Ann Arbor Public Schools

Andrew Cluley

The Ann Arbor School Board was set to vote on a balanced budget tonight, but the latest proposal for state funding would leave a big hole to fill.

A House Senate committee's proposal would give the district $2.5 million less than Governor Rick Snyder's plan. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift indicated the board will likely still vote on the original budget tonight.

Ann Arbor Public Schools / aaps.k12.mi.us

Custodians with Ann Arbor schools are considering forming a worker-owned cooperative as part of an effort to keep their jobs if their work is outsourced by the district.    The custodians' union AFSCME Local 1128 voted Saturday to pursue forming the cooperative. The Ann Arbor News reports  the district could contract with the co-op for custodial work without paying into the state retirement system for school employees.

Andrew Cluley

Ann Arbor schools parents are being asked to take an online survey to help the district better serve their children.

The survey asks for input on issues such as access to school leadership, how the district can improve parent engagement, how schools are operating, and how their child's needs are being met. 

link to the survey

Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools welcomes the community to comment on their budget Wednesday night.    

Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Families could soon have the option of paying tuition to have their children attend Ann Arbor Public Schools.  


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Questions about what the coming International Baccalaureate program will mean for Ann Arbor students? Tonight's the first chance to get some answers from the district.   


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Through June 2nd parents from across Washtenaw County can again apply for schools of choice seats in Ann Arbor Public Schools.  The district has gained about 600 students for next school year, but still hasn't filled all of the 750 choice slots initially offered.   

   
google.com

An elementary school student from Ann Arbor is the Michigan winner in a nation-wide contest for K-12 students to design a "Google Doodle" using the theme "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place..."

Hannah Hu is a 5th grader at Logan Elementary School.  She says she and her dad saw a news report about pollution in the world's oceans, and that's how she came up with the idea for her "Ocean Cleaner".

"I thought then maybe I could invent something to clean the ocean," Hu says, "and let the sea animals live happily in the water."

aaps.k12.mi.us

Washtenaw County has some of the best high schools in Michigan, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Ann Arbor Public Schools' Pioneer and Huron High Schools, along with Saline High School, made it into the organization's list of top 20 schools for 2014.

Liz Margolis is Director of Communications for Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Administration Building
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials say they are pleased with the number of schools of choice and young fives applications the district received.  The exact number of applicants won’t be released until next week after all of the applications have been processed and seats are filled.  

Director of Communications Liz Margolis says they have to let parents know by Tuesday or Wednesday the status of applications.


Standard and Poor’s has lowered the Ann Arbor Public Schools credit rating from AA-Plus to A-Plus.  The downgrade came after the district used more reserves than originally anticipated this fiscal year. 

Communications Director Liz Margolis says it’s the second downgrade in the last couple of years, but they shouldn’t continue.

In a statement Superintendent Jeanice Swift says they have in place a solid financial plan to improve fiscal stability.  Swift highlights efforts to increase revenue through attracting more students while also taking steps to decrease expenditures without reducing services for students.  She believes these moves will help the district begin to rebuild fund balance within a reasonable time.

According to Margolis efforts to increase enrollment appear to be working and the district should be able to increase fund equity next year.  She believes this combined with contract concessions the district is working on should lead to higher credit ratings.  Margolis adds since the district has no plans to sell bonds now she doesn't anticipate an immediate financial impact from the credit downgrade.

Patrick Holubick

The Superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools says his district is working in the face of challenges such as charter schools and Schools of Choice to become a top option for cradle to career education.

Scott Menzel says Ann Arbor Public Schools' Schools of Choice push poses a challenge, as does the legislature's removing the cap on the number of charter schools in Michigan. 

Menzel says choice is good - to a point.

Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

The internet provides a powerful tool for students tying to learn, but can also pose big security risks. Officials with Google brought their "Good to Know School Roadshow" to Clague Middle School Thursday to help students avoid dangerous online behavior. 

