Back To School – General Information for Ann Arbor Public Schools

Now that it’s August, it’s time to start thinking of Back to School. Since Ann Arbor Public Schools is the largest school system in our area (and where my daughter attends), I am starting to compile information for Back to School. My daughter is entering 5th grade this year, so this is our sixth back to school season. 

I know when I was the parent of a child ready to start Kindergarten in AAPS, I was desperate for information. So for new parents here are the key facts that I have learned the last five years and a summary of the information that is currently available. I will continue to update the information below as more information becomes available.

Back to School Information for Ann Arbor Public Schools

The good news is that last year AAPS started switching to electronic information distribution allowing information to trickle out through August instead of waiting for one mailing the week before school starts. Previously information would be on their website sooner – if you knew where to look for it. 

BREAKING NEWS

Allen Elementary School Flooded

Allen Elementary School suffered a significant flood on Thursday, August 18th due to a water main that broke under the building. Unfortunately, the building has sustained significant damage and is not currently safe. Extensive repairs are required. The district shared this report complete with pictures on the damage at the August 24th board meeting.

The district moved to set up a temporary Allen office at Pattengill Elementary (2100 Crestland Ave) beginning on Tuesday, August 23. The existing Allen phone number will be rerouted to the temporary office. 

On Friday August 26, the district finalized a plan to rent Ypsilanti’s West Middle School to relocate Allen as a whole (except for the preschool) until the building can be secured, assessed, and repaired. The Preschool will be relocated to the Westerman Preschool and Family Center since they cannot be licensed to operate in the Middle School building. All other programs including before and after school care and the 5p August 31 meet and greet will happen at the new building.

Students in the typical Allen walk zone will be bused during the relocation. Bus transportation will also be provided from Allen to West Middle School for the August 31 Meet & Greet. There is a possibility that the school day will shift slightly to accommodate the additional transportation needs. Information should be available shortly now that the lease has been finalized.

Personally, I hope that the district will be flexible with drop-off times and allow families an extended supervision time without utilizing before school care to accommodate for the added commute time. 

While the new location may not be ideal for all Allen families, I’m glad they were able to keep the school together. The district has a page on their website with all the current information on the Allen situation including a FAQ the district has compiled.

Back to School & Bus Transportation Guides

The Back to School Guide for Ann Arbor Public Schools is now available on the district’s website. The guide includes information on curriculum nights (also listed below in School Specific Events).

The Bus Schedules for 2016-2017 have also been released. While I have not heard anything, it’s possible that the Allen schedule may change due to the school relocation. 

Elementary School Specific Events

Some schools will have events prior to school starting. Since these are school specific, I am not adding them to the calendar, but will add them here. The information below is based on what was on each school’s calendar or homepage on a2schools.org. If your school is not listed, information was not available when I checked on Friday, August 19th morning. Be sure to look for more information from your school.

  • Abbot Elementary
    • August 29 5-6p – Popsicles on the Playground – Meet the teacher event. Class assignments will be handed out during the event. They will be mailed the next morning to those who cannot attend.
    • September 13 6:30-8p Curriculum Night
  • Allen Elementary School
    • August 31 – A Meet your teacher was scheduled from 5-6p on the school playground. I would watch your email for information on how this event will be handled with the relocation
    • September 13 6-7:30p Curriculum Night
  • Angell Elementary 
    • August 27 9-11a – Family Work Day – Bring Gardening Equipment and be prepared for dirt or paint
    • August 30 5:30-6:30p – Incoming Kindergarten & New to Angell Picnic – Bring Food, Blanket, and chairs. PTO will provide drinks
    • August 30 6:30p – New to Angell Orientation – for families who did not attend a spring event.
    • September 13 – 6-7:30p Curriculum Night
  • Ann Arbor Open 
    • August 31 – Class assignments sent out via School Messenger
    • September 1 4-5p Kindergarten Meet the Teacher
    • September 8 6-7:30p – Back to School Picnic
    • September 15 6-8:30p – Curriculum Night
  • Ann Arbor STEAM
    • August 31 4-5p – Meet & Greet on the Playground (class assignments will be sent on 8/30)
    • September 15 6:30-8p Curriculum Night
  • Bach
  • Bryant
  • Burns Park
    • August 29
      • 1-2p – New to Ann Arbor Family Mingle – Families new to both Ann Arbor and Burns Park
      • 2-3p – Meet & Greet with Principal Hatt & New Student School Scavenger Hunt – Kindergarten & Families New to Burns Park
      • 3-4p Popsicles in the Park – All Families
    • September 20 6:30-8p Curriculum Night
  • Carpenter
    • August 31 noon-1p – Back to School Kickoff/School Supply Donation Drive – Class lists will be sent on August 30
    • September 13 – 6:30-8p – Curriculum Night
  • Dicken
  • Eberwhite
    • August 29 – Class Assignments e-mailed
    • August 31 4p – Meet & Greet with Teachers & Classmates
    • September 13 6-8p Curriculum Night
  • Haisley
    • August 31 6-7:30p – Haisley Hello
    • September 27 6:30-8p Curriculum Night
  • King
    • August 31
      • 4-5p – New Student & Family Orientation
      • 5:30-6:30p – King Kick-Off
    • September 13 6-8p – Curriculum Night
  • Lakewood
  • Lawton
    • August 30 4:30-6:30p Chalk-It Up
    • August 31 4:30p Meet & Greet
    • September 20 6-8p Curriculum Night
  • Logan
    • August 31 3-5p Welcome Back Picnic
    • September 19 6-7:30p Curriculum Night
  • Mitchell
    • August 31 6-8p – Welcome Back Picnic
    • September 13 6-8p Curriculum Night
  • Patengill
  • Pittsfield
    • September 20 6:30-8p Curriculum Night
  • Thurston
    • August 31 5:30-7p Popsicles on the Playground
    • September 13 6-7:30p Curriculum Night
  • Wines
    • August 24 6p – New Parent Orientation
    • August 30 6p – Kindergarten Meet the Teacher
    • August 31 3p – 1st-5th Grade Meet the Teacher
    • September 13 6:30-8p Curriculum Night
  • Preschool & Family Center
    • October 6 6-7p Curriculum Night

