Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (May 11, 2016): Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd
The board is holding an executive session at 5:30 PM, citing attorney/client privilege.
During the regular meeting, beginning at 7:00 PM, the trustees will first hold a moment of silence for Pittsfield Elementary teacher Cathleen Babcock, who recently passed away. There will be special recognition of Pioneer bands at Carnegie Hall and the E3 Award for the Hikone Exchange Program.
The trustees will hear an update to the 2016/17 budget. Since the last board meeting, the Washtenaw County special education millage passed, which will add an additional $9M to the budget.
First briefings will be on the 2016-17 annual software renewals, Project Lead the Way purchases, food service management contracts, the WISD budget, and the 2016 Rec & Ed sports and summer camp contracts.
Second briefings will be on Mitchell Elementary Expansion Bid Pack 4, which comprises site work, casework, metal doors and hardware purchases, resilient flooring, painting, and landscaping. The 2016 TRIG purchases will also come up for second briefing.
Voting will be on the bid pack, the TRIG purchases, and approval of a public hearing on the 2016-17 budget.
7:04 PM Board President Deb Mexicotte comes out on the stage, apologizes, saying there will be a 15 minute delay before the regular meeting will begin.
7:24 PM Mexicotte and trustee Donna Lasinski approach the board table. They are joined by trustees Patricia Manley, Susan Baskett, and Andy Thomas. Vice President Christine Stead and Trustee Simone Lightfoot are not in attendance.
7:32 PM Mexicotte calls the meeting to order. There are about 50 members of the public in attendance.
The board observed a moment of silence in honor of Pittsfield Elementary teacher Cathleen Babcock, who passed away last week.
AGENDA APPROVAL: Approved without discussion.
STUDENT PERFORMANCE: Tappan Middle School/Pioneer High School
Tappan Middle School band director Fred Smith introduces two ensembles, one from Tappan and one made of Tappan alum who now attend Pioneer High School. Smith will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Mexicotte says the performance is a highlight of the evening. She notes the progression from middle to high school in performances.
Thomas lauds Smith, saying Smith’s work has been “tremendous” over the past 33 1/2 years. He and all of the trustees congratulate Smith on his retirement. Baskett is impressed with the musical talent in Ann Arbor. Lasinski is fascinated by the “fine motor control” she saw up close as she watched the students perform. Manley is impressed with growth of the musicians from elementary school through middle school and on to high school. Mexicotte tells the students they will never regret the musical education they put themselves through.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Pioneer High Bands
8:01 PM Superintendent Jeanice Swift honors Pioneer High School Director of Bands David Leach and the Pioneer bands for their performances at Carnegie Hall. Jeffrey Williams for New York Concert Review: “The most refreshingly brash and exciting playing I have heard at this level, or at any level … [it went] from excellent concert to truly memorable.”
Leach says it was a “once in a lifetime” experience. He thanks the BOE, Swift, Robin Bailey, and the people of Ann Arbor who support the music program in AAPS. He puts in a plug for Ashley Park, a Pioneer alum, who is playing on Broadway in The King and I.
Saying it was a “thrilling performance” to witness, Thomas is effusive with praise for the Carnegie trip that he was able to attend. He says that everyone who is involved in the music program “really did us proud.” Mexicotte agrees, as she was at the performance, as well.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION: E3 Award for Hikone Exchange Program
A2Y Chamber representative Dave Norton from Bank of Ann Arbor presents the Exemplary Educational Endeavors (E3) Award to the Hikone Exchange Program. The program provides an enhanced educational opportunity for students, provides an educational and cultural experience of a lifetime for students.
The purpose of the E3 Award is to promote business and community growth and development by promoting educational programs designed to strengthen and expand the skill level and income potential of all within the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area [from the A2Y website].
Ian Shepard, program director, thanks the A2Y Chamber for recognizing the importance of the Hikone program.
PUBLIC COMMENTARY – none
8:24 PM Mexicotte says she’s glad there’s no public commentary this evening, as she would have hated to keep them waiting since the meeting started late.
Huron High School student report: Anush, a Huron student speaks on the Middle Years Programme (MYP). He says there are less notes, more projects since moved to International Baccalaureate (IB) programming at Huron. Projects encourage critical thinking, according to student.
He says the MYP IB experience has been an interesting experience. While getting used to the rubric based grading took some getting used to, he believes it has been a positive change overall.
Megan, a freshman, talks about the opportunities available at Huron. She talks about the advantages the MYP has brought, saying it has helped her become a better problem solver.
Blake, a junior, shares that Huron is a haven for students who are college bound. The PTLW engineering program has helped him determine the career path he wants to pursue.
Jane, National Merit scholar, shares her experience at Huron. She says that Huron’s Humanities class is the one that will help her the most come next year when she attends Williams. Her experience has not been solely about academics, but about clubs and sports. The most remarkable thing about Huron, however, is its diversity, she says. It’s because of this diversity, she says, that she feels prepared as a life long learner.
