AAPS Updates

Letter to the Community on Annexation

Dear Ann Arbor Community,

I am writing you today to update you with the information we have about the annexation efforts and the upcoming vote to decide whether the Whitmore Lake enrollment area will become part of the Ann Arbor Public Schools as of July 1, 2015. As an AAPS Board member that voted in favor of bringing this vote to our community in November at a joint meeting of both Boards on July 30th, I feel strongly that you understand how this effort came about, and what has been accomplished in working with local and state officials to create the best possible environment in which annexation might occur. In the past couple weeks, more information has become available and I want to take this opportunity to address many of the questions our community has around how it might affect Ann Arbor and what potential benefits – and challenges- such an annexation might bring. I acknowledge this is a very long letter, but the issues are complicated and the questions require a thorough explanation.

How did this annexation effort come about?

Back in May, the Vice President of the Whitmore Lake Board approached us to see if we might be interested in consolidating services between our districts as a cost saving measure. They, like many small districts in the state, had been unable to maintain their educational programs in the face of rising costs and stagnant school funding, and were anticipating the prospect of dissolution as a district in the future. After examining the possibilities, the small group of Board members meeting from both districts concluded that consolidating services would not yield the hoped for outcomes for Whitmore Lake, but then discussion turned to whether annexation might be in both districts’ short-term and long-term interests. Joint Board meetings were held, an exploratory committee was formed; WISD administrators were brought in; and State legislators, agencies and legal counsel were consulted to seek available information as well as the best possible financial and organizational package possible for both communities.

How did the AAPS Board come to the decision to put annexation on the ballot with the provision that both districts share their debts mutually?

Annexations can occur without the shared assumption of debt, and we considered that option. We could have left each community’s debt in its respective community, in which case if Whitmore Lake voters decided they wanted to be in AAPS, it would just happen (since we were, as a Board, also in favor of accepting them). This arrangement was seen as problematic because although it would not raise AAPS tax rates, it would maintain a division in the two communities’ obligations, as Whitmore Lake would not be taking on our Technology bond or other debt millages then either. It would also create a challenging situation in WLPS; if they approved annexation their total tax rates would increase by about 6.7 mills due to paying their increasing debt levy and the additional AAPS Sinking Fund and Hold Harmless (even after obtaining some relief by having their current recreation millage end). Both Boards felt that a shared financial investment across the new district was important, but also important was the assent of both communities – through the voting booth – which the Boards agreed this commitment to shared indebtedness required.

The ballot language can be a bit confusing, as it focuses on the shared indebtedness (since that is the point of law connected with the annexation effort that AAPS voters need to approve) rather than on the concept of “annexation”. So, the annexation proposal on the November ballot reads:

      Ann Arbor Public Schools – Proposal 1

PROPOSAL TO ASSUME THE BONDED INDEBTEDNESS OF WHITMORE LAKE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT
Shall the Public Schools of the City of Ann Arbor, County of Washtenaw, Michigan, assume the bonded indebtedness of the Whitmore Lake Public School District, if the electors of the Whitmore Lake Public School District approve both annexation by the Public Schools of the City of Ann Arbor and the assumption of the bonded indebtedness of the Public Schools of the City of Ann Arbor, which annexation and assumption, if approved, will be effective as of July 1, 2015?

What are the known financial implications of annexation for the district and the taxpayers in both communities?

We have just learned we will receive 1.4 million dollars in annexation grant funds this year, and plan to apply for some additional funds next year as well.   These funds can only be used for annexation related costs. While the AAPS administration believes this will be sufficient to begin the process of blending the districts successfully, the modest initial funding will dictate a more deliberative timeframe to implement all expected changes. We plan to again ask for grant monies for annexation on this year’s cycle of State funding to augment the speed as well as the quality of the annexation effort, based on those items we identified as qualifying for this support in last year’s grant application.

After working with the Michigan Department of Treasury on a plan for refinancing some of that shared debt (the WL School Bond Loan Fund loans), we estimate the overall homestead and non-homestead millage rates paid by homeowners and businesses respectively would increase .25 and .30 mills in Ann Arbor and decrease 0.37 and 4.81 mills in Whitmore Lake.  This decrease will occur in Whitmore Lake even after taking on Ann Arbor’s Sinking Fund, Hold Harmless Millage, and both districts’ debt obligations, such as the Tech Bond.  Without annexation tax rates are expected to decrease slightly in Ann Arbor, and are expected to continue to decrease over time – even with annexation – if our property values rise incrementally as expected over the term of the WLPS debt assumption.  And, for reference, a .25 mills increase would be approximately $25 a year for every $100,000 in taxable value of a home or business.

