In lieu of state funds, Ann Arbor Public Schools will charge almost $15,000 tuition for some non-residents. The school board approved the maximum tuition the state allows for students that missed schools of choice enrollment or aren't eligible.
Additional students, a freeze on employee pay, and outsourcing custodial work are keys to Ann Arbor Public Schools having a balanced budget for next year. The school board approved the $197 million general fund plan early Thursday morning.
The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education has approved hiring company to run its custodial services starting in July. The Ann Arbor News reports 114 custodians will no longer be employees of the district as of June 30. Crew chiefs also would be laid off.
WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board approving a variety of new programs for next school year.
The changes include co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech High; a K-8 science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program at Northside Elementary; and new pre-k programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the next step is creating committees of staff, students, and community members to develop the detailed action plans for each new program.
School board president Deb Mexicotte says the programs are designed to keep costs down but it's still a calculated risk that the new options will attract more students.
The programs are designed to respond to some of the most common concerns raised by community members during the Listen and Learn tour.
There has been positive community feedback about the Pre-K programs at Allen and Thurston and the STEAM program for Northside Elementary. Several Roberto Clemente supporters however told the board they have concerns about what will happen when they move into the same building as Ann Arbor Tech.
WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board collecting information on possibilities and limitations of various revenue enhancements.
The Ann Arbor School Board continues to do preliminary work on studying increasing revenues through some type of a millage.
An Ann Arbor School Board Ad-hoc committee says a rec and ed millage would provide the district the ability to offer additional non-credit programs, but not shift much money from the general fund. School board member Glenn Nelson says the rec and ed millage would be valuable in terms of offering non-credit programs that compliment other programs. He says it would be particularly valuable for early-childhood education where a four day program could become a five day program with a recreation program on the extra day.
The board also created a new ad-hoc committee to do a similar analysis of a county-wide enhancement millage and an increase in the special education millage. Both of these efforts would require county-wide support while the rec and ed millage would likely raise less money but only require support from district voters.
The report on an enhancement millage and an increase to the special education millage are due in mid-March when the board will discuss what if any millage question they might want to put on the ballot.
The Ann Arbor School Board has asked administrators to move ahead with a series of program enhancements for the next school year in an effort to better fill the district’s buildings.
The improvements include a K-8 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics program at Northside Elementary, pre-school programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary Schools, and co-location of a variety of alternative High School programs at the Stone School building.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the programs came from community comments raised during her Listen and Learn tour and staff did enough prep work so they can be ready this fall.
The board is expected to get more complete reports on the program enhancements at their meeting next week and could vote on them with two weeks.
School Board President Deb Mexicotte says the quick turn-around should work since the controversial issues like co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech have been worked on by the district over the last few years. She says most of the other changes come directly from what the community asked for repeatedly during the Listen and Learn tour. Mexicotte says the district is finding ways to respond quickly to community needs without additional funding.
The programs were part of seven next steps Superintendent Jeanice Swift made as part of her report on the listen and learn tour. Swift gave her initial report on the tour at the board retreat. The report will be available online at the district’s website Friday and Swift will hold public meetings to get feedback starting Tuesday at Clague Middle School.
At the retreat the board also worked on establishing board and superintendent goals, and discussed the superintendent evaluation.
Mexicotte says it’s great to see that the program enhancements being considered work toward achieving many of the board’s goals. She says this shows the board’s goals are aligned with want the community wants to see from the district.
Ann Arbor Public Schools planned to borrow money up to three times during the school year to address cash flow issues caused by a smaller fund balance than in previous years. The district has now made it through two of the three months that were most likely to require borrowing without needing to seek outside cash.
Chief Financial Officer Nancy Hoover says the planned use of $1.7 million in fund balance this school year, means they may still need to borrow money in June.
Hoover adds, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District helped the district avoid the need to borrow money in December by making a bill for transportation services not due until this month. The city of Ann Arbor also helped the district avoid the need for borrowing in December by quickly remitting some of the taxes they collect for the district.
Hoover says the district's budget included spending $200,000 in interest payments which most of these have now been avoided.
WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Public Schools opening up 750 seats for school of choice students from other Washtenaw County school districts.
Up to 5% of Ann Arbor Public Schools students in the fall could be coming to the district from other school districts in Washtenaw County. The school board Wednesday night voted unanimously to open 750 school of choice seats for out of district students.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the jump in school of choice seats is one of several efforts to better fill the district's classrooms.
