Tuesday, June 10, 2014

AAPS Budget Vote Wednesday 6/11/2014: Custodian Outsourcing, State Budget Realities

A Packed AAPS Day on June 11: Planning, Executive, Board Meetings

This coming Wednesday, the Ann Arbor school board is expected to vote on a budget. Front and center will be the question of out-sourcing the positions of custodians.

That question finds itself on the agenda of the Planning Committee first, at 9 a.m. on the 11th.
Location: Balas Administration Building, Main Conference Room
Members: Christine Stead (Chair), Glenn Nelson, Irene Patalan
Then in the evening there is an executive session at 5 p.m. According to the agenda, the purposes of the executive session are:
Closed session of the board for the purposes of:Section 8(h) - considering material exempt from disclosure under attorney/client privilege informationSection 8(c) - strategy and negotiation sessions connected with a collective bargaining agreement, requested by the Superintendent.
 I'm not sure what is going to be part of the discussion there, but it could be related to the custodians since there is a union contract for the custodians (personnel issue) involved. And in addition, the district's budget proposal involves salary freezes for every staff person, and so really there are several unions involved.
Location: Ann Arbor District Library - 4th Floor Conference Room A
343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor

The regular meeting will begin early, at 6 p.m.

Ann Arbor District Library - 4th Floor Conference Room A
343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor

This meeting will be Broadcast live on CTN Comcast Channel 18
Replays: Thursday @ 1:30pm, Saturday @ 8am, Sunday @ 1pm

Custodians and the Expense Side of the AAPS Budget

The "fun" will begin with public comment. Right now the Custodial RFP, the Food Service RFP, and the Budget are all scheduled for special or second briefings, and then they are on the Consent Agenda. 
So, first of all:
1. The Custodian RFP has been on a very fast course. The RFPs were due on Monday and the vote is scheduled for tomorrow. The goal is to decide on the cost savings in the budget. This is a special briefing.
The Custodians, meanwhile, have come up with an idea of a "worker co-op" that would save most of the money from the budget [the bulk of the savings come from the district not having to pay for retirement costs]. In fact, the custodians assert that it "could save AAPS more money than it currently projects to save in the draft 2014-15 Budget (first reading) by eliminating 100+ AAPS jobs as there would be additional savings from not having to set aside an $200,000 for unemployment compensation currently shown in the budget."
Let's ask the school board to put the expected savings in the budget, but to table voting on the RFP to see if they can work something out with the custodians. They don't need to vote on the RFP the same night as the budget, and I have argued before that process is really important and the board shouldn't try and rush things through with "special" briefings. [And there are 4 special briefings at this meeting: the custodians' RFP; A2Tech and STEAM construction projects; the Pioneer High School cooler; and MHSAA membership resolution. Really? Do all four of those need to be special briefings?!]
Read about the custodians' idea here in their pre-proposal

2. Second of all, an astute reader noted in the comments of this blog the other day, 
Reader comment on this article:
Last Year's Candidate, Brian Osborne, Takes Superintendent Job in New Rochelle, NY

As you see, key decisions are embedded in the budget.
In any case, there is a lot to look at on the expense side of the budget. Email your thoughts to:

And/or show up for public commentary or to listen to the budget discussion! It's sure to be an interesting...and long...night.

On the Income Side of the Budget:

A budget was voted out of the state conference committee, 4-1, and according to Gongwer: 

This would provide a $50 per-pupil increase to all districts, with a new equity payment of up to $125 per pupil for districts with a foundation allowance less than $7,251.
The effective minimum allowance would be $7,251 with the basic at $8,099.
The budget in total is higher than what Mr. Snyder and both chambers originally suggested. It is a 4.1 percent increase from the current year budget at $13.87 billion ($114.9 million General Fund, a 51.1 percent decrease).

According to MIRS: 

And Rep. Brandon DILLON (D-Grand Rapids) said lawmakers were moving backwards. Dillon added that under the plan a cyber school in his district would see a $175 per-pupil increase while Detroit public schools would see a $50 increase. 
[As an aside--this proposal--which will probably be signed by the Governor--also says that state schools will need to use the MEAP next year, rather than Smarter Balanced. That's going to be a lot of work in a short time for Michigan Department of Education employees.]

So, I can't really tell--because I can find the agenda for the board meeting [here] BUT AT THE MOMENT THERE ARE NO DOCUMENTS ATTACHED [and yes, I am shouting because it is less than 24 hours before the meeting]--or at least if they are there I don't know where to look for them--

So, I can't really tell based on the last budget documents presented, but I *think* that the district was using the Governor's proposed budget numbers and I *think* the conference proposal is a few dollars better than that--but I'm not sure...

Tomorrow--will you be at the board meeting?

If you can't be there...will you email the board your thoughts?

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  1. The teacher's contract, as well, is still under negotiation. Central administration has basically bullied the teachers into accepting an across-the-board pay freeze for next year. This includes all education lane changes as well. As a teacher who has been working on a Master's for several years, this is the only way that I can control my salary. AAPS does not do merit pay, has never recognized National Board Certification as a means to earn more, and does not allow individuals to negotiate salaries. I earn, quite literally, half of some of my colleagues for the doing the same job (and I would argue that I do a higher quality job than many). I will earn a Master's in the next few months, will be even more knowledgeable, and will be a better teacher. My students will benefit. I, on the other hand, will be in debt with no recognition from my employer.

