The district does something right


Lulu Zhang

Only a few weeks into the year, all water fountain cups had been used up, and took over a month to get refilled. In order to compensate for this problem, the administration implemented a sensible solution: handing out free water bottles.

At the beginning of the school year, Pioneer High School covered the drinking fountains due to Coronavirus concerns, only allowing students to use the fountains’ water bottle fillers. In place of the drinking spouts, Pioneer installed paper cup dispensers at many of the fountains. However, less than a few weeks into the year, all of the cups had been used, and the dispensers took over a month to be refilled. In order to compensate for this problem, the administration implemented a sensible solution: handing out free water bottles. Students who need a water bottle can ask for one in the main office. 

The administration’s measure is commendable. Originally, we intended to write an opinion asking the administration to solve the water problem. Before, students who didn’t own or bring a water bottle would have to go through their day without any water. However, the mindset behind the administration’s solution prompted us to write the original piece. For the past two years, the administration and the district as a whole have not been able to problem-solve effectively. In March of 2020, the Ann Arbor Public Schools district left teachers without any structure by failing to come up with a plan to continue education, effectively ending the school year prematurely. Most teachers fell back on reviewing previous material instead of forging ahead with new content. Students had a minuscule workload – a day’s worth of work could be completed in less than one hour. 

Throughout the pandemic, the communication from the administration and district has been extremely poor. Superintendent updates border on incoherence, with pages full of words that only contain occasional sentences of useful information. Pioneer’s administration doesn’t fare any better. Emails from Principal Tracey Lowder contain frequent typos and often leave out key information. 

In contrast, the solution to the water fountain issue, although not properly publicized, displayed foresight and competence that the administration has lacked over the past year. The administration must continue this trend. There are many problems plaguing the school and district as a whole. Lack of childcare, bussing problems, disgusting toilets, and mold in Pioneer’s theater are just a few to name. Although the solution to the drinking fountain is not as complex as many of these issues, the administration could make progress improving its services with an attitude that focuses on problem-solving instead of mere toleration.  

Leading is complex and there are often numerous factors that affect decisions unknown by the public. However, prioritizing addressing issues directly is an important step in making better decisions. 

Currently, the district seems to be throwing their hands up at the labor shortage and telling parents that they cannot provide childcare without offering an alternative for families. The district has displayed a lack of initiative and have settled for a far-from-optimal solution. The district should make an effort to work with outside providers or direct more attention on trying to hire new people. Of course, these possible solutions are easier said than done, and complexities would almost certainly occur. 

That being said, creating solutions to these problems and working through difficulties that arise is exactly what the district is mandated to do. Simply saying their hands are tied and denying solutions to parents, students, and teachers is not enough. The district needs to do their job: they need to get into a problem-solving mindset and fix important issues that are currently harming students and parents. Otherwise, they will repeatedly run into major issues and always fail to offer practical solutions.