The current foundation for Ann Arbor Public Schools is $9,100 and Whitmore Lake’s is $7,126.
The current estimated enrollment is 16,838 (AAPS) and 950 (WLPS) respectively.
Based on these figures and on current law that adds $100 to a blend of both districts’ foundation grants, the estimated foundation grant of the new combined Ann Arbor Public Schools district is expected to be approximately $9,095 ($5 less than our current foundation allowance), which would apply to all of the approximately 17,788 students in the combined district.

This will equate to an increase of $1,778,800 of state aid for the new district as compared to current funding prior to annexation.

What assets does Ann Arbor acquire through annexation?

Whitmore Lake is very small compared to Ann Arbor. It has three school buildings (one at each level), only two are currently housing students (they closed their middle school as a cost saving measure). Their high school has a 650-student capacity and is one year older than Skyline (and designed by the same architects).

There are approximately 950-students currently enrolled district-wide, so comparable in number to the Mitchell-Scarlett campus. They will all bring the new blended AAPS per-pupil foundation allowance with them (as opposed to their current WL per pupil foundation allowance if they came to us through school of choice or initially through forced dissolution of the WL district).

They would constitute approximately 6% of registered voters of the combined Ann Arbor/Whitmore Lake voting pool. Our recent Tech Bond millage passed with a margin of 41% – almost 7 times the total WLPS percentage.

I can see why this will help Whitmore Lake, but what is in it for Ann Arbor?

Simply stated – the opportunity to grow. Growth in enrollment area; growth in the number of students we could attract both by bringing back WLPS students enrolled in other districts and expanding our school of choice area northward, and growth through the increased development that is likely to occur in Whitmore Lake if it is part of AAPS. We have taken a pro-growth stance in Ann Arbor, under the shared leadership with our new Superintendent, Dr. Jeanice Swift, which has resulted in the largest fall enrollment increase in our district in a decade! With additional students come additional funding, the possibilities of greater financial stability and the flexibility to create and implement new and innovative educational programs across the district – bringing in more students and families!

If you believe, as many of us do, that in the current State funding climate traditional public schools with a strong reputation, such as Ann Arbor, will need to “grow, or die”, and annexation is a way to gain capacity – adding students and enrollment area within the current district and utilizing buildings and properties that already exist in WLPS.

There is also the potential to bring additional program choices to current AAPS students, such as attending a small comprehensive high school.

Who will be in charge of the expanded AAPS district after annexation?

The Ann Arbor Board of Education, the AAPS Superintendent and the current AAPS administration will be the governing and administrative bodies for AAPS as they currently are. The Whitmore Lake Board of Education, Superintendent and central administration will all be eliminated, resulting in some of the savings and efficiencies you would expect through annexation efforts.

What if we just let Whitmore Lake dissolve– won’t we get all of the benefits without the tax increase?

We won’t get the tax increase, but we will also not get all the benefits. Each of the previous district dissolutions in the State was unique to that district’s specific circumstances, and we would expect any such dissolution in Whitmore Lake would be as well. However, local State Representative Adam Zemke has publicly stated that those forced dissolutions were very difficult for the affected students and communities, and, in each case, neighboring districts also were affected.

For a tax rate increase of .3 mills or less, AAPS will receive all of Whitmore Lake’s current students, all their buildings, a new set of taxpayers funding our district, and the potential for growth in that population that an AAPS education might attract. We also receive the 1.4 million dollar annexation grant with the possibility of an additional grant next year. Our legislators have also asked their colleagues to increase our per-pupil funding even more than the $100 annexation bonus if we complete annexation, and, though this is uncertain to pass, it is certain to not move forward if annexation doesn’t.

And, like a local millage, annexation is a pro-active step we can take here in our community to raise additional funds and steer our educational path.

How will this annexation affect my child’s education in Ann Arbor?

Annexation is not expected to affect the quality of education in the current Ann Arbor district in the short-term – but is hoped to improve our prospects for all students in the long -term. If the combined district were able to successfully add students, attract taxpaying businesses and development, and raise property values over time, this could improve educational programming for all our students, and strengthen our long-term financial sustainability.

