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Uncertain Future Looms If School Millage Loses

Uncertain Future Looms If School Millage Loses image
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Day
7
Month
June
Year
1968
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Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
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(SECOND OF TWO ARTICLES) I What will happen if the Ann I Arbor School District voters say I "No" next Monday? If the opI erational millage package oi 11.66 milis is defeated? It is difficult to predict with [ certainty, since final administrative decisions depend largely on the outcome of negotiations with the Ann Arbor Teachers' Association. But if the millage is defeated, and if another election is not scheduled before fall classes begin, approximately $12_ million will be available to opérate the schools next year. This would be about $5 million less than what Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. has estimated will be needed for 1968-69. (Business Manager George i Balas says another millage elecI tion could be scheduled between I July 29 and Aug. 19, but the city's voting machines could not be u s ed because of conflicts with the regular primary election scheduled for Aug. 6. Paper ballots would therefore have to be used.) A budget of $12 million would be approximately a 30 per cent reduction from the $17.48 million requested by the superintendent for the 1968-69 school year. School Board Trustee Joseph R. Julin says "it is difficult to see how we would be able to open the school system" next year if the millage is defeated. "The reason for this," he says, "is that we would be unable to pay the teachers the salaries they are receiving this year, much less any increases." Some organizations, such asi the Executive Board of the Ann Arbor Citizens' Council, agree with Julin's appraisal. If the millage fails, a recent letter to the council members s t a t e d, "very possibly the question is whether the schools can ate at all in 1968-69." "No responsible voter can disregard the consequences of a failure of the proposed millage . . .," the Council's Executive Board said. School Board President Hazen J. Schumacher Jr. says that it is impossible to predict what will happen next year, even if the millage is approved, because of teacher-board negotiations for a 1968-69 contract. Unless a settlement is reached before the opening date of school, "we cannot guarantee that the schools will open even if the millage passes," Schumacher said. The Ann Arbor Teachers' Association has not taken a stand on the millage, mainly because its members feel the salary raises which would be available if it passes are nominal. Westerman is likewise "cautious" in predicting what steps will be taken in the event the millage is rejected. He said he is prepared, however, "to make recommendations to the Board of Education if it is necessary to make program reductions" next year. And it almost certainly would be necessary, for Westerman says: "There is no way the present program (of instruction) can be maintained if the millage fails." There are a nuníber of steps which could be taken to trim the 1968-69 budget in the event the millage is defeated, according to the superintendent. These include the elimination of all music, art, physical education and foreign languages from the elementary schools; putting all schools on half-day sessions; delaying the opening of Scarlett Junior High, Huron High and Martin Luther King Jr. tary; closing one-third of the present schools to decrease tnaintenance costs; eliminating extracurricular activities from the junior highs and high schools, and decreasing the number of new teachers to be fciired next year, among other things. This last possibility, which would increase the pupil-teacher ratio, is a negotiable item between the Board of Education and the AATA, however. Westerman did not indicate which of the above cuts might be put into practice if the milLage fails. But he stressed that the major principie which would be applied to any decisión of this sort is: "What would be least harmful" to the children? No Ann Arbor organization has made its formal opposition to Monday's millage proposal known to The News. It has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Issues Committee of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors, the ParentTeacher Legislative Committee, the American Association of University Women, the Citizens Council for Good Schools, many of the local Parent-Teacher Organizations, Youth for Education and Schools (YES), a student group at Ann Arbor High School, and the Executive Board of the Ann Arbor ' Citizens' Council. Trustee Paul H. Johnson was the sole school board member to vote against placing the millage proposition on Monday's ballot. He has explicitly stated his opposition to the millage, charging the school board and administration with "fiscal irresponsibility" in formulating the proposal and the 1968-69 budget. Student Numbers Rising Constantly This photo, taken at Pioneer High School this week, illustrates the growing number of students in the Ann Arbor School System. About 18,000 students now altend the schools and more than 21,000 are expected by 1977. More than 1,000 new students are expected to enroll next year. The Board of Education, in its cainpaign for Monday's millage election, has contended that the growing school enrollment is in part responsible for the need for more school taxes. An 11.66-mill package will be on Monday's ballot.

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