AAPS Board: Yes to Air, Construction Mgr at Mitchell; Hears Proposal for Chinese Partnership

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (February 24, 2016): Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education will be meeting at 5:30 for an executive session, citing client/attorney privilege. During tonight’s regular meeting, beginning at 7:00 PM, the trustees will hear the monthly monitoring report.

There will be first briefings on a budget amendment, as well as a Global Education Partnership with BCC International Education Group.

Two special briefings will be brought before the board, both concerning the Mitchell Elementary expansion.  A construction manager contract recommendation will be made, and there will be a mechanical upgrades request.

The 4000 Policy series review will be up for a second briefing.

Voting tonight will be on the Mitchell expansion construction manager contract, the Mitchell mechanical upgrades, and the 4000 Policy series changes.

Tonight’s meeting is held, despite the fact that the rest of activities around the district have been cancelled for the evening due to the weather. Executive assistant to the board of education Amy Osinski says that, to the best to her recollection, there has never been a time where a board meeting was cancelled due to weather.

8:00PM Due to the weather, AnnArbivore arrives at the meeting.

FIRST BRIEFING: Global Education Partnership: BCC International

Superintendent Jeanice Swift, along with a BCC representative, presents a possible partnership with BCC International, a company that partners Chinese students with American high schools. The students would attend the three AAPS comprehensive high schools for two years, starting in the fall of 2016. AAPS will enroll tuition-paying Chinese students to help further the district’s “ability to globalize its classrooms while also being fiscally responsible.”

On an annual basis, BCC will:

  • recruit and identify up to 33 Chinese high school students in the 11th grade for each AAPS comprehensive high school (up to 100 students) to enroll for two years.
  • screen students to ensure they meet acceptable academic and English proficiency standards.
  • support students in applying for all necessary approvals and Visas into the US.
  • arrange all international travel from China to Detroit Metro Airport (DTW).
  • provide healthcare coverage for all students.
  • reimburse host families up to $125/week towards food and miscellany.
  • collect tuition and lunch fees, which will be forwarded to AAPS.

On an annual basis, AAPS will:

  • allocate up to 33 11th grade seats for each comprehensive high school (up to a total of 100 seats), beginning fall of 2016.
  • be able to issue Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students [for Year One of enrollment].
  • secure a college partnership so students can obtain a second year of study to complete their high school diplomas [for Year Two of enrollment].
  • work to identify enough host families to place enrolled students.
  • provide transportation from DTW to AAPS.

Projected Revenue Streams

Cohorts Academic Year Est. # of Students


Tuition (total)

X $10,000


Per Pupil


X $9,150


2nd Year Student’s University Tuition (total)*



Yr 1: 2016-2017


$450,000 $411,750 N/A


1 & 2

Yr 2: 2017-2018


$1,000,000 Yr 1 = $411,750 $180,000


*Amount reflects deduction of est. $4,000/student for in-state college tuition based on 12 credits per semester at $100/credit hour that would be removed from tuition paid by BCC

Additional Costs to the District:

  • staffing a program manager’s office ($160,000)
    • 1.0 FTE (full-time equivalent) International Student Program Manager, at a cost of approximately $100K (salary and benefits)
    • 1.0 FTE office professional, at a cost of approximately $60K (salary and benefits)
  • program budget of $40,000

Two Year Intended Outcomes:

  • AAPS is enriched by the global connections of an additional international partnership.
  • All first year Chinese students return for a second year of study.
  • Chinese seniors receive US high school diploma and enroll in a US college.
  • Improved revenue streams allow for funding of additional educational experiences for local students, including strengthening/expanding the World Languages program. BCC, in partnership with Oakland University, can provide Mandarin Chinese language teachers for a cost of $45,000 per year, which saves over $25,000 per year to local school districts.

Trustee Andy Thomas: district participating in the program will create more opportunities for increasing Chinese language programs and international focus. Would be a welcome addition to bringing Chinese cultural exchange to Ann Arbor. A financial advantage: net increase in revenue over expenses. Whatever additional revenue comes as a result of program would be earmarked for World Language program; would not be “lost in the general budget.”

