Comments on: AAPS Board OKs Labor Deals, Mulls Policies it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Sun, 07 Apr 2013 18:55:16 +0000 Sue Sue, I think that the question of whether we should close schools with low enrollment (and why they have low enrollment) will be part of the discussion for next year’s (2014-2015) budget, when I predict that we will have some schools closed.

Teachers just agreed to a reduction in this contract; they also had reductions in their last contract.

Without tooting my horn too much I have been writing quite a bit about the state budget and the school budget and you are welcome to check out my blog, Ann Arbor Schools Musings, at

In addition, Michigan Parents for Schools has put out some wonderful charts that are a huge aid to understanding state funding of education. Our current “poverty” situation for schools (ALL the schools in the county) can largely be understood as a result of state budget decisions that have devastated the school aid fund. Take a look at the Michigan Parents for Schools charts here: [link]

By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Sun, 07 Apr 2013 18:38:21 +0000 I also went to the first of the community dialogues. I agree that the format was not all that conducive to discussion (in large part because the school board members seemed to feel they had to respond to every comment–and really, they don’t), but as the discussion went on, that got better. I really appreciate the school board doing these and I hope they will be receptive to some of the good ideas that I heard.

I like Joan’s idea of thinking about key principles and data. For me, a large part of the framing (in the discussion) came around the issue of class size. Would you give up transportation to keep class sizes the same? How about magnet programs? What about theater? Art? Etc.

I agree with Joan that it’s important that people GO to these dialogues–and that includes you even if you don’t have kids in the schools and maybe never have or never will. They are still your schools. Good schools are still critical to your property values.

I’m also hoping there will be a few more candidates for the WISD Board positions. I in no way mean to imply that either of the candidates running for re-election have done a poor job. However, one has been on the WISD board for 12 years and the other for 19 years. WISD elections have typically not been contested. We’re asking the WISD to take on more and more consolidated activities. The new Ypsilanti Community Schools have nobody from their geographic area on the board. (Greg Peoples lives in the Lincoln School District.) I think contested elections would bring needed attention and discussion to the WISD board, to what they do, and to what they should do.

By: Sue Sue Sue Sue Sun, 07 Apr 2013 16:45:04 +0000 Teachers should take a 10% reduction in benefits. Wish the AAPS would stop being controlled by the teacher’s union.

By: Sue Sue Sue Sue Sun, 07 Apr 2013 16:44:07 +0000 The usual game–bring in the special interest with articulate parents (sports, theater, etc.) and tell them you are going to cut the things that mean most to kids. Someone brings up a point about teacher salaries and benefits and the MEA Union plant storms out of the room.


Every year we get the same threat about the budget and things seen workout. Poverty is on the rise in Washtenaw County and we cannot afford another millage for schools. CUT SPENDING.

What about making Community High School a Charter School? Those who want to go there can. Yes it is open to everyone, but clearly the best and brightest go there -hence high ACT scores and low free and reduced lunch.

IF AAPS schools are so great, why are we loosing kids to charter schools and you have 500 please who want to go to Community High School.

Why can Northside get rid of the principal that is not good? Why are we not closing schools with low enrollment?

By: Joan Doughty Joan Doughty Sat, 06 Apr 2013 20:29:29 +0000 The first of four “Community Dialogues” was held at Clague Middle School on March 28, and it drew a sizeable crowd. Hosted by alternating AAPS school board members, these meetings are an invitation to the community to share creative ideas on how the district might generate more funds to stave off or reduce further cuts.

Several participants brought forth proposals deserving consideration. However, not surprisingly, the majority of time was filled by parents, teachers, coaches and a student, expressing concerns about possible cuts to or elimination of athletic programs, the fifth grade instrumental music program, the theater programs, block scheduling, the seventh-hour option and the foreign language program. They spoke against larger classroom sizes, reducing teachers’ pay and a shared principals model. Parents of Community High and Roberto Clemente students extolled the virtues of each. Almost every cut or reduction under consideration had one or more passionate opponents – with a few exceptions.

In some cases proposed cuts are based on an expectation that programs can attract more private or corporate funds, or that staff can consolidate functions. But those kinds of cuts are finite, and eventually AAPS will need to make “existential” cuts to programs and services.

The format of these meetings is not particularly conducive to a comprehensive discussion about trade-offs. But rather than pitting proponents of specific programs (or opponents to their cuts) against each other, perhaps the conversation be should framed as a discussion of principles and data that should guide the decision-making process.

Several of Thursday night’s speakers spoke eloquently about the values intrinsic in a school system that maintains its arts, music and theater programs – that gives students with those interests and gifts an environment that appreciates and supports their creativity. Few would deny the importance of establishing a guiding value that states our community wants schools that support the success of a diverse student population.

Much to my surprise, two very drastic cuts with far-reaching consequences went unmentioned during that first “Community Dialogue” (at least until, with 2 minutes to go, I raised them):

1) Eliminating high school transportation ($466,000 savings), and
2) Eliminating middle school transportation ($1.2 million savings)

Both measures would create at best an inconvenience and at worst incredible hardship to many AAPS families. Hardest hit will be families who live furthest from their home schools, particularly those without cars and/or with inflexible work schedules. Families with low incomes will be disproportionally affected, of course, and for some it might be nearly impossible to get their children to school. Consider for example high school students living at Carrot Way, a supportive housing complex off Dhu Varren Road. Mapquest estimates it would take them over 2 hours to walk to Skyline High School. Similarly Hikone (a public housing community off Packard Road) students would need more than an hour to walk to Pioneer. The cost of AATA bus passes, which would run ~ $300 per student annually, is cost prohibitive for many of these families.

Currently the high school graduation rate for Economically Disadvantaged AAPS students hovers around 67% – meaning one in three AAPS students from families with low incomes does not graduate from high school. This number will likely worsen if transportation to middle or high schools is eliminated. And, since African American students are disproportionally represented in the “Economically Disadvantaged” category, the much-lamented achievement gap will no doubt grow wider.

As the discussion of AAPS budget cuts continues, perhaps the examination of the values intrinsic in these decisions should be clearly illuminated. While Ann Arbor values diversity, families with low incomes often don’t make it on the radar of decision makers. Without a doubt, cutting middle and high school transportation will hurt many students from economically disadvantaged families disproportionally. A community that makes those cuts sends a clear message about how much importance it places on the investment in their success.

One of the revenue enhancing strategies suggested at the first meeting focused on using AAPS district’s excellence as a marketing tool to encourage tuition-paying international student enrollment. Apparently a Detroit suburb is doing just that and attracting a significant number of paying Asian students. Wouldn’t that be ironic: if AAPS cut its transportation to middle and high schools, making getting to school much more challenging for its local constituents, yet worked to attract students from thousands of miles away?

Will AAPS cut transportation to middle and high schools? Certainly if no or few objections are raised during these “Community Dialogues” – trustees will be justified in concluding that is not important to parents. There are three more “Community Dialogues” opportunities to express your opinions: Tuesday, April 9, from 7-9 PM at Slauson Middle School, Tuesday April 16, from 11:30 AM- 1:30 PM at the downtown library, and Saturday April 20, from 9-11 AM at Scarlett Middle School. Emails to the Board of Education can be sent to:

By: Karrah Weeder Karrah Weeder Sat, 06 Apr 2013 00:41:03 +0000 Hello everyone.
I spoke at the meeting about Roberto Clemente remaining open. I would like to state again that this school is very important to me. I really dont know where I would be without it. Sure, Roberto is costing money…but isnt our future and well being worth it?
Thank You,
Karrah Weeder
Proud Roberto Clemente student*