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Posted on Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor's advice for new superintendent: Build a culture of openness, accountability

By Danielle Arndt


Superintendent-elect Jeanice Kerr Swift calls on a community member at a Q&A session at Skyline High School on July 17.

Daniel Brenner | file photo

Ann Arbor wants a superintendent who is visible, accessible and invested in the community; who can overcome financial challenges to ensure better academic outcomes for all students; and who can improve efficiencies, board relations and administrative practices in the district.

But how does a person do all of these things in a district that "chews up superintendents and spits them out?" as one school board member said.

Listen and collaborate, communicate openly and hold others accountable — that's what some community members and past superintendents say will be keys to success for superintendent-elect Jeanice Kerr Swift.

Swift, an assistant superintendent in Colorado Springs, Colo., was offered the job of superintendent in a 4-3 vote Wednesday, after the Board of Education's top choice for the job turned it down.

Provided a contract agreement can be reached, Swift will be the district's fifth superintendent in a decade — sixth if the tally includes former Deputy Superintendent of Operations Robert Allen, who served as a yearlong interim in 2010-11.

super tenure chart.jpg

Chart looking at past superintendent tenures.

Controversy plagued the departure of three of the last four permanent superintendents.

Rossi Ray-Taylor was forced out by her Board of Education in 2003. In 2006, two weeks after George Fornero resigned, he informed the community that the under-construction Skyline High School was a year behind schedule and $3.3 million over-budget. And the district's most recent superintendent, Patricia Green, couldn't shake the community's reproach of her $245,000 salary. She also was criticized for a lack of visibility and for maintaining a residence in Maryland.

So how can Swift avoid the controversy of the past, stave off burnout and be successful? What should her first items of business be? contacted a number of notable community members and past superintendents to see what advice they have for Swift.

Culture of Openness

Ray-Taylor, who now owns an education consulting business in Ann Arbor, said the most important thing Swift can do is spend a significant amount of time collaborating with and listening to the board, the community members at large and the district's teaching and administrative teams.

"All have voices, experiences in our local history and interests that can be very helpful to a new superintendent," Ray-Taylor said. "The next piece of that is to focus and act — to take all of that information, focus it down, and use it to lead and drive your action."

Ray-Taylor talked about how doing what's best for learning must be any superintendent's "compass" and beyond that, the other factors that should come into play are those things that make up the "fabric of the schools."

"For example, in Ann Arbor, the arts are a huge point of pride for the community," Ray-Taylor said. "In some communities, the arts don't resonate as much, but it's a critical piece of the educational experience in Ann Arbor. … And swimming. Swimming is huge. … Without these, you risk losing some students to charter schools."

She cautioned the new superintendent against becoming distracted by voices in the community that could cause her to stray from her internal compass. Ray-Taylor said Ann Arbor is a strong and vital school district that continues to be regarded as one of the best.

"It should always be among the top pacesetters. (Swift) should use the local expertise to help it maintain its status."


Kathy Griswold

In Swift's 90-day entry plan, which she presented during the interview process, she talked about how her first order of business would be visiting all of the school buildings. And community members were happy to hear that.

"She definitely needs to get out into the schools," said former school board member Kathy Griswold. "I would say rather than relying on her cabinet to introduce her to Ann Arbor, she needs to look to the community leaders, to parents and to principals to drive her around and get her acclimated.

"The previous superintendent (Green) relied on her cabinet to bring her up to speed, and the environment at Balas (central administration) is very different. They have a different view of the operation," Griswold said.

Former district superintendent Todd Roberts, who now is the chancellor of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, was candid with his advice to the new superintendent about coming to Ann Arbor.

"Be prepared to work an awful lot," he said.

Roberts also said it's important to effectively utilize the dedicated people not only within the district, but also in the greater community.

"You can't do it all as superintendent and you have to rely on the talented people you have. I also really found that the people in Ann Arbor, even outside of the public schools, are very invested in education and want the district to be the best it can be," he said. "Tap into that."

Griswold said she would encourage Swift to form an advisory committee of community leaders to guide her during her transition into the district.

"The more people working with her and who feel part of the solution, the fewer naysayers there are going to be," Griswold said.

