2016-17 AAPS Budget Plan Holds Steady; District Water Quality is Okay

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (May 25, 2016): Huron High School, 2727 Fuller Road

The Ann Arbor Public School Board of Education trustees will hold an executive session beginning at 5:00 PM to conduct the formal evaluation of superintendent Jeanice Swift. A statement on the evaluation will be made public at a later date.

During tonight’s regular meeting, starting at 7:00 PM, the board will hear the monthly budget monitoring report for April. They will also hear an informational report on district water quality results.  First briefings will include a 2016-17 millage resolution, a final budget amendment for the 2015-16 school year, and the 2016-17 proposed budget. 

Tonight’s meeting marks the  mandated public hearing on the 2016-17 budget.

Additionally, the board will be presented with a first briefing on a furniture purchase for the Mitchell Elementary expansion.

Second briefings will be on the 2016 Rec & Ed sports and summer camp contracts, 2016-17 annual software renewals, 16-17 Project Lead the Way purchases, 16-17 food service management contract, and the 16-17 WISD budget.

Voting tonight will be on all of the second briefing items, unless a trustee decides to remove an item from the consent budget for some reason.

7:03 PM Board President Deb Mexicotte, Vice President Christine Stead, and trustees Susan Baskett and Donna Lasinski make their way to the board table. Trustees Patricia Manley, Andy Thomas, and Simone Lightfoot join them. All trustees are present.

There are roughly 100 people in attendance at tonight’s board meeting, about half of them wearing blue ‘Support Ann Arbor Teachers’ t-shirts.

7:13 PM Mexicotte calls the meeting to order.

AGENDA APPROVAL

No changes are made. The approval is approved unanimously.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Home Builder’s Association Board 

Swift gives a brief background history of the AAPS Student Building Industry Program. Over the course of the program’s 46-year history, students have built and constructed 46 homes. Swift says the program is a “national model.” Tonight’s recognition is for the board of directors of the Home Builder’s Association.

Mexicotte recognizes the board, the contractors, and teacher, John Birko, who is retiring this year. She notes she had a parent who pulled her aside to tell her how important the program has been to their son, who will be continuing his education in the building trade.

Stead acknowledges the awards the program receives when it competes. She says it is due to the mentorship, teaching, and support the students receive. The program is an “enormous source of pride for the district.”

Manley thanks the board for their service and notes that she was part of AAPS when the program first began and she is “still here today.” Thomas recognizes the pride of ownership students get when they build a house with lasting presence.

The homebuilding program is the “original project based learning,” says Lasinski.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Chartwell’s Scholarship Presentation

Chartwell’s scholarship goes to two graduating seniors who plan to study either culinary arts or hospitality management. Both students,  Huron High students, won $2,500 scholarships. Chartwell’s is the food service provider for AAPS.

STUDENT REPORT: Pathways to Success

Principal Tyrone Weeks introduces some of his staff and four students. He introduces several of the programs specific to Pathways. One of those programs is Zing-Path, a partnership with Zingerman’s to bring a “school-to-work” experience to students. Twelve students were initially enrolled in the first cohort of the program, with nine students completing the program. Transportation was cited as the biggest roadblock to completing the program.

A video highlighting ZingPath is shown. Several students speak about their experience working at Zingerman’s. One student mentions that she and another student were hired by Zingerman’s to work there full-time. That other student says he “can’t thank this program enough” for letting him be part of it.

Pathways Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is the second program highlighted. Students are take Introduction to Engineering. High expectations, combined with strong support, help students create professional portfolios. In Semester 1, 11 out of 12 students successfully completed the program. Semester 2, 10 out of 11 students are on track to complete the program. Two students share their experiences in the IE class. One student said she did math that she never imagined she would be able to do.

Stead thanks Zingerman’s for the “ripple effect” they’re having on the community. She says the results shown tonight are a “bit beyond” what the board had imagined when the Pathways campus was created. Lightfoot echoes Stead, saying these students and the teachers are showing how this program is exceeding expectations.

