Column: Disparate Impact of AAPS Cuts?

Transportation, reading intervention, seventh hour options

Editor’s note: This marks the launch of a new column in The Chronicle, focused on Ann Arbor Public Schools and other educational issues. Readers might know Ruth Kraut from her commentary on Ann Arbor Schools Musings, where she’s been writing about these issues for several years. For recent background on The Chronicle’s coverage of AAPS, see “Milestone: Why You Keep Running a Marathon.”

Ruth Kraut, Ann Arbor Public Schools, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ruth Kraut

Next week, the board of the Ann Arbor Public Schools will need to cut about 5% from the district’s budget. That’s a reduction of about $8.6 million. Teachers have already taken a 3% pay cut.

Per-pupil funding for next year ($9,025) will be less than the per-pupil funding of 12 years ago in 2001-2002 ($9,034). So it’s no surprise that we’re at the point where cuts are painful. Cutting teachers, cutting programs – none of it is happy news. There will be consequences. The question is, what kind of consequences?

In the civil rights world, a “disparate impact” occurs when a policy is non-discriminatory in its intent but affects a “protected class” of people in a disproportionate way. In Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, for example, these protected classes include race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, and marital status.

AAPS is a district with a large achievement gap – between white students and African American and Hispanic/Latino students. And this gap has persisted for many years. Although in state civil rights law, income is not a protected status, income is highly correlated with race, age, and marital status. District-wide, there is also an achievement gap that is related to income: Poor kids are more likely to do poorly in school.

So it’s important to consider the AAPS budget from a perspective of potential disparate impacts. On the surface, the proposed budget cuts treat all students equally. But if we look deeper, would we find that certain budget cuts worsen – or perhaps improve – the achievement gap?

Three proposed budget cuts have raised a significant amount of opposition this year: (1) eliminating high school transportation; (2) cutting reading intervention teachers; and (3) cutting seventh hour or making it a tuition-only option. Together, these three account for just under $1.5 million of the $8.6 million in cuts. Do these cuts, in particular, have a disparate impact on any groups?

High School Transportation

One of the still-pending proposals is to cut all transportation for high school students, unless it’s related to special education. That would affect all students outside of the walk zones, including students who take school buses and those who ride Ann Arbor Transportation Authority buses using school-provided bus passes. In this year’s one-day spring “ride count,” just 29% of the students who could take school buses did take them. But remember, not all kids take the bus every day. If the counting were done over the course of a couple of weeks, the number might be closer to 40%.

AAPS districts for its three comprehensive high schools

AAPS districts for its three comprehensive high schools.

Whatever the exact percentage, it doesn’t appear that ridership is distributed evenly across the grades. My own daughter’s experience is probably not unusual. In ninth and tenth grades, she took the school bus to Skyline nearly every day. In eleventh grade, she didn’t have a first hour class, so she generally took the AATA bus (which frequently ran late, to her great consternation). In twelfth grade, though she didn’t have a car, a couple of her friends did – and she got rides to school almost every day.

The district doesn’t collect data on or analyze the school bus riders based on income. But it’s plausible that a higher proportion of students on the free and reduced price lunch program take school buses compared to students from families with higher incomes, who are much more likely to have an extra car.

So cutting high school transportation will affect younger students more than older students. The transportation cut will affect people employed with less flexible jobs more than it will impact people who have more flexible jobs. Families with no car or one car will be impacted more than two- or three-car families. For those students who can ride an AATA bus (or two, or three, after transfers), it will cost them money – because the district will not be able to provide any bus passes if it cuts general transportation. That’s $1.50/day x $180/year, or $270 per student.

AAPS is a very large district! Think about the student who lives at the low/moderate-income Arrowwood Hills Housing Cooperative, off Pontiac Trail. Students there are districted for Skyline High School. It’s possible to arrive at school on an AATA bus. The #1 bus leaves Arrowwood at 6:26 a.m., and after a transfer downtown to the #18, that student would arrive at Skyline at 7:06 a.m. (a little early for a scheduled school start of 7:30). So for less than $300 per year per student, an Arrowwood Hills resident can get transportation to Skyline.

