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Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:05 a.m.

Plan would have eliminated Saline High School's math department in favor of online classes

By David Jesse

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Saline math teacher Bridget Templin is pictured in her classroom with Superintendent Scot Graden in this 2007 file photo. One of the district's cost-cutting measures under consideration has been eliminating math at the high school and alternative high school in favor of an online program.

Saline school officials were exploring the possibility of eliminating the high school math department and offering math classes online instead as part of the district’s planned budget cuts, learned.

The district even went as far as notifying the head of the teachers union last month that math teachers at the high school may be laid off.

But on Wednesday, Superintendent Scot Graden said he has no plans to recommend that the school board make those changes. He said the notice of intent was just part of a budget-cutting process he’s promised would leave nothing off the table.

Tim Heim, president of the Saline Education Association, shared documents about the proposal with teacher union members when they returned from break this week. The word quickly spread around Saline, prompting community outcry.

“I was shocked by his notice of intent,” Heim said. “When you look at the body of knowledge of those instructors, you know you’re going to get a quality education. What are you going to get online? Who is going to be at the parent-teacher conferences?

“We’ve talked about online learning, but more as part of a great smorgasbord, but not to make it mandatory for every student.”

Parents are also upset about the plans.

When Saline parent Kelly Saiva-Cork heard the district was considering eliminating the high school math department, her first reaction was disbelief.

“I was completely stunned,” said Saiva-Cork, who has a pre-schooler and third-grader in the district. “I’ve heard no one in favor of this. … I’ve taught classes at Washtenaw Community College and thoroughly understand this is not going to work for the majority of students in high school,”

Saiva-Cork said she plans to attend next Tuesday’s school board meeting to voice her concerns. She said the district needs to consider other alternatives, including closing a school or the district’s administration building.

And if the district proceeds with the plan?

“We would move,” Saiva-Cork said.

According to documents obtained by under the Freedom of Information Act, Graden, Heim and other district and union officials met Dec. 16 to continue discussions about the district’s budget and possible cuts to make up for reductions in state aid.

Saline is looking at a nearly $2 million budget shortfall this year and projects a bigger shortfall next year. The district has already identified $385,000 in cuts for this year.


Saline Superintendent Scot Graden

On Dec. 15, Graden e-mailed school board members about the upcoming meeting and a meeting district administrators had with their attorneys. He said the district was required to notify the Saline Education Association about the possibility of transferring work customarily performed by members of the teachers union, and said he planned to meet with Heim the next day.

“I am not sure that the issue will be made public, but want you to be aware the SEA will be officially notified that we are reviewing all options,” Graden wrote.

“This notice does not require us to take any action related to the possible move towards online instruction - all options remain open to the Board. However, if we don’t notify the SEA of the possibility - we may be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement if we decide to pursue the implementation.”

Two days after the union meeting, Graden and Heim met again. Graden gave him a list of 19 full-time equivalent cuts, including every math teacher at the high school and the alternative high school.

Heim said Graden told him the district planned to move math instruction online. Heim said no discussion took place between the district and the high school’s math teachers about the move.

Graden said Wednesday afternoon the notice of intent was simply a way of giving the district the flexibility it needed as it looked at cuts.

Graden did not quantify how serious administrators were about making the move. He said it was looked at because of a numbers game focusing on the number of staff they would need to cut to make the budget work in a worst-case scenario if they’re unable to get other concessions or cuts.

As Graden and district administrators started to hear from concerned parents, they responded with e-mails, blog posts and tweets on Graden’s Twitter account.

“We are continuing to work through a challenging budget reduction process,” the e-mail sent to community members said. “Recently, there has been information shared with some staff members about possible mid-year reductions. It appears information discussed internally regarding ‘worst case scenario’ options is now being shared as having already been decided.

“One of the scenarios was related specifically to high school math and the possible use of online instruction. It is important to understand that no formal recommendations have been made to the Saline Board of Education regarding this option.”

Graden said Wednesday he wants to continue working with the teachers union to generate the savings needed, while continuing to provide students with a high-quality education.

Graden and the school board are expected to discuss budget cuts for this school year on Tuesday, Jan. 12, with Graden delivering his formal recommendation to the board on Jan. 26.

• Read the letter of intent to the teachers union president, dated Dec. 16, 2009.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 9:56 p.m.

Keep in mind the State requires an online EXPERIENCE. This does NOT mean it must be a full class. Also, as a math teacher I have seen many top students opt to take online math classes after they have completed AP Calculus. These are the top kids in my district and almost all of them have given negative feedback on online classes and advise their friends to choose other options.


Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

My first reaction to Graden's proposal was shock. The most influencial person in my life, after my parents, was my High School Math teacher, who I credit for directing me towards an engineering career. But I have had success with on-line course work, as an adult of course; it might work for some students, but certainly not all. If Mr. Graden had proposed piloting the idea for a semester, with a control group to study the idea's effectiveness, I would have taken it more seriously. In the end, I think it was a reasonable brainstorming idea, but not one you'd propose to the union leadership in a time of tension. I would like to see the union provide a counter-proposal, perhaps propose a temporary staff wide salary reduction at the percent needed to retain all staff, similar to what GM did for a time with its salaried employees. It is understandable the position both sides take in public negotiations, posturing as they do. My hope would be that Graden and Heim would go have a beer together and discuss some short term options to get through the MI economic downturn.

Tom Dodd

Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 7:01 a.m.

Saline Proposal: From New Math to No Math The Saline Board of Education recently suggested getting rid of their high school Mathematics department and having their students learn math via computer programs. Thats a great idea, but its only a beginning. Realizing that we mostly want our young people kept off the streets and off the work force, sending them home to stare at a computer screen all day is probably even more effective that sequestering them inside a giant classroom building with all the attendant corridors, offices, gymnasiums, and specialty laboratories. Lets just give them all laptops and let them plug in at home. The Saline Board was wise to recommend we dispense with real, live teachers and just get some new gadgets for the tots. We have been spending too much on live teachers when machines can do the job so much more efficiently. When it comes to math, we only have to hire someone to do that kind of work for us. The phone book is full of ads from accountants who have calculators of their own and are quite willing to prepare our income taxes for us each year. Theyll even balance our checkbooks at the bank and do other arithmetical calculations for us. Just like the guy who fixes our cars, we just pay them to do it and everybodys happy. Now lets see what else in the curriculum can be reduced to simple gadgetry: No more reading classes. Send the kids to the public library if they want to read. And theres no hurry; theyve got the rest of their lives to discover the Great Books. Physical Education can be obtained by simply getting rid of the fleet of busses. And make them runnot walkto school. If the tots insist upon learning foreign languages, let their parents send them off to those countries for in-person experience. Saline will lead the way and may soon be able to turn their high school into another giant off-price big box shopping center.