When Baskett asks if the ZingPath program will be expanding next year, she is told a second cohort of students will go through the program.  She says she is disappointed she didn’t hear about the Junior College tour that she went on with Weeks and some of his students.

Thomas points out that three business partnerships have been recognized at tonight’s meeting. He is grateful for the continued partnerships that come from the greater Ann Arbor community.

When Lasinski asks a student how a she has grown in math, the student attributes her growth to the fact that her teacher sat down with her for several hours and taught her.

Manley thanks the students and teachers, saying that a lot of people in the community don’t know what is going on Pathways, but now they can see.

Mexicotte thanks Zingerman’s for being a good community steward, not only for their work with ZingPath, but also for their employment of many students who are disabled.

PUBLIC COMMENTARY

8:15 PM Lauren Warren: one of the two librarian media specialists at Huron High School. Would like board to restore library media budget to former level. It was reduced during the budget cuts of 2012-13. 80% reduction in funding for materials that support the entire district’s learning. Where there used to be $15/students, there is now $3/student. The cut could be sustained for one year. They thought it would be a temporary situation, but now have just completed the third year of reduction. Asks that the board restore the budget.

ASSOCIATION REPORTS

PTO COUNCIL: Jack Panitch and Steve Norton represent. The PTOC has concluded their year. One of the biggest roles the PTOC serves is as a go-between between the board and the district’s PTOs. Panitch noted that one of the indicators of the health of the PTOC is there was a significant interest in people serving on the executive board. Panitch has served as PTOC president for the past three years, so he must step down. He notes this year the PTOC provided advice to member PTOs, and was active in the Citizen’s Millage Brigade.

Norton notes that they have had theme years the past two years. This year was equity in education – two big topics that can’t be dealt with just a few sessions but that should be discussed.

AAEA: Linda Carter, AAEA President: highlights a section of the contract that talks about ways of communicating at board meetings. The board agrees to provide the pres. of the AAEA a designated seat at the regular meetings. Carter introduces her designee, Dan Ezekiel, AAPS science teacher at Forsythe Middle School.

Ezekiel begins by saying he truly and deeply appreciates the trustees’ service. He presents estimated statistics on his time teaching, as he is going to be retiring this year. He thanks the board for the privilege of letting him work here.

He brings up negotiations for the front-line employees. He’s not on the negotiating teams, but he knows the offer has been made and he has heard the offer has called for further concessions. If that’s the case, he says, “Get real.” In doing his paperwork for retiring, he says he makes $3000 less now than he does eight years ago.

Ezekiel says he worries about the “middle teachers,” the journeyman teachers who are not at the beginning of their career, who have been teaching for several years. Those teachers are beset at every side. And the belief that they are going to be able to move up the ladder and the steps is becoming less and less a reality.

Ever since the legislature began controlling the finances of the district, the board has had to play Jenga with the pieces. But “we all know how that game ends.” He says they can’t afford to lose the journeymen teachers along with the most experienced teachers who are currently retiring.

Eziekel argues the Ann Arbor Advantage is mainly the front-line employees: the teachers, the principals. The teachers have stood by the board – they work all the time to make them look good. We together have weathered the worst of the storm. Fund balance has improved, the millage has improved, enrollment is up. While district finances aren’t perfect, it never will be. “Show, don’t tell.” Show the board appreciates the teachers, not just tell them.

He says he “left it all on the field,” and so do his colleagues.

The room gives him a standing ovation, as does the board. After he finishes speaking, most of the room clears out. There are now about 12 members of the public remaining in the auditorium.

SUPERINTENDENT REPORT

8:41PM Swift thanks those who were able to make it to last week’s State of the Schools report. She highlights many of the accomplishments of students, schools, teachers, and programs around the district.

The district will be launching the preregistration for next school year  next week. Inoculations must be completed along with registration.

High school graduations begin tomorrow evening with WiHi’s commencement.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

8:54 PM Planning Committee: Stead notes the committee met today. One of the things they talked about is furniture needed at Mitchell, given the expansion. Final amendment for 2015-16. On track to have an 8% fund equity balance. What won’t be seen is a $9.4M line item on the budget, given the special education millage passed. The district will be reimbursed at about a 94% rate from WISD.  The reimbursement money won’t really be seen in the budget until special education services have been rendered this next year.

