The Importance of a Safe and Positive Learning Environment

March 27, 2015

Hello Ann Arbor Community,

When we consider the importance of quality schools in a community, we know right away the critical role of excellent school systems to develop our children academically and socially. We recognize the value of our community schools as they graduate generations of our children and produce citizens who will serve and lead our community, our country, and our world. In considering our quality schools in Ann Arbor, we know the Ann Arbor name represents an exceptional education; our current students, alumni, and our community are evidence of the excellence embodied in the name: Ann Arbor Public Schools.

The physical environment of our schools plays a critical role in supporting a safe, productive, and positive experience for our students and, coming up on May 5th, we have a wonderful opportunity, with no increase to our current tax rate, to renew our Ann Arbor Public Schools learning environment in the following ways:

  • acquire new school busses, upgraded with GPS and security equipment,
  • replace & enhance playgrounds at elementary schools,
  • remodel for more secure school entrances,
  • purchase additional musical instruments, and upgrade performing arts facilities,
  • renew athletic fields, and
  • replace classroom furniture.

Functional, well-maintained, and high-performing schools are a top indicator of the health and vibrancy of a community; the presence of quality public schools prove a ‘pulse point’ within a city and across a community. Schools are a primary attraction for relocation to the area and directly impact real estate values. Investing in maintaining our physical properties is both a community priority and our shared responsibility. Keeping our schools updated, in sound working order, and ensuring they are sustainable places to deliver education, both for today’s students and for the generations to come, pays forward the public trust that has been provided to us by those who came before. The responsible caretaking of our school buildings is an important priority in ensuring that we continue the legacy of quality that is characteristic of Ann Arbor.

I know we are proud of our Ann Arbor students, our beautiful school buildings, and the important role they serve within our vibrant Ann Arbor community.

Please join me in voting YES on May 5th to support the continuation of this important bond issue. Our children are counting on us.


Jeanice K. Swift

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  1. The best AAPS education we experienced was through my oldest daughter at Community High School, a well-worn building with mismatched furniture, little to no extras and the most dedicated teachers/staff around. Please remember that people figuratively line up to get into our no-frills Community High and many are turned away, including, unfortunately, my two other daughters! Please keep this in mind when proposing to spend millions on refurbishing AAPS buildings. Mismatched chairs work fine. The teaching staff makes the difference!!
    (A sparkling new building didn’t come close to the Community experience when my second daughter was at Skyline, although we did have a few very fine teachers…dedicated teachers make schools attractive!! FYI, we are considering Father Gabriel Richard for my third daughter who didn’t get into Community.)
    Also, we parents/community members around Skyline did kick in quite-hefty sums of money to purchase the new grand pianos there because apparently the district wouldn’t match the other high schools’ equipment. If the other schools DO get new pianos, we hope that Skyline kids get something equally awesome to compensate! 🙂
    To sum up, please don’t spend money just to be flashy. Safety, yes–secure visible entrances make sense–but please think about what each individual school needs and not just replace perfectly usable items for appearances’ sake. Less extensive/complicated playground equipment can make for much more creative play time. Incidentally, school communities coming together to install playground equipment and lay wood chips, etc. (saving money!) can help to bond a community and get kids to ‘buy into’ respecting the property as well.
    I do understand bulk discounts for mass replacements may come into play in decision making, but is there a way to keep a fund earning interest somewhere and then consider replacements/repairs on a case-by-case basis as needed? (For example, I support working musical instruments but they don’t need to be top-of-the-line/shiny and new.)
    Also, the “new” (when the building went up) sound/electronics system at Skyline’s auditorium is NOT what you want as you update equipment in other buildings. I don’t know if it’s operator error or bad equipment but feedback, difficulty hearing and poor lighting (even simply speakers’ faces being in the dark, etc.) are commonplace in Skyline’s auditorium even though the system is “updated.” By all means, replace the aging stage stuff that doesn’t work for theater/arts kids but make sure to get warranties on the equipment and/or training for those who will be using it! New equipment that doesn’t work is wasting money.
    Also, please do fix holes in athletic fields and try to improve drainage but nothing fancy! Thanks for listening. I took the time to write this note because I know it will be read and considered and THAT is an awesome trait. Thank you.

  2. I’m glad to hear that AAPS is finally planning to make the entrances to public schools more secure. My understanding is that each of the schools currently leaves the front door open all day, which seems like an outdated and dangerous policy in today’s world. I had heard two years ago that the policy would change so that all doors were locked and would be equipped with some sort of system to ascertain who was at the door before it was opened. I certainly hope that these enhancements are put into place quickly to keep our students safer. Thank you.

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