Middle School Specific Events

With my daughter entering 5th grade this year, suddenly middle schoolers don’t seem so old. I thought it was time to add the middle school information too.

  • Clague Middle School
    • 6th Grade Registration – Thursday August 25 8:30-11a based on last name
    • 7th Grade Registration – Wednesday, August 25 8:30-11:30a based on last name
    • 8th Grade Registration – Wednesday, August 25 1-4p based on last name
    • Curriculum Night – September 15 6-8p
  • Forsythe Middle School
    • August 29 – Registration & Pictures 8a-3:30p based on grade level and last name
    • Curriculum Night – September 15 6:30-8:30p
  • Scarlett Middle School
    • August 24 – 8:30a-2:30p Registration based on last name
    • Curriculum Night – September 15 6-8p
  • Slauson Middle School
    • August 30 – Open House
    • Curriculum Night – September 8 6-8p
  • Tappan Middle School
    • August 24 8:30a-noon Registration & Open House based on grade level
    • September 15 6-8p – Curriculum Night

Food Service

There are no big changes this year in Lunch and Breakfast. The price is unchanged from last year (at least for elementary lunches – $2.50). The September menus are not available yet. 

Lunch accounts can be loaded online using MyPaymentsPlus with a $2 transaction fee, or you can send a check (to AAPS Food Services) or cash through the school office once school starts with no transaction fee. The online application for Free or Reduced Price meals is now available on the district’s website. The link also offers a paper application in several languages.

The elementary lunch menu is now available on the Ann Arbor Public Schools website. In looking at the menu, I see a few newer items and some returning favorites. I know she’ll be interested in the Toasted Three Cheese Pretzel Sandwich with tomato soup. I’m also happy to see breakfast for lunch making a comeback. I’m hoping to talk my daughter into buying more lunches this year. Then again, she’s in 5th grade, maybe it’s time to start making her own lunch.

Menus are also currently available for the Preschool and for A2 STEAM. The middle school and high school menus have not yet been released (August 28th).

School Schedule

School Calendar

The 2016-2017 School Calendar Was announced in May and is live on the district’s website. Per state law, school will start after Labor Day, on September 6. Therr are quite a few changes from the “typical” calendar in large part to meet the requirement days of instruction which increased by 5 from last year. The big change is that the February break is now a 3 day weekend instead of a week off. Elementary schools also have a Half-Day for the first time in our 5 years (other than the last day of school). 

Extended Breaks:

  • November 23-27 Thanksgiving Break (No School on Wednesday)
  • December 23-Januay 8 – Winter Break (Starts on a Friday this year)
  • April 1-9 Spring Break

 Some other notable dates for this year.

  • Half-Day Wednesdays for all students: October 26 & March 8
  • Half-Days Middle & All or some High Schools: January 27, May 10
  • Election Days Off: Tuesday November 8 (not a 4 day weekend) & Tuesday, May 2 
  • Other Days Off:
    • MLK Day – January 16
    • President’s Day – February 20
    • Memorial Day – May 29
  • Last Day of School: Friday, June 16

I also want to highlight that school is NOT closed on Good Friday, April 14. In past years, Good Friday has either been a day off or during spring break.

School Day Schedule

The district has posted the 2016-2017 School Day Schedule. The information includes the elementary (8:47a-3:50p), middle school (8:10a-2:58p), and K-8 (8:00a-3:03p) schedules as well as times for all 5 high school programs. Compared to last year, the elementary schools start 6 minutes earlier this year and release 9 minutes earlier this year. Early release times are 11:53a for the elementary school (new this year) and 10:50a for the middle schools. At the current time, there are not half-day release times listed for the two K-8 schools (Ann Arbor Open and A2 Steam at Northside). They traditionally follow the elementary schedule for days of school, but with an earlier start to their day, I imagine they will release earlier on half-days than the other elementary schools.