Transfers required to get from Arrowwood to Skyline Highschool.

Transfers required to get from Arrowwood to Skyline High School, if a student takes AATA buses. Some students, however, live in areas that don’t get AATA service, making it even more difficult if the school system eliminates transportation to high schools.

But what if that same low/moderate-income student lives in a manufactured home community out on Jackson or South Wagner roads? No AATA routes serve that area. Directions on Google Maps suggest that you first drive to the nearest bus stop! What if your parent has to be at work at 7 a.m. and there are no “extra” cars? What if you are too young to drive? What if you live on a busy street without a sidewalk or shoulder, three miles from school? As a parent, do you want your teenager walking on that street in the dark?

I live in a two-parent, two-car household, and we both have some flexibility with our schedules. And as my son was looking at high schools this winter, we were very intrigued by the Washtenaw International High School. Yet I was worried about the question, “How would I get him there, and back?” (WiHi is located at the former East Middle School in Ypsilanti.) I knew it would be much easier for me if he could walk, bike, or take the bus to an in-district school.

But what if transportation is cut? I can tell you that if I lived in a corner of the district (say, a rural area near South Lyon, or Dexter, or Saline), and I was going to have to drive my child either way, I would think differently about WiHi, or about the South Lyon Schools. In that case, I wouldn’t be comparing a school with transportation to a school without transportation. I would be comparing two schools without transportation – and the second school might be more convenient.

Unfortunately, this is an all-or-nothing decision. The district can’t choose a few areas (say, those with low-income housing) and only provide transportation there. The district stands to save $466,000 by cutting transportation. However, every student who doesn’t show up on count day, or who attends a different school, costs the district around $9,000 in the state’s per-pupil funding allowance. So if even 50 students were lost because of a decision to cut transportation, the district would lose all of the projected savings.

But I digress.

The crucial point is that cutting high school transportation will have a disparate impact on younger high school students. And because of the ways that income and race are so closely intertwined in today’s America, cutting transportation will certainly have a disparate impact on students of color and on poor students. Assessed in relation to the achievement gap, it is clear: If students can’t, or don’t, arrive at school, they are going to fall further behind.

Reading Intervention

Today, the district employs the equivalent of 10 reading intervention (RI) teachers in the Ann Arbor elementary schools – a half position at each elementary school. The current proposal is to cut that in half. RI teachers would be retained in just the schools “with the highest need.” This year, 460 students qualified for RI services.

Who were these students? Were they low-income? Were they students of color? The best indicator available to the district for a student’s household income is the qualification for free and reduced price lunch. I asked Liz Margolis, director of communications for AAPS, if the district identified students in the RI program by income or race. The answer is no. The district says it can’t share information about students in the Free and Reduced Price Lunch program – because it’s considered private. And the district doesn’t keep track of students in the RI program by race/ethnicity. If the district did track that information and share those aggregated numbers, it might yield a revelation that makes everyone uncomfortable.

It’s possible at least to make an educated guess. In 2007-2008, nearly half of the students who were identified as cognitively impaired were African-American – even though at the time just 16% of Ann Arbor students were African American. One of the key identifying statistics of the achievement gap is MEAP test scores, and if there is one thing that the MEAP is good at testing, it’s reading. On the 2010-2011 MEAP tests, for instance, 96% of the district’s white third graders achieved “proficient” status while 80% of African-American third graders, 84% of the Hispanic/Latino students, and 76% of “economically disadvantaged students” achieved “proficient” status. (You can find more data on the AAPS website.)

So we can be fairly confident – even though the district doesn’t officially track it – that cutting the Reading Intervention program, which serves the too-young-for-MEAP population of K-2 students, would have a disparate impact on students of color and low-income students. Of course, that prompts the question: Does the RI program work? If it doesn’t work, then it’s not helping to reduce the achievement gap, even if there are disparities in enrollment. But if it does work, then eliminating RI could diminish the district’s ability to address the achievement gap. Per student, RI is the most expensive program proposed for elimination (approximately $2,175/student). But, if the elimination of the program causes students to fall even further behind in reading, they could wind up qualifying for mandated special education services. And those costs would be far greater.