The district has increased the number of school of choice students attending in each of the last four years, but never has filled all of the available seats.
To help fill the spaces this year the district is planning a marketing campaign and district officials hope having spaces in all grades except the last two years of high school will help attract families with multiple children.
School of choice applications will be accepted March third through April first. From Friday through February 14th the district will accept applications for in-district school of choice for students who don't want to attend the school where they live.
WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board approving the catalog for online classes available to district students through the Ann Arbor Virtual Academy, and opening one class to a limited number of students from other districts.
Ann Arbor Public Schools will offer over 225 online classes to middle school and high school students this semester.
The school board Wednesday night approved the district's virtual academy's catalog, and also approved opening ten seats in one algebra class to students from other districts.
School board member Christine Stead says new state laws regarding online learning are yet another unfunded mandate, but the district is working to make the best of the changes.
District officials are hoping to learn a lot from offering the single algebra class to students from other districts. They expect to have many more online classes available to students from other districts in the fall.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift says with the uncertainties around new state laws about online classes every district in Michigan is facing similar challenges.
The deadline for registering for online classes this semester is January 22nd with classes starting one week later.
The Ann Arbor School Board is maintaining the same leadership positions as last year.
The board held its organizational meeting Wednesday night and President Deb Mexicotte was unanimously re-elected. Christine Stead will remain vice-president, Andy Thomas continues as secretary, and Glenn Nelson is still the treasurer.
Mexicotte says with the new superintendent in place and program changes to be considered the board wanted to maintain some stability in an area that's working well.
The board also made no changes to standing committee assignments. However the future of an ad-hoc committee investigating options around a possible recreation millage is up in the air after they present their report in two weeks.
School Board President Deb Mexicotte says the new rules will put some limits on what is available, but doesn't eliminate all snacks. Mexicotte adds, that it doesn't affect food brought to school by students or parents. The new rules also end 30 minutes after the school day so concession stands at evening events don't have to adhere to the guidelines.
Mexicotte believes the school stores, vending machines and fundraising efforts will face the biggest challenge from the new rules. She says Chartwells has been planning for the new requirements for some time so the food available in cafeterias should be able to meet the new rules.
Ann Arbor Schools officials say eight years of providing quality, on-line classes have the the district well positioned to meet new state regulations mandating more online offerings. Starting in January, all public districts in Michigan are required to allow students from fifth grade through high school to take up to two online classes, per academic term. Anthony Lauer is the Online and Options Coordinator in Ann Arbor, and says the district is working with the state to finalize details on its online options.
Some school board members expressed concern the new law lacks assurance of quality of education and is more focused on driving down educational costs. Some also questioned whether expanding online options to elementary and middle schools students serves the nest interests of the students.
For a complete report, listen below to the full report from WEMU's Andrew Cluley.
Ann Arbor Public Schools will continue to participate in three county-wide, alternative programs for high school students. The Board of Education Thursday night voted to maintain it's relationship with the consortium that includes the Early College Alliance (ECA), Washtenaw International High School (WI-High) and Widening Achievement for Youth (WAY) program. The resolution calls on Superintendent Jeanice Swift to target no more than 10 spots in the WAY program, 35 new slots in the E-C-A, and 40 new slots for Wi-High. District officials had called into question whether Ann Arbor should continue in the consortium, citing a lack of transparency and communication with Washtenaw Intermediate School District officials that op[erate the program. WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel apologized for communication issues and says they will do better in the future. Ann Arbor school board members also accepted some of the blame in the communication break-down and for missing consortium meetings. For a full report, listen below.
Officials in the Ann Arbor Public Schools are hoping to quickly work out a contract with the Board of Education's choice for district Superintendent. As WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports, the School Board last Friday, voted unanimously to offer the job to Brian Osborne. Osborne is currently Superintendent of New Jersey's South Orange and Maplewood School District.
The Ann Arbor Board of Education continues to grapple with exactly where to make about nine-million dollars in budget reductions. As WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports, the board last night held a public hearing on it's proposed plan.
There will be three occasions next fiscal year for which the Ann Arbor Public schools will have to borrow money to cover payroll costs. As WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports, the Board of Education last night passed as resolution authorizing establishment of a line of credit of up to 10-million dollars.