Governance Committee: discussed policies when they last met. Discussed transportation policy – space available transportation. Policy will be ready to come to board for the end of the year. Also had a health and nutrition policy come forward, introduced by Jenna Bacalor. Also discussed another policy based on some legislation they think will be coming down the pipe. Will be sitting on that policy until legislation actually comes through. Three different policies, three different outcomes. Looking to possibly reschedule next governance meeting.

INFORMATION ITEM: Monthly Budget Monitoring Report (April)

9:03PM Jill Minnick presents. General fund revenue collected through April 30 this year is slightly greater than YTD revenue collected last year. Result of increased enrollment and sale of building. Expenditures increased by about 17%, and was expected. Comes from increased salaries, retirement costs. This year, April is a three-pay-period month, when last year April was a two-pay-period.

At this time bout 79% of revenues have been collected, about 74% of expenditures have been made. Minnick says this is about where they would expect to be.

Thomas says he would like a monthly budget that shows a monthly budgeted amount on it. He would like it to take into account things like three-pay-period, things that are known ahead of time and could be budgeted for.

INFORMATION ITEM: DISTRICT WATER QUALITY REPORT

9:08PM Student safety is number one priority, even greater than student learning and achievement. Given concerns locally and nationally, the district is testing water in buildings. According to EPA, the threshold for concern is 20 ppb, and there are no schools that approach that level of concern. Swift says they will be taking some lessons from it, however, to improve protocol. One of those improvements will be to flush water systems regularly. Some water

Water at STEAM @Northside, particularly following winter break, is discolored, due to iron content. A micron filter is being installed, which will remove the iron particulate.

Jen Hein: AAPS began working with the Water Treatment Services of the City of Ann Arbor in late 2015 and began testing the water in April of 2016. She says they are “pleased with results” of testing. City of Ann Arbor has tested district water at no cost, also testing water at Carpenter Elementary, which is outside of the City of Ann Arbor jurisdiction.

Moving forward, the district will be flushing all water systems – every faucet, toilet, drinking fountain – after every long break. They will also be conducting inventory of water pipes throughout district: what kind of pipe, when it was installed.

Brian Steglitz, Water Treatment Services Manager at City of Ann Arbor and district parent: while city is directed to take water samples from residences, schools were never part of those regulations. “But it’s the right thing to do,” so the water treatment services is working with the district to test water at the schools.

While the water from the treatment centers is not corrosive, there can still be lead at the home. Until 2014, Stieglitz says, up to 8% lead was allowed in brass fixtures.

When Lightfoot asks about the taste of her water after a rain, Stieglitz explains all of the reasons why water can have a taste. She thanks the city for working with the district.

Thomas asks about the high levels of lead at the Huron Concessions building (59 ppb) and the Huron Training room (16 ppb) from the May 6 testing. Both of these high levels are being attributed to the fact that those water faucets had been winterized and not used at all before being tested. The water had sat there over the winter.  When those locations were tested again, the lead levels were below the threshold of 15 ppb. Hein says those faucets are not allowed to be used until the information was brought in front of the board.

FIRST BRIEFING: 2016-17 Millage Resolution

Swift says it is a matter of their annual process to set the millage levels. A slight change due to a rollback, but not significant. 2015-16 budget is coming in right on target. Last budget amendment for 2015-16. For the 2016-17 budget, the additional reimbursement funds from the special education millage passed in May will be part of the budget

Below are the 2016 tax millages for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Millage Summer Levy Winter Levy Total
 

Hold Harmless (Homestead)

 

 

2.1513

 

2.1514

 

4.3027

Operating

(Non-Homestead)

 

8.8976 8.8975 17.7951
Debt Service

(All Properties)

 

1.2250 1.2250   2.4500
Sinking Fund

(All Properties)

 

0.4964 0.4964   0.9928

Millage rates are subject to Headlee Rollback. Resolution is required by the BOE to subject to the City of Ann Arbor and surrounding townships.

