The Schools' Fiscal Cliff
"People love their neighborhood schools," says Mexicotte, "and if we do close a school we may use it for another purpose, another K-through-eight school like Ann Arbor Open, or a language immersion school--something that would attract students."
There are students to attract: currently, 1,200 school-age children in the Ann Arbor district don't attend the public schools, instead choosing charter, religious, and home schools for their education. That costs the district about $12 million in state funding.
"Parents will rightly do what's best for their kids," says Nelson. "For us, we're going to have to be the best, so charter schools aren't as attractive an option."
Meanwhile, the latest budget cuts are taking another bite out of the district's schools. "The reduction in the teaching staff will cause an increase in class sizes," emails Huron High principal Arthur Williams. "Additionally we will have a reduction in the number of classes we can offer. Our building budget will be reduced, [and] the replacement and repair of equipment will be affected." And that's just the top of his list.