Seventh Hour

Another possible cut would affect seventh hour the opportunity to take a seventh class during a semester, rather than the more standard six classes. One possibility is to cut the seventh hour option altogether. Another possibility is to convert seventh hour to a tuition-only option.

Cutting seventh hour completely would have different impacts at the district’s three comprehensive high schools. If seventh hour is completely cut at Pioneer and Huron high schools, then students could only take six credits (12 courses) a year. That has a couple of implications.

Currently, Skyline High School uses a trimester system, and there are five hours/trimester (5 x 3 = 15 classes or 7.5 credit hours), compared to seven hours/semester at the other schools (7 x 2 = 14 classes or 7.0 credit hours). They are not exactly comparable, because some classes that are taught in two semesters at Pioneer and Huron are taught in three trimesters at Skyline – for example, advanced placement (AP) classes and some math classes. And in practice, lots of students at Pioneer and Huron only take six classes, while most students at Skyline take five classes every term. But if seventh hour is cut, and Skyline stays with the trimester system, to maintain parity, should only four classes be offered per trimester (because 6 x 2 = 12 and 4 x 3 = 12)? Now that would affect a lot of people.

How many students take seventh hour? At any given time, it’s less than a quarter of the enrolled student body. But many students take a seventh hour only every second or third semester, so the impact would affect closer to half of the district’s students. Students who are most likely to take a seventh hour include: students who take orchestra, band, or choir; students who take a lot of AP classes; students who need to make up classes (credit recovery); and students in career/technical education. The Pioneer music department, for instance, estimates that 43% of the students in the music department take a seventh hour at least some of the time in order to get their necessary (non-music) credits.

I don’t have any idea how many students in the music program are African American or Hispanic/Latino. I don’t have any idea what percentage of students in the music program qualify for free and reduced price lunch. (The percentage of high school students who qualify for free/reduced price lunch in Ann Arbor is around 15%, much lower than in the middle and elementary schools. Families have to submit a separate application for each student, and in many cases the ones for older students are not submitted.) I don’t have any idea how many students would have difficulty actually earning enough credit hours in four years without seventh hour (and still be able to take music, or technical education). I don’t have any idea how many students are just barely above the free and reduced price lunch cutoff, but whose parents don’t have the disposable income to pay for a seventh hour. But the district probably does know, or could know.

I do know that if Skyline keeps a trimester system, then cutting the fifth hour would affect more students than cutting the seventh hour at Pioneer or Huron.

Cutting seventh hour compared to conversion to tuition could turn out to have quite different impacts, depending on how it’s handled. If seventh hour becomes a tuition-only option, should the fifth hour at Skyline be made tuition only? And if the district makes a seventh hour available with tuition only, would students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch have the fees waived? How would that affect the cost savings? Who would do the billing? What happens if parents say they’ll pay, but then don’t?

So is there a disparate impact to the proposals affecting seventh hour? Probably, but I can’t quantify it. What is interesting to me is that, if used correctly, seventh hour could potentially be a tool for reducing the achievement gap. I have talked to African-American parents and immigrant parents who have told me they believe that by keeping their children enrolled in music programs, their children have an opportunity to do better overall in school. That’s in part because being in orchestra or band affects your other scheduling options. And it makes it more likely that you will be scheduled with more serious students.


In the end, we do have budget cuts to make. It seems to me that high school transportation affects the largest number of students. It also has the greatest potential to create a disparate impact and undermine efforts to reduce the achievement gap.

If these are the wrong cuts, then we need to find other items to cut – at least until we can convince the state legislature to improve school funding. To my mind, avoiding any or all of these cuts might involve increasing district-wide class sizes just slightly by reducing general teaching numbers. I admit, that is a tough pill to swallow, but to me it is a better alternative than cutting high school transportation.