Lisa Starrfield

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 7:45 p.m.

Basic Bob, That wasn't intended as an attack on your child simply an observation. I've had former students tell me they failed a class because of a bad teacher but when you get right down to it, they skipped class and when they were there, they weren't paying attention and they didn't do the work. In my experience, students don't fail classes because their teacher is 'bad'; they fail because they don't complete their work. I have yet in all my years of teaching to have a student fail my class (be it science or math) if they did all their work. I'm guessing your child didn't suddenly become an A student in Math because the computer was such a fabulous teacher. I'm guessing that your child's motivation changed, that your child had seen most of the content once before and that the grading criteria were probably a bit easier. For example, the on-line program I am trained to use (especially for remediation) allows students to retake quizzes up to three times without a real person intervening. This doesn't mean your child is a bad kid or that his/her life is ruined. It means s/he had to spend his/her summer doing math instead of something else. Glad it worked out.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 7:01 p.m.

Lisa, I don't appreciate the attack on my child. I'm not saying he was blameless, only that the online math program was successful in getting him back on track. Please stick to what you know.

Lisa Starrfield

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

jondhall, We have the right to unionize and to collective bargaining. We will not give it up simply because you don't like paying teachers a decent salary.


Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 10:20 a.m.

The UNION has to go, too much expense! The educators have gone to far with their pay plan, time to cut! No not be afraid of the big bad MEA!


Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

bornblu: Excellent points. Let the SEA be on notice we are watching. If they continue to stonewall we will have a school board in place by 2012 that will take matters into their own hands when negotiating a new contract. The SEA....their day is over!

Lisa Starrfield

Sat, Jan 9, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

Basic Bob, I've heard stories like that before. Of course, the kids who failed the math class skipped class, slept and texted through class, and didn't do their homework. Then they realized they better buckle down when they got a big fat F on their transcript. Amazing the change in motivation.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 8:43 p.m.

Just my personal experience with online math: my son failed Algebra 2 first semester last year and was unable to get any math class the second semester. Againt the advise of the school counselor, he took the entire Algebra 2 ONLINE in summer school, earning an A in both semesters. He is now doing well in math because he was able to learn more in 7 weeks online than 36 weeks with the math teacher. The late-night comic in me thinks Barbie teaches high school math.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 7:38 p.m.

I took a college statistics course online and got an A so it may be a viable option for some students. However, there are many students who do need a lot of help with understanding concepts that just can't be learned online. Maybe they could make online math an option to those who may want it but not eliminate the math department completely.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

I think everyone needs to calm down.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

As a Saline resident for approximately 40 years, having children and grandchildren who have and will attend and graduate from our schools, a family member who previously was an educator, and many former and current Saline teachers as friends and neighbors, I have some very strong feelings relative to our educational situation. As a preface, I have been through periods of employment where I was required to give up 20% of my income for a period of time in order to save both my job and my employer. I have gone through the loss of a company vehicle, expense account, vacation/comp time, job transitions and changes to insure continued wage earinings. I have no problem with the SEA "sharing" in a significant way to assist in bringing our budget back into line. I would actually expect them (if they value education and the Saline community) to be extremely proactive with the School Board in addressing this financial burden. I would also hope that the Saline School Board would take some long and hard looks at other ways to both lower and control expenses such as: 1) sale of Union School, 2) consolidation of the elementary schools as there appear to be a number of vacant rooms in schools such as Houghton and Pleasant Ridge, 3) reduction in administration specifically inclding upper level (principals, etc.). How many are actually necessary for the current elementary schools relative to the number of teachers/rooms used per building or proximity of schools (shared principals?). 4) sale of the old High School/Middle School. I applaud Supt. Graden for his willingess to bring these issues to the forefront in hopes of generating critical thinking and new ideas. The answers are not in simply returning to the property owners and asking/saying we need more money so that we can keep your home or community values at where you believe they should be. Let us see more "out of the box" thinking, sharing of the current economic downturn results, unpopular but necessary actions as to consolidation of jobs, sale of properties, reduction of unnecessary positions, by both the School Board and SEA. If this occurs, the support, as it is perceived should be, will continue to be there by our community.

News Watcher

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

Hmmm. My high schooler would be in favor of this. He noted that most high school math teachers simply use Powerpoint to teach, then assign problems in the text book. Not much teaching. He also pointed out that since most adults use computers and calculators to figure out mathematical problems, what's the point of high school math except for those who will be going into engineering or true science? And even then, calculators and computers are used.

Jimmy Olsen

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:05 p.m.

@Lola - just out of curiousity - where do your kids go to school now?


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

@ Super, you took the words right out of my mouth! Saline is getting what it deserves by putting the good old boys in charge. How does a man go from running community ed to Superintendent of Schools? Baffling. So glad I pulled my kids out of this disaster of a school district!


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

So the Michigan Daily had this in an article this morning about budget matters in the A2 school district: "Roberts also discussed the possibility of offering more online classes at the high school level in order to reduce staffing costs. This is something weve been building toward for a number of years, Roberts said. He pointed out that the state of Michigan already requires one online learning experience beginning with students graduating in 2011." So Michigan is REQUIRING an online class for all students. Would have been nice if this had been mentioned in the story!


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 12:30 a.m.

Jannieboy - I think you are onto something with the SEA. The cards have been laid out on the table by Mr. Graden. The projected financial deficit is hovering around 4 million dollars on a good day during the next 18 months. If the SEA is looking for the right moment to be a partner in this process as they so is the time. Actions speak louder than words. Come on SEA, show us what you can do. Come to the table with realistic solutions. Sooner rather than later.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:27 p.m.

Superintendant Graden earned an A+ in my book. The future of SEA members is in their own hands. Come to the table with creative and realistic solutions with our children's best interests at heart or risk settling for solutions that don't include your input. Teachers are no different than any other professional facing economic hard times. The nature of the profession does not entitle you to special consideration. Firefighters always try to play the same cards and inevitably lose.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:52 p.m.

Scot Graden is a nice guy but he clearly lacks the ability to lead a school district. He should be kicked to the curb. However, he is a good old boy and a Saline insider. We're stuck with him cause the school board is in love with him. Those poor kids...


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:43 p.m.

Look what just came out of the AA schools as a discussion point..."Offer more classes online, with the reduction of five teaching positions and a savings of $400,000." Graden is just first on the subject. I support what Graden has done to date. I believe we should give him time to work the issue through with the Union. What needs to be recognized is that the golden benefits the teachers currently have is driving the need for layoffs. As I understand it, teachers with families currently pay about $40.00 per month for medical benefits. In the Corporate world the same coverage costs an employee $600/month out of their paychecks. If the teachers paid a lower amount, say $500/month for medical benefits it would greatly reduce the need to layoff teachers and still give them better benefits than in the corporate world. If the teachers don't give something up in terms of benefits, there will be fewer teachers.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:32 p.m.