Roberts recommended Swift set aside some time on her calendar each week for talking to the public. He also encouraged her to make sure she is not just engaging those people who want to be engaged and come to her, but also the people who are not coming forward and are not heard from as often. Roberts said Swift should not be hesitant to accept invitations from the community.

He said Ann Arbor has a lot of bright kids who can "lend a lot to the conversation," so he encouraged Swift to include students in decision-making processes and brainstorming sessions whenever possible. However, he lamented that in a district the size and composition of Ann Arbor and with the financial challenges that districts everywhere face, Roberts said: "You don't get to spend as much time around students as you probably would like."


Todd Roberts

The topic of media relations came up throughout the superintendent search process. School board members stated specifically in their superintendent profile that they wanted a candidate with demonstrated experience working with the media.

"I probably saw the Ann Arbor News and reporters more than I saw my wife," Roberts said.

Griswold said she was happy to see Swift granting interviews to the media already.

"The district has been very guarded in the past two years. So I hope (Swift) will continue to have a different attitude. I think we need to do more with social media in the district, too," Griswold said.

Increase Accountability

University Bank President Stephen Lange Ranzini and local blogger and parent Ruth Kraut both said they would like to see Swift do away with the "just FOIA that" mentality of the previous superintendent and the central administration.

"If it's easy to provide, it should just be provided," Kraut said. "It contributes to a feeling of openness. … I think there were a lot of misunderstandings that arose under Pat Green because there wasn't a culture of openness."

Aside from improving external communications and access to district documents and information, community members stressed a need to improve accountability — program, personnel and budget accountability.

Both Griswold and Kraut advised Swift to do a thorough evaluation of the district's programs to see which are working and providing results to students. They said the programs that are not should be done away with and other options explored.

"There should be no new programs initiated until she gets a process in place for accountability. … And I'm a big believer in pilot programs. There is no reason for district-level mandates before we know if something is going to work," Griswold said.

Reading intervention is one example of a program Kraut said should be studied. It was a hot topic during the most recent budget cycle because central administrators wanted to reduce the number of reading intervention specialists. But Kraut said she never heard any real facts presented on how the reading intervention program and staff affect children's reading levels or about how reducing the program would have a different outcome.

Ann Arbor Administrators Association Co-President Kathy Scarnecchia said she thinks Swift adequately articulated during her interviews that she plans to look at all of Ann Arbor's programs and initiatives and evaluate them. Scarnecchia said the next step of prioritizing the initiatives will be important.


Kathy Scarnecchia

"I'd like to see her dig into what's going on and making a true list of priorities and narrowing the focus so we can do a few things really, really well," Scarnecchia said.

Ranzini encouraged Swift to evaluate staff and to "get the wrong ones off the bus." He made particular mention of principals and holding principals accountable.

Ranzini said Swift should "focus like a laser beam" on completing a zero-based budget that includes a profit and loss statement for all 31 schools — "so each can be managed to a budget, and the principals held accountable if they fail on either the revenue side or expense side."

Scarnecchia also had thoughts about the budget.

She said she hopes Swift will be able to come into the Ann Arbor Public Schools, conduct a quick review of the budget that was passed in June and reassure everyone in the school community that it's solid.

Scarnecchia said in the past few years, despite making drastic budget cuts, there have been a number of "surprises" that have come up midyear.

"I think the community needs to be reassured that we'll have a great year and that as the school year goes on, the budgeting is going to hold up and there won't be any budget freezes to fix problems," she said.

Professional development for teachers also is something Scarnecchia would like to see Swift address. She said there are ways principals and teachers can work together to provide cost effective professional development.

"Personally, I was impressed with her background in curriculum … and feel she can make sure we have teachers learning all the time," Scarnecchia said.

"… I always felt that Ann Arbor's leadership was shared until the past couple of years. But I have faith that (shared decision-making) is the leadership style of Dr. Swift … and that it's her desire to be collaborative."

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

While I am usually one to encourage patience, I am getting nervous. Is there no news on the negotiations?


