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Ann Arbor teachers' union offers alternative cost-cutting options amid looming layoffs

Posted at 5:18 PM, Apr 12, 2024

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — Parents, students, and teachers in Ann Arbor Public Schools are hoping the school board will accept other solutions to the district’s financial problems that don’t involve laying off teachers.

WATCH : Ann Arbor Public Schools approves teacher layoffs to help with budget shortfalls

Ann Arbor teachers protest proposed layoffs at board meeting

“I think there is a lot of room to trim, it sounds like there are a support for things that are required but teachers don’t love and students don’t love and parents don’t love,” said Adelaide Lancaster, parent of three.

Lancaster has three kids in the Ann Arbor Public School District.

She says she hopes the district will work closely with teachers to learn what other things can be cut besides their jobs.

“Teachers have a lot of ideas, families have long wish lists but there are people really close to kids and their education that can help steer the conversation,” said Lancaster. 

I spoke with Fred Klein who is the president of the Ann Arbor Education Association.

“Which is the union that represents the 1,400 plus professional staff of the Ann Arbor Public Schools,” said Klein.

On Thursday, the school board approved teacher layoffs to help with the district’s $25 million budget shortfall.

Klein says the union has offered the district alternative solutions that they believe would help cut costs.

“Looking at things like the expenditures of millions of dollars a year on “P-card” purchases. Those are expenses, they’re smallish ones but when you add all those thousands up over a year, it comes up to $2- $3 million,” said Klein.

Klein also suggested the district cut back on out-of-town traveling.

“If we can’t afford to keep teachers employed, we can’t afford to send people to fancy and air travel, hotels, those kinds of things,” said Klein.

I reached out to Ann Arbor schools' officials to see if they were considering these options. They released the following statement from Ann Arbor schools interim superintendent Jazz Parks:

We welcome feedback, ideas and suggestions from our school employees, families, parents and students as we make the difficult decisions necessary to balance our budget and place our district back on solid financial footing for the years ahead. We continue to welcome feedback from our staff and our community and we will be offering several opportunities for ideas and input as we craft a comprehensive plan that balances our budget while minimizing impact on classrooms and student learning.

The district must make up for the shortfall by the end of the year to avoid a state takeover.

“I feel concerned about a state takeover, I come from a state and area where there were many state takeovers and I know there are several in Michigan as well,” said Lancaster.

Although teacher layoffs have been approved, if the district can find other ways to make up for the budget, the layoffs will not occur.