What can I do right now?

Wondering what you can do right now to help keep Ann Arbor’s public schools the kind of place where you want to send your kids? We have a few ideas… Feel free to pass this along!

1) Get involved, get aware, vote!

This is the easy part. As a bumper sticker we once saw read: “The World Is Run By Those Who Show Up!” Just by helping out at your kid’s school, you can make a difference. Every citizen has a voice at the ballot box – make yours heard. We just successfully renewed property tax millages which are critical to keeping our schools open: the operating millage and the sinking fund millage. But these measures simply keep us where we are – cutting about $5 million from the school budget every year. We don’t have many options to address this problem locally, though the school districts in Washtenaw County can act in concert to raise some funds to support school operations.

Learn about how the schools are run, where the money goes, and what sacrifices have already been made because of funding shortages. Talk to teachers, administrators, other parents about what works, what doesn’t, and could be done to make things better. The more you know about the challenges our schools face, the more you’ll agree that the time has come for action.

2) Each one teach one.

Learn about what’s happening with our public schools, both here in Ann Arbor and across the state. Then talk to your family, friends and neighbors and let people know what is happening and what they can do to help.

Our schools aren’t having money problems because they’re spending like crazy, but because the real value of what we’re allowed to spend per pupil has fallen by more than 10% since 1994. Local school operating spending is at the mercy of the state Legislature, and they haven’t been in a generous mood for a long time. What we can spend per pupil is controlled by a state formula. At the same time, the public schools face costs like health care that have been rising much faster than inflation, just like other businesses face. We have to pay these costs out of the same “bucket” that also pays for classroom teaching. We’ve been cutting budgets at AAPS for years, and it’s starting to show in the programs we can offer.

Want to learn more? We have a lot of information on our own sites:
Ann Arbor Parents for Schools: http://www.aaparentsforschools.org/
Michigan Parents for Schools: http://www.miparentsforschools.org/

And check out information about the budget, and the strategic plan, on the AAPS web site:
AAPS home page: http://www.a2schools.org/aaps.home/aaps_home

Lastly, consider going to a school board meeting, and contacting a board member:
AAPS Board of Trustees meeting information: http://www.a2schools.org/boe.home/boe_home

3) Give generously, if you can.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Education Foundation, an independent charitable foundation that supports our schools, has been giving grants to teachers for years. Now they’re gearing up to fund some major projects that benefit all schools throughout the district. Starting last fall, they launched a major fundraising campaign to expand the initiatives they’re able to support in our schools. This is a very exciting effort, and it’s one of the few ways we have of taking the fate of our schools back into our own hands. As they say, “Be part of the solution!”

AAPS Education Foundation: http://www.aapsef.org/

4) Look for AAPFS events at a school near you, and join us to share questions and ideas!