Whoever cooked this up didn't look past the B's in the Saline High School Course Book! I counted dozens of courses that would make sense to teach online - (see below). Couldn't the Film classes be taught online too - watch the movie, discuss with other students, write a report. How about an ONLINE vote about these classes? Does Saline actually need 6 different "Fitness for Life for Athletes" courses - don't they already get "fit" in sports they participate in? BUSINESS 522 Business Management Technology I (2) * 523 Business Management Technology II (2) * 524 Accounting I (2) * 535 Accounting II (2) * 526 Web Authoring I (2) *+ 527 Web Authoring II (1) *+ 530 General Business (1) * 531 International Business (1) * 540 Digital Desktop Publishing (1) * 545 DigiTools (1) * 550 Business/Personal Finance (1) * 543 Marketing I (3) 551 Marketing II: Entrepreneur (1) * + 949 Marketing II: Retailing (1) * + 950 Marketing II: Sports & ntertainment (1) * FAMILY & CONSUMER SCI 626 Health Education (1) 834 Parenting (2) 836 Interior Architecture (2) 846 Family & Personal Living (1) 850 Practical Nutrition (1) 855 Fashion Design (1) 860 Consumer Economics (1) 865 Senior Strategies (1)


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:01 p.m.

I am certainly not in favor of letting teachers go, however, some forms of math are easily taught online. I could see a course being offered online with a student being exposed to online tests, practice sessions, and videos. They teach these types of online courses at college already. There is always a teacher available to answer questions, and spend individual time with a student. I can't see why it wouldn't work at the high school level where kids are usually really good at internet skills. People's oppositions stems from fear of job loss and fear of the unknown. It is sad that the school probably will not explore an experimental online class to study the results.

Michael K.

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:55 p.m.

Saline schools are in the top 10% in ths state. We moved here (rather than AA or Plymouth or Ypsi, where we have lived before) because of the schools. The going in position really ought to be that most of the employees in the district appear to be doing a great job (on average, in the top 10%, or an average "A" grade.) As others have mentioned, we need to adjust and tweak and do the hard work to gret the budget under control. But you run a real risk of crashing the whole system morale-wise and bringing Saline schools back to the norm - to a "C" average that is - with the type of bashing I see in the comments here, and expressed by folks quoted in the many articles on this topic over the past few months. In this case, we should be happy that the union contract constrains certain changes - such as eliminiating the entire math department and moving those courses online. Or his might already be a done deal, with the community informed only after all of the math teachers are gone! I have a BS degree in Computer Science, plus an MBA with a concentration in IS. But I definitely don't think moving even most of the math instruction online is a good idea! I agree, too, that the "Slush Fund" should be used to cover the gap before any additional cuts to teacher pay are proposed. Accounting recomendations are quite different from legal requirements. And cash floow is not really relevent here. Balancing a budget at the end of an expense period is quite different from managing cash flows. We are in an emergency. Use the contingency fund!

"We" not "Them"

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:21 p.m.

Academic Reaction- Im pained that this is even a debate, but since so many people have commented on this plans merits, heres my two cents. Online courses are not inherently evil, but the ones that Im familiar with (the University of Phoenix) all have real live professors on the other end. Classes maintain a 30 to 1 student teacher ratio. The online component is just simply a way to bring people together across distances. I dont see where such a system here would save money here. Youre paying a teacher somewhere. And why would I ever move to Saline and pay all of their taxes if I could just go online and get the same quality education? One of the main draws to Saline is the quality of education. Any dollar you save now youll lose hand over fist when people no longer need to move to Saline. This kind of move would only make Saline average, not innovative. If were talking about some version of computer program that is supposed to teach math! Why are we bothering to employ teachers at all? Shouldnt every district with a budgetary issue follow suit and eliminate teachers and replace them with computers. If all teachers do is present information then why are we wasting our money? For that matter, why would I send my kid to school and pay taxes to a school system if I could just buy the software? After reading some of the posts on this site the past few months, Im sure some of you probably think thats all teachers do, but I like to think that with their masters degrees they provide more to our children than simple babysitting duties. Ann Arbor, Dexter, and Saline all have math scores that are tops in the state, so those teachers must be doing something right. Im not saying utilizing computers has no place in todays education. Technology can be a great tool, but its only a tool. You give it to teachers, not replace them with it. Regardless of what you think about unions or benefits, teachers deserve better than to suggest that they can simply be replaced by a computer program. Our kids deserve better than that.

"We" not "Them"

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:19 p.m.

Political Reaction- This is posturing at its best, divisive and mean spirited at its worst. If its a serious solution then why wouldnt a community committee have been formed just like the administration did when they considered increasing play to play sports? If its intended to shock, shock who? The teachers? I imagine the teachers are going to have a hard time respecting the educational leadership qualities of someone who suggests that they can be replaced by computer. Shock the public? My first reaction may be shock, but its not to go run and open my pocket book to prevent this great tragedy. Its only to question the leadership being provided on this critical issue facing our community. This isnt going after the union (unless the public plans on going along with this transparent ruse to stir up public outrage) its going after the kids. Im disappointed to see this superintendant, who has been quoted by this news outlet numerous times as, seeking to work together with others, pull this stunt. It will only serve to insult and ostracize all of his teachers (if not every teacher in the state) or frustrate a public who would rather see their energy debating REAL solutions. This is not tough decision making or tough negotiating. Im not sure what it is, but Im sure we deserve better than that.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:14 p.m.

I know they're trying to save money, but if this state has any hope of building back it's industry cutting back on math and science is totally the wrong way to go. yea games they play with public versus private education. all private allows for is educating of the privileged class. innovation will come from the masses. people need to get their heads out of the proverbial gluteal regions.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:56 p.m.

Ridiculous. Obviously Saline is retaliating for the union's refusal to reopen its contract...similar to Chelsea's threat that is still on the table to drop all of its award winning music programs, potentially laying off very influential and respected teachers. Such behavior is not likely to engender the very cooperation that will be needed to move forward.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:55 p.m.

Ridiculous. Obviously Saline is retaliating for the union's refusal to reopen its contract...similar to Chelsea's threat that is still on the table to drop all of its award winning music programs, potentially laying off very influential and respected teachers. Such behavior is not likely to engender the very cooperation that will be needed to move forward.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

@MSC I was at the board meeting where the contract was approved. Not one person from the community stood up to speak about it. Not one. One board member voted against it. It times like these when people get so riled up and indignant, when they haven't been paying much attention all along.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

So is the school district going to purchase computers for all of the kids in the district? What about the kids who may not have a computer or internet at home? Are they all supposed to go to the library to do their math homework? Even if you have a good program and a computer at home, NOTHING can replace a good math teacher.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:24 p.m.

