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The Communicator

Live Updates: School Board Meeting

Coverage of the AAPS School Board’s May 15 2024 meeting to provide a comprehensive budget plan update.

Prior to 7:00: Teachers and community members gather in front of Pioneer High School, rallying in support of Ann Arbor educators.

7:18: Public commentary begins, with one minute allotted to each speaker.

7:31: Robert Lavelanet, CHS teacher speaks to the board. “I cannot speak for all but I believe those present want at least one thing from this body, a long term plan,” Lavelanet said.

7:38 : Jessica Rodriguez, teacher at Wines Elementary continues the discussion. “You have put this weight on our backs and we have refused to carry it for you,” Rodriguez said.

7:49: Nine elementary school World Language teachers comment on the value language education brings to the community and the proposed cut of all elementary school world language programming.

8:15: The Ann Arbor Education Association report begins with Fred Klein acknowledging numerous specific ways teachers have gone above and beyond in the past weeks.

8:25: A comprehensive update on the budget plan commences. Superintendent Jazz Parks begins by first expressing the AAPS school board’s commitment to equity.

8:43: After a break, Parks lays out a list of items that will be maintained in the new budget plan, including performing arts and music options for all students, environmental education programs, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs at various schools, district-wide support for mental health needs and all athletic opportunities in secondary schools. Parks also announces that the district will continue its use of Schoology despite reducing its role in elementary schools across the district.

8:50: Following the announcements of what will be maintained, Parks presents which cuts will be made in AAPS’s schools in order to strive to make up the budget deficit. Cuts include World Language education at the elementary level, a reduction in band and orchestra co-teachers, reducing IB program staffing costs, eliminating full time A2 Virtual online instruction at the elementary level and closing all middle school pools with the exception of city-operated Mack Pool.

8:54: Staff reductions are detailed. About 142 staff, representing 6% of district employees are expected to be laid off. This will make up an estimated $14,702,747.

8:57: As it stands, the budget plan is set to make up $20,447,267.

9:00: Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Marios Demetrius presents the district’s multi-year forecast.

9:07: District staff present the details and timeline of how the district will go about their layoff and recall process. On May 20, the final list of reductions will be give to district HR. On June 4 and 5, impacted staff will be informed. Finally, on June 5, notices of layoffs and recalls will be emailed to all staff.

9:15: Parks states next steps for the budget plan. Emphasizing and encouraging prompt notification of which teachers will be laid off, Parks opens the meeting up to discussion within the board.

9:31: Board member Susan W. Schmidt calls for a vote on the budget plan, “Rally, toughen up and take this vote…” Schmidt said. Board members Rima Mohammad and Torchio Feaster agree. Board members Jeff Gaynor and Krystle DuPree ask for more clarity on the plan.

9:43: “My question to each of us is what will it take for each of us to support this tonight?” Board member Susan Baskett said. “I am not understanding that there will be any new information coming tonight or next week.”

9:51: Demetrius iterates that the longer the board waits to make a decision on the plan, the worse the situation will become, stating that “time is of the essence.” The board continues deliberate, with member Ernesto Querijero speaking in support of World Language and IB programs. Querijero suggests building sales as an alternative that would impact the AAPS student experience to a lesser extent.

9:59: Feaster motions for a vote on the plan while DuPree proposes postponing the decision to a later date. Debate continues, while Querijero agrees with DuPree’s sentiment.

10:06: Mohammad motions to meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20 which leads Feaster withdraw his motion to vote.

10:13: Board discussion is interrupted by audience members. “We have voices,” an educator said. “Hear us.”

10:18: The motion for special meeting on Monday, May 20 to further discuss and move toward a decision on the budget plan passes.

10:24: Most teachers and community members leave the meeting while the board moves on to discuss routine renovations and purchases within the district.

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About the Contributors
Claire Lewis
Claire Lewis, Journalist
Claire Lewis is a junior at CHS, who's in her 4th semester on staff. She loves writing, both in class and out. She likes spending time in the sun, whether that's laying in her hammock alone, or going on walks with friends. When she's not getting sunburnt she frequently crochets, reads, watches movies and listens to music.
Jacqueline Boynton
Jacqueline Boynton, Journalist
Jacqueline Boynton is a junior at Community and is in her first semester on staff. Though it's her first semester on the Communicator, she was The Midnight Sun's social media editor last year. She likes doing theater, singing and traveling during her free time. She loves musicals and traveling to her favorite place, Chicago.
Clara Freeth
Clara Freeth, Social Media Editor-in-Chief
Clara Freeth is a junior at CHS. This is her second year in journalism and her first as a Social Media Editor-In-Chief. When not writing, she can be found playing field hockey as captain of the Ann Arbor Huron varsity team, listening to music in her room, or spending time outside with her friends. Clara is excited about all that this year has to offer!
Lucia Page Sander
Lucia Page Sander, Social Media Editor-in-Chief
This is Lucia's fourth semester on staff and her first as a Social Media Editor-in-Chief. When she's not playing soccer for the Michigan Jaguars or competing for Lily Weightlifting, you can find her in the garden, watching tennis with her family, or jumping on her mini trampoline. Lucia loves surfing, doing the Wordle, climbing trees, and munching on cherry tomatoes. She is beyond excited to see what this year brings both inside and outside room 300.

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    BeckyMay 16, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    Stellar summary, team! I appreciate your diligence to detail.