Ann Arbor School Board Hears Initial Report From Superintendent Swift on Listen and Learn Tour

Jan 22, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift has given the school board an initial report from her Listen and Learn tour.  

Swift gave the school board seven next steps to work on based on the comments made by community members.  These include creating an Assessment Advisory Board, Project Sparkle to improve the appearance of district buildings, and sharing the Listen and Learn Report with the community and seeking additional feedback.  She says the Blue Ribbon Advisory Board will continue to meet, and the district should work towards infusing rich programing into buildings with capacity.  Other steps include an open and collaborative budget process, and better communication throughout the district.

A video highlighting some aspects of the Listen and Learn and the full report will be available on the Ann Arbor Public Schools website Friday.  Swift will also hold a series of meetings starting January 28th at Clague Middle School to share the Listen and Learn report with the community and gather feedback.

The report is focused on the four question areas community members, teachers, and students were asked about during the tour of every district school.  The key areas are areas of celebration, areas of reflection or what needs improvement, dreams for the district in 10 to 15 years and top priorities.

Most frequent comments in Celebration included:

  • Quality of staff was mentioned at every meeting
  • District leverages more resources for students than other districts.
  • Quality Curriculum
  • Partnerships and Community Engagement
  • Diversity
  • Creating rich environment of learning.

Most frequent comments in Reflection included:

  • Funding Challenges around state funding, communication of budget decisions, and equity and equality issues.
  • Student Support and Development focused on more pathways to success, more timely delivery of special needs at a younger age, and better balance of assessments
  • More choices for staff development
  • No tolerance for underperforming teachers
  • Improved appearance of district buildings

Most frequent comments in Dreams included:

  • Maintaining legacy of excellence
  • Have every neighborhood school be excellent choice
  • Prepare students for the world they will face
  • More technology but have it serve the curriculum not just add tech for the sake of more gadgets
  • Sustainability in buildings and food served
  • Additional community outreach and partnerships including working more with the University of Michigan

Most Frequent comments in top Priorities included:

  • Preserving neighborhood schools
  • Don’t narrow curriculum
  • Complete educational program
  • More pathways to success
  • Career connections
  • More language options and at younger ages

— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.