The school board is holding budget forums, open to all. I went to the Clague budget forum. I got a report on the Slauson forum. There was one this week at the library that I haven't heard about, and the last one is on Saturday 4/20/13, 9-11 a.m., Scarlett Middle School. If you haven't gone yet,
think about going to this one!
think about going to this one!
Both at Clague and at Slauson, common discussion items included:
1) The importance of keeping class sizes from getting larger;
2) The importance of keeping Community and Roberto Clemente. Especially there was discussion about Roberto Clemente, and I'm quoting from a comment I got on this recent blog post:
I attended the budget forum at Slauson last week, and quite a few people spoke about some issues related to moving the Clemente program into Pioneer. One of them is the use separate entrance idea raising specters of "separate but equal" segregation. Another is the fact that the wing they are proposing to use is already used, so those classes will be displaced, increasing class sizes at Pioneer and/or eliminating some electives. All these people thought Clemente was valuable but that Pioneer was not the best location.3) A few people brought up the importance of maintaining transportation services, particularly for low-income kids. For instance, without bus service, how would kids get from Carrot Way (north side) or Scio Farms (west side) to school?
Interestingly (in light of the critique of central admin arising from your superintendant survey), the board members seemed completely taken off guard by these critiques. It seems they had accepted the building evaluation report at face value, but nobody had bothered to talk to Pioneer staff to see if that vision met up with lived reality.
Back to your analysis: the thing that strikes me about the "off the bus routes" component of the vision is that Pioneer seems the worst location to achieve that goal! You can ditch school and walk to all sorts of 'interesting' places from there, and catch numerous buses. Skyline, on the other hand (which was being offered as a better alternative b/c of less overcrowding) is relatively isolated. Isn't the only bus that serves it, the special bus (18A?) that goes out there because students need transportation? Even Huron is more isolated than Pioneer.
4) Appreciation for the teachers and other staff that agreed to compensation reductions.
5) Revenues: The board members spent far too much time, in my opinion, discussing the AAPS Educational Foundation. (That's a topic for another blog post.)
But other possibilities discussed included:
6) a county-wide enhancement millage. One failed last time (although it passed in Ann Arbor, it did not pass county-wide.
7) at the Clague discussion someone brought up the possibility of a recreation millage. That could be just proposed in Ann Arbor. Saline has one.
Well, neither of those millages will be passed in time for this year's budget.
As far as cuts go, things I heard (and remember--it's been a couple of weeks) were:
--go back through past years' suggestions
--take a look at cuts other districts have made to see if they would be appropriate for us; why reinvent the wheel?
--engage principals and teachers in their ideas for cuts
There also was some discussion of whether Ann Arbor gives "extra" special education services (beyond the minimum required) and should reduce them to save money. I don't have any kids with IEPs, but parents who do, I suggest that you weigh in on this!
I felt a big piece of the discussion is this: what are you willing to give up to protect class sizes and transportation?
Does anyone want to write in the comments what was discussed at the library meeting?
Do go on Saturday to share your ideas.