Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AAPS: Don't you know I'm a Major Donor?

A large chunk of the Ann Arbor Public Schools funding comes from its per-pupil allocation. Every child in the schools is worth over $9600--for that year--to the AAPS. So if I enroll my child, in kindergarten, in the Ann Arbor schools, and I stick with them for the next 13 years, I have effectively given the Ann Arbor schools $125,000 (more, if the per-pupil allowance goes up at all). Leaving aside the fact that I am trusting the schools with my most precious kids, this donation makes me, by the standards of any non-profit, a VMD (Very Major Donor).
Now any fundraiser can tell you that the path to raising money from a donor is based on a) developing relationships and b) getting buy-in for the cause. And that's why many potential donors get wined and dined.
If you figure that I might have more than one child (say, 3, because that's how many I've got)--I am now worth a whopping $375,000 (minimally) to the schools. And if I don't "buy in" to the schools, they have lost that money. And if I choose not to send my first child to the AAPS, then most likely my others will not follow either.
So--if I'm a new potential parent--will I get wined and dined? Will I get to see what's going on? There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, the answer is no. What will I get? I will get...Kindergarten Roundup! (And yes, the first one starts tonight.) That I find this totally inadequate is hopefully apparent. More about why it's inadequate, coming soon.


  1. The district always seems like it doesn't try that hard with parents. It seems plagued with mostly administrative problems...
    I think the idea of advertising will bring in kids is false, it is all about word of mouth and actual
    experience in the schools. They don't have a good center when it comes to policy.

  2. I think the reason we don't get treated as VMDs is because -- what's our alternative? Private school? Can't afford it. Homeschool? Um, no thanks. Charter? Well, maybe if there was one within a mile of my house.

  3. Actually, I disagree with the above comments. When I was deciding where to put my first in school two years ago, I was looking at charters, private shools, AAO, and my neighborhood school. With the first three, I got open houses and orientations, filled with school philosophies and tours and nitty gritty answers to all kinds of questions, like what do you do about bullying, and how do you foster community.... But at Kindy roundup all I got was "here's the vaccination schedule" and "here are the teachers -- wave to everyone so they can see you!" I actually wrote to the school board to tell them of my experience, and they sounded concerned and said they were trying to beef up the round-up experience. But it did NOT compare to what I found at the other schools, and ultimately, I found that I simply could not choose my neighborhood school, because I just couldn't get enough information about it, or get a good feel for it. We are at AAO (which is in fact a public school) but if we hadn't gotten in, we'd have gone to a charter and AAPS would have lost all our dollars. There is no doubt in my mind that AAPS loses lots of kids to charters and private schools that they might otherwise keep if they just beefed up their PR.