Ruth Kraut is an Ann Arbor resident and parent of three children who have all attended the Ann Arbor Public Schools. She writes at Ann Arbor Schools Musings ( about education issues in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and Michigan.

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  1. By Laury
    June 7, 2013 at 10:29 am | permalink

    When AAPS started redistricting and then cutting bus services, I felt that there was purposeful targeting of lower income families who need these services the most. I find it shameful and there must be a better solution.

  2. By DrData
    June 7, 2013 at 10:59 am | permalink

    This is a great article that touches on some of the complexities of projections. Cutting transportation saves the district a significant amount of money – $466,000. But, as the author notes if the district loses 50 students because of this cut, this cost savings evaporates.

    Frankly, I think cutting 7th hour could have the same impact, except more likely to lose students on the wealthier side who may decide to go to a private school.

    If I were a charter school, I’d definitely invest in a bus or two and offer bus/van service to my charter from some of the outer edges of the AAPS. SE Ann Arbor seems the ripest as their schools perform the worst, the parents have less power, and yet those parents want quality schools. They may not be getting quality from the charters but they will get attention.

  3. By Chris
    June 7, 2013 at 11:14 am | permalink

    The charters don’t want those students, though. Too much potential for needing to spend more money.

  4. June 7, 2013 at 11:23 am | permalink

    Ruth – this is a very well-done first article! I’m so glad you wrote it. The caliber of reporting that The Chronicle provided on public education was excellent – and a significant loss to our community. I don’t presume you’ll fully take on this role, but this article is much appreciated.

    Any cuts at this point do at least two things mentioned above: 1) increase the risk of students leaving the district and 2) inordinately affect those least able to absorb reductions in services.

    Some reductions can be made up for when the district funds their participation, so there is a path for some of this for free and reduced lunch student qualifiers (although I agree that this is likely underutilized at the high school level; therefore under-reported). This also means that the district will pay to cover some of these participants, making less of an actual reduction.

    We need to fix how schools are funded. If Michigan’s legislative leaders want to keep decreasing spending on public education, which I believe is very much the effort, as evidenced by the ‘Skunkworks’ project; then at least give us local levy authority. The state can keep shrinking the K12 budget and we’ll invest in education at the level that reflects our community’s values. We can’t keep taking from AAPS and distributing it elsewhere. That has to stop. The paltry $5/student increase is in funds is the absolute lowest allowed. If anyone in Lansing was looking at how much we are giving (19 years into Proposal A), they would understand the situation better. Snyder’s recent comments highlight just how much he does not understand this.


    We need to change the system and take back some local control of our funding.

  5. June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am | permalink

    Congratulations on adding Ruth Kraut to your lineup. She is a passionate and authoritative voice on these issues.

  6. By Mattie O'Brien
    June 7, 2013 at 11:50 am | permalink

    Ditto what Vivienne said!

  7. June 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm | permalink

    With all respect, it’s a mistake to make policy decisions with an eye on race and ethnicity, choosing an option that will be sure to help this racial group or that. No matter how well-intentioned, that is racial discrimination, and it creates many more problems than it solves. Instead, take race out of the equation and make choices based on sound policy. If you think that some children need special consideration because they come from poverty, that’s fine — but don’t use skin color as a proxy for wealth, since there are both rich folks and poor folks of all colors.

  8. By Jennifer Coffman
    June 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm | permalink

    Welcome to The Chronicle, Ruth! :)

  9. June 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm | permalink

    Speaking of charters, some do open up in off the beaten path places where a car is required to transport kids. If you don’t have a car or you don’t really give a crap, then your kid doesn’t go there. Thus, the car-less and IDGAF parents end up leaving their kids in the local schools that have now lost funding from the parents with cars taking their kids elsewhere. And down goes the spiral….
    Having seen that happen more than once, I agree with Chris in that the charters likely won’t want kids who might cost more money…more money for special ed teachers, OT/PT, speech, etc means less of a profit for the operators.

  10. By Rod Johnson
    June 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm | permalink

    “The charters don’t want those students, though.”

