Jeanice Swift

Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

An exchange program bringing together educators from Ann Arbor and Singapore is letting the districts learn from each other.  An 11 day visit by teachers from the Southeast Asian island country wraps up Thursday.


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

For years Ann Arbor Public Schools have fought to close the achievement gap that exists between different sub-groups of students.  The district now has a shining example of what can be done.


Whitmore Lake Annexation Defeat
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Whitmore Lake Public Schools officials need to consider other options to avoid falling into deficit.  Voters in that district approved annexation but residents in Ann Arbor Public Schools rejected the plan.


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools have fallen a bit short of their target of adding 400 new students this year.  But, student increases may have come from the right places to keep the budget balanced.


STEAM at Northside
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Two of the biggest changes in Ann Arbor Public Schools this year are STEAM at Northside and the Pathways to Success Academic Campus.  Enrollment is up at both schools and work continues on building expansion plans.


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Students in Ann Arbor Public Schools have more classmates this year. Preliminary numbers indicate efforts to boost enrollment are working. 


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

In November residents in the Ann Arbor and Whitmore Lake school districts will decide if annexation plans move forward. Ann Arbor Public Schools officials think decisions made in the coming weeks in Lansing will be important to voters.


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

In her first year on the job Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift led a wide variety of changes in an effort to meet community desires and boost attendance.


From the Listen and Learn tour, to a budget strategy that focused on increasing enrollment new superintendent Jeanice Swift is getting high marks from the Ann Arbor School Board.  


Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor Public Schools leaders get a chance to present funding concerns to the state board of education this week.  Tuesday's meeting comes on the heels of the legislature approving a K-12 budget that forced the district to delay approving next year's budget.  

  
Ann Arbor Public Schools
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

The Ann Arbor School Board has taken steps towards completing next year's budget, but chose not to vote on the plan Wednesday night.  The delay is designed to give more time to adjust spending based on the state's new K-12 funding model.  


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.

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 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. 

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.

The Ann Arbor School Board has asked administrators to move ahead with a series of program enhancements for the next school year in an effort to better fill the district’s buildings.

The improvements include a K-8 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics program at Northside Elementary, pre-school programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary Schools, and co-location of a variety of alternative High School programs at the Stone School building.

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the programs came from community comments raised during her Listen and Learn tour and staff did enough prep work so they can be ready this fall.

The board is expected to get more complete reports on the program enhancements at their meeting next week and could vote on them with two weeks.

School Board President Deb Mexicotte says the quick turn-around should work since the controversial issues like co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech have been worked on by the district over the last few years.  She says most of the other changes come directly from what the community asked for repeatedly during the Listen and Learn tour.   Mexicotte says the district is finding ways to respond quickly to community needs without additional funding.

The programs were part of seven next steps Superintendent Jeanice Swift made as part of her report on the listen and learn tour.  Swift gave her initial report on the tour at the board retreat.  The report will be available online at the district’s website Friday and Swift will hold public meetings to get feedback starting Tuesday at Clague Middle School.

At the retreat the board also worked on establishing board and superintendent goals, and discussed the superintendent evaluation.

Mexicotte says it’s great to see that the program enhancements being considered work toward achieving many of the board’s goals.  She says this shows the board’s goals are aligned with want the community wants to see from the district.

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

Up to 5% of Ann Arbor Public Schools students in the fall could be coming to the district from other school districts in Washtenaw County.  The school board Wednesday night voted unanimously to open 750 school of choice seats for out of district students. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the jump in school of choice seats is one of several efforts to better fill the district's classrooms.

The district has increased the number of school of choice students attending in each of the last four years, but never has filled all of the available seats. 

To help fill the spaces this year the district is planning a marketing campaign and district officials hope having spaces in all grades except the last two years of high school will help attract families with multiple children.

School of choice applications will be accepted March third through April first.  From Friday through February 14th the district will accept applications for in-district school of choice for students who don't want to attend the school where they live.

Ann Arbor Public Schools will offer over 225 online classes to middle school and high school students this semester. 

The school board Wednesday night approved the district's virtual academy's catalog, and also approved opening ten seats in one algebra class to students from other districts. 

School board member Christine Stead says new state laws regarding online learning are yet another unfunded mandate, but the district is working to make the best of the changes.

District officials are hoping to learn a lot from offering the single algebra class to students from other districts.  They expect to have many more online classes available to students from other districts in the fall. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says with the uncertainties around new state laws about online classes every district in Michigan is facing similar challenges.

The deadline for registering for online classes this semester is January 22nd with classes starting one week later.

AAPS

As a cost cutting measure Ann Arbor Public Schools closed tuition based pre-school programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary for the current school year. 

A group of parents however have been working with district officials to create a new pre-school program and hope the school board will begin considering the options later this month. 


AAPS

While students are out of the classroom for the winter break, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift is working on a report from her  four months long Listen and Learn Tour. 

Swift attended about 90 meetings including one in every school in the district to get feedback on the common themes and patterns that are concerning the district.  Swift says her report should serve as a good outline of issues that the district needs to tackle.

Swift says she expects about a half dozen issues the district will be able to tackle immediately, while many others may take years to fully address. 

Swift says the Listen and Learn tour also served as a valuable way for her to get to know about the unique story behind each neighborhood school.

 — Andrew Cluley is a reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him aCluley@emich.edu.

 

Early next year Ann Arbor Public Schools will have a better idea on how effective and efficient their behind the scenes business practices are. 

The School Board last night unanimously approved a contract for up to $45,000 with Plante Moran for the audit. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says since the board originally budgeted up to $80,000 for the audit they will be able to dig deeper into issues raised from the review or other sources.  Swift says the audit, her Listen and Learn report, and a benchmark study comparing the district to six similar districts should all be completed in late January or early February.  She says this will give the district a good 360 degree look at the health and overall function of the district.

Pages