Does Whitmore Lake support school millages the way we do in Ann Arbor, and if not, what does that mean for the success of such measures?

As I previously said, Whitmore Lake has approximately 6% of the total likely voters of the combined Ann Arbor/Whitmore Lake voting pool. While they did recently vote down a bond issue, they have voted to support programs and facilities to benefit their students in the recent past.  They approved the bond to build a new high school (completed in 2006) and voted in support of the last county-wide Special Education millage, as examples.

If it is such a good deal for Ann Arbor, why was the AAPS Board not unanimous in placing the question on the ballot?

Those Trustees that were enthusiastic in putting the ballot question to the voters and are pro-annexation saw the positive growth potential, the additional funds that would come through grants and increased student enrollment, the acquisition of additional buildings and grounds to support those increases, the additional voice we might have in guiding educational policies as the 4th largest district in the State (and one who had successfully completed an annexation to the benefit of both districts), and the relative small scale of the millage increase, the workload, and the Whitmore Lake electorate as being worth taking on the potential challenges. They also saw the dissolution of the Whitmore Lake Public Schools as a real possibility within the next two years, and any benefits after that dissolution that came to Ann Arbor would be much harder to leverage toward our overall financial stability and our long-term growth prospects.

I would say all Trustees felt sympathy (and empathy) for the position in which Whitmore Lake finds itself, and expressed a sincere appreciation for being asked to help and to fully explore the possibility of annexation.

I encourage you to continue to consider this matter and seek out any additional information you need prior to casting your vote. To help with this, I also encourage you to attend any of the remaining community forums on annexation in Ann Arbor scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, October 21, 6:30pm-7:30pm Huron High School Cafeteria, 2727 Fuller Rd., Ann Arbor
  • Thursday, October 23, 6:30pm-7:30pm Pioneer High School Cafeteria Annex, 601 W. Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor

I also encourage you to read through the online Annexation FAQ document and the slides presented at each of the forums that have been posted on the Ann Arbor Public Schools website.   You may also submit additional questions there to help us update and improve on this important informational resource! There are also a number of articles, podcasts and links to other forums held in Whitmore Laker available from a variety of media sources as well as on The Whitmore Lake Public Schools website.

We are striving to be one district with one vision – that of continuing and increasing the educational excellence and opportunities for ALL our students through combining our efforts and extending our outreach. Our aspiration is to indeed be stronger by joining together!

If you have any additional questions, or would like to set up a time to speak with me, please do not hesitate to contact me at mexicott@aaps.K12.mi.us.

Sincerely,

Deb Mexicotte, President

Ann Arbor Board of Education

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35 Comments to Letter to the Community on Annexation

  1. Colleen Seifert // October 17, 2014 at 6:06 pm //

    I ask that your (and the board’s) massive contribution of energy and initiative surrounding annexation be redirected toward improving the existing A2 School System, such as following science-based recommendations for later school start times in adolescence.

  2. AAPS News Editor // October 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm //

    Dear Ms. Seifert,
    AAPS conducted a start time assessment about two years ago. At that time it was determined that while there was some data to support this there was also data that did not support this move and created other issues such as after school activities, athletics and jobs that some teens rely on.

  3. Henry Chang // October 17, 2014 at 9:05 pm //

    How about an analysis of student/teacher ratio? We need more teachers, and less admin. It seems to me, it will hurt the current students body if you see from this angle. Just want an honest answer from you, please don’t tell me the effects will be minimal.

  4. AAPS News Editor // October 17, 2014 at 9:16 pm //

    Mr. Chang. The class size in AAPS schools should not be impacted by this. We have been able to hold class size stable this year.

  5. Rosa Clemson // October 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm //

    If the WLPS were to be the same student/teacher ratio as AAPS, how many more teachers would they need? Please answer with specific number. Thanks.

  6. AAPS News Editor // October 17, 2014 at 9:32 pm //

    We do not have that specific number but we do not expect our teacher/student ratio to change. Students living in Whitmore Lake will continue to attend their schools unless the apply through in-district transfer to another school that has open seats, which is available to all AAPS students.

  7. Rosa Clemson // October 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm //

    I find the link.
    Let me do the calculation for you based on the link
    http://www.a2schools.org/aaps/files/district_statistical_analysis.pdf
    1167/16838*950 -62 = 3.84 more teachers needed for WLPS.