    I get tired of hearing this. We need to distinguish between for-profit charters, which are public schools only in the most nominal sense, and charter schools in general, My kids went to Honey Creek Community School through middle school, and it was as inclusive as any public school, and if anything more dedicated to serving kids with IEPs and special needs and kids who just didn’t fit in more standard programs, and it’s laughable to say the profit motive played a role. You all need to stop tarring all charters with the same brush.

  11. By Rod Johnson
    June 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm | permalink

    And Ruth, great to see your thoughtful work appearing here.

  12. By Pam
    June 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm | permalink

    Mr. Clegg,Only after we have ended housing and school segregation, employment discrimination, mortgage redlining, and all health disparities based on race, can we take race out of the equation.

  13. By Joan Doughty
    June 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm | permalink

    Bravo Ruth!
    Well written, well researched article.
    I have a couple of comments to add:
    -1- The AAPS graduation rate for students from low income families last year was 67% – so already 1 in 3 students do not graduate — in my opinion, a shameful statistic. Michigan’s statewide graduation rate for students from low income families is 64%- so AAPS, with all its “excellence” does not seem to be having much effect on its most vulnerable students. Obviously– obviously- the high school transportation cut will impact more students from low income families- there is no denying that. So if this cut, which inflicts disproportionate pain on students from low income families, is adopted, the BOE sends a very clear message to Ann Arbor families with low incomes.
    -2- It’s quite possible – perhaps even likely – that AAPS’ drop out rate will increase if high school transportation is cut. According to, the cost of dropping out of high school for individuals is $260,000 per person. The cost to the community in terms of lost potential taxes is estimated at $60,000 per individual. Because the likelihood of involvement in the public assistance and criminal justice systems are higher for high school drop outs, the cost of the high school drop outs is much higher (and difficult to quantify) to society at large. Bottom line: cutting high school transportation might not even be penny-wise — but it’s most certainly dollar foolish.
    -3- Reportedly “only” 29% of high school students ride the school bus. Ruth is correct — that percent may well be higher, — but even assuming that 29% – it means almost 1400 high school students DID use the AAPS transportation system this year (The Center for Educational Performance Evaluation reported 4764 AAPS high school students this fall). That is a VERY high number of students impacted by this decision- many families will struggle to figure out how to get their kids to school – and some simply will not be able to make it work.

    I’m astonished – and depressed – this cut is still under consideration.

  14. June 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm | permalink

    Over an hour to get from Arrowwood to Skyline by bus seems excessive when it’s only an eight minute drive. I think we would all benefit from better bus service.

  15. By Richard Bacolor
    June 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm | permalink

    I think we should start with this point: “Per-pupil funding for next year ($9,025) will be less than the per-pupil funding of 12 years ago in 2001-2002 ($9,034).” Think about that. What does it say about how much we value all of the children in this state? What does it say about our responsibility to provide for their education? It is past time that we put into office people who have the political will to stop blaming the “union thug teachers” or the “incompetent local school boards” and get to work on fixing a broken school-funding system. Thanks for a thought provoking article, Ruth.

  16. By Eric J
    June 8, 2013 at 4:02 am | permalink

    All local government organizations – AAPS, the city, the county, AADL — need employee compensation cuts in the 30-50% range. The unions would never agree to anything like that but they will probably come anyway. The federal government has been printing money like toilet paper for years. The inevitable wave of inflation is starting now, have you noticed gasoline prices lately? In the next few years prices will probably double or triple. Compensation will go up as this happens but not as fast as prices. Teachers and cops will join the Walmart pay regime like most other people, they will be a lot poorer but at least we will be able to afford some cops on the street and some teachers in the schools.

  17. By Sascha Matish
    June 8, 2013 at 8:11 am | permalink

    Excellent article, Ruth. Glad to see you writing for the Chronicle now as well!