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

I think the turnover in supers was due to hiring the wrong person(s). This should be a tough, long hours type of position that pays very well and the person doing it should be doing it for the betterment of the students, all the students. I think some of the past supers were in it for the money or as a stepping stone to another position when the going got tough. Good luck Dr. Swift, I hope your are exceedingly successful.

Ann Arbor Parents For Students

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

I keep making the same point and someday, someone will address the issues. 85% of the budget is staff salaries and benefits that were secretly negotiated on March 31st and we were all told that the teachers were taking a 3% decrease in pay. This is only 3% on their step increase they automatically receive every year which is around 6%. -yes that is a 6% raise every year and I am not sure that includes cost of living. They are not taking a pay cut!!! A pay cut is making $60,000 and now making $57,000 not making $60,000 and next year making $61,800. I am not even going to try to understand the benefits and how we are going to afford this. My fees just went up $1000 for my kids to pay sports and now you think you are going to ask for a millage? GIVE ME A BREAK! Do you really wonder why people are leaving the AAPS and going to charter schools?

Wake Up A2

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 3:43 a.m.

This is only for teachers with ten years or less...thats is the step increases. Everyone took a decrease. Teachers are also paying more for their health care and retirement. A teacher with 11 years and a masters makes 15.5% less then last year. 2.2% (aaps)+ 3% ( state health care)+4.3%(retirement)+ 5% (district blue cross). You can add the government ss hike in if you like. With the recent cut they took the oldest best educated teachers are working at their 1995 wages.

Wake Up A2

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

Well some folks are new to this game while others are not. It has been a long time since a super hit the ground running mainly because they dont do their homework. We like to be fair and say they can have six months to figure things out but we dont mean it. We need action. Waiting is something we have gotten used to here. We watch our schools take a hit from bad leadership and we wait hoping for change that never comes. We have chance to undo a bad decision that went against the staff in their building and hurt our own children then yes we speak up. Do you want your child's education lessened by a person with a pat green style of leadership who never comes out of her office and destroys the programs that makes kids successful? What will you do when pioneer looses it accreditation?

Ruth Kraut

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 11:09 p.m.

I invite you to share your ideas about how to teach the superintendent about Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor Public Schools on my blog. I will share the ideas with the incoming superintendent and the school board.

shadow wilson

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

Not interested don't have kids in system.....THANK THE LORD


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

Dr. Swift will have a long list of items which the board and community want done yesterday, but it might be good for her to set her own list of five or six priorities and ask that this community hold her accountable for them during the next few years. Some of these will take time to accomplish, and as the paid leader, she should get to name the important issues and the timeline for them. Please don't set her up for failure.

shadow wilson

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

I wonder how many of you know what a supers job is. I don't. So I have trouble with so many of you telling someone how to do their job_ especially if you don't know what that job is. An example is asking for a change in principal. Why? Because you don't like the principal? A super can not just change principals there are procedures..... I do know some would never have taken the job without unanimous board support.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

The two votes against Dr. Swift by those who wanted the inexperienced local candidate do not concern me. It is the other vote against that gave me pause. I hope Swift and Stead have a chance soon to discuss the issues between them and then to start w a clean slate. They both seem reasonable and practical, and I believe they will work it out.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

A 4-3 vote is not a good start.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

It would help if the Ann Arbor community would give her a chance to succeed. Support her. Volunteer. But stop complaining about every single detail of this woman's job.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Sonny. Have you EVER considered Volunteering in the school system. Volunteers can make a school district go from good to GREAT! Just think about it. Don't anticipate problems. Work to prevent them.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

When I buy a ticket to a sporting event, I have purchased the right to boo the poor performance of the team. When I send tax dollars to the school district every year, I have earned the right to criticize their poor performance. You are what your record says you are.

Shawn Letwin

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

It is all about the money.. 1-Take ownership of the budget and the fiscal realities. Everything else will fall in place. 2-Every assumption and past financial obligation should be questioned. "That's how we do it" not an acceptable answer. Students are expected to "show their work" and provide evidence/data to support their answers...and so to should every employee throughout the district. 3-Every assumption and past financial obligation should be questioned. 4-The accounting practices of the district should restore the intent of accounting...being ACCOUNTABLE. 5- Be communicative of the issues on a regular basis. 6-Forgo the rhetoric and keep the communications, apple pie and love the district have their place but shouldn't be the primary basis of the message. 7-Keep the metrics simple and focused. Welcome to Ann Arbor. It is a great community!