    How many support stuff does WLPS need to cut to match the student/support stuff ratio in AAPS? You will be surprised:
    111-930/16838*950=58.5! WLPS will need to cut 58 ‘support staff’ to match AAPS current ratio. What actions will AAPS take to keep the ratio the same? I really don’t like the comments that AAPS is so big compared to WLPS, after merge nothing will affect AAPS. Every teacher for education counts. Every effort pay off for our students. Don’t just say it is small amount. We don’t elect a BOD that says small teacher size change doesn’t matter. 58 ‘support staff’ cut doesn’t matter.

  8. Are you being intentionally misleading about the millage increase facing Ann Arbor families? Your numbers – 0.25 increase for Ann Arbor, 0.37 decrease for WL – are for *the first year only*. AAPS’s own statistical analysis reports the AAPS increase rises to 0.44 in the 2nd year while the WL decrease grows 2.26 (numbers per http://www.a2schools.org/aaps/files/district_statistical_analysis.pdf)! In fact, this is simply a dramatic transfer of AAPS resources to WL, allowing them to avoid paying off the debts they incurred building their new school. It is shameful that the board is asking AAPS students to provide almost $85,000 in annual subsidies ($5/student foundation loss * 17,000 students) and AAPS households to provide over $2,200,000 in annual subsidy ($5 billion AAPS homestead tax base * 0.44mil) to WL!!! Yes, we get $1.4 million from the state; but you (AAPS) claimed we needed $4.3 million to cover the costs of annexation. You say we get 3 school buildings; you fail to note that the middle school was shuttered in part due to the steep costs of the maintenance needed (new roof, among other things) to make it usable (WL residents themselves saw the foolishness of investing in that building and voted against a bond that was primarily intended to fund that maintenance). Bizarrely, according to the statistical report I cited above, you also seem to plan on keeping WL’s outrageous 2:1 staff:teacher ratio even as we subsidize them. There is nothing about this proposal that benefits anyone at AAPS other than the AAPS superintendent and board, by giving them prestige among their peer group of school administrators. Your complete failure to address the legitimate arguments against annexation from several board members – dismissed here as, apparently, their short-sighted, small, thinking compared to your big-picture view – is completely inappropriate politicking in a document distributed by official AAPS channels.

  9. Doug Portz // October 17, 2014 at 10:54 pm //

    What will the millage increase be for Ann Arbor taxpayers if the WLPS high school bond is not restructured post annexation? (e.g. the WLPS high school bond is handed over to Ann Arbor taxpayers “as is” without ANY assumptions of refinancing)

  10. Thanks for trying to be as transparent as possible on the Annexation issue and for leaving comments/questions open on this letter.

    I actually support the _concept_ of annexation but am not liking this _specific_ proposal much. As many ways as I try to look at it, it seems to bring additional costs and risks to current AAPS students and taxpayers in exchange for kind of speculative future benefits. Meanwhile, it asks nothing of Whitmore Lake voters in exchange for a solid line up of benefits that accrue to them alone. I understand that the BOE was sympathetic and wanted to remain collegial with partners in the state and in the WLPS BOE, but it doesn’t feel like it was the best negotiated outcome on behalf of current AAPS constituents.

    Why can’t we have some of the following nice things:

    – Multi-year phase in of teacher pay parity and evaluation criteria. The $1.4M in annual additional pay for Whitmore Lake’s existing teaching staff erodes nearly all of the added per pupil funding from the state, leaving very little extra for other operating expenses and the ongoing costs of bringing Whitmore Lake back up to par academically and programmatically. Also, it can’t be good for morale for our existing AAPS teachers who’ve been dealing with pay freezes and reduced resources for several years. Couldn’t pay parity be phased in more slowly over 3 to 5 years with some sort of teacher evaluation process baked in to ensure that the new teaching staff meets AAPS standards?

    – Wait for State to approve per pupil funding increase of $150. The proposed additional PPF of $150 from the state would go a long way to making AAPS whole in this annexation. The current added PPF of $100 just doesn’t seem like it does. If we as voters approve annexation without this in place first, we’ll lose all leverage with Lansing and the State has proven to be an unreliable partner in the past, vis a vis funding.