As to online math, My son took 2 years of math from the Michigan Virtual High School (OBTW - the new school requirements require 1 on-line course for each student to graduate). He had to take a math aptitude test on-line when he started the course. That put him in a specific learning mode for his first course. I later found out that there were 3 different sets of teaching materials for the course depending on the learning mode of the student. I don't know any teacher who can customize the teaching method for a student in a class of 15 to 20 students. The on-line discussion boards, on-line help and access to live chat with instructors took some of the lonely learning out of the process that many people seem to complain of here. When he got stuck, the live chats mostly fixed the issues. Where he mastered a concept quickly, he moved on quickly. Where he did not, he got more problems and practice. he finished the first course in 3 weeks, start to finish. That meant more time to work on other classes he was struggling with. If he had stuck with it, he could have finished Pre-Calc and Calc 1 and Calc 2 by the time he graduated and could have had college credit for it. Every parent that I have talked to who have used the Michigan Virtual High School, has found the math classes to be excellent and the results of their children to also be very good to excellent. If your child is struggling with high school math or wants to get ahead for college, on-line courses from the Michigan Virtual High School are highly recommended. I want to thank Michigan State for all the work they have done to make the courses better and the teachers who teach thru the virtual high school for their hard work.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

WRT selling ones Saline house if they went on-line, the math, pardon the pun, is simple. If you live in Saline, you pay much higher taxes than say Ypsi Township, Milan or similar. If you're there for the schools, why pay high taxes when you can educate your child on-line? This isn't saying on-line is good or bad, but *if* it's good, then Milan, Ypsi, Willow Run can all offer the same courses with the same success. Why bother living and sending your kids to Saline then? As soon as Saline, one of the highest rated schools in the state academically, starts shifting entire departments or AP courses to an on-line model, they immediately lose the reason people move to Saline. It's as simple as that.

sas parent

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:03 p.m.

Don't fall into the union leadership's trap! The district is not going to close down the entire high school math department. The superintendent did no wrong here. He simply notified Tim Heim of the options--the options that may be necessary to take because of the union leadership's and MEA's refusal to negotiate. Mr. Heim then took this information, put a spin on the intent and purposely put out this information to staff as "fact" in order to get reactions from staff and parents. His plan also has math teachers taking time from their lessons this week to make a point of telling students how much they love their jobs. This is so transparent, all just a ploy to get parents riled to the point that they begin to SUPPORT the teacher's union because the district is supposedly being so irresponsible. There are so many teachers at the high school who are embarassed and sick of the leadership and games being played here, all to keep the most veteran teachers who really don't care what happens to their colleagues. Union leadership needs to remember why they entered education in the first place--to serve the students. This game playing does nothing but hurt the students, some of whom are genuinely worried about the outcome of budget cuts. The union needs to stop playing games and work with the district. There's only one answer here to avoid cutting any math teachers and that's to renegotiate SEA benefits. There's no around it, just do it and let's move on.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 5:03 p.m.

All the districts must look at all possibilities. This idea should never have left the war room. The intent letter was just ridiculous and makes me wonder what games will come nest.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 4:54 p.m.

I just keep going back to the article that states "The teachers' union contract was approved June 2008 and runs until 2012. It was a 3-year extension of the previous contract and includes a 2.5 percent wage increase each year" and think WHY in the economic state we are in would a School Board and Administration OFFER and settle such a contract? Ann Arbor teachers had a 0% raise this year with next year still undetermined. Many say if the Saline teachers would give back their raises then cuts would not need to be made, but why should they "give back" what was given them by the leaders in the district? Isn't this like taking candy from a baby?


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 4:34 p.m.

@Salineguy, No need to stop with those sports, all extracurriculars, and make them 100% funded by their participants. It doesn't look to me like the district is not asking the SEA to be the sole solution in this money crunch, but to help. If Mr. Heim & Mr. Boze believe the state is going to produce the funding necessary to eliminate any concession on their part, perhaps they could accompany Mr. Graden to the brain exam.

The Grinch

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

A2CarGuy: Thanks for a great example of my point above. Yes, it is FAR mor eequitable for teachers to take a $6000 pay cut than it would have been for the tax on the average property in Washtenaw county to have been increased $200. Yup--those who could not afford $200 additional tax expect teachers to take a $6000 pay cut. One has to love the logic and the irony.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

Well, we asked the schools to step out of the box and think differently and this is definitely thinking different! And why not consider the proposal? Online math courses can be programmed to work with different levels of math skills and knowledge. Students can work at pace that meets their individual needs. Once a math skill is mastered, they move forward. Is that really as bad as having students who fall behind (or are far beyond) their classmates because one single teacher can't address and monitor 20-30 students with various skills and learning techniques?


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 3:29 p.m.

momintown - you are correct to a point. Shock Doctrine is alive and well. Working together is a key to this whole thing. This game of chicken needs to end - now. If the number of teachers that need to be cut is 12, so be it. Pick 10 with the least seniority (still a way the union works) in the areas that effect students least, pick 2 administators and be done with it. It is not as hard as you think. This whole 'incident' about math is meant to shock - from both sides. It is meant to divide - from both sides. Both sides look rather foolish. Online High School math is not a reality; preserving every job is not a reality. One good example - remove one gym teacher and make the remaining ones work a full teaching schedule all year round and get rid of the 'extra', non-required, and nice to have 'Fitness for Athletes' type classes. One down, 9 to go. See, pretty easy.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

The SEA's own (probably inflated) estimate of what individual members would have to give up was in the neighborhood of $6K. Painful, but much less than the $20K suggested here and better than many, many people in Michigan are doing. Teachers salaries are by far the largest expense of a school district. When the district budget is cut, their salaries need to be cut. The fact that anyone in Saline is outraged by that basic fact is an indication of just how distorted a reality the SEA is peddling. This is a standard tactic for any union and one that has been particularly refined by the SEA over the years: (1) Refuse to make concessions on salaries and benefits, (2) wait for the administration to come up with some plan to bridge the gap between the money coming in and what they have to pay the SEA, (3) attack the administration plan.

Mom in Town

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

People need to wake up and pay attention. Mr. Graden and the Saline School Board along with the community have been looking and working towards solutions to tough economic challenges. There have been numerous community and School Board meetings up to this point, and where has the SEA been? Their leader attended one meeting and made a short and snide remark about not raising "the teachers taxes" by asking them to open their contracts. We are not asking the teachers to take on the budget deficit all on their own, but work TOGETHER to do what is the best for our KIDS! And up to this point, they have not participated in that process at least in the eyes of most who have been paying attention in the community. If talk about eliminating the Math Department gets them to start participating in doing what is the best for our kids then so be it!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

Thanks for the link above to Michigan Virtual School, They are looking for Online Course Content specialists who are Highly Qualifed, Master's Degree holding professional, highly experienced indivduals. Fixed-fee, $20 bucks an hour independent contractor job with no benefits and paid upon completion of deliverables. Hold back your own taxes as a 1099 and the gig is about $12 bucks an hour. Where do I sign up?


