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A helpful explanation of the 2013-2014 Budget from AAPS Communications Director Liz Margolis:
For the past six years, AAPS has had the unfortunate task of making yearly reductions to the school operating budget. As funding from the state has decreased, AAPS has had to make some very hard decisions about what program, staffing and projects are eliminated or reduced. Over $60 million in cuts have been made in the past six years. Reductions have traditionally been kept away from the classrooms, but in the past two years, reductions have impacted student learning environments. Class sizes have grown (but still remain within contractual limits), and low-enrolled classes, especially electives, have been eliminated.
Ann Arbor is a community that has come to expect high levels of educational opportunities for students. This expectation in our class offerings is now being negatively impacted. Because close to 90 percent of the operating budget is personnel costs, reductions in staff garner the most savings. All aspects of the district, including instructional content, leadership and student choice, are examined as reductions are proposed. Proposing any level of reduction is something the administration and the Board of Education hates to do. All reductions in services and staffing are bad decisions. But it is the responsibility of AAPS to present a balanced budget, to make the best choices possible surrounding the reductions and to advocate at the state level for a more equitable funding structure for K-12 education.
The Board of Education has now conducted two discussions during a study session and regular board meeting leading to the passage of the 2013/2014 budget. The Board will continue their assessment at the next board meeting, 7 pm. Wednesday, June 12 at the downtown Ann Arbor Library.
Some of the areas the board has listed for reductions are: high school transportation, the number of high school counselors, number of positions at Balas, amount contributed to the theater budgets at the high schools and the theater tech position at Pioneer. The board has also suggested closing the middle school pools, changing seventh hour to a fee for class program, reducing a .5 physical education requirement at high school and cutting 32 teacher FTEs (full time equivalent positions). (See a thorough list of all the suggested cuts here)
During the May 22 meeting the board also discussed and approved the installation of three digital billboards, one each at Huron, Pioneer and the highway ring near Wines, as revenue generating projects. The contract calls for $117,000 a year in revenue over a 20 year contract.
The Board is still looking at different models to deliver transportation to high school students, including morning only service to school. Additional reductions in office professionals, community assistants and teacher assistants are still being looked at. The board has also asked the schools to re-examine their budgets for savings, especially FTE savings.
Reductions of over $8.6 million must be made in order for the AAPS to pass a balanced budget by June 30, 2013, as required by state law.
None of the suggested reductions represent a final decision by the Board of Education. Discussions and debates will continue.
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