    – Whitmore Lake retention of at least some of their debt. Passing on nearly all of the debt of WLPS to Ann Arbor tax payers while actually reducing Whitmore Lake’s total tax burden is a pretty hard sell. Couldn’t some percentage other than all or nothing have been worked out in which WLPS constituents retained at least some of the burden of their past choices? I would love to see WLPS tax payers to actually be paying at least a token amount for the benefits they’d be getting in the annexation, rather than AAPS tax payers to be paying for them.

    – Death to “Grow or Die.” (just the phrase!) In corporate America growth may (or may not!) make sense as a business model, it’s less clear that it does in education. Eventually we’ll have deflected all the students we can from, mostly excellent, neighboring districts into Schools of Choice and then, what?, we’re dying again? Growth may mask other budgetary or operational shortfalls, but only temporarily. Let’s make our rallying cry something more like “Sustainable excellence!” (Not sexy and pithy, I know, but so much more worthwhile.)

    I appreciate your thoughts!

  11. Maintaining the student/teacher ratio is one thing what about reducing class sizes?

  12. You write “They will all bring the new blended AAPS per-pupil foundation allowance with them (as opposed to their current WL per pupil foundation allowance if they came to us through school of choice or initially through forced dissolution of the WL district).”
    The state law says “(5) If a tax is authorized within a receiving school district at a rate greater than the rate authorized within the dissolved school district at the time of the dissolution, the tax may not be levied within the geographic area of the dissolved school district until approved by the school electors residing within the geographic area of the dissolved school district or by all school electors within the receiving school district, including any expanded geographic area of the receiving school district resulting from attachment under this section.”
    That would seem to indicate that WL would not retain its lower per-pupil rate permanently, but that it could be brought up to match Ann Arbor’s per-pupil rate. Have you investigated this? What do the AAPS’s lawyers say? If annexation fails, and the WL district is dissolved and a portion sent to AAPS, how long before the former WL district per-pupil rate can be raised to match AAPS’s rate?

  13. Sharon Simonton // October 18, 2014 at 3:17 pm //

    Will the $100 addition to the per student foundation grant be maintained or is this a one time incentive for annexation?

  14. I did read the amount of grant money AAPS would receive for the annexation, but did not read the dollar amount it would cost. I’ve heard from others that it is about $3 million. Is that accurate?

    How will the WLPS teachers be included in the AAPS salary structure? Will it be necessary to open the teacher’s contract to include them?

    How will we be able to handle more technology and building needs when we can’t keep up with our existing needs? I understand that our Technology Dept. has lost staff members who will not be replaced which has placed a burden upon the existing staff. I know many Ann Arbor teachers, including myself who have work orders in for classroom needs with a lengthy wait time.

  15. AAPS News Editor // October 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm //

    Please check out the recent document on our website that address some of these questions.
    http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/aaps/files/district_statistical_analysis.pdf
    The offset of eliminating the Whitmore Lake administration equals the amount needed to bring up the Whitmore Lake teachers to the current AAPS salary schedule which is @$1.4 million. It will not be necessary to open up the contract. They will be included as AAEA members if annexation is passed.

    The grant that was awarded by the state of $1.4 million is separate money that will be used to fund the annexation. While this is less money than we requested it will be enough to fund the initial annexation but it will not provide enough funding to bring do things in Whitmore Lake such as add additional AP courses and additional curriculums the first year.

    A complete examiniation of the technology needs in Whitmore Lake is being assessed. We are not promising an identical program at this time.

    If you have a work order with IT that has not been met please email Merri Lynn Colligan for more details.

  16. AAPS News Editor // October 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm //

    The $100 per student addition is ongoing. Rep. Adam Zemke has presented a bill to raise this to $150 but that won’t be brought before a vote until after the annexation vote.

  17. AAPS News Editor // October 20, 2014 at 2:57 pm //

    It is our understand that if a district is dissolved their current per pupil funding is what is “brought with them” to their new district. That is the way Buena Vista and the Inkster dissolutions were handled by the state.

  18. AAPS News Editor // October 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm //

    If funding is brought back to public education then we would of course prioritize class size. This year we were able to maintain class size at the current rate.

  19. AAPS News Editor // October 20, 2014 at 3:01 pm //

    The state has requirements in the annexation proposal which are clearly stated in the law. It does not allow for a phase in of teacher salaries. Legislation had to be introduced to raise the $150 per pupil increase which was done by Rep. Adam Zemke. The legislature did not take action. Rep Zemke and Rep. Rogers from the Whitmore Lake area attempted to pass this bill prior to the vote but there was obviously not the will of the body to do this. Rep Zemke is confident it will pass if annexation passes.