  18. By Curious
    June 8, 2013 at 9:51 am | permalink

    Enough with the achievement gap. If stories are to be believed, this has been a “priority” of the system for more than two DECADES, and it is not any better. If you can’t solve something that you purport to be a priority in 2 decades, you need to accept the fact that you are incapable of fixing it. Focus on something else. Teach kids, use performance-based assessments of students AND staff. With the ridiculous errors in budgeting and managing expenditures we’re seeing, the priority needs to be the review of management and accounting. That’s an immediate problem.

  19. By John Q.
    June 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm | permalink

    “All local government organizations – AAPS, the city, the county, AADL — need employee compensation cuts in the 30-50% range.”

    Good luck finding quality employees with that approach.

  20. By Ross Dunbar
    June 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm | permalink

    Dear Ruth,

    Thank you for your very honest and well-written assessment of the proposed cuts, and the negative impact they would have on students from poverty backgrounds. We should never forget the additional challenges faced by students from low incomes (lack of transportation options; weak reading skills and word deficits from not growing up in a print culture; and a need for opportunities for credit recovery/7th hour). The cuts that will have to be made should never place additional burdens on the students that already have the most.

  21. By A2person
    June 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm | permalink

    Eric, I totally agree. Because who needs a middle class, anyway, right?

    Ruth, thank you for this article, so well done! I do hear what Christine is saying….. I’m not sure what cuts could be made, at this point, that would NOT disproportionately affect low income kids. I continue to feel Balas could be more pared down, and the high schools have too many administrators. That should be addressed. But I also acknowledge that it won’t solve the basic problem which is disinvestment from Lansing. I also think we need to address the unsustainable pension system. I don’t know how to do this, but if I remember correctly, it needs to be done at the state level. I watched a slide presentation on school funding by the AAPS a couple years ago and was astounded by how totally un-sustainable the pension system is, and without fixing, this will get worse every year.

  22. By Eric J
    June 9, 2013 at 8:15 am | permalink

    Government organizations exist to provide services to the citizenry, not to provide middle class jobs, feed huge dufferdom payrolls, support swarms of pension parasites and medical milkers.

  23. By Julie Steiner
    June 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm | permalink

    We are so lucky to have Ruth Kraut doing this column. Thanks to the Chronicle for bringing her aboard.

  24. By Kevin Riley
    June 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm | permalink

    The big elephant in the room is developing a county wide school system. Having each small district with their own highly paid administrations replicating the same duties and tasks is a waste. There are many districts nationwide that have the same variety of students and are directed by one school administration effectively.

  25. By Joan Chesler
    June 10, 2013 at 9:15 pm | permalink

    Congratulations, Ruth, on an excellent article–well researched, instructive and incisive. Congratulations also on joining the Chronicle staff.

  26. By fridgeman
    June 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm | permalink

    I’ll add my praise to the Chronicle for restoring AAPS coverage. And, in general, this is a well-reasoned article.

    However, I really take issue with Ruth’s view that the achievement gap is a race issue; namely a white student – African American / Latino gap.

    Almost all of the “white” students I know are dramatically out-achieved by students of Indian or Asian descent.

    Personally, I think is really unhelpful to cast the achievement gap in terms of one race vs another. Yes, there is a dramatic gap between the highest-performing students and the lowest performing students in this district. Yes, it should be addressed (though not at the expense of the high performers).

    Those who insist on painting the gap as a racial issue, however, should stop incorrectly portraying it as a black student / white student issue.

    If I were an African-American parent, I would be highly offended that others were establishing a mediocre race-based benchmark for my children, rather than a benchmark based on the truly top performers.

  27. By John Floyd
    June 11, 2013 at 12:16 am | permalink

    I echo the comments that school funding is a Lansing-based problem that has been sent to local districts for resolution. The result of the governor’s choices, combined with the unsustainable post-retirement costs public schools carry, is that we are eating our seed corn. The “21st century jobs” t that Michigan kids will be prepared for are likely to involve Supersizing, or the phrase, “Welcome to Walmart”.

