Sunday, November 2, 2014

Whitmore Lake Annexation: I Ask You to Vote Yes

If you are an Ann Arbor or Whitmore Lake voter, 
I ask you to vote yes on annexation. Here's why.

Short term, I think the benefits accrue mostly to Whitmore Lake

But they are not at all insignificant, and since I believe in supporting ALL public schools, I think they are important. Why should we be okay with the fact that Whitmore Lake elementary school students don't get art? Why should we be complacent, and okay with the fact that Whitmore Lake high school students don't get access to Advanced Placement classes?

We shouldn't.
We should applaud the fact that the Whitmore Lake school board looked around and decided to take action.
We can make a difference in the lives of 1000 students, and we should.

[One school board candidate said to me, "If that $1900 additional per student will make the difference in Whitmore Lake, the legislature could just decide to give it to them instead." Sure, they could do that. But they won't. Not yet. Note even if Schauer is elected. (See the most important vote you can make this year.) Not in time.]

Long term, I think the benefits accrue mostly to Ann Arbor Public Schools

Long-term, we get an added student base--and one that I believe is likely to continue to grow. If we don't annex Whitmore Lake, the options for growth are much more limited.

Districts of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, 2014.
Long-term, we get an added 2.3 million dollars a year in base funding. (Assuming the number of students in the area that becomes the Whitmore Lake catchment area is stable--if it goes up, due to kids who have left the schools coming back, or due to new enrollment from new development, the amount would go up. If the number of students goes down--which I don't see as very likely--that number would also go down.)

We are tired of cutting.

I know that we are ALL tired of cutting programs, having larger class sizes, etc. The opportunities that we have had this year--to establish Ann Arbor STEAM, adding world languages, more early kindergarten--these opportunities have come because we were able to reverse the loss of students from the district, and bring more in.

Given the state environment, we need to keep bringing in more kids in order to reduce the cuts we are taking. If we don't, the cuts will be even worse.

What if we vote no?

Most people expect that Whitmore Lake would be in a position to dissolve in the next two or three years. Under current law, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District would have to distribute the students and the assets--and perhaps half of those students would get assigned to Ann Arbor. BUT--they would come into Ann Arbor with their current ($7200) per pupil amount, not at close to $9100 per pupil. Their buildings might get sold to the highest bidder, which might be a charter school. So students would need to be bussed to Ann Arbor schools, and to fit into current Ann Arbor buildings. The Whitmore Lake schools wouldn't have any kind of neighborhood "center."

Some people think that Whitmore Lake might be crying wolf. That better opportunities might come around. I think it's unlikely, but I don't have a crystal ball--and neither do you.

A Few Answers

1. No, to bring in the Whitmore Lake teachers, the union contract does not need to be reopened. Yes, they will be brought into the Ann Arbor teacher salary schedule. Isn't that what we want to happen?

2. We didn't annex Ypsilanti because they never approached Ann Arbor about it. (The math might not have worked as well, either, because the math only works because the Whitmore Lake district is so small.)

3. After balancing out the additional costs of servicing the Whitmore Lake students (and their buildings), and bringing the Whitmore Lake teachers into parity with the Ann Arbor teachers, and the central administration cost savings, the net positive for Ann Arbor next year will be about $500,000.

4. The Whitmore Lake schools taxes actually go up. They end up with paying slightly less because a recreation millage that is a Whitmore Lake schools millage goes away if the Whitmore Lake schools go away.

5. Yes, our taxes would go up about $25/year for a house worth $200,000. I like what David Erik Nelson has to say about that:

4) As for taxes: It's $25ish per year. If you think kicking in $25 so that a child can enjoy $2000 of education is a crappy investment, then that's your call. For my money, it's a terrific return. 5) And "What about our children?!?" Frankly, I think annexation is a good lesson for our children: We have an obligation to help care for our neighbors, and if you think you have something good, then you should share it, not hoard it. I think we have good schools. I'd like to share that. But, again, that's just for me. Perhaps you have a different lesson you want to teach your children. That's your piece, and godspeed with it.

Actually, I really like ALL of this post by David Erik Nelson. Read it!

Again, I urge you to vote YES for the 
Whitmore Lake annexation.

And also--don't forget your most important vote, either.

My other posts about the Whitmore Lake annexation: 

Five Reasons I Support the Annexation

Whitmore Lake Annexation Question Resources

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