Budget issues: Cuts and Options

At our meeting on June 12th, we also received a number of questions that had to do with the impact of recent changes on the AAPS budget, what likely budget scenarios were, and what options are being considered. We didn’t get to most of these questions during the meeting, so let’s talk about them here.

“School officials have been saying that the AAPS budget has been cut repeatedly for some years now. Can you give us some examples of cuts and changes that were made, and programs lost? Which ones hurt most, and which were less painful?”

“1) What do you feel the impact of the Pfizer closing will be on the schools? 2) What about consolidating services? Have there been any serious strategies proposed?”

“1) What impact do Federal mandates have on public school funding? 2) How do we work to raise funding issues to the County level?”

“Assume the worst – in one year, state revenues are below budget, no legislation to raise taxes in an election year, County millage fails. Based on the experience of California and elsewhere, what programs can we expect to be cut? (Music, art, PE, etc.?)”

“How would trimesters reduce teachers? [Mentioned by Dr. Roberts.] 2) Would we really limit top HS students’ ‘7th hour’?”

“Would any revenue generated under a county enhancement millage be deducted from funds received from the state under proposal A?”

Disclaimer: Comments posted here represent the informed personal opinion of the author. Postings by individuals who otherwise serve in an official capacity with the AAPS, Board of Education, the AAEA, or other organizations, do not necessarily represent the official position of those organizations unless otherwise noted.

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Budget options - notes from the meeting

We did talk about a couple of these items, and let me offer a brief summary of what was said. I invite panelists to expand on their remarks here.

  1. Pfizer closing
    • Dr. Roberts responded that they expected the Pfizer closing to result in a loss of about 300 students from the AAPS by the time the facility was fully closed. At the moment, the district is projecting a loss of 200 students for the next fiscal year. [Remember that schools are funded on a per pupil basis, so that a loss of 200 students equals a loss of about $2 million in funding.] Pfizer’s departure will affect the schools in many other ways, from donations to science program sponsorship, but those are hard to quantify.
  2. Consolidating services
    • A system to consolidate the administration and pay of substitute teachers at the county (ISD) level is already under way. This system has been contracted out to a private firm. Other options, such as transportation, have been mentioned.
  3. County enhancement millage
    • The only “loophole” in Proposal A for local taxes is the opportunity for local school districts to band together and pass an “enhancement” millage. This has to be done at the Intermediate School District (ISD) level (here, it corresponds roughly with Washtenaw county), and must be approved by the county’s voters. This millage must be earmarked for a specific purpose, such as technology (one exists already to support special education). Funds would be doled out on a per-pupil basis, so that Ann Arbor would probably be a net contributor to other districts. Board of Education Trustee Glenn Nelson strongly advocates such a measure, as one of the few ways local districts have to fund their own programming. Mr. Nelson noted that strong support in Ann Arbor would be critical to the passage of any millage.
    • Since these enhancement millages are allowed by state law, the proceeds would not be deducted from our state aid.