Trustee Patricia Manley: it’s a great program, and she looks forward to it happening.

Trustee Susan Baskett: clarifies that for the two-year program,the foundation allowance would be given per pupil. Swift responded that if the program stays robust, they would

Vice President Christine Stead: an “enormous” program. Her concern is that the logistics to do the program is significant. While it’s worth investing in, she says, she wants to note the challenges it will pose.

Trustee Simone Lightfoot appreciates Stead’s position, and says that it will temper her expectation over what else a FTE could do [referring to the need to hire an additional full-time employee as an International Program Manager].

Baskett asks about challenges other districts have experienced. The BCC rep’s reply: engaging host families, vetting parents. Having enough lead time, opportunities for informational sessions is important. Other communities they work in is much less diverse. Helping students around being homesick by engaging the Chinese community.

BCC will partner from start to finish, from when the students have landed to when they graduate. BCC says they are educators, not agents. Will work with district.

Mexicotte says its a wonderful opportunity to “stretch the hospitality of Ann Arbor” out into the world.

SPECIAL BRIEFING ITEM: Mitchell Elementary Expansion Construction Manager Contract

Mexicotte: timing of Mitchell expansion pieces could not be more imminent.

Swift: demand for International Baccalaureate programming has been great. Established IB PreK-12 at Mitchell-Scarlett-Huron. Informational meetings being conducted bi-monthly and are well-attended. Lowest level 100 people, up to 400 people.

The most competitive bids, Swift says, came from Haney General Contracting. Planning Committee asked questions regarding preference with that contractor. Why go with Haney? Swift says while paying prevailing wage and above, Haney is most economical bidder. Does not take the margin of profit on the construction manager position as other companies do. In addition to cost, second reason to go with Haney: the company is willing to build a quality structure within AAPS’s timeframe. The district knows the company’s practice of delivering on-time. Third reason: quality of Northside expansion, which was completed by Haney GC contractor. This is the construction manager, and they will often subcontract to various contractors to get the work completed. Swift says Haney is available by text right now, to which Mexicotte cracked that there couldn’t be any less of a way of being here.

Lightfoot wants to confirm Haney is paying prevailing wage. Swift says it is actually above prevailing.

Baskett: labor and carpenter categories were paid more than prevailing wage. Why is Haney paying more than prevailing wage? Swift says she believes it is most likely due to market demand. Baskett clarifies that self-performing (done by Haney employees) are of the category that is paid more. Haney is paying less to the subcontractors. When the board approves this, they are approving the rate that the district will pay. Baskett wants more assurance for understanding some of the rates. Swift says they will follow-up to get satisfactory responses on all of those questions.

Construction management fee for Haney is 2% of the project, for a total of $92,000.

Stead: discussed in planning committee today: carpenter hourly rates ($62-79/hr) Haney came in the lowest for that. Well above prevailing rates.

Labor rates: Haney slightly higher by $0.50. Prevailing wages: $36.27-41.06. Haney subcontracts to local businesses. Not sure what else there is to know about this. Stead has a lot of confidence with moving forward with Haney, given the district’s experience with the company. Did a fairly thorough look at the wages during the Planning Committee meeting.

SPECIAL BRIEFING: Mitchell Mechanical Updates

8:35 PM Swift says based upon study session held in January, they have decided to add an additional two toilets and sinks in all classrooms. They also looked at what it would take to add air conditioning to the six added classrooms, given that Mitchell is a 12-month school [it houses the summer ELL program].

They will be putting in a ducted vertical unit – about the size of a refrigerator in the corner of the classroom, which pushes the air through a duct $48,000. Mid-level recommendation. If they had a central air unit, they would have to redraft how the Mitchell expansion would take place. Also considered window units, but decided against it.

$76,850, which will be funded from the contingency line item that was funded in the project. These items, says Swift, can be accomplished while remaining in the original $2.2M budget.

Thomas confirms that the AC units would only be in the newly constructed six classrooms. Swift will confirm how many rooms are needed for the summer program, to make sure they have the capacity there.