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 2:51 p.m.

@st.julian - the elections are in November now.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 2:43 p.m.

Absurd. Absurd and frightening that it was even on the table.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

"Why not eliminate the football program and have the kids play fantasy football on line instead," That's a good one :) I agree with the people who argue that this is a bargaining strategy. I cannot imagine another cut that would produce grater public outcry. Here are my 2 cents about the cuts. Some subjects are more difficult to learn by yourself - math and sciences. Other subjects are easier to learn by yourself social sciences and humanities. I believe that we need to make cuts to the subjects that are more difficult to learn by yourself. And I'm not even talking about the skills that are demanded by the job market. It would be nice to see some data on student achievement of online versus offline classes if anyone knows about this subject.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

Sorry about the double post. I meant local taxes are the most "important" you pay, not the most you pay.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 2:13 p.m.

Funding is the issue here. Online courses work well for college students and perhaps high school students who want to excel, monitored by parents, but reducing traditional classes to online is foolish. The tax increase that was turned down was county wide and not explained well. Each district should seek increased funding within districts. In many areas, if enough parents go vote, measures could pass. Stuff the lunchboxes with info on how important millage increases are to the district and get parent turnout. Local and state taxes are the most taxes you pay. They fund services that touch you the most. Unfortunately we have a runaway Congress doing all they can to increase taxes at the federal level. Also I am beginning to think that unions in public service occupations are obsolete and inappropriate. There is too little "transparency" in contracts and traditionally contracts provide extremely expensive benefits, like guaranteed pensions and so called Cadillac health care. I would feel more for union members if I knew the details of their compensation. My father was a superintendent. One year the teacher's union initiated one contracts instead of three year contracts. Drove Dad nuts, negotiate each year. But I think now renegotiating yearly can address funding issues. Negotiate one year of issues or three? Seems like yearly you might get negotiations done quicker and would not find yourself in a bind if the bottom falls out of the economy in the middle of a generous contract. Services should be ranked as essential and non essential with the essentials most protected in descending order. And administration costs must be slim. Fat usually accumulates at the top. Its a shame that Pres Kennedy's admonition, "Ask not what your _________ (fill in your unit of govt) can do for you, ask what you can do for your ____________ "(ditto,) seems to have been forgotten by citizens, employees and administrators.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 2:13 p.m.

This is one of the dumbest moves I could imagine by any Michigan School board. Perhaps the proposer should have their mental acuity examined. Evidently there is no requirement for common sense to be a member of the Saline School Board.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 2:03 p.m.

Funding is the issue here. Online courses work well for college students and perhaps high school students who want to excel, monitored by parents, but reducing traditional classes to online is foolish. The tax increase that was turned down was county wide and not explained well. Each district should seek increased funding within districts. In many areas, if enough parents go vote, measures could pass. Stuff the lunchboxes with info on how important millage increases are to the district and get parent turnout. Local and state taxes are the most taxes you pay. They fund services that touch you the most. Unfortunately we have a runaway Congress doing all they can to increase taxes at the federal level. Also I am beginning to think that unions in public service occupations are obsolete and inappropriate. There is too little "transparency" in contracts and traditionally contracts provide extremely expensive benefits, like guaranteed pensions and so called Cadillac health care. I would feel more for union members if I knew the details of their compensation. My father was a superintendent. One year the teacher's union initiated one contracts instead of three year contracts. Drove Dad nuts, negotiate each year. But I think now renegotiating yearly can address funding issues. Negotiate one year of issues or three? Seems like yearly you might get negotiations done quicker and would not find yourself in a bind if the bottom falls out of the economy in the middle of a generous contract. Services should be ranked as essential and non essential with the essentials most protected in descending order. And administration costs must be slim. Fat usually accumulates at the top. Its a shame that Pres Kennedy's admonition, "Ask not what your _________ (fill in your unit of govt) can do for you, ask what you can do for your ____________ "(ditto,) seems to have been forgotten by citizens, employees and administrators.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

I am very interested to read how several comments seem to be based on the belief that the educators of our children should be required to take the brunt of responsibility for changing the economic outlook and also believe that that would suddenly solve the problem. I hate to ask whether some of you even live in Saline or even better WHY DID YOU MOVE TO SALINE?, if it weren't for the fact that your children would be getting one of the best educations in the state, without you having to pay private school fees. I know for one that this is the exact reason why my husband and I chose to move to Saline and our children are not even in school yet! I fail to see why the educators of the children, in this exceptional district, should be taking the responsibility for the economic problems of this state. If you are going to blame the educators then let's blame the UAW and the automakers for all of the ridiculous contracts they passed, as well as lack of fore thought on creating desirable cars for the current economic times, that resulted in the trickle down problems of the current economic issues of this state. I would also be interested to know if any of you have actually crunched the numbers and looked at the hard facts of the Saline District or for that matter the budget numbers for any of the districts in Washtenaw County. If you have then you would know that in order for concessions given by the educators to make any difference in the current state the crisis, they would each have to take a reduction in pay of $20,000. I am sorry but I don't know one business person, who works for any company, that would just give up $20,000 with no questions asked especially when there have not been any definite final decisions on funding. That is ridiculous and ludicrous to be asked. Maybe, some of you should also look into what has already been given up. Also, do not think for a second that my own family has not been impacted by the current financial crisis. My husband lost his job as an automotive supplier two years ago and we are a 1 income family now and struggling. I still would not ask that my current financial situation to be carried by the educators of my children. I feel that at least when they go to school the taxes that I am paying are giving them a significant jump compared to other districts in the area. GET REAL and stop playing the blame game, at least have some educated proof to support your arguments. The current situation did not happen over night and it is not going to be fixed that way either. In the mean time "Mr. Graden, please don't lower the value of my home by getting rid of a rather valuable department and replacing it with computers. That is not why I moved to Saline and further more I have enough time before my children enter school to move to another location if I need to. Please also do not think I am that stupid to believe that a legal document is filed just as a "worst case scenario"."


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

Actually the SEA cares. The SEA and the administration continue to meet on a regular basis to discuss how the budget deficit can be reduced, however, it won't be balanced entirely on the backs of the teaching staff. They also said that once the State completes it budget process for k-12 education they would then consider opening the contract. All of this could be seen coming - they built a cadillac high school with all the bells and whistles for everything including sports. Within 10 years they will be hard pressed to fill all the classroom due to the fact that people are not having as many children. By 2021 there will be 20,000 fewer high school grads in the State of Michigan.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 1:42 p.m.

