Community meeting begins an important conversation

The community meeting tonight at Burns Park, sponsored by AAPFS and the Burns Park PTO, marks an important beginning for the Ann Arbor community. The event brought together parents, teachers and interested citizens, to hear from and ask questions of the leaders of our school system. Of course, there is never enough time to address all the topics on participants’ minds, but some important questions were raised tonight, and honest answers given.

Our panel included Superintendent Todd Roberts, School Board Trustee Glenn Nelson, AAEA (teacher’s union) President Linda Carter, AAPS Education Foundation director Wendy Correll, and Burns Park PTO president Helen Starman. We were also fortunate enough to have State Rep. Rebekah Warren with us, and she was able to give us the perspective of the lawmakers in Lansing. In the time available, we were able to discuss the current budget bind facing the district, the effects of Michigan’s school funding system on our budget, the impact of middle school restructuring, the pros and cons of opening a new high school, teacher morale and effectiveness, a possible county-wide tax millage, and using private giving as a substitute for increasingly scarce public dollars.

There were many more excellent questions submitted by audience members, and over the next day or so we will be setting up discussion forums on this site to encourage continued conversation on these issues.

We also hope to have an audio recording of the meeting available on this site, and possibly a summary transcript.

I want to thank everyone who came out tonight, including the teachers and parents in the audience and our panelists, for taking the time for this event even in this incredibly busy time of year. This will be the first of many gatherings, large and small, which we will be sponsoring as time goes on. If you were not able to join us tonight, I hope you can come to one of our future events.

Tonight was a great start to getting parents, teachers, and administrators to speak to each other openly and honestly. If we can do that, we can begin to work together to ensure Ann Arbor’s schools continue to do their best for our children.

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Nice story in the AANews, and News education blog

Our meeting got a nice, though brief, write-up that made the front page of Wednesday’s Ann Arbor news. Check it out here:
http://www.mlive.com/news/annarbornews/index.ssf?/base/news-23/118174567...

The News has also started an education blog covering Washtenaw and Livingston counties. It’s a good chance to comment on the news and to see what the paper’s education reporters have to say beyond what makes it into print:
http://blog.mlive.com/study_hall/