Lasinski notes her interest in Project Lead the Way and asks questions of Blake. She is pleased at the unity noted by all of the students. Manley says, “Go Rats!” as she is a Huron graduate. Mexicotte notes her vested interest in Huron, as that’s where her children graduate from. She says these students will be great ambassadors for Ann Arbor as they head out into the world.
PRESIDENT REPORT: None
8:45 PM Swift thanks the voters for voting yes on the Washtenaw County special education millage. She also thanks Jenna Bacalor and the Rec & Ed team as they provided a full day of enrichment for students on election day, as the schools had been closed.
She also acknowledges teacher appreciation week, saying they want to appreciate teachers year-round, but there is a week in May that is set aside for it. Swift also thanks school nurses, as today is National School Nurse Appreciation Day.
Swift highlights accomplishments of students, teachers, schools, and staff around the district, some of which include Allen Elementary, chosen as DTE School of the Year for 2016 for its strong arts education program, Slauson MS Science Olympiad, music programs, Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad – the largest elementary science olympiad contest in the country.
Swift announces the annual State of the Schools 2016, which will be held at the Graduate Ann Arbor next Wednesday, May 18.
After some technical difficulties, a video is shown to honor the teachers around the district.
Mexicotte says it couldn’t be honoring a more “successful, smart, hardworking” teaching staff.
Planning: No report, since Stead is absent.
Performance: Most recent performance committee meeting’s discussion was the graduation data and Focus Schools. District has made “tremendous progress” in winnowing the number of schools on the Focus School list down from 28 to one, Scarlett Middle School. Confident that in a short amount of time, the district should be clear of Focus School status on any school. Thomas thanks Lee-Ann Dickinson Kelley for her work on Focus
Governance: will meet May 20th. Mexicotte hopes that the committee will be able to wrap up the
Mexicotte asks the trustees to change the agenda to accommodate Scott Menzel, Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD)Superintendent.
FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: WISD Budget
9:05 PM Menzel presents the ISD budget. The ISD has an obligation from state to present its budget to all local districts by June 1. Each district must review.
WISD: County Achievement Initiatives: the teacher and leader networks – multi-year approach to teacher and system learning focused on student outcomes.
Significant 2016-17 budget matter: uncertainty around if they were going to have special education millage increase. He thanks the entire Ann Arbor community for “bringing their heavy weight” to the polls.
The numbers presented by WISD does not take into account the increase of funds because of the passage of the special education millage. The work for the graphs had been completed before the millage passed. The most significant 2016-17 budget matter: uncertainty around if they were going to have special education millage increase. He thanks the entire Ann Arbor community for “bringing their heavy weight” to the polls and helping it pass.
Fund balance increases to about $2M for general education – about 11% of expenditures, given increases in funds available. Special education fund balance at about $2.4M.
WISD Expenditures 2016-17:
- Special education reimbursement
- IDEA grants and projects
- Direct special education services provided by ISD
With the passage of the millage, anticipating a 97% reimbursement level to districts of special education services rendered.
- added costs for additional staff to remain in compliance with Michigan Special Education rules,
- Added costs for staff need to comply with IEPs for students coming from LEAs.
- step changes
Thomas says “it’s a great day for Washtenaw County public schools” because the special education millage passed. He congratulates the WISD leadership for their “courage” for putting a tax increase on the ballot and for their leadership. As special education is an “underfunded mandate,” securing a local source of revenue is key.
Mexicotte echoes Thomas’s compliments to the WISD leadership, saying the millage passage secures opportunities for all students in the district. She asks if the 11% fund balance is “on target” for them. Menzel says they are in a healthy position. Mexicotte says that while may seem like a small number, it is within the parameters of best practices.
9:32 PM Board takes a five minute recess.
9:41 PM Board returns.
FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: 2016 Annual Software Renewals
As Merri Lynn Colligan, Executive Director Technology & Information Services, needs to leave the board meeting because she is driving to Grand Rapids tonight, she is presenting her items now.
Most software renewals are for 12 months, excepting Adobe Creative Suite, which will be for a 24-month renewal.
Lasinski asks how much of the software is accessible to students outside of the classroom. Colligan says there are a handful, but most are only available in the classroom.
Mexicotte asks Colligan, “What do we do with this list?” She asks if they are required to vote on the list. Colligan says that the board would be pre-approving the list after the second briefing.
Lasinski asks if they are satisfied with PowerSchool and its potential interactions with SchoolMessenger. Colligan says it PowerSchool is the number one student manager software in the country. They would like to see more improvement of the ParentPortal, and she thinks there has been some improvement to the mobile site.
SECOND BRIEFING: TRIG Purchases
9:48 PM Swift says Colligan does “a whole lot of work” to get funds matched by TRIG grants and multiply the number of devices available to students.
FIRST BRIEFING: Project Lead the Way Purchases
9:50 PM The Planning Committee had a discussion on if they wanted to continue on the three-year cycle or if they should go ahead and make it happen quicker. Manley says that after a significant amount of discussion and that the district will have the funds available, they decided it would be a good move to make it happen quicker. Will now be able to implement in the 14 remaining schools if the board approves.