Ann Arbor Huron High School senior Andy Hsiao is a Distinguished Finalist for Michigan in the 2014 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.  Hsiao was presented with an engraved bronze medallion for the honor this morning.

Hsiao raised nearly $6,000 through T-shirt sales and a benefit concert for victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Since then, he founded Youth Impact, a club that helps to raise money and awareness for charitable organizations with events and projects that are created and implemented by young people.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), represent the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. All middle and high schools in the U.S., along with all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of HandsOn Network, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award last November. Two State Honorees—one middle and one high school student—plus a select number of Distinguished Finalists from each state and the District of Columbia were selected based on criteria such as personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth. 

Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools hopes for a boost in enrollment through schools of choice are down to the final days.  Tuesday at five is the deadline for applications to be completed.  

The district made 750 schools of choice seats available this year and the more students that come to the district the smaller the projected budget shortfall will be for the fall. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says it's hard to know the final number of school of choice kids that will come to the district.


Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Plans to close Ann Arbor Public Schools estimated $10.7 million budget shortfall for next year without cutting in the classroom is getting positive responses from the community.  Superintendent Jeanice Swift was at Scarlett Middle School last night talking about the budget and getting community feedback.

Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials hope to get more pre-kindergarten aged kids registered for programs in the district this weekend.  The district is holding an Open House at the Preschool and Family Center Saturday from 10 until 2.

Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the district will innovate its way through next year’s budget.  The school board began budget discussions Wednesday night with a work session.

Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials are looking to create a k-12 International Baccalaureate program.  The plan would use Mitchell Elementary, Scarlett Middle, and Huron High Schools. 

Andrew Cluley

Thieves stole computers and equipment out of the media centers at a pair of Ann Arbor High Schools Monday night.  

Andrew Cluley

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials are excited to kick off their largest ever Schools of Choice effort.  Monday the district will begin accepting applications to fill up to 750 slots. 

Communications Director Liz Margolis says they’ve carefully looked at current and projected enrollments. After studying these projections they've made seats available for nearly every grade in all of the district's schools.  The district however isn't accepting high school juniors and seniors.

Ann Arbor Public Schools new Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations is excited to work closer to students in a k-12 district again.  The district Wednesday night hosted a reception for Marios Demetriou  who comes to Ann Arbor from the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.  

School Districts across Michigan including Washtenaw County are working to find and verify all students that missed school Wednesday.  That's because the February count day is the basis for ten percent of per-pupil funding.  The bulk of state aid is based on the fall count day.  

Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift's Listen and Learn report did a good job of capturing community thoughts on the district according to Parents and Teachers at a meeting at Forysthe Middle School Thursday night. 

As Ann Arbor Public Schools look to quickly move forward with improvements Superintendent Jeanice Swift is checking that she heard the community correctly during the Listen and Learn tour. 

Swift says the community has a hunger for action steps to follow.

Kim Carver has had students in the district previously and a son coming to Forsythe Middle School next fall.  Carver likes the positive vibe and the lack of defensiveness.

Forsythe teacher, Dan Ezekiel is extremely impressed with the report that he believes does a good job boiling down the input of 2,000 people that participated in the fall.

Swift will hold Listen and Learn follow-up meetings at Ann Arbor's four other middle schools next week.

For more, view the video summary of the Listen and Learn report

AAPS

The Ann Arbor School Board has approved a package of program enhancements designed to attract more students particularly to underutilized schools. 

The changes include co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech High; a K-8 science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program at Northside Elementary; and new pre-k programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the next step is creating committees of staff, students, and community members to develop the detailed action plans for each new program. 

School board president Deb Mexicotte says the programs are designed to keep costs down but it's still a calculated risk that the new options will attract more students. 

The programs are designed to respond to some of the most common concerns raised by community members during the Listen and Learn tour.

There has been positive community feedback about the Pre-K programs at Allen and Thurston and the STEAM program for Northside Elementary.  Several Roberto Clemente supporters however told the board they have concerns about what will happen when they move into the same building as Ann Arbor Tech.

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