It would be nice if teachers didn't have unions. Just like every other professional out there. Unions are incompatible with a real-world professional work force. Teachers will never get the respect they deserve as long as they wear the blue collar.

Geek Chick

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

What corporations will bring jobs to a town that doesn't believe in math? When the Saline schools superintendent started this process, he knew his proposal to eliminate math teachers would become public. He shouldn't blame the union or teachers for that. The question is, will any short-term savings in teacher salaries, ever offset the enormous damage Scot Graden's just done to the long-term reputation of the Saline schools? The best way for a district to cover its costs in tough times is to just do a great job - focus on the essentials and cut the frills. And we all know math is a basic need, not a luxury. If I was on the Saline school board, I'd focus on the person who has just made an expensive mistake. And it wouldn't be the teachers.

Mr. Common Sense

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 1:11 p.m.

Would parents sit in front of a computer at Parent/Teacher Conferences?


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 1 p.m.

Clear ploy to open up the teacher's contracts. The contract should be opened up since the biggest cost is salary and benefits.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

@Salineguy - from your earlier post about "reserves". There is NO money to transfer - the reserve is an item that looks good on paper. A 5% "reserve" will run the district 2 weeks, maybe if some other event happens that funding does not come through. Every year for the past several, the district has had to borrow money for cash flow during the summer before state aid payments arrive. @Thomas Petiet - if you would do a little research you'd realize Saline runs about the lowest administrative cost in the county. Board meetings are twice a month on Tuesdays - these topics have been covered numerous times.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

"bricks and mortar" schools at the high school and college level are increasingly becoming dinosauers of education as long as there are accreditted on line learning son graduated form Clonlara online high school and is doing very well post graduation...thank you very much!!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

This may appear to be an isolated case of a superintendant going bananas, but it is symptomatic of a potential threat to the education system in this country. The current fascination with all things computer-oriented is bound to lead to hare-brained ideas like this. The web is a great resource for information, but only self-starters will learn there. The majority will pay scant attention to basic education and play games or go to chat rooms instead. Educators are already forced to dumb down their courses because children are less well grounded in the basics. Putting math online would require additional dumbing down so that the worst slackers could pass. Teaching is an art, especially when dealing with a resistant audience, who would rather play than work. The next threat will be deciding to put "unecessary" courses, like humanities, art, music etc., online. Goodbye, well rounded citizens and hello one-dimensional nerds. What administrators seem to consider last is getting rid of the extra administrative personnel that have multiplied in the last 30 years. What used to be done by 6 is now done by 60. Do a time study and get rid of the overhead. School doesn't close if half the administrtors call in sick.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

failed2conform - here's more food for thought, assuming stategic thinking and long range planning becomes the most critical priority of this distrct we call home. This is just for one area, the Athletic budget - cut it in half; parents and teams will find a way to survive. It can be done. Want to think outside the box, here you go. Declare a 'summit' with your coaches make the following changes to save tons of money right away - no school paid transportation to any event, ever - put it on the parents, they will step up. Pay the coaches half; those who want to stay will stay, those who want to quit will quit; someone will want to fill the void. Cut some sports if you have to (perhaps bowling, crew, equestrian to name a few). Get your SEC brethren to agree to play Frosh and JV football games on Saturday mornings so that you don't have to turn on the lights. As a matter of fact - only turn on the lights 4-5 times a year for Friday night footbal games. Don't bus any cheerleader to any away game, ever. The point I'm trying to make is that if I can come up with 5 things in five minutes that would save literally thousands of dollars, the administration and staff can do so as well. It will mean some tough decisions, but these are tough times. I've got many more suggestions, as I'm sure many other concerned citizens do - just ask us (no pitchforks or torches needed)!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

Kids don't really need to lern al that cipherin' anyhoo. Let's tak the ritin' out as wel. I herd the good 'ol days back in the Dark Ages were kinda nice.

Patti Smith

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 11:08 a.m.

I am a special education teacher (not in Saline) so I have a different view on this. I have to question what would happen to the special ed kids. As folks may know, inclusion is the order of the day. Inclusion means that all kids--special needs from mild learning disabilities to cognitive disabilities to emotional disorders--are in "general education" classes. Special education teachers use a variety of things ("pushing in" with the kids, "pulling out" the kids...I know these sound kinda obscene but that's what the terms are...and sometimes co-teaching with the regular ed teacher) to help the students grasp the curriculum. Under NCLB, we are forbidden from teaching curriculum unless we are highly qualified to do so. would a special education student be able to succeed? And what about a child without a computer? Without the internet? Not everyone in Saline is rich (and heck, in my district, some of my kids' parents don't have phones let alone a laptop) and I don't think everyone has high speed what then?

The Grinch

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

I do find it quite ironic that the very same people who voted against the county-wide millage because their household budgets can't afford it (a doubtful assertion) expect teachers to take pay cuts that are much bigger than the additional tax would have been on any individual taxpayer. Of course, to understand irony, one would have to be logical, and logic (and the facts that logic requires) goes out the window with those who seem to be at war with public employees.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:52 a.m.

Hey Salineguy, you're onto something here. Perhaps the SEA & The Schools need to stop the trash talk & get to business. My kids have experienced great and horrible teachers in Saline in various subjects. But the problem isn't the teachers, it is money. Many of us are facing greater financial challenges and it would be ridiculous to expect something different from the schools. There are times that require you to give before you get.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

Being a Saline resident, parent of students, and related to a couple of faculty members, I hope the following is both read perhaps listened to. The budget crisis that schools are facing right now is real. Saline is in better shape than many other districts in the area. The short term budget problem can be solved IMMEDIATELY by transferring money from the 6% reserve (rainy day fund) and moving it to 4%. The district desire is to maintain a 5% reserve but is not obligated to do so. Doing this would go a long way to buying some time to think things through and to PLAN for the long term as reasonable adults should. Long term planning is not something that school district traditionally do well. However, buying some time and spending every minute of the day putting together a stategic plan that will be able survive and perhaps thrive with less is paramount. Who says having 8 instead of 12 high school math teachers with some focus on online learning is a bad thing? Same goes for writing, history, art appreciation, etc. Work together, please. I am cautiously optimistic.

John Galt

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.

I agree that this sounds like a political ploy. Cutting the math courses would be idiotic. Reading, writing and math are the last things that should be cut. Mabe the administration and other courses could be cut. Close a school, etc. They are just trying to distract us from other issues.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:28 a.m.

Ironically, there is an article in the Free Press this morning about $16.7 million in grants to Michigan universities to support more teachers in Math and Science. There is a shortage of teachers in this area. On one hand we spend money, on the other we take it away.

Jonas Dainius Berzanskis

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Hey Ann you sure you didn't snipe The Onion with this article?