  20. AAPS News Editor // October 20, 2014 at 3:02 pm //

    Mr. Portz,
    Please see this link with some of this information from Stauder Barch. I believe it will answer this question.
    http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/aaps/files/taxramifications.pdf

  21. AAPS News Editor // October 20, 2014 at 3:06 pm //

    The numbers (with a link here) were assessed by Stauder Barch, a separate firm who has posted the millage rate increasing. These are the facts of the tax ramification of this proposal. The Board of Education decided to let the voters decide if annexation, including assumption of debt, is something they can agree upon.

    AAPS asked for the entire $4.1 million in the state grant. We could, of course, have been able to spend that entire amount for the annexation transition. It would have met more parity for Whitmore Lake. We can still accomplish this annexation with the $1.4 but it will mean that things such as number of AP offerings and language offerings will not equal what AAPS provides to students. We will ask again for additional grant funding if the annexation is approved.

  22. I concur with “Parent // October 18, 2014 at 9:20 am.” It’s a hard sell for us to pay more taxes with the benefits unclear. The deal as proposed seems too one-sided. That may not accurately reflect the situation, but if not, my confusion is likely due to “too little too late” in the way of explanation. (Feels like “Library Expansion Redux.”)

    Unless the benefits become a lot more certain and clear, we plan to vote “no.”

  23. AAPS News Editor // October 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm //

    This is why the Board is bringing this decision to the voters. Please also consider the long term of bringing more students into the AAPS district as well as the outcome of dissolution of Whitmore Lake and the impacts not only to that community but to surrounding communities. Buena Vista is an example of what dissolution did to this community and the surrounding communities.

  24. Colleen Seifert // October 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm //

    The Board’s decision two years ago is out of date with the current recommendations of the American Pediatric Association for school start times no earlier than 8:30 for middle and high school.
    My point is a more general one: You are obviously devoting a lot of effort towards the annexation issues; what about devoting some effort to concerns raised by parents of existing A2 schools?

  25. The AAPS students have seen several changes to programming over the past years such as decreases in PE and arts, along with class sizes creeping upwards. I wish that the amount of effort being put into this annexation proposal was being put into getting creative about how to truly best serve our students and families. Into trying to brighten the future of AAPS children without simply “eating” another community’s system in order to try and bring in a few more dollars (that sound like they will not actually go to benefitting our current students) that will maintain the status quo. This letter was fascinating yet focused so much on the dollars and infrastructure that will be acquired with little to no discussion of tangible benefit to the children. As an Ann Arbor City taxpayer, I am left feeling almost more confused than before.

    I just do not understand how this proposal will be good for my children. I keep defending the AAPS to my friends and colleagues who are sending their children either out of district (Dexter in particular seems a popular choice) or to private schools. This letter makes me feel as though my loyalty may well be misplaced.

  26. AAPS News Editor // October 22, 2014 at 2:29 pm //

    AAPS has been pleased to be able to have a commitment to student curriculum including the arts at all grades. While we have faced challenges in funding, as have every district in the state, we have been able to hold class size firm and have added two world language programs plus American Sign Language throughout the district as well as a variety of new initiatives such as STEAM, IB at Mitchell, Scarlett and Huron as well as additional Young 5’s programs throughout the district.

    Please visit the district website a2schools.org or attend the next forum this Thursday, 6:30 at Pioneer to learn more about the annexation proposal. It isn’t simply “eating” away another district. It is taking a district that is near deficit and facing probably dissolution and embracing their students, creating an additional AAPS neighborhood. We have been frank that there will be no immediate impact to current AAPS students. What we are trying to achieve is a way to enlarge AAPS, bringing in students at the AAPS per pupil funding level, building our per pupil revenue and allowing WL to maintain their neighborhood schools before it is “done” to them by way of an emergency manager or dissolution. Under dissolution AAPS would be assigned students and possibly schools at the $2000 lower per pupil rate. Please check out the video and power points to answer some of these concerns.

  27. Thanks for your response. I have read up extensively on the proposal and cannot make it to the forums.

    I regret my choice of words in “eating” another district. My point was that the AAPS would be taking over another district seemingly for the gain of the dollars and infrastructure. That is how this letter ends up coming off to me, as someone who has followed this issue closely.