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

"Money is obviously important, but it should be mostly about the education." Money funds education. By poorly managing spending, the schools fail to deliver the education that parents expect. AAPS needs to set priorities and ensure that high priority items are funded. Then they can see if there is enough money left over to fund ancillary programs. If everything is top priority, nothing is. AAPS doesn't seem to understand that.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

It's all about priorities, Shawn. Clearly mine differ from yours. There was money enough in the school aid fund to increase school funding when Snyder got in. He chose to loophole it away and give tax cuts to businesses. I am so looking forward to supporting a new governor that shares my values.

Shawn Letwin

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

@A2anon- I am Lansing, my neighbors are Lansing, the employers are Lansing, the community is Lansing... Lansing can only give back to the community in funding what it collects in taxes...I am giving what I can after being downsized 3 times in ten years and currently making 60% less than I did before the downturn... want more money for the schools, write a check... I want smarter spending of the money that Lansing (we) gives to the school districts...


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

Shawn, If Lansing FUNDED the district adequately, we'd be fine. You can't make lemonaide out of rotten lemons.

Shawn Letwin

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 7:06 p.m. I said, ",apple pie and love the district..." doesn't pay the bills or educate the kids any better in a real, tangible way. Money pays the bills in the realities of education...teachers, admin, support staff, supplies, facilities, etc. Take care of the money by being accountable at all levels within the district and live with what money we do have and the rest will follow. Not saying spend less, just spend smarter to get the most value of the taxpayers money. Over 1 million have lost their good paying jobs in the last decade...many parcels of high tax real estate have been permanently removed from the county and often replaced by non-taxable ownership and other cases less taxes ( to even no taxes paid). We are more of a service market and not the manufacturing tax base that had contributed to the revenue from property taxes at the local level and the higher wages/more sales taxes at the state level of ten years ago. Being smart about how we spend the money is key to making the most of what needs to be done to make our kids smarter. The basis of education for most of this nation came from local communities collecting enough money to hire a teacher for a one room school house; and nothing has really changed from that basic concept.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

It should not be "all about the money". Money is obviously important, but it should be mostly about the education.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

At my children's former school, their teacher encouraged me to step forward and make opinions known to the principal because it was the people on the fringes who spoke out all the time; it can give a distorted view to leadership if the moderates are not heard from. Also, it appears that this is a mostly thankless job, so maybe when we see good work, we should compliment this woman so that she will be encouraged. It would be great to stop this revolving door.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

This is a helpful article to use as a marker for what some community leaders are highlighting as key issues and one to refer back to in 90 days, 6 months and a year to see how well Swift responds to these points or what she initiates as other points of focus. When the district closed schools in 1987, there was a community group that advised the board. It was called the Committee for Excellence or on Excellence. Some of those community members who served on the committee are still around. They may be valuable resources. The superintendent at that time was Richard Benjamin. I believe he is in Georgia now. He might be a good resource for what he recalls it was liking redistricting and closing buildings. I think he left shortly after the schools were closed. There was a computer program used to redraw boundary lines that got a lot of criticism and population predictions by outside groups were not integrated into the final plan, which as I recall, was a huge source of conflict I think this point came up again when Skyline was built, both in reference to the high school overcrowding being a known issue when the elementary buildings were closed and then again the criticisms on whether a whole new high school needed to be constructed when the Skyline funding was approved. Swift is in a tough position and I wish her the best of luck. I expect that the board seats which come open for the next election will have more rivalry than in past years.

Maria Huffman

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

She hasn't signed a contract yet....


