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School Board Updates: AAPS moves community meetings due to solar eclipse

Ryan Bezas
AAPS board meeting on March 20, 2024.

On April 2 at 4:51 p.m., Interim Superintendent Jazz Parks emailed the school community to announce that the community meetings originally planned for April 8 to discuss the $25 million budget cut have been moved to Monday, April 15.


In the communication, Parks said that the changes were prompted by “significant feedback” about the need to accommodate the historic solar eclipse on April 8 and expand the meeting’s access to people who cannot attend in person. 


The series of in-person community input meetings scheduled throughout the day on April 8 at Pioneer High School will now be held as a single virtual town hall meeting on Monday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. 


This change will allow us to accommodate staff and families that cannot attend an in-person meeting as well as honor the requests to schedule the meetings after the upcoming historic solar eclipse and important religious holidays.” Parks said. “The meeting will be recorded so AAPS community members will be able to view it at a time that meets their schedule if they cannot watch it live.”


Parks said that more details about the format for the April 15 community meeting will be shared closer to the date.


AAPS has also launched a community survey open to all staff, parents, high school students, and community members to provide feedback on the spending plan and cost-reduction efforts. According to Parks, over 3,000 people have already responded to the community survey, which will remain open here through Friday, April 5. 


“We are appreciative of members of our learning community who have taken the time to participate in our survey seeking feedback about our spending plan and efforts to reduce costs,” Parks said. “Every response is being reviewed and this input will help shape our efforts to address the budget shortfall.” 


MLive has reported several articles regarding the AAPS financial challenge. 


MLive said that Former Finance Director Marios Demetriou, recently brought in to assess AAPS’ financial situation, said, “The district received a letter from the state Treasury Department requiring it lay out a plan on how to build its fund balance back up to 5% of its revenues by March 15. AAPS currently projects to be at 2% of its revenue by the end of the fiscal year.”


A recent article published by MLive in April at 8:10 a.m. reported that “AAPS was able to extend the deadline for its response to April 15” — the same day the community meetings were rescheduled. 


 “The board originally intended to vote on sending layoff notices to all staff and teacher bargaining groups as a preliminary measure toward cutting the deficit, but opted to only send notices to (Association of School and Community Service) members, citing a desire to collect more feedback from staff and district stakeholders,” the article said. 


Parks emphasized the severity of the financial situation in her email. 


“As you likely know, projected multi-year budget shortfalls will require immediate and long-term actions,” Parks said. “According to our financial analysis, the district will need to cut approximately $25 million from the 2024-25 operating budget to comply with state and Board of Education requirements.”


Parks said she is committed to keeping the school community informed and “bringing the facts to light on how we arrived at our current situation.”


“As shared in previous communications, we have engaged the accounting firm Plante Moran to perform a thorough, independent review so we have an accurate picture of our fiscal challenges, and we help prevent situations like this from happening in the future. This independent review is in progress and we expect it to be completed in the near future.”


For more information, Parks encourages the community to review the previous communication and the Frequently Asked Question.

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Jamie Tang
Jamie Tang, Managing Editor
Jamie is currently a senior and has been on The Emery staff for two years. Outside of The Emery, Jamie is passionate about Go, a Chinese mind game with a 3000-year history. She is the collegiate-level American Collegiate Go Association co-founder and organizing director, high school-level American Go Honor Society president and Evanston Go Club outreach director. She’s excited to craft articles that represent the diversity of communities near and far.
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