Jan. 31, 2014
By Tara Cavanaugh
After hearing from over 2,000 members of the Ann Arbor community, including AAPS staff, students, parents and community leaders, it’s time to take action.
That’s the message from AAPS Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift as she presents the findings of her three-month “Listen and Learn” tour of all the district schools. This week and next, she’s holding community meetings at the AAPS middle schools to share the tour results as well as the district’s plans for the upcoming school year and beyond.
“I’m pleased to report that there were many people at every school forum, and there were clear and distinct major patterns,” Dr. Swift said at the first meeting on Jan. 30 at Forsythe. “It was really clear what Ann Arbor said.”
The tour was the first phase of the district’s work, Dr. Swift added to the room full of parents and AAPS staff. “Now it’s about getting busy and about taking action steps.”
Next steps include:
Creating an Assessment Advisory Board
Many parents shared feedback about testing practices at the Listen and Learn tour meetings. The Assessment Advisory Board will examine current assessment practices, understand state requirements and bring forward proposals to the Superintendent to inform the district’s Assessment Plan for 2014-2015. Applications to be on the board are available now.
Since winter break, custodial staff have been spending more time creating clean and well-cared for environments in every school.
Sharing the Listen and Learn Tour Report and Feedback and Doing More Analysis
Dr. Swift is sharing the tour results in community meetings at the middle schools. The first meeting was at Forsythe on Thursday. The next are:
- Clague, Monday, Feb. 3, 6:30-8 p.m.
- Scarlett, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 6:30-8 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 5, 6:30-8 p.m.RESCHEDULED FOR Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6:30-8
- Tappan, Thursday, Feb. 6, 6:30-8 p.m.
The results are also summarized in a 12-minute video (available below) and in a PDF of the report compiled by a team of researchers at the University of Michigan that analyzed all of the written feedback from the tour.
Creating the Blue Ribbon Advisory Board
A large group of community leaders from many sectors, including business, nonprofit, and higher education are weighing in on the Listen and Learn findings and advising the Superintendent on next steps.
New Programming Enhancements Coming in the 2014-2015 School Year
This week the Board of Education approved several new enhancements at AAPS schools for next year:
- Creating a K-8 STEAM Campus at Northside
- Co-locating A2 Tech, Roberto Clemente and alternative programs at the Pathways to Success Campus
- Creating the A2 Virtual+ Academy
- Expanding preschool to Thurston and Allen
- 1:1 Technology Initiatives for Bryant and Pittsfield K-1 classes, the Northside K-8 STEAM school, and Pathways to Success Campus
- Expanding Young 5’s Program to two more elementary buildings (to be announced next week)
- Expanding World Language (Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Arabic or Japanese) to select elementary schools
(More details about these initiatives here)
Ensuring an Open and Collaborative Budgeting Process
The district will provide many opportunities for the community to learn about and provide feedback on the budgeting process for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. These opportunities will begin next month.
Establishing Consistent Communication
Dr. Swift plans to create consistent and ongoing communication, both internal and external to the school system. “Listening and learning won’t stop just because the Listen and Learn tour is over,” Dr. Swift said Thursday night. “This will be characteristic of how we do business all along.”
All comments will be approved and moderated. Please see the new AAPS News Commenting Guidelines.
I appreciate having online access to the presentation. The presenttion is well done, and informative. Many areas of work are idnetified an I urge they be prioritzed and given schedules with certain areas needing to receive greater priority. You have already moved in that direction but one area that I feel is not being adequately emphasized is the budgeting and strategic planning process. I would like to see a budget calendar publicized and communication about the budget process and how the AA public school stakehodlers can participate.
I urge the AAPS, while it advocates for improved funding, not to become identified with political groups. Doing so will cause the Ditrict to lose support among some of its stakeholders. It should stick to advocating for an improved share of State financial resources as sound public policy that builds value for all citizens. At the same time efficient use of funding must be an area AAPS excels in and is known for.