of apples and voters appreciate the time trustees spend, but at this time of financial crisis, a food budget for meetings is absurd and I am actually shocked by this one that publicly these elected representatives would defend their need to spend $5000 on a food budget for meetings. Donations, volunteerism and other methods should be used to feed our hungry board members. I am more concerned about all the kids in the district who need food and the ones in secondary school who may be financially cut out of 7th hour classes. At the May 8 meeting televised my take was Pat Green said in a lot of different ways that money has been hidden and shuffled for years in the budget and that mismanagement was one of the reasons the district's financial crisis is harder to solve. @Danielle - have you FOIA'd the district's credit card statements yet? You have been doing a great job with school coverage. Keep up the work. Readers should bring you snacks since it seems like possibly you are the only adult in the room at board meetings who is asking questions that are straightforward and holding these really hungry elected officials responsible for managing education for our youth.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

@aaparent - Thank you for your voice of reason! We need more people like you on the BOE, who put children first and who are willing to think outside the box on these issues. Come on BOE, we are all grown ups here, we can do better than this (and hats off to Thomas to be willing to stand up against business as usual!!).


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

@Indymama- if as school trustees, these elected officials cannot organize their own nutrition needs for a lengthy meeting they volunteered for, then this explains a lot about how they cannot organize and manage a budget that is based on the need for accountability. They are hungry, so they happily propose swiping $5000 from an education budget to have some snacks delivered. Get that $5000 into student learning or make it a scholarship to give 10 kids access to 7th hour classes in high school or to pay a reading specialist.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

aaparent:: my thoughts exactly!!! Great response. I would add--if the Board members can't find five minutes to pack a sandwich before the meetings, they should bring along a frozen dinner from home and cook it in the microwave. Stop eating our children's money!! All faculty lounges have refrigerators/freezers and microwaves so this could easily work!!