Purchase of iPad for teacher, iPads for teachers, and all other items for implementing PLTW in the remaining 14 schools for a total of $553,566.30.
INFORMATION ITEM: 2016-17 Budget Update
Jill Minnick presents an updated 2016-17 budget.
Special Education Millage Approved
- building fiscal stability
- continue enhanced programming implementagion
- employee compensation
- infrastructure improvements
- foundation increase of $60/pupil
- enrollment increase of 100 pupils at $7,511 for foundational allowance
- 35 teacher retirements and replacements $35K savings/retirement
- Total Revenue Projection $214.4M
- Total Expenditures and Transfers $214.1M
Fund Balance increases slightly to $17.4M, staying at the range of 8.1%.
Continue Prelim Budget Discussions
- consider impact of Revenue Consensus Estimating Conference on May 17
- continue to monitor enrollment
Board Adoption of a balanced budget by June 30, in accordance with state law
- approve notice calling for public hearing on budget – May 11
- first briefing and public hearing – May 25
- second briefing and vote – June 15
Thomas emphasizes that the board is working to achieve a 10-15% fund balance to help the district weather rainy days. Thomas says now is the time to “fatten up” the fund balance, so if times got bad again, they can draw on their fund equity.
Mexicotte points out that there has only been a small difference in the foundational allowance over the past 12 years, that even in the best years, it has been a deviation of less than 10% of the total foundation allowance. The increases in foundational allowance are “not game changers” for the district’s students.
FIRST BRIEFING: 2016 Rec & Ed Contract Approvals
10:11 PM Bacalor presents the 2016 Rec & Ed contracts. Expenditures for Rec & Ed contracts come from rec & ed proceeds, not from the General Fund. Contractors are paid by enrollment, so the contract gives the top amount if the programs are fully enrolled.
- British Elite Sports: total contract will not exceed $30,000.
- One on One sports training: total contract will not exceed $90,000.
FIRST BRIEFING: 2016/17 Food Service Management Contract
AAPS has contracted with Chartwells since the 2013-14 school year. Management fees decreased in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. Management fees will be increasing 2.6% in the 2016-17 school year by 2.6%.
Meal fees are not anticipated to increase in the 2016-17 school year.
In addition to student meal service, other services provided by Chartwells under the the contract include:
- Pathways to Success Dinner Program
- Farm-to-School $1,000 mini grants
- Two $5,000 scholarships for students pursuing degree in culinary arts and/or hospitality
Thomas clarifies that breakfast is being served at all schools, and believes that as more families know about the service, more breakfasts will be sold.
Lasinski asks about food quality. Baskett says she hasn’t received any comments regarding the food service from the community. Manley concurs that none of the trustees have received complaints, except for one.
Chart wells is continuing with the NutriSlice program, which is an app students can have on their phones, based on the success of it last year.
Baskett asks if there is a minimum order for the dinner service at Pathways to Success campus – there is none.
SECOND BRIEFINGS: Mitchell Elementary Expansion Bid Pack 4
No changes to any of the areas of the bid pack 4.
There is no discussion from the trustees regarding the bid pack.
- Mitchell Expansion Project – Bid Pack 4: Site Work
- Mitchell Expansion Project Bid Pack 4: Casework
- Mitchell Expansion Project – Bid Pack 4: Purchase of Metal Doors & Hardware
- Mitchell Expansion Project – Bid Pack 4: Resilient Flooring
- Mitchell Expansion Project – Bid Pack 4: Painting
- Mitchell Expansion Project – Bid Pack 4: Landscaping
- 2016 TRIG Purchases
The consent agenda passes unanimously.
BOARD ACTION ITEM
10:34 PM The board is required to hold a public hearing on the 2016-17 budget before the adoption of the budget. The public hearing will be on May 25, 2016 and will be publicized in a newspaper at least six days in advance.
Mexicotte says the district advertises more than the state requires. The public hearing is an “excellent time” to comment on the budget.
ITEMS FOR AGENDA PLANNING: None
ITEMS FROM THE BOARD
10:37 PM Thomas is elated to have been able to attend the Carnegie Hall concert. Was able to observe some of the implementation of the IB programme at Scarlett MS and Mitchell Elem – was impressed with the depth and breadth of inquiry.
Lasinski thanks the community and Washtenaw County, saying it is a “game changer” for several of the county districts. She appreciates the faith the community has placed in the board to make sure the money is spent wisely in service of all students.
Manley shares stories of her recent visit to Pathways to Success, highlighting the nursery, the ASL class in which she learned how to count from 1-10. She also gives kudos to the custodians at the school.
10:49 PM Mexicotte recesses regular meeting. Heading back to their executive meeting.
AnnArbivore is sustained solely through reader support. Please subscribe through Patreon to keep this coverage alive. If you value the citizen journalism provided by AnnArbivore, support us and encourage others to do so, as well. Thank you.