By Andrew Cluley
Funds for 17 additional teachers, and expansion of programs like world languages and STEAM are included in the 2015-16 budget passed by the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education. The plan calls for $206.75 million in expenditures and $207 million in revenue. The School Board unanimously passed the budget proposal.
The budget is built on the assumption of no additional funding in state aid, while many fixed expenditures are projected to increase. The cost for health benefits is projected to increase by slightly over $1 million and utilities, transportation, and re-opening the middle school pools will add another $1 million to the budget.
Board Vice-President Christine Stead says many other districts in Michigan are cutting staff and programs and increasing class sizes to handle these types of budget challenges. She says Ann Arbor Public Schools continue to move forward by balancing the budget in a way that also strengthens the district’s financial picture long-term. “We’re expecting more students, we’re expecting to hire more teachers,” Stead says. “We think if we’re able to continue to grow in that way we’ll actually be in a better financial position and that’s the environment where we’ll be allowed to do something more for our staff.”
The largest expected increase in revenue comes from bringing more students to Ann Arbor schools. Adding 250 new students will provide an additional $1.875 million in state aid.
The budget also is based on savings of $1.2 million from 35 teachers retiring and their replacements not earning as much. $1.1 million dollars will be raised by the sale of the Roberto Clemente building.
The additional teachers for seventh grade at A2-STEAM, International Baccalaureate Coordinators, and Project Lead the Way will increase expenditures by $1.4 million.
The 2015-16 budget adds about $265,000 to the district’s fund balance, leaving the district at about 6.55 percent of the annual budget.