Bob W

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

Three words; dumb, dumb, dumb!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

When reading this I have a few questions.. Number one math if a graduation requirment..Sports are not.. Is the sports program on a pay to play basis? My childern attend Lincoln schools and they have to pay to do sports and in some instantanses we even have to pay for bussing to differnet events. My next question is.. what happens when a student does not pass math.. there for not graduating.. and the school and disrtict gets sued over the fact that they did not offer adiquite classes.. I think that classes on line for college students is one thing.. doing for highschool students is another.. as a parent. I would be challenging the leagalities of this.. and if the district pursues this..I would be talking to a attorney!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

I actually like the idea that someone is "thinking outside the box." Schools are too encumbered with and keep doing things the way they did them hundreds of years ago....schools are shut down for the summer so that kids can help to gather the harvest on the family farms, like they did way back when. The Union thinks that kids can't learn online, but if one of their members earns a degree from an online institution, they automatically get a raise? Is that right? The irony just knocks me out....


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

It appears that the Saline school district has forgotten the basics of education which are reading, writing and arithmetic. For background, I am not a parent in the Saline school district, but I am a former high school teacher in another state and come from a family with a history of educators going back more than 100 years. I read the other comments and wish to provide a few observations. One comment talked about the poor quality of a specific math teacher. While you may find some individual teachers who are not providing the quality of education that is expected, let's not forget about the many teachers who go above and beyond in preparing and educating the students in their classes. Administrators need to focus on those teachers who are not providing the quality of education and work with the teachers and their union to ensure that the quality level is improved and meets the standard which parents and taxpayers should expect. The Michigan economy is among the worst in the country. As we move to make changes in our economy, we need to improve the level of education offered to students in our school, not eliminate basic programs and replace with online learning. I would suggest that online learning may serve as an enhancement to a school's existing program as both a supplement for students who need additional assistance as well as being offered as advance studies for students desire a greater challenge. I would encourage every parent in the district to attend the next school board meeting and make your concerns known. Check the school board policy to ensure that you have the opportunity to speak directly to the board during the meeting as a part of their public session. If you do speak, make sure your comments are constructive, even if critical. Budget cuts are difficult for every business, not just schools. Our current economic times require extensive review of expenses at a macro level in order to gain the most efficiencies possible with the least amount of negative impact. I hope that the Saline school district administration, their union, the school board and every member of their staff and facility will work together to find alternative means of eliminating the budget deficit. Don't forget to involve your students in the decision making. You may be surprised that some of the best ideas on how to solve this problem will come from the future business leaders being educated in your district today.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:25 a.m.

Why not eliminate the football program and have the kids play fantasy football on line instead,

Theresa Taylor

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

THIS does not make sense!! Wow.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

The problem is, people aren't seeing the big picture here. The District, like all others in Michigan are facing a huge deficit crisis. Saline's School Board is exploring teacher cuts AND program cuts BUT that's as WORST CASE SCENERIO. That's the only thing people are focusing on because it's so big that's what is standing out. The other cuts that are being discussed don't have to do with teachers (transportation, pay to play sports, etc.). I have faith that the Board will start small and work through a "process of elimination" before they considering cutting core learning programs like Math.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

still hate taxes everyone?

Mark Snow

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:18 a.m.

I agree that online learning has come a long way and is a valuable part of any curriculum, but the suggestion is to ELIMINATE the department, making online learning the only option for every student. Do we really want to go there? Virtual teachers do not read facial expressions and body language as well as a good classroom teacher, at least not yet. Also, I hear some sentiment that we might as well go to online courses because many of the math teachers are bad. The issue of entrenched poor teachers is important in every subject (not just math). This (online learning) may be part of the solution, but I don't think it is the primary part.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Funny, Mr. Ghost, I was thinking an online instruction model would encourage me to move in to the Saline school district. I'm hearing a lot of complaining about online instruction from people who don't actually know how it works and how interactive it can be. There can be a lot more interaction with every student in an online class than in a traditional classroom environment. Personally my math teachers (even the best ones) spent most of their time with very advanced students and those having the most trouble. Those of us in the middle of the pack were mostly ignored. The thing that would most make me want to sell my Saline house, at this point, is the SEA leadership. Not the membership, mind you, but the leadership.

Jim Mulchay

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:06 a.m.

Are there any statistics from the 2008-2009 school year on how may students in Ann Arbor and / or Saline took "on-line" classes (and the subjects) for credit and comparable numbers for non-nonline classes in the same year? How common are online high school classes?


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

I am not ready to put my house up for sale, but I will certainly be looking into some private schools! In the meantime, I think the H1N1 will be visiting on the next student count day!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

"The Games They Play" falls squarely on Tim Heim and his SEA leadership team. If you dig deeper into this saga you will notice that the teachers most affected by this potential change of scope are the HS teachers. Mr Graden merely followed the letter of the bargaining agreement by notifying the SEA of a potential change. He is looking at all options and while the SEA is looking at none. Tim Heim and Brian Boze are not concerned about their entire membereship. There is no concern for the counselors, media specialists, elementary educators. What do they expect should happen? Every other bargaining team at Saline Schools has offered concessions to help ease this budget problem. The SEA leadership doesn't care until a solution is presented to our community that 'disrupts' Mr Heim's inner circle. Mr Heim is now telling our community that the SEA 'is not considering concessions at this time'. The fact is that he has told our Board and Administraiton that they would not consider concessions and would NOT open their current bargaining agreement. "The Games They Play" Let's be honest- Mr. Heim and Mr Boze are working on their next careers working for the MEA in very well paid leadership positions. Unfortunately- it is coming at the expense of the SEA membership and the Saline Schools.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

Online/computer-based education has come a long way in the past decade. Computers may not be the right delivery mode for all students, but many students would benefit from such an option. If this is the direction they want to go, a transition period may be the best way to start. From my experience with high school math (and I took four years' worth) some teachers were very good; others had very little ability to teach either the subject itself or its importance in The Big Picture.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 9 a.m.

What I had heard was that the union president, Heim, was going to open contract talks after the school year was over. Maybe the teachers union needs a new president. One that would be more willing to make the necessary moves to keep the teachers from being laid off.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:47 a.m.

