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IRMA An Expensive Young Thing?

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The director or curriculum planning for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Steven Daniels, has issued a $64,000 cost breakdown for the controversial IRMA - the new service of Information, Resources, Materials and Assistance for teachers. S i n c e a story appeared about IRMA recently in The News, a number of teachers and residents have complained in Reader's Viewpoint Letters about the "cost waste" of IRMA. Daniels has confirmed that the $11,180.48 cost of an IRMA h a n d b o o k for teachers, which will be distributed Jan. 5, included a payment of $1,400 "pro-rata" to his wife, Patricia Daniels. Mrs. Daniels, a former editor at "Philadelphia Magazine" and first editor-in-chief of "Metropolitan Philadelphia Magazine," was responsible for the layout, design, production and editing of the handbook. Daniels also confirmed that the handbook contains a fullpage picture of IRMA's director, Rusty Schumacher, five pages of personal calendars, plus a two-page diagram on how to make a paper airplane. Each page of the 120page handbook cost about $100, Daniels said. A News reader recently wrote a letter to the editor to protest what she called the "repulsive waste" of IRMA, citing the the picture of Mrs. Schumacher, the personal calendar pages and paper airplane directions as examples. Daniels agreed that IRMA service "is new and young; it is natural that it should be tested and its limits probed. But it is also true that any fledgling grows strongest in an open, nourishing environment," Daniels said. "It is my hope that the educational community of the Ann Arbor Public Schools will continue to benefit from the services offered by IRMA," he added. Daniels' explanatory statement on IRMA, including administrative cost figures, follows: "IRMA is an acronym for Information, Resources, Mate r i a 1 s, and Assistance. The most important of IRMA's purposes is to promote sharing between teachers - to act as an open communications center for them. To do this, IRMA: ". . . provides access to information, and answers to questions as diverse as, "How can I teach European History using games?" and "Can I get information about using bicycles to teach physics?" "-has a complete list of community resources for referral and assistance in problem solving. If IRMA cannot help a teacher directly, other sources are consulted; IRMA's policy is to put the 'cliënt' in contact with the resources and keep in touch with himher until a satisfactory resolution has been reached. "- maintains the Teacher Drop-in Center, in what used to be the reception area of the administration building at 1220 Wells St. The center is a combination lounge-work area and library for teachers - as well as the "office" for the IRMA staff. "- will publish the IRMA handbook and bi-monthly supplement to it. The purpose of the handbook is to encourage the interchange of ideas, materials, resources, philosophies, and general teaching methodology, by Ann Arbor teachers. "The Handbook was originally scheduled for distribution on Nov. 3, but the IRMA staff, after reviewing the contents of the production-tothat-date, decided that the needs of Ann Arbor teachers would be better served by a more comprehensive compendium. Accordingly, the IRMA staff will solicit additional information and suggestions which will be incorporated in the expanded handbook to be distributed on Jan. 5. "- operates a 24-hour-a-day, r c a 7-day-a-week telephone, 769IRMA. During working hours the IRMA staff answers a teacher's call and begins action on hisher request immediately. After hours and on weekends a recording device takes a teacher's ' message and the staff acts on it the next working day. "- coordinates the activities of the Assistants for Teacher Services and the Teacher Consultants. The Assistants for Teacher Services program is an outgrowth of the Ann Arbor Education Association's TAEPS proposal, and the four Assistants for Teacher Services were jointly selected by the Association and the Administration. The Teacher Consultants, with minor personnel changes, are the former Reading Consultants. "The responsibilities of both the Assistants for Teacher Services and the Teacher Consultants is to keep abreast of changes and developments in education, share this knowledge with their teaching colleagues, make themselves available for classroom work in problem-solving and, generally link teachers with IRMA and other resources. Naturally, every effort is made to link resources with requests, so that the Teacher Consultants, for example, specialize in working with teachers on reading and reading related matters. "The cost of the IRMA service breaks down in the following way: PERSONNEL: $38,650 ' Director of IRMA 16,000.00. Research Assistants: Two (y2 time) 12,000.00; one (% time) 3,000.00. Secretarial 7,650.00. o o PUBLICATIONS: $11,180.48 1,500 copies brochure introducing service 597.00. 1,500 copise IRMA Handbook 9,583.48. IRMA Library 1,000.00. o o SUPPLIES: $8,500 Printing and duplication of materials for teachers 4,000.00. Purchase of materials for teachers (10 or lesspurchase) 4,500.00. o o CAPITAL OUTLAY: $6,278 Construction of Teacher Drop-in Center and two woman office, including desks, files, typewriters, etc. 5,103.00. Code-a-Phone 875.00. Installation of Xerox 300.00. o o "The total direct cost of IRMA service then, is $64,608.48. "The personnel involved in the Assistants for Teacher Services Program are independently budgeted because that program, though affiliated with IRMA, is an independent operation. The same is true of the Teacher Consultants, one-half of whose salary is paid by the State Department of Education. "This is the ninth week of IRMA's services to teachers. "In the first eight weeks teachers filed 1,225 requests. The 1,225 included 159 requests for Information ("Apollo XV launch and moon exploration," "Outlines and procedures for Planned Program Budgeting (PPB)"; 260 requests for Resources ("University of Michigan meterologist as speaker for elementary class tluring weather unit,'.' "Legal aid clinic to give examples of judicial support for indigents"); 400 requests for Materials, ("Botel spelling tapes," "Recordkeeping devices for individualized instruction"), and other services; 406 requests for Assistance ("setting up a black art program," "Developing a learning laboratory"). "1008 of 1225 requests-to date have been completed. The remainder are long-term items."