    As to what cuts to make in the meantime, as suggested above, it probably is time to further centralize school administration in the county, and to fund only one superintendent, legal department, payroll/accounting, curriculum development dept., HR department, etc. Some functions have been centralized at WISD, it may make sense to move more of them there. It may be time to close a building or two in Ann Arbor, and elsewhere.

    The issue is not that the school funding mechanism is broken per se: it’s that Mr. Snyder took a billion ($1,000,000,000) away from the School Aid Fund to pay for universities, so that the General Fund, where university funding cames from, could afford tax decreases for small businesses. Unaffordable pensions do not help, but the issue is mainly about mis-use of the School Aid Fund.

    It also may be time for the state to finally shut down other diversions from the School Aid Fund, such as the Local Development Finance Authorities (LDFA) that use School Aid funds to pay for Ann Arbor Spark and similar agencies around the state. There is no connection at all between Spark and education – at least the universities are also educational institutions. Lansing simply sees the School Aid Fund as a giant slush fund to be raided for unrelated purposes.

    Remember why Michigan moved to the current school funding mechanism in the first place? Ending state funding as the primary source of education funding in Michigan by returning to school funding to mostly local taxes, works out well for Ann Arbor, but would effectively end universal education in this state. Low tax base areas would more-or-less be out of business. A third-world education system (good schools for the haves, wretched schools for everyone else) will not improve our state.

    As for this year, all cuts to any public institution always hurt the poor disproportionately. That’s the nature of public services: folks with more money can always buy “public” services on their own. The 50-student math (above) makes sense, but as long as the state uses localities to resolve the problems raised by mis-use of the school aid fund, using Disproportionate Impact as the rule for where to make cuts, simply means that no cuts can be made.

  28. June 11, 2013 at 10:38 am | permalink

    The school board is expected to vote on the budget (and the interim superintendent, I believe) this Wednesday, June 12th. School board meetings are held on the fourth floor of the main branch of the Ann Arbor library.

    You can read information about the agenda and the materials for the board meeting here: [link]

    Interestingly, when I went to Board Docs today I found this note:

    There are currently 27 people signed up for public commentary tomorrow night, allowing for approximately 1-1/2 minutes for each person to speak. The amount of time per person will continue to decrease as additional people are added to the list. The Board encourages all those interested to address the Board, but it is sometimes more effective to coordinate messages on the same topic. For instance, we have a number of people signed up for the following topics: against the elimination of tuition preschool, .5 PE, Reading Intervention, Theater Guild, 7th Hour and Community High School.

    Please allow this information to serve as a guide when considering signing up for public commentary. Contact Amy Osinski at 994-2232 or, with any questions.

    So if you want to speak, sign up now…

  29. By A2person
    June 11, 2013 at 11:02 am | permalink

    John Floyd, YES! Exactly. If I’m not mistaken, you are a Republican voice in our town, are you not? I feel that my Democrat voice and opinion continually falls on deaf ears in Lansing (other than my own reps, but then I’m preaching to the choir). Trying to contact the Education Committee Chair and members, or Snyder, etc is beyond futile. I receive form e-replies from staffers that make it clear nobody actually read my concerns.

    Any chance your voice would be heard in Lansing?

    I am beyond frustrated by the mis-use of the School Aid Fund. I supported Prop A with the understanding that that fund would be used only for K-12 education. And I feel that Snyder and his people have used ingenious loopholes to steal it. Then they stand there with their fingers wagging, blaming the schools. Add to all this the un-capped, relentless opening of for-profit charters to “compete” and further suck funding away from our public schools (even with no accountability or regulation). UGH.

    I’m beginning to feel that the only hope we have is to somehow make it through this year and next fiscal year (ACK another year of this!) and then do EVERYTHING we can to replace those in Lansing who have been so hostile to our schools.

  30. June 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm | permalink

    It’s worth noting that today the ACLU of Michigan sent a letter to the Ann Arbor school board and the Superintendent, Patricia Green, saying that charging for seventh hour would be illegal under state law, based on an Ann Arbor court case from the 1970s, when the school board tried to charge for books.

    Read more, including the full letter, here: [link]