I understand that the math teachers are already using the online courses for the majority of the instruction anyway. As in college courses you could have 1 or 2 teachers manage the whole process. It also must be understood that these teachers would most likely keep their jobs and bump some of the newer teachers. Cuts have to be made and I applaud the administration for looking for solutions. The union better get on board!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

With the crappy instruction my daughter has been getting in math(AAPS Algerbra 2)6 months ago we purchased an online course sponsored by her text book manufacturer...Her Grade?-C's became A's-and most important she now loves math. There are some good teachers and it's a shame to lose them, but MANY crappy ones I won't shed a tear for. You should REALLY check out online learning before passing judgement. Don't dismiss it out of ignorance.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

This is obviously a "shot across the bow" directed at the teachers union to let them know he is serious about making any/all cuts necessary to balance the budget. I for one am glad to see an administrator thinking "outside the box". The online classes have come along in the past ten years, and are definitely a great resource for SOME kids. Perhaps the administration should now think "outside the box" in regards to healthcare premiums. I suspect there is a good deal of money to be saved in this area... In the end, there has to be some "shared sacrifice" to get through this difficult economic time. Hopefully, everyone involved will put their heads together and come up with a plan that is in the best interest of educating our children!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

This is too much information (TMI). Get real in Saline.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

I'm confused here. The word "elimination" is used so many times in this article, and it seems that the program would go through more of an evolution. The reality of it is that eLearning (online/blended learning) is becoming more and more widely used in our society. It isn't such a bad thing. Especially within the subject of math! This would allow students to work at their own pace and not be embarrassed if they didn't understand a particular concept. Years ago, in my high school math class, everyone copied off of everyone, the teacher (who is fired now after YEARS) taught almost nothing. I even remember a time when a few students jumped out the 1st floor window to go hang out across the street at a friends house. And they did it while the teacher was obliviously right there. Online learning would be developed by the BEST teacher around (as the SME or subject matter expert) and relayed consistently. If this is done right, it could be a heaven scent. Maybe none of you have taken really amazing online learning courses, but they are out there, and I hope that if Slaine choose to go this rout they are wise in who they choose to develop this program. Math is extremely important. My company develops eLearning for some very successful corporations. Take a look at this on example: This curriculum would actually be a great way to prepare these students for online/blended college courses and later on their training in professional careers. I'm a little upset at the verbiage in this headline, but I guess it did create a good up-roar!;)

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

Tredd, This wasn't the union's idea. It was the Superintendent.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

You think the outcry is large for RIFing math teachers at the high school? Wait until the target the athletic program for budget cuts! Remember, everything is on the table. I think this is much ado about nothing. Posturing. I actually think Graden and the administration are smart for floating a trail balloon that they new would be shot down, just to get everyones attention to the stakes involved here. The SEA needs to come the table.

Will Warner

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

Each of my daughters got an outstanding education in the Saline schools, especially in math. While it is hard to picture how on-line instruction could be just as good, I am not informed enough to know whether it is a dumb idea, in the current budgetary circumstances. I do know that people leading the Saline schools have a difficult job and take it seriously. Like all people in such a position, they must make difficult decisions which may be difficult to credit at first, without the whole picture.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Why not turn off all the heat at schools to save funds? There are many other ideas that could be put on the table to save funds, too. It is encouraging to know that supposedly responsible people are spending time addressing irresponsible ideas rather than spending their time and effort to address constructive solutions.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

This makes as much sense as a hospital closing its emergency room as a budget balancing measure. How could the Administration possibility think closing the math department could be a viable option? Hello!


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

I think it's interesting to look at all aspects and not just throw it out without review. Let's face it, we didn't pass the extra levy to cover the State's loss in funding, and now we have to cut. Arts and sports are always first on people's list, but it's nice to see a fresh look that would have kept art and sports but switched Math. I don't agree with the idea per se, but I like the approach of look at options.

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

Here is a link to Michigan Virtual School - learn a little about on-line learning before you offer opinions based on learning methods when you were kids.....


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:35 a.m.

@Lisa No other cuts were mentioned because the "possibility of transferring work customarily performed by members of the teachers union" to on-line is a different situation than just your normal intent to lay-off. Read the union contract about the notice to lay-off dates. To Mr. Heim and the rest of the SEA leadership - this is on your head - the community is starting to be tired of your sense of entitlement. I know several of your members who are embarassed by your self serving interests and manipulation. The economic situation of this state doesn't afford free health care premiums and automatic raises anymore. The merit based portions of Race to the Top can't come soon enough.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:25 a.m.

I completely agree with ccfan and insidethehall. The real purpose for this is to get the SEA to start playing ball and quit waiting for the Gov to come bail them out. The SEA has the worst reputation in the county for being difficult to bargain with. Helms better start worrying about the budget and less about breast feeding rooms in each school.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

All I can say is WOW... Next thing you know the district will no longer be offering 2nd grade

CC Fan

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

Of course, what everyone (except 'InsidetheHall', thank you) fails to recognize, is that these ideas wouldn't even have to be floated about if the SEA had bothered to agree to negotiate. You really have to wonder who has the best interest of the students in mind in this whole saga.....


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7:01 a.m.

It's abundantly evident to those who follow Saline Schools that Helm and the Union have one and only one interest in mind.....self preservation. Heim set the future course when he failed to even consider opening the current bargaining agreement. To Mr. Heim; you are notice and we are watching as you continue to play games with the future of our children and cast a blind eye to the economic realities that many parents of the children you purportedly care about are enduring. Oh yes, we are indeed watching. This is a students v union issue make no mistake about it created by the leadership of SEA.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7 a.m.

The idea here is to pick things that impact the MOST students to try and coerce the votes out of their parents. It's counterintuitive but you can actually sneak/pass something by the majority whereas if you go after special interest groups (e.g. Community High parents in AA) you face a much more organized and vocal minority. Athletics and music have the same "advantage." While they serve a minority of the student body their parents are generally better off (musicians for some reason, I know, its a stereotype) or higher profile (athletics get noticed by people who don't even have kids in school) so the outcry against cuts or pay to play is huge. Funny, educators, banded together in a union to protect our kids (?) find it easier to cut one of the basics than the electives. Watch these pages, news will come out from AA of even more outlandish ideas. Remember earlier this fall when AA proposed cutting busing? Again, go after a broad reaching service to incite the most fear (and votes for a tax increase.)

Mark Snow

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 7 a.m.

Is this serious or just designed to get a reaction? Math is conceptually difficult for many students but can be learned in a variety ways. Students with a natural affinity to mathematics can learn online. Others need a good teacher in person. This is particularly true for this subject. Not to mention the fact that this subject is particularly important to the community and the nation. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:48 a.m.

This makes the Saline Administration look like complete idiots.

Lisa Starrfield

Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

'All options are on the table.' 'It's a worse case scenario but we're notifying you we might cut the math department.' 'We have to notify to union to preserve flexibility' Notice that NO other cuts in personal were mentioned in that letter of intent? Wouldn't they be required to notify the union if they were considering any other kinds of cuts? Clearly, the only personnel cuts they were considering was the math department. Seems pretty clear that the Superintendent had picked a direction and was heading that way until it blew up in his face.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

This sounds like an intentional plan to make Saline the target of late-night comics everywhere: "Did you hear about the solution for the school system that couldn't add up income and expenses? They decided to stop teaching math."