Speak s-l-o-w-l-y, I’m blonde

EMF redux… Sorry, I know some of you are probably sick of reading as a baggy old kayak woman who is woefully under-educated about politics and governmental budgets and all that stuff tries to make her way through the labyrinth. But this came in to my email box this afternoon. (Uh, hey A2.com, this is an *important* story, so I am puzzled about why I couldn’t just type your url into my browser and find a link to it.) In short, the Great Lake State is cutting what amounts to $15 million (or maybe $21 million) from the Planet Ann Arbor public schools budget for the next year. (Correction: I meant to say we will have a $15-$21 million budget *deficit* next year. My bad.) If I have it right, that’s around twice as much as our school district was expecting.

So if I have it right, a number of years ago, funding for our schools was much more locally controlled. That was perceived as unfair and I don’t totally disagree with that perception. We shifted much of our funding over to the state. (Right? Help me out here.) Now. Housing prices are in a tailspin (thank you very much all you investment bankers, what do you do for a living, again?) and property tax assessments are going down along with them so our school revenues are down anyway (roight?). Add to all of that the standardized testing and unfunded mandates from the fed. No Child Left Behind anyone? I doubt that the Planet school district will ever fall into the clutches of an EMF but I can’t help thinking that there are districts in our state who will lose so much money via the budget cuts that they won’t be able to operate and will thereby be assigned an EMF.

I get that local boards are not always that good at handling money. Over the years (when I have been paying attention) our school board has been known to do some incredibly ridiculous things. Just a couple of those things… 1) After years and years of whining about not having any money, we somehow found enough cold, hard cash to build a third huuuuge new comprehensive high school. 2) Our loverly school board has decided to pay our next superintendent upwards of $250K a year. Folks, the superintendent’s office here has a revolving door. What are we paying these people for? What the heck are they doing? I think for the most part we are paying big bucks for our superintendents to put things on their resumes.

There is a dilemma (or two or three) here. We need to have school boards (and administrations) who are financially responsible. But we also need to let local communities have some input into how their schools are managed. The important stakeholders in this equation are the teachers and the students. It seems as though those people are being left out of this argument with the state budget and legislation. There has to be a better way.

Now. An EMF might be a good idea for the Planet A2 city council but this s-l-o-w blonde will try to tackle that one on a later date.

Okay. Today. When I got to work, I took today’s photooo right next to my parking place. There were still some crusty old snowbanks and the pond was iced over but, as I walked from the Dogha to my office building, my ears were filled with a cacophony of birdsong. Ducks, geese, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer… The Admiral (my fave great blue heron) is still at Suzie’s in Fla, I guess. This afternoon, the baggy old gals on my work team “bonded” by taking a walk through the parkland that surrounds our building and the adjacent neighborhood. At the time we walked, the small ponds had no ice but the big ponds were still pretty much covered. By the time I left work at the end of the afternoon, the ice was pretty well reduced.

6 Responses to “Speak s-l-o-w-l-y, I’m blonde”

  1. Marquis Says:

    Anne, I think that you are smart enough, good enough, and gosh darn it, people like you! Express your opinions, don’t be afraid of any push back. This is your soap box. You own it! Everyone else is just a guest.

  2. Margaret Says:

    Go for it!! You make a LOT of sense and ask the right questions. In my state our schools get money from the government and can ask our community for a certain percentage of levy money for maintenance and operations(called very creatively an M&O levy). However, we also can ask our community for a bond to build new schools/facilities. By the time we do that our schools are woefully crowded or falling down. I think the state will pay matching funds if we qualify according to a formula–like we have x degree of overcrowding. Gee, I’m boring myself. Is that you I hear snoring all the way from Michigan? 😉

  3. Becky Courtois Says:

    There has to be a better way to fund the school districts. I think we have about 550 school districts in Michigan – that sure seems like a high number with our population decline. The Utica school district, where my kids go, is the 2nd largest in the state. Does the fact that it’s bigger make it better – no – but there are some efficiencies of scale. I agree that local input is important and the voices of the students and teachers must also be heard. I guess we just need to get back to the basics of education, how we do that I just don’t know.

  4. jane Says:

    it’s stunning the amount of snow that melted yesterday! soon I will be able to pull all the way into my parking spot without several feet of packed snow at the front of it!

    as for schools and budgets and EMFs — not a clue.

  5. Uncly Uncle Says:

    Good comments Anne. There was a time when taxes were raised and controlled locally. So if you aspired to work hard to live in a community that voted higher taxes to support your schools, you had better schools for your own children. Your reward for aspiring to do and have more. The State decided that it was “not fair” (as if you stole the money from someone else) and confiscated the locally raised taxes and redistributed them, at pennies on the dollar, along with costly mandates on how it can be used. These are the donor districts.
    Of course school districts like Detroit got more than they paid in in taxes. The corruption and abuse in Detroit, declining population = a drop of 180,000 students to 68,000 in 12 years, yet they still have infrastructure for 110,000 students. Every attempt at reformation has been thwarted by (for lack of a better term) politics. That is why they now have a Emergency Financial Manager for the DSD. (With the coolest name, Bob Bobb.)
    Meanwhile, donor districts (who send more to Lansing than they get back), are making the hard choices and balancing their budgets. For their fiscal responsibility, the State rewards them with the same amount of cuts the abusive districts get.

  6. Margaret Says:

    So, the children of the parents who don’t work hard(the kids’ fault?) or don’t vote for higher taxes(the children can control that?) are throw aways or somehow undeserving? That is anathema to the ideals of public ed.