Stories indexed with the term ‘schools budget’

AAPS Busing Decision Coming June 23

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (June 9, 2010): At its second-to-last meeting of the school year on Wednesday, trustee Susan Baskett appealed to the AAPS bus drivers’ union: “I want to stress to the bargaining unit – we’re running out of time.”

Todd Roberts takes notes

AAPS superintendent Todd Roberts, taking copious notes during last Wednesday's school board meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The AAPS board of education voted to consider a resolution to consolidate transportation services at its final meeting on June 23, if a competitive bid is not received by the bus drivers’ union before then. Also, after months of discussion, the board passed the 2010-11 budget and accompanying millage to support it.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved a new AP Biology textbook, passed a resolution in support of using the state’s School Aid Fund only to fund K-12 schools, and debated the renewal of a contract to outsource the district’s food service. And, for more than half of its six-hour meeting, the board engaged in non-voting business, receiving updates from Skyline High School staff, the USA Hockey team housed at Pioneer High, and the Intergroup/Social Change Agents, a high school program designed to encourage dialogue on social identities. [Full Story]

AAPS Budget Would Cut Positions, Add Fees

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (March 24, 2010): Todd Roberts, superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS), unveiled his administration’s 2010-11 budget recommendations to the board of education on Wednesday night. To counter a potentially $20 million shortfall, the proposed budget eliminates 80.6 positions across the district, while restructuring programs, adding fees, and bringing 200 new students to the district.

Todd Roberts AAPS school board

AAPS Superintendent Todd Roberts, flanked by members of his staff, begins presenting his administration's proposed 2010-11 district budget. Behind him, from left to right, are two members of his cabinet: Robert Allen and Randy Trent, and the three administrators of instructional services: Lee Ann Dickinson-Kelley, Larry Simpson, and Joyce Hunter. (Photos by the writer.)

However, multiple budget factors are still unknown: the state has not yet set the per-pupil funding amounts for next year; contract negotiations between AAPS and its teachers, bus drivers, and custodial/maintenance workers unions are still ongoing; and a possible countywide transportation consolidation plan is in the works, but has not yet been solidified. Depending on these outcomes, an additional 39 teaching and three administrative positions could be eliminated, and support services could still be outsourced. If layoffs are made, teachers will be notified by the end of April.

Though the board will hear an update on the proposed budget from the administration on April 14, board president Deb Mexicotte described that second briefing as a time when the board is “looking to have a general consent that this is the direction we are going, with the idea that we have legal obligations related to the budget that we are approving in June.” Two public forums are set for April 12 and 13, and a public hearing on the budget will be held before the board in late May. The district’s fiscal year begins July 1, 2010.

Wednesday’s meeting also covered a variety of other business: the second quarter financial report; a discussion regarding the necessity of maintaining the district’s fund balance; unanimous approval by the six trustees present to welcome “schools of choice” students to the district; and a special briefing which expedited the district’s ability to lease antenna space on the top of three district buildings to a wireless broadband Internet service provider. [Full Story]

AAPS Outsourcing: Implicit Nudge from State

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education study session (Feb. 17, 2010): At their Wednesday session, board trustees reviewed privatization bids, heard updates on the AAPS and state budget proposals and discussed changes to the state retirement system.

Robert Allen AAPS

At the board's study session, Robert Allen, deputy superintendent for operations of AAPS, reported the effect of a state mandate to increase AAPS contributions to the state's public school retirement system – an additional $1 million budget shortfall.

That activity was punctuated with continual references to funding fluctuations at the state level. “There is incredible uncertainty,” stated board president Deb Mexicotte. “Ideas change daily, weekly, hourly.” Even though state-level gyrations may end up changing how the Ann Arbor Public Schools moves forward, she asserted, “We are faced with the facts on the ground, and we have to operate from that position.”

And one of those facts on the ground is a state mandate that has already been put in place. It increases by 2.47% the employer contribution rate to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. The mandate adds momentum to the idea of privatization of certain services: If district employees can be replaced with workers who are employed by private contractors, the cost of MPSERS contributions would be saved.

At the study session, trustees also discussed community responses to the district’s budget surveys.

A study session is an opportunity for board members to receive information from AAPS administration, ask questions, and discuss issues in a less formal setting. The public is welcome to attend.

Although only three people spoke during the official public commentary time, a dozen people stayed to ask questions and offer comments throughout the meeting. A trend from the last two BOE regular meetings was continued at the study session – most of the public commentary addressed the negative aspects of privatizing transportation, and custodial/maintenance services. [Full Story]

School Board Sets Plan to Fill Vacancy – Again

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (Feb. 3, 2010): Trustee Adam Hollier announced his resignation near the end of Wednesday’s school board meeting, setting in motion a plan to fill his seat when he leaves on Feb. 12. This is the second time within three months that a trustee has resigned – Helen Gates-Bryant stepped down in mid-November.

Todd Roberts Adam Hollier

Todd Roberts, left, superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools, talks Adam Hollier, who resigned as an AAPS board of education trustee on Wednesday night. (Photos by the writer.)

Leading up to his announcement, Hollier used his parting comments as an AAPS trustee to offer support to the workers facing possible privatization, as well as to make a strong pitch for private giving to support the schools in light of a looming budget shortfall.

Also during the meeting, 13 speakers filled the maximum allotted public commentary time of 45 minutes, most of them focusing on the perils of privatization. A few speakers were there to express frustration with the district’s handling of a recent incident at Logan Elementary School.

Other actions at Wednesday’s meeting included a report on a new communication system that would allow the district to quickly send mass voicemails, texts or emails, and the presentation of several awards. And in the board’s informational packet – but not discussed at the meeting – was news of a possible state retirement mandate that could negatively impact the district’s budget. [Full Story]

Revenue Bump in School Budget Draft

At the first of four budget forums held by the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) on Thursday night, the 2010-2011 draft budget plan circulated to attendees included over $16 million in proposed cuts, to deal with the district’s projected $20.9 million deficit. But it also included more than $1 million in additional revenue.

Information sign outside Skyline High School Ann Arbor Michigan

The second AAPS district budget forum will be held at Skyline High School on Tuesday, Jan. 12, starting at 6:30 p.m. (Photo by The Chronicle)

Several participants at the forum urged district administrators to look even more aggressively at how to generate additional revenue, whether through philanthropy, partnering with businesses, or other approaches.

So how does AAPS hope to generate extra dollars?

The line items in the budget draft list an additional 150 students in the Targeted Schools of Choice program plus an increase in Options Magnet enrollment of 20 students. Those 170 additional students would generate an additional $1.23 million in revenue, through the per-student allocation to school districts by the state.

At the AAPS Board of Education (BOE) meeting held the night before Thursday’s budget forum, several ways to increase school funding were discussed. Strategies include bringing out-of-district students into AAPS, as well as increasing the number of in-district students who are not currently enrolled in AAPS. BOE trustees heard a presentation Wednesday night on the Options Magnet program as part of that strategy.

Other strategies to increase revenue that were discussed at Wednesday’s board meeting include new partnerships with local community-based organizations, plus a statewide effort to compete for additional federal funding through the Race to the Top program.

Here, The Chronicle takes a closer look at these revenue-generating options outlined at the board’s Wednesday meeting. [Full Story]