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Citizens Urge Mack School Improvements

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A comprehensive 82-page report recommending some dramatic physical and curriculum changes at Mack Elementary School has been presented to the Ann Arbor Board of Education. The report is the result of 10 weeks' work of a unique citizens' cornmittee charged in January with assessing the present facilities of Mack and defining the future educatkraal needs of the Maek children. Some of the recommendations include provisions for: - An instructional foods facility where hot breakfásts and lunches could be served if necessary and where children could learn to cook certain foods; - The appointment of a fulltime community - school ordinator who would plan afternoon and evening programs at the school for children and their parents. -The establishment of a permanent preschool program at Mack. - More adequate classroom, art, music, physical education, pupil personnel, teacher, and administrative areas. - A learning resources center, whieh would include a library and multi-media área. - A swimming pool. - More adequate outdoor facilities, including more creative play equipment. School Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. has promised that the present Mack School, built in 1923, will be either extensively renovated or razed and a new building constructed. Westerman called the report "outstanding," and commended the 16-man committee for "an exceptional set of forward looking and realistic" educational specifications. The school board is expected to adopt many of the proposals, with certain revisions and deletions. The architect will then be asked for cost estimates. The report said that Mack parents and teachers alike have "expressed anxiety for the need of a change. They are not satisfied with the educational product of our school - yet they have not given up." The report added that parents and teachers are "stubbornly proud of Mack. They are certain that some program changes must be made and that the present building is totally inadequate. One constant worry that has been expressed is, 'Will the community respond to our needs?' " The report called for several "minimal" changes by September of 1970, including the establishment of a learning resources center, three new portable classrooms, more teacher aides, more individualized learning materials, more parent involvement in curriculum planning, more exploration of the community through field trips, and bringing "successful black models into the schools." Mack School's enrollment is 54 per cent black. Two other "minimal' 'actions recommended by September are (1) "that the principal and staff commit themselves to the immediate goal of elevating the achievement record of all students at Mack School" and (2) "that a serious examination be made of the present and anticipated allocation of federal funds in the school system with the purpose of allocating a more significant portion to t h i s and other schools with an obviously large percentage of children from families with low income." The report is very community oriented, and bases most of its recommendation on some general characteristic of the Mack student body, which include: - A 1 a r g e percentage of Mack s t u d e n t s come from ' families with low income. - Some 6 per cent of the children come from semiskilled and unskilled families. - Students' paren ts are not always supportive of school because they don't in part understand the program and in part, don't agree with it. - A substantial percentage of the student body is failureoriented (are achieving substantially below grade level). - A substantial percentage of the students have low I esteem. -More than 50 per cent of I the students are black. - A substantial percentage J of the students live in crowded I conditions. 1