    I am glad for the additions to the AAPS offerings over the past couple of years. I was pleased to see an expansion of the Young 5’s program and am curious to see how to addition of two new World Languages, Chinese and Arabic, go in the classrooms. These are certainly items of interest to me and my family. Every district faces funding issues (which should generate creativity in how to make the changes shine instead of tarnish even when it may not be a welcome change).

    Although I did not state it in my first comment, I am also baffled as to why there does not seem to be a tax increase to Whitmore Lake coming with the annexation proposal. Why is this? To increase the taxes for AAPS residents feels very one-sided and I can understand where a lot of the frustration is coming from as stated by other folks commenting on this page and in the community generally. I am all for doing good deeds and helping an underdog, but why is Whitmore Lake seeming to not stand up for their own schools by funding them? Ann Arbor City taxes are already pretty hefty and I am unsure of why another district would choose to join another as opposed to raising their own taxes to support themselves. Did the voters in Whitmore Lake previously decline to support the schools? As an Ann Arbor City resident I wonder why me and my neighbors should be left holding the bill for this while Whitmore Lake has the option of increasing their offerings to their students through joining with AAPS without chipping in financially. (I apologize if this has been heartily addressed elsewhere, as I was unable to find this answer.)

  28. Shannan Gibb-Randall // October 23, 2014 at 10:36 pm //

    It seems strange to me that Whitmore Lake would join with Ann Arbor, when they have several other vital districts that are clearly more ‘neighbors’ to them: Brighton and South Lyon. Though they share a border with Ann Arbor’s district, they are much more connected in terms of where they shop and hang out, whereas Ann Arbor feels more remote from their center. Word on the street from someone I know in South Lyon says that they are a poorer district that doesn’t have as much emphasis on academics and that developers in the area steer clear of putting anything new up in the Whitmore Lake district in order go to either the Brighton or South Lyon schools. Do we know who we are joining with? Do they share similar values as we do? Would they vote for another technology bond in the future? Their track record doesn’t seem too impressive. It seems that we would be saving the day, but not getting much in return, and could even be saddled with their own issues. I wonder why they didn’t go to their more obvious neighbors–do they know more than we do?

  29. AAPS Parent // October 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm //

    I, too, am concerned about the impact on class size and attention to facilities at our current neighborhood schools under this new “Grow or Die” mentality. While there has been a great deal of attention paid to the newer start up schools like the STEAM school, my child is currently in a class of 31 third graders at Haisley which is in clear violation of the AAPS class size guidelines. So statements on this web site and in other AAPS pro-annexation presentations that you have been able to “maintain appropriate class sizes” in recent years are flatly not truthful or transparent (we also had 4th grade classes at 31-32 pupils per class at Haisley 2 years ago).

  30. The question, “If it is such a good deal for Ann Arbor, why was the AAPS Board not unanimous in placing the question on the ballot?” was not answered. Only the pro-annexation views were explained. As board president, please explain the other points of view, in addition to the fact that those opposed feel empathic towards Whitmore Lake’s situation. We need to understand both points of view, and are only reading one.

  31. Hsin-hsin // October 26, 2014 at 8:39 am //

    This would feel more fair if WL’s taxes went up too. It looks to me that WL gets all the benefits AND their taxes go down, while AA pays for their HS and higher teacher salaries and increased programming. A terrific deal for WL students and taxpayers, while our taxes go up and our per-pupil goes down by $5 per student.

  32. AAPS News Editor // October 28, 2014 at 5:18 pm //

    There is no plan to redistrict.

  33. AAPS News Editor // October 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm //

    Each board member has their own vote thus you will need to ask the board members who did not vote to support this what their reasons are.

  34. AAPS News Editor // October 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm //

    We are very pleased that we are able to hold class size to the same level this year and able to address any class that was over the contracted limit. It is always our goal to maintain and possibly reduce class size. The addition of the Whitmore Lake schools will not impact class size. Class size was reduced last year from the two year size you mention.

  35. AAPS News Editor // October 28, 2014 at 5:23 pm //

    Many of the districts to the north of Whitmore Lake are in deficit and not able to accept annexation including Brighton and Pinckney. Due to the borders on the south of Whitmore Lake and the majority of students living in the Washtenaw County portion of their district, the boards decided Ann Arbor was a more likely choice for annexation.

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