Thomas says he always finds this somewhat confusing and so some voters might find it to be so. Millages are passed at some time by voters and over time, those millages are adjusted by the Headlee Rollback over time – adjusted down as property values increase. What they are voting on is essentially accepting the calculations of the rollback done internally in compliance with the State.

FIRST BRIEFING: 2015-16 Final Budget Amendment Proposal

2015-16 Budget was adopted in May of 2015. At this time of year, at the end of the budget, the board generally amends the budget to correct for any changes over the year.

For this year, the district applied for and was granted reimbursements of the current year expenditures of current year special education transportation, along with early literacy grants.

  • Total projected revenues: $213,261,205
  • Total projected expenditures: $212,913,882
  • Fund balance increase: +$347,323
  • Fund balance equity: $17,110,282 – 8% of revenue and expenditures.

Lightfoot asks about some of the costs: central administration and transportation. She asks when Durham’s contract is up, saying that when they privatized transportation per the state because they were told transportation costs will be so much less, they just haven’t seen it. Mexicotte says savings were incurred in the first move from the district to the ISD, but then after the district moved from the ISD to Durham, those savings have been maintained.

Thomas notes that comparing the cost of transportation from six years ago to now doesn’t make sense, given the changing needs and fuel costs. The better, but more difficult question to have answered, is what would have been their costs had they stayed with in-district transportation.

Mexicotte says the biggest savings from moving from public to private service in transportation is always in retirement. She notes the “big savings” happens initially and then “the market takes over.”

Lasinski says that additional revenue in 2015-16 that came in due to increased enrollment went back into instructional services.

Thomas clarifies that the proposed final budget amendment is still an estimate, albeit a more accurate estimate. Minnick says it includes all expenditures they expect through the end of the school year. Mexicotte notes that while this is called the final budget amendment, it is not actually a final budget amendment – as it’s an estimate and the last time to talk about the estimate before the end of the fiscal year.

Minnick: now that the district is running the transportation service and not the WISD, the district and not the WISD is getting reimbursement for the special education transportation.

FIRST BRIEFING: 2016-17 Budget

Budget numbers do not include special education millage – those will be accounted for during the regular fall budget amendment process.

  • Total Projected Revenues: $215,041,103
  • Total Projected Expenditures:  $214,668,537- Minnick notes that special education expenditures are scattered throughout.
  • Net change in Fund Balance: $352,566
  • Projecting Ending Fund Balance: $17,462,848 (8.1% of revenue and expenditures)

Special Education millage reimbursement monies will be reflected on incoming transfers in the amended budget in the fall. Thomas takes issue with the fact that the estimated $9.4M additional reimbursement is not included anywhere in the budget.

Minnick says that while it technically is a contra expense, the state of Michigan requires the district to record the reimbursement as a revenue. Thomas says that regardless of where it is recorded, they know they will have an additional $9.4 in the budget. Over the next few months, he says, they will be discussing and making decisions on how that money is going to be used. While they have decided the four buckets: increasing fund revenue, program enhancements (Thomas thanks the media specialist and says he wants to add the money back to the library budget) , improvement of infrastructure, increase in compensation for staff, they still haven’t decided how much money is going into each bucket.

10:16 PM PUBLIC HEARING OF 2016-17 BUDGET

Mexicotte opens the public hearing of the budget.

Steve Norton: it’s difficult to speak intelligently at a public hearing when the document was not available until not that long ago. He realizes it’s a first briefing item, but the budget wasn’t available for review.

Norton cautions the board to take seriously some of the discussion heard earlier about the current mood of the instructional staff in the district. They should call again for a renewed effort of the people of Ann Arbor to join together with other districts to change how our schools are funded. The board had to put together the budget without knowing exactly what is coming from Lansing.

He also cautions the board that the governor’s proposal was generous for an election year. Leaves very little for 2017-18. Some of the things seen in this year’s governor’s budget may not be seen in future years. He knows they are up against the impossible, but he thinks we can all do more to insist change in how schools are funded. Await the adequacy study, which was supposed to have been completed by now.

