March 21, 2014
By Tara Cavanaugh
In the face of a projected $10.7 million budget gap, the district is seeking to add additional revenue.
That’s the message Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift discussed with the Board of Education during a study session at Skyline High School on March 19 before the regular meeting.
“We really have arrived at a crossroads in Ann Arbor Public Schools,” Dr. Swift said, “precipitated by multiple years of budget reductions, a decline of more than 200 students this year, and the reality that even though the state is recovering fiscally, those resources that were lost are not being restored to K-12 public education at any significant level.”
Dr. Swift has pledged no reductions in services to students, no increases in class sizes, no teacher layoffs, and no additional cuts to 7th period, performing arts or athletics.
The district anticipates making up $4,683,500 of the $10.7 million deficit through: continued austerity measures, leasing property, attracting additional Young Fives students due to the program’s expansion, making additional central office reductions, and securing Medicaid reimbursements.
In effort to generate the remaining $6,016,500, the district is considering: a special education millage, a potential increase in the county’s special education reimbursement rate, potential reductions informed by audit processes, additional enrollment, potential sale of property, philanthropic endeavors, and other options.
AAPS Finance Director Nancy Hoover offered several explanations for the current budget deficit:
- The district had a decrease in enrollment of 200 students for the 2013-2014 school year. This caused a loss of over $1.3 million.
- Retirement costs have increased: the district is now responsible for nearly 30 percent of retirement costs; for FY 1999/2000, the district was responsible for just 12 percent.
- Annual health costs have doubled since FY 1999/2000; the district now pays $12,582 per employee.
- The district’s per-pupil funding from the state has decreased. Current per-pupil funding is back to the level it was in FY 2001/2002.
Hoover also highlighted an overall $1.831 billion disinvestment in K-12 education by the State of Michigan each year. That $1.831 billion annual decrease is due to a reduction in the Michigan business tax, a reduction of General Fund support to the School Aid Fund, and an increase in expenses covered by the School Aid Fund.
“This is nothing short of shocking,” said board trustee Christine Stead. “The disinvestment in K-12 funding across the state is just incredible.”
The district’s fund balance, which is essentially its savings, has decreased dramatically from over $36 million in FY 2003/2004 to a projected 5.53 million in the second quarter of FY 2013/2014.
The district has cut nearly 300 full-time employees since FY 2009/2010 due to fiscal challenges.
Superintendent Dr. Swift is focused on adding value to the Ann Arbor Public Schools by attracting more students through innovative programming. The district is opening a K-8 STEAM school at the Northside location, launching the online A2 Virtual+ Academy, making 750 Schools of Choice seats available, adding more world language instruction and opening a new Pathways to Success alternative high school campus for the 2014-2015 school year. The district is also considering implementing an International Baccalaureate program at Mitchell, Scarlett and Huron.
“We must secure a path forward to support our Ann Arbor children,” Dr. Swift said. “We must innovate and build our way to a better fiscal day in AAPS.”
Dr. Swift is seeking community feedback regarding next year’s budget. She is holding several community meetings next week at the AAPS middle school locations. All meetings will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 25: Slauson Middle School
- Thursday, March 27: Scarlett Middle School
- Monday, March 31: Clague Middle School
- Tuesday, April 1: Forsythe Middle School
- Thursday, April 3: Tappan Middle School
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