School Supplies

There is NO supply list for Ann Arbor Public Schools. They ask that you send your child with a backpack and a lunch box if they will be bringing lunch from home

Backpack & Lunch Box

A Backpack should be large enough to fit your child’s snow pants, hat, gloves, shoes, and lunch. My daughter brings her snow pants to school daily in the winter. Even when there is not snow on the ground, they keep her warm (& somewhat dry/clean when snow starts to melt). She also brings a change of shoes for wet or snowy days so that wet boots can be left outside of the classroom to help it stay dry and cleaner. A lunch box/bag and ice pack is also helpful if your child will be bringing lunch from home.

I definitely recommend buying a quality backpack that is built to last. I’ve heard of character backpacks not lasting a school year. On the other hand, my daughter has used her Lands End backpack and lunch box for 3 years each.

As a matched set, my daughter’s lunchbox attaches to the outside of the backpack and doesn’t take up space inside the bag. Her first set lasted for 3 years (Kindergarten through second grade). They are still in great condition. However, she outgrew the pink heart pattern and benefited from a larger size bag. This is the 3rd year (3rd-5th grade) for her second set and it is still in great condition. Be sure to look for discount codes before you order. Also, I found Lands End customer service very helpful in telling me what color the monogram thread was in the picture. My daughter ordered a teal backpack and we weren’t sure which monogram color (yellow or chartreuse) was used in the sample. 

Home Use

While there is no need to buy supplies to send to school, you will likely need some supplies at home, particularly in the upper grades. Back to School sales are a great time to stock up on school supplies to use at home. I always buy my crayons and glue sticks for the year at back to school sales. Now that my daughter is getting older (Fifth Grade), I will also be buying mechanical pencils, pens, loose leaf paper for homework, folders, and other basic school supplies. She takes mechanical pencils to school for her use and we found a folder while not necessary helped papers get back and forth from school in slightly better condition. She also uses loose leaf paper for her spelling homework.

Extra Curricular Activities

Before & After School Child Care

Ann Arbor Rec & Ed runs School Aged Child Care with offerings at most of the elementary schools (based on past years). Signup is now available on the Rec & Ed website. Programs can reach capacity, so I suggest signing up as soon as it is available.

While I don’t utilize the Before or After School Care, there are definite advantages to using the program at your child’s school. If your child wants to attend school clubs or Rec & Ed after school classes, they can return to Child Care after the club or class is finished. 

After School Classes

Rec & Ed also offers after school classes at most of the district’s schools. My daughter has taken a few classes after school and loved them. As a parent who usually picks up from school, after school classes are extremely easy since I just pick up later (and as a bonus I don’t have to wait through the pickup line). I will update you when the information is available.

Middle School Sports Physicals

In order to participate in Middle School sports, each student must have a sports physical. AAPS has partnered with UM Health System in the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools (RAHS) to hold clinics for sports physicals (and immunizations). Clinics are located at Scarlett and Pathways to Success. Services are free to students, although insurance will be billed for students who have insurance.

More Information

School of Choice & In-District Transfer

Ann Arbor Public Schools is opening an additional window for School of Choice and In-District Transfer beginning on Monday, August 15 through Friday, August 26. With School of Choice students who live outside the boundaries of Ann Arbor Public Schools can apply to attend an Ann Arbor Public School. With In-District Transfer, students can apply to attend an Ann Arbor Public School other than the one they are zoned for based on where they live. There are limited slots available for both School of Choice and In-District Transfer. The applications list which schools and grades at those school have availability.

Back to School Paperwork

Last year Ann Arbor Public Schools switched to InfoSnap to manage paperwork electronically. After some initial mis-communication, the system worked very well. As the parent of a returning student, I received a link in May/June to update my information for 2016-2017. I am sure that this information will be sent out to anyone who has not yet filled out the forms in the next few weeks.

My friends with multiple children praised the system for ease in not having to write forms for each of their children. The information was able to transfer to multiple children. 

Once the school staff returns, there will be computers available for parents who need internet access to complete forms. The Ann Arbor District Library is also a great place for parents to access the internet for school information.

Back to School Guide

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Back to School Guide is typically a great resource for parents once it is available online. The 2016-2017 guide has not yet been released. The guide typically includes important dates for curriculum nights  and registration dates for Middle and High School students. Also induced in the Back to School Guide is the Rights and Responsibilities Statement including the new Bullying/Cyberbullying Policy. 

Class Assignments

Traditionally class assignments were sent out by mail the week before school started with forms that needed to be filled out, school specific information, lunch menus, and more. Last year, they switched to sending class assignments electronically. Personally, I much prefer this method since it isn’t dependent on your mail delivery or being on vacation.

School Staffing

The staff at various schools should be in the office each weekday starting in mid August. The central office at Balas is staffed throughout the summer.

Other Questions

Do you have other questions about Back to School in the Ann Arbor Public Schools? Add them to the comments here or on Facebook. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can also ask me a question via email.

 

 

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