Mitchell is an original building with seven additions already and is not ducted for air. Each area of the building would have to be air conditioned on its own, according to the architect. Swift: there are many teachers out there who teach in very warm classrooms. Might be a great discussion for the board to have to make sure more air can be provided district-wide.

Lightfoot: still concerned that they are only talking about six classrooms. Mexicotte says that so much of air conditioning is about how cool air can be contained in a space. Is a bathroom worth air conditioning? She says AC is one of those “insolvable questions” in Michigan districts. Every time AC comes up, maybe they need to come up with some kind of flowchart to make decisions. Mexicotte says that it would be important to look at the areas that have dedicated summer programs, etc. Having a way of knowing how they add to their AC holdings would be valuable for the future. Swift says she would love the opportunity to do an analysis.

Trustee Donna Lasinski notes the tension between the increased energy costs and the learning that doesn’t take place when kids are in classrooms that are too hot.

Baskett says the challenge is when you renovate something versus building something new. Looking forward, she doesn’t want to see a proposal in front of them that doesn’t have air conditioning: “So American, but so now.” Architects assured that they can be still within budget to add air to the Mitchell expansion, so good that the board caught it now.

Mexicotte: there is an underlying philosophy that schools are not air-conditioned in Michigan. As districts push towards year-round school environments, they need to consider.

SECOND BRIEFING: 4000 Policies Series Review 

8:51PM Mexicotte reviews all the 4000 Policies and the changes that were recommended.

There was no discussion from the board. If the 4000 Policy Series review is approved by the board tonight, that will conclude the sunset reviews of policy this year.


The board will vote on:

  • Mitchell Expansion Construction Manager
  • Mitchell Expansion Mechanical Updates
  • 4000 Policy Reviews

Baskett asks to remove the Mitchell Expansion Construction Manager contract from the consent agenda.

The consent agenda is approved unanimously, without the Construction Manager contract.

Mitchell Expansion Construction Manager Vote

Baskett: asked for the item to be removed form the consent agenda. It is unclear to her what is going on in the contract with the wages.

The vote passes 6:1, with Baskett voting no. 

ACTION ITEM: MASB Board of Directors Election

One seat on the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) Board of Directors for Region 7 is up for election this year.  Each school district is allowed one vote.  The deadline to submit a Ballot is Wednesday, March 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Lightfoot would like to recommend Gregory A. Peoples to the board based on her interactions with him. He is “always on the right side of the issues” with Ann Arbor. Peoples is the incumbent.

Baskett agrees with Lightfoot, saying that Peoples has always “had [the district’s] back.” Manley also recommends Peoples, says that she knows he will do a good job for the district.

Stead asks if they were debating if they were going to vote tonight. Mexicotte wants to make sure the board wants to participate in electing the board. Stead says she would be inclined to a vote and would support Peoples.

The trustees vote unanimously to vote for Gregory A. Peoples.

AGENDA PLANNING: no items added


Lightfoot: plans to seek reelection for her seat on the board. Looks forward to hopefully serving an additional four years on the board.

Lasinski: wants to clarify that as school board members, they have no input into if it’s a snow day.

Thomas: along with Manley and Stead, attended Orchestra Night, which, to him, is “the best event of the year.” Also worked on distributing flyers re: special education millage.

Stead: monthly coffee klatch with Lightfoot will be at 11am this Saturday at Mighty Good Coffee on Main Street. Upcoming special education millage – is working on getting the word out. Best opportunity in years to have special education funding taken care of more holistically. Win-win for every single student in AAPS and across the county. Tomorrow night: begin work on envisioning the planning for the Washtenaw Promise. Probably about a year’s worth of work.

Mexicotte: school board does not have a say in school closings. Pressure was really on from board’s own households. Struggle with district size and road types across the district. District touches eight different townships, so they have to think about students across the district.

Swift: appreciates Mexicotte’s remarks. Getting in reports from bus transportation folks and other districts. SCHOOL IS CANCELLED TOMORROW.



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