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

If She is reading these comments and knows what is good for her, She won't sign a contract.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Mrs. Swift isn't even town yet and we have and some of its readers telling her what she needs to do. Nice way to welcome her to town.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

Nothing wrong with the community of posters on aa dot com expressing their opinions. That's what the comment section is about. She will have a tough job, and it has nothing to do with the posters here or with being welcomed. Most people wish her well. Expressing opinions on a forum about what should be done has nothing to do with "welcoming" her to the job.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

I apologize....Dr. Swift


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

She is in a tough position to start with. Everyone knows that she was the distant 2nd candidate. The BOE, once again, set up someone in a very bad position. People need to remember all the things that the BOE has done. And if you are not satisfied, make sure you go to the elections and check the new, fresh names on the ballet. As for Ms. Swift, good luck. And for the families in the district, good luck. It is absurd that the school district is a such a lousy shape in such an education-oriented town. Please do listen to the students and the parents, they are ultimately the reason why there are schools.

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

I'm not sure I wanted the candidate that appealed to the broken board, anyway. At least she is willing to live here, unlike Osborne, Green, Allen, Roberts, or Fornero.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

I prefer sneaky, no accountability and lacking any merit, kinda like our current and past Federal Administrations. Makes me feel good knowing the whiners will not get what they want.

Michigan Man

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Old, worn out themes people are really tired of - nothing new, innovative, stunning coming out of Ann Arbor public schools at all these days - Check out Saline schools - high academic performance, low crime community, lots of positive energy - Ann Arbor public schools just in a downward trend with leadership lost in the timewarp of the 60's.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

Theft from opposing teams, for one. Ask Lincoln Highs football team. They were cleaned out. That goes way beyond poor sportsmanship. Pathetic.

Slim Jim

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

What happens in the locker rooms?


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Do you have any idea what happens in the Saline high locker rooms? Low crime community- NOT.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Yep. Numeroys National merit scholars. Dozens of graduates going to top tier colleges and universities. Award winning art, music, and drama programs. Consistently successful athletic teams. You're right. The AAPS is a failed district. [sarcasm button to off]

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

"high academic performance, low crime community" But not all of us would fit in.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

The article lists Fornero's tenure in office as: 2003-06. Yet the article states: "In 2008, two weeks after George Fornero resigned..." What are the dates of his tenure as super?

Danielle Arndt

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

JRW, sorry, that should have read "in 2006". I have fixed it. Thanks for noticing!

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

After 2 ½ years as Deputy Superintendent, George was named Superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools in January of 2003. George was welcomed as Superintendent for District 113 in July of 2006. And he's still there!


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

The new super needs to get a firm grip on the budget immediately and make the necessary cuts to balance the budget. The huge deficit that was announced earlier this year is unacceptable. There will be pain in consolidating schools and making deeper cuts, and unfortunately, a new super needs a year to get a good sense of what needs to be done. AAPS doesn't have that luxury. I agree with DonBee: she needs to implement "re-districting, budget restructuring, building closings, contract re-working for the various unions, and the failure of the enhancement millage version 2." She will have to do the hard work that Green did not do for $20,000 less in salary. Good luck!

J. A. Pieper

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

I still will vote against an enhancement millage, no matter what. Everyone in this wide ranging community is learning to live with less and making personal cutbacks. AAPS can do better at this!

Wake Up A2

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

I would also have her undo the bad decision of principal at Pioneer before its the first thing that blows up in her face.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

Wake Up A2 and JRW - I would Pioneer 3rd or 4th on the list. I don't see the Principal actively driving people out of the district.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

There are other terrible principals around the district that need to be relieved of their duties. Pioneer is only one of several.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

And I want a pony, wahhh! Seriously, as others have noted, the board tends to throw out a bunch of goals (kitchen sink), some that cannot necessarily even be measured properly. Hopefully there will be some clear cut goals that will benefit ALL students and she is up to the task.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Given that school board meetings are televised, are open to the public, and often run 6 hours or more, it's hard to imagine what "more open" means in any reasonable sense. But there is the unreasonable sense: the certain small number of AA residents who insist on having their say on every decision made by the school board, thereby truly obviating the need for the school board. Suggestion to those folks: run for the board. And don't tell us you don't have the time. Clearly you have the time to write anonymous missives and to hurl invective from the cheap seats. Time to put up or shut up.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

@donbee; Notice he never argues the points? Nice.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 8:23 a.m.