He thinks it would be beneficial to include the parent community and the broader community earlier so there can actually be some meaningful discussion at public hearing.

Stead wants to make sure the public understands that they have sought opportunity to have community be part of budget, given they have had a study session. The public has 21 days to review the budget, to give feedback in any way. Stead takes issue with Norton’s comparison to the state legislature’s process. The budget is not new, Stead says.

Thomas says they “were somewhat the victims of timing” regarding the budget sharing with the community. The budget is “boring” this year, as it doesn’t change much from last year’s budget. No cuts were needed. When cuts were needed to be made several years ago, the board involved the community earlier on. The level of controversy surrounding the budget is relatively small, if “not nonexistent.” The only real money at issue, he contends, is the $9.4M special education millage reimbursement money.

Lightfoot asks about the projected shortfall from Lansing, wondering if the district has accounted for the fact that there may not be the $60/pupil addition to the foundation allowance. Swift says they have and noted that the increase would be just around $1M, they are prepared to find that money.

Mexicotte: required by law to have this special section of public commentary around the budget. It’s always been looked up as a second full public commentary – a full 45 minutes set aside. She says that while they are required to hold one, they are not required to hold only one. They could decide to hold another one, to allow for more full discussion from the public. There is nothing that precludes the board from extending public commentary in future meetings. She asks if there is any will for that, or if the rest of the trustees feel they already have enough public commentary time.

Stead supports having an additional public hearing at the next regular meeting on June 15. Manley brings up the fact that the public had opportunities to speak on the budget at the budget tours Swift conducted to explain the special education millage. Swift clarified that those meetings were primarily about the millage and not about the budget in general.

When Thomas says that he thinks the biggest concern out there is going to be how the estimated $9.4M reimbursement is going to be spent, Mexicotte explains that that budget page they will be taking commentary on only allows for the fact that there will be that reimbursement at a later time.

Thomas says that even if there is an additional public hearing at the June 15 meeting, unless there is a significant amount of commentary, he would prefer to keep the budget as a second briefing at that meeting, which would then move the budget into the consent agenda.

The trustees vote to hold a second public hearing on the budget at the June 15 regular meeting. Unanimously approved. 

10:41PM PUBLIC HEARING: CLOSED

The board recesses for a 10 minute break.

11:03 PM The meeting resumes.

FIRST BRIEFING: Mitchell Expansion Furniture Purchases

The district is projecting an increase of 120+ students in fall of 2016. at Mitchell Elementary School, given the International Baccalaureate expansion. Furniture will be needed in the six new classrooms. Recommending puzzle tables for PreK, Young 5s, and Kindergarten; Hokki stools (wiggle stools) for PreK-5th grade. Dawn Linden says there will be a handful of each Hokki stools in each classroom. Both the chairs and stools allow for more movement. Research shows, that when students can move, Linden says, they learn more. Will also be getting TriTables for 1st-5th grades.

Total purchase price: $190,044.37, paid from the 2015 bond.

Thomas clarifies that all the furniture at Mitchell will be replaced and Swift reassures him that the “well used” furniture from Mitchell will be distributed throughout the district where it needs to go.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEMS: 

  • 2016/17 Annual Software Renewals
  • 2016/17 Project Lead The Way Purchases
  • 2016 Rec & Ed Sports and Summer Camp Contracts
  • 2016/17 Food Service Management Contract
  • 2016/17 WISD Budget

There are no changes to any of the items and no discussion of any of the items.

CONSENT AGENDA

  • 2016/17 Annual Software Renewals
  • 2016/17 Project Lead The Way Purchases
  • 2016 Rec & Ed Sports and Summer Camp Contracts
  • 2016/17 Food Service Management Contract
  • 2016/17 WISD Budget

 

The consent agenda passes unanimously, with Lasinski not at the table. 

AGENDA PLANNING

Mexicotte asks that an additional public hearing be added to the June 15 meeting. She also asks that the transportation policy be added as a first briefing item to that meeting.

ITEMS FROM THE BOARD: NONE

11:19PM All meetings are adjourned.


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