    A question that no one has answered (or perhaps is willing to answer or even acknowledge) is the following:

    AAPS is hiring 18 additional teachers (on top of retirements). Of those 18, imagine that some of them just earned their Master's degree (perhaps in the MAC program). Will those brand new hires have their Master's degrees recognized? Will they be paid a higher salary for their expertise? Could a potential brand new teacher to the district hire into the Master's lane change while those of us that have been loyal and already in the AAPS system not be recognized?

    1. In addition, when I started my Master's the state was requiring teachers (one of the routes) to take 6 credits in an "approved graduate course of study" - meaning that we could not take individual classes, but had to steadily work within a program that the state deemed acceptable because it worked towards a Master's.

    2. Thank you for adding this explanation. And I am sure that more than 18 teachers will be hired since retirements etc. end up affecting things.

      Also I might be mistaken about this, but my understanding is that you can offer a teacher a job based on less experience but not less education. For instance, say a teacher had a masters and three years teaching experience--they could offer a job at step 1 (no past experience) but they would have to offer from the masters scale rather than the undergraduate scale. So yes, if they hired a MAC teacher that would be reflected.

    3. Hi Ruth - thanks for the added info. The 18 is on top of the 40+ retirements. This additional expenditure is to pay for things like new languages, additional staff for the STEAM school, etc. While I am excited for these additions (and the benefits it will bring students) I question hiring these new teachers while freezing everyone's salary. How about a salary restructure for new hires as Dexter did years ago?

  2. Is 40 a normal number of retirements for a school year? That seems really high to me. What is the reason for so many retirements? Are people being asked/told/incentivized to retire or do people not like the direction Dr. Swift is going?

    1. It might be slightly high. I think it has less to do with Dr. Swift than it does with the fact that a) the direction that the state legislature is taking/decisions and laws they are making and b) salaries have been stagnant or declining and so people think of other things they could do.

  3. Typically every year there are about 40 retirements. Staff got an e-mail recently indicating that the 50 slots available for the recognition dinner that AAPS puts on for retirees is full, therefore if anyone else retires this year they will not be able to attend the dinner this year. They will need to attend the recognition dinner in June of 2015.

    I'm not sure if it's because of Dr. Swift (I would argue that she's actually doing a good job of managing everything and heading in the best direction possible) but more so the extremely poor conditions and treatment by The State of Michigan (and unless we get a new governor, it's going to get even worse). Why keep teaching if a teacher can afford to retire? Teachers' actual pension will decrease as their current salary decreases (teacher pensions are based on your average ending salary over the course of a few years).

    1. Thanks for replying. I actually like the direction that Dr. Swift is going, too. I just didn't know if there were some people who were "resting on their laurels" being made to work more with Dr. Swift coming in and just decided to retire rather than work harder. I, too, am very disappointed with the direction the state is taking. I can't believe they are making the MEAP come back - as if it will just magically appear after being shelved for the Smarter Balanced. $50 increase isn't enough.

    2. The direction the state is heading is extremely disappointing. As a "younger" person who came back with (perhaps) idealistic visions to help Michigan's public education system, I am quickly losing faith. Those of us who are smart, talented, and mobile will be able to easily find a job elsewhere. I have no worries about future employment, but I do know that this next year will be a deciding year for me - do I try to "tough" it out in Michigan or do I move to another state that treats its teachers better, or do I go back to school and get another Master's in something lucrative (tech is all anyone's talking about in MI).

  4. According to our calculations, AAPS will actually lose about $7 per pupil as a result of the conference report on the school aid budget. Formally, AAPS would qualify for a $50 per pupil increase (the lowest available). However, the increase in MPSERS costs to the district wipe that out and put us into negative territory. And while we were expecting to get the full amount of performance funding this year (up from 70%), they have changed the so-called "best practices" requirements so we may lose some of that money.

    MPSERS contribution is going up because even though the "unfunded accrued liability" portion is capped - with the remainder paid by the state from school aid funds - the "normal cost" of the pension is not capped and must be paid by the district. Those costs are going up (as is the UAAL, but that meant more got taken off the top before money was distributed to districts.)

    By our calculations, of AAPS's new $9,100 per pupil foundation allowance, fully $1,945 will go straight back to Lansing and the state pension system.

  5. I will be tweeting at least part of the meeting but you can also watch it live on tv or the web. Or come down!

  6. a 3% less pay = 3% less work. BOE / Instruction is killing everyone earning a living wage. Expectation (it is understood) is that all teachers be online to do their work from home which is additional cost about 600.00 per year ,buy external drive to manage and backup district related data, maybe another 200.00 let's see now were at about 800.00 and the cost keeps rising. The BOE/ADMIN paid how much money to Plante Moran to do a district audit? The BOE/ ADMIN need to be repudiated now. Why not outsource HRS and Payroll and allow AATA already subsidized by the Fed Government take over all school routes (a small stipend to each rider) That way no financial burden to pay the WISD to maintain buses. Be sure that AATA would hire many of the district drivers.
    Just" sayin" slow down BOE