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The Skyline Post

Looking Forward on Ann Arbor Public Schools’ Budget Crisis

People move and talk during a recess at the May 15th meeting. Photo Credit: Kathryn Plotner
People move and talk during a recess at the May 15th meeting. Photo Credit: Kathryn Plotner

At May 15th’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Jazz Parks revealed her long-awaited plan to alleviate the budget shortfall, which cuts $20.4 million of the target $25 million.

At May 20th’s Board meeting, the plan was passed by a vote of 6-1, trustee Ernesto Querijero being the sole dissenting vote.

“We do plan to stop here,” Parks said. “We felt that going any deeper than this at this time, we would be stripping away at what makes Ann Arbor Public Schools Ann Arbor Public Schools.”

The plan will lay off 141.5 staff members, cutting $14.7 million. Included are 94 teachers — 6% of the 1457 AAPS teachers — who will be notified on June 4th and 5th of this year.

For teachers and administrators, layoffs will be made in order of last year’s evaluation effectiveness rating, then disciplinary actions, then seniority and certifications. Layoffs will be in order of seniority for other bargained groups.

Additionally, the Ann Arbor teacher’s union negotiated a voluntary severance agreement, which offers payments to teachers who qualify: at least step 11 with 10 years of service in AAPS. Payments would be made in two installments in October and March, with the amount depending on how many teachers participate. 23 staff already are, as of May 20th.

Guiding ideals for the District plan were “student achievement and well-being; equitable, inclusive, and accessible learning experiences; supporting our staff and instructional excellence; and also operational efficiency,” said Parks. The Board wants to use a lens of equity, minimize impact to students, and continue proven positive initiatives. 

The performing arts, Environmental Education program, and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs will all be kept, as will tools like Lexia, Dreambox, and Schoology. However, there will be reduced usage of Schoology at elementary schools. Grant funds will be used to support students’ first priority of mental health support. Athletic opportunities at secondary schools will be mostly kept.

In elementary schools, Project Lead The Way will be shifted into the specials wheel, which will result in a reduction in full time employees (FTE) for all specials. This reduction may result in some specials teachers traveling between schools. Budget efficiency: $1.2 million. 

World Language in elementary schools will be cut, except where required at IB schools. When announced during the 15th’s meeting, this seemed to be an incredibly unpopular suggestion: the audience reacted negatively, many spoke about it in Public Commentary, and some members of the board later opposed it. Over 1000 people signed a petition against it. Budget efficiency: $400,000.

In middle and high school, there will be a reduction in co-teachers for band and orchestra classes “far below” 100 students. Budget efficiency: $224,000.

The IB programs at Mitchell, Bryant, and Pattengill elementary will have only one IB coordinator for all three schools, and teachers’ co-planning time will be reduced, lessening the need for substitutes. Budget efficiency: $525,000.

A2 Virtual Elementary, distinct from A2Virtual, was created during the Covid-19 pandemic. It currently has one teacher and eight students. Last year, A2V was cut for K-2. This year, it will be removed for 3-5th graders, and the teacher moved to in-person, completely ending the program. Budget efficiency: $150,000. 

Middle school pools, except Mack (operated by the city) will be shut down. Many have already been closed by the county health department due to lack of lifeguards. Budget efficiency: $520,000 and repair costs.

Class sizes will not “dramatically increase,” said Parks. Over the pandemic, class sizes decreased and have not gone back to pre-pandemic levels. The plan will bring AAPS closer towards pre-pandemic class sizes.

There will be vendor reductions (of ABM and EduStaff) of $2.3 million and non-staff department reductions (of ITD, Teaching & Learning, and Facilities) of $1.5 million, as well as a reduction of $1.8 million due to retirements.

To generate revenue, selling the Balas administration building is being considered. This would only provide one-time funds, not a solution to the crisis, as AAPS needs to make cuts to ongoing budget costs to rectify the shortfall.

See the May 15th meeting here. See the May 20th special meeting here. See the slides for the plan here.

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About the Contributors
Ian Saucer-Zeoli ('25) is a writer for the book review section of The Skyline Post. He is what his grandmother calls a “handsome young man” and enjoys history and linguistics.
Kathryn Plotner
Kathryn Plotner, Senior Writer
Kathryn Plotner ('25) writes predominantly for the News Section and enjoys investigating issues outside of Skyline, too. She’s passionate about a lot.
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