"Story" An interesting choice of words. Richard Nixon's "story" was consistory the same, too. Yep. I, too, am anonymous. And there the similarity ends. I make 1/20th the number of posts you do. My posts are almost always aimed at correcting mis-statements made by posters while yours are almost always aimed at influencing public policy, esp. that of the AAP school board. It's clear you have an axe to grind and you grind it all the time, unwilling to go truly public with your complaints, unwilling to step up and take a leadership position. Yep, it's easy to throw fruit anonymously from the cheap seats at those who have stepped up and who are giving of themselves to serve the community in difficult times. Easy, yet lacking . . . As for I-hit, yeah,Saul Aulinsky blah blah blah blah. Broken record.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

@donbee; Never mind the criticism: He is just following Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals. It's not like he had an original idea: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

arborarmy - You too are anon. If you look at some of my posting times, and look at the pattern, you could only conclude that they were done from a different timezone. The pattern differs week to week. Also you note on a number of occasions, I have deferred comments until I could get home and get to my data, and have said so or made a comment with "I don't have the data with me on the road." My story has been consistent since I joined the this site, long before I indicated I would be willing, when able to run for the board.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

. . . and, until then, you will carp in glorious anonymity without anyone being able to verify your claim about being on the road. Zero credibility.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

arborarmy - Financial information is more hidden in AAPS than any other local district. Finding out what was actually budgeted and spent is hard. Some of the line items are 10's of millions in size and the promise of a "checkbook" online - as most district do and the board mandated - has not appeared. Many items are refused even to the board. Getting a count of people in specific positions has been refused for privacy reasons - not names, just a count of say "total number of reading teachers" or "number of members of AAAA that are not assigned as building principals". More transparency = more trust from the community and that means a better chance of getting their 2 mills next spring - the AAPS district will have to turn out in force and it will have to be at least 75% positive to balance the rest of the WISD (mostly Washtenaw County) to have a pray of passing. I will, when I am not on the road 3 weeks out of 4 run, I have said that, but I can't when I would miss 2/3s of the board meetings for work.

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

There's four seats open next year. Until then, we can rant in anonymity.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

If you truly want the best for your kids and the community, don't you make the time? Well said, arborarmy.

Steve Hendel

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Not to be cynical, but don't they all say essentially the same thing at the beginning? All this emphasis on community, consultation, etc etc etc gets a bit tiresome after a while; the Superintendent is not responsible to the community at large but to the school board which selected her/him. It is that Board which is accountable to the community which elected them.

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

The school board does a poor job of communicating the needs and desires of the community to the superintendent. They also fail the accountability test. They will not stand up for an unpopular superintendent.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

They don't all say the same things... the moment Pat Green opened her mouth most folks had her (accurately) sized up. On the other hand, George Fornero was a very slick talker and a charasmatic saleman - but who ran off in the middle of the night like the music man when the instruments arrived (Skyline).


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

"All have voices, experiences in our local history and interests that can be very helpful to a new superintendent," Ray-Taylor said. "The next piece of that is to focus and act — to take all of that information, focus it down, and use it to lead and drive your action." Which Danielle just did to a Tee ... Here some other wise voices I would include in your sage pool Scott Westerman (former Superintendent) DonBee (antoher "blogger") Speaking of which, I would catagorize "Focus like a LASER" Ranzini as an active "Community Leader". Expert at zapping monster City COuncil & DDA budgets into Hieftje mini-mees. "Profit" is not a really a credible word used in the Ann Arbor Public School system.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Robert Allen was an interim and was never expected to stay as superintendent. Putting him in the list of superintendents makes things look worse than they are. At least put (int) in the box with the list in it. I wish Dr. Swift the best of luck in what will be the hardest two years in the last 15 or 20 coming up. If she can get through the re-districting, budget restructuring, building closing, contract re-working for the various unions, and the failure of the enhancement millage version 2, and people are still happy with her, then she probably can stay for the rest of her life. But it will be very hard. I also expect that come election time, there will be competition to the current board members in 2014. That also may change the way the board looks at her both pre-election and post-election. If I were Dr. Swift, I would want a small set of clear metrics to be measured by, this board tends to put everything and the kitchen sink in their list of high priority items. Dr Green had in the range of 30 high priority items to try to balance at one time. Getting a list of 3 to 5 written into the contract would be a good way to make sure Dr. Swift can focus.