1. Efficiencies--Some of the reductions--for instance, finding efficiencies in ESL teaching and other "split" positions--seem like they should have been done long ago, if they are feasible. (Which makes me a little suspicious. Are they?)
2. Transportation--I've written about my opposition to privatization. There is no reason at all to balance the budget on the backs of the lowest-paid staff in the district. But there were three other transportation issues raised in the budget forums:
- We should not eliminate Kindergarten midday bussing. That sure would make it hard for working parents to send their kids to district schools, unless they replaced it with full-day kindergarten (which I think probably costs more than the savings). When my oldest started kindergarten, I was considering a private school with a full-day kindergarten, and if I had started him there, and if I was satisfied. . . I doubt the public schools would have seen me for several years. [At the forum, I was asked by my group's facilitator, "Well where did your kids go then, at midday, if you were working?" Answer: to their preschool, where my second child was enrolled all day.]
- We should be working with AATA. For my high school-aged kids, the walk to the AATA bus route is not any further for us than the walk to the AAPS bus stop, and it doesn't take any longer to get to school. I think many routes could be eliminated for high school students, if we can make it easy. UM students just show their student IDs. Can't high school students do the same thing? Then we would only need to bus those kids who are not reached by AATA.
- I question expanding the walk zone to two miles. It may come to this, but I'm not a big fan of my daughter walking two miles in the dark in a Michigan winter. I don't want my kids to have to drive to school. I don't want to encourage the culture of driving everywhere, and in any case, cars are expensive.
4. Reducing substitute expenses--can we do more? I understand this refers to changing the scheduling of professional meetings that take teachers out of classes, and that might be fine. In addition, though, I recently read a study that assessed teacher absenteeism. I have no idea if it is high or low in Ann Arbor, but probably that should be assessed--and if it is high, maybe there is a way to make it lower. I have also wondered if it would be less expensive to assign a building substitute in each elementary school building (and more in the middle/high schools).
5. Reducing administrators--can we do more? It is convenient for the district that Maggie Jewett and Michael White are both leaving high school principal positions, and it makes it easy to propose reducing one class principal at Huron and Pioneer. For mid-year reductions, it makes sense to stop there. But for next year, I believe that we could get by with 1 principal and 2 assistant principals at each high school. Before Skyline was established, there were 5 at each high school (or 10 total). Rather than saying that we now need 4 at each high school (for a total of 12), why not say that we can get by with 9? I'll bet that it can even be done by attrition. And is it possible that some of the higher-level departments can be consolidated, thus allowing us to eliminate some management positions?
6. The high school cops. Susan Baskett raised this issue as a question at the budget forum I attended. Do we need them? I will add my confusion about them: What are they there for? What do they do? Can we do it for less? I don't know the entire costs, but I do often see an empty police car, just sitting there, even late at night, at Skyline, and it seems like a waste to me.