AAPS Board Hears Intervention Specialist, Culture & Climate Reports

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (June 29, 2016): Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd

The board is holding an executive session at 5:30 PM, for the purposes of attorney/client privilege, negotiations, and superintendent evaluation.

During the regular meeting, beginning at 7:00 PM, the trustees will first take a board action of ratifying the remaining employment agreements. Agreements for AAEA, AAEA-Paraprofessionals, and AAEA-Office Professionals were ratified at the June 16 meeting. 

There will be special recognition of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses.

The trustees will hear the annual climate and culture report, a report on the Intervention Specialist program, and the superintendent 360 evaluation.

First briefings will be on the local wellness policy update, a revision to Policy 3760 – Transportation, and several bid recommendations for maintenance work, including asphalt paving, painting, roof replacement, and wood floor refinishing.

There will be a special briefing item on a GCA contract amendment. GCA is the company the district outsourced to for janitorial work.

Second briefings will be on the Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee (SHEAC) report and recommendations, the Rec & Ed contracts, the inventory resource management system recommendation, and the MHSAA membership renewal for the 2016/17 school year.

Voting will be on the Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee (SHEAC) report and recommendations, the Rec & Ed contracts, the inventory resource management system recommendation, the MHSAA membership renewal for the 2016/17 school year, and the GCA contract amendment.

In addition, the trustees will vote to adopt a resolution to approve summer 2016 purchasing and hiring authority for Superintendent Jeanice Swift. This is routine authority given to the district superintendent to make purchases during the summer while the board is not in session.

7:07 PM The trustees begin filtering into the auditorium. Trustees Simone Lightfoot is the first to sit down. The board had been meeting in an executive session, which is closed to the public.

7:16 PM President Deb Mexicotte calls the meeting to order. All trustees are present including: Donna Lasinski, Susan Baskett, Andy Thomas, Patricia Manley, Lightfoot, and Vice President Christine Stead

AGENDA APPROVAL – Approved without changes

BOARD ACTION: Ratification of Employment Agreements

Mexicotte: pleased to bring this item forward and for it to be the board’s first item of business this evening.

Ratification of employment agreements for AAAA, ASCA, AFSCME, and AFSCME Tech Support.

Thomas asks if this would complete negotiations with all bargaining units in the district, to which David Comsa says yes.

Mexicotte thanks all bargaining units and says they are thankful for such a “forward thinking” agreement.

The contract agreements are approved unanimously. 

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Zingerman’s Community of Businesses

The board is recognizing Zingerman’s Community of Businesses for their partnership with Pathways to Success Academic Campus, offering the ZingPath internship. Swift says the internship provides students with the opportunity to connect their academic experience with the real world.

Tracie Wolfe, Zingerman’s Recruiting Specialist, says her experience with ZingPath has been “monumental” in her career and in her life. Zinger man’s founder Paul Saginaw says ZingPath was as great an experience for them as it was the students. He looks forward to continuing the program and making it better.

Thomas thanks Saginaw for his speech at the 2016 Pathways commencement.


7:31 PM Daniel Lopez, intern at Community Action Network: working with CAN and CivCity – teaching students about local governance and democracy. Designed to get students to be active in local government.

Monet Tiedemann, parent, AnnArbivore: Asks that the board reconsider their practice of not posting reports online prior to board meetings for the sake of transparency.

During clarification, Mexicotte acknowledges that the board has had discussions of when items are presented to the board versus when they are presented online to the public. A lot depends on if an item has been presented to the board as a whole. Mexicotte says they could possibly look at it again in Governance.




7:39 PM Swift recognizes several notable programs around the district, including  Rec & Ed summer programs, the Kerrytown mural, Slauson students singing the National Anthem at a Tigers game, and the work of Pioneer students at the 2016 Tech Trek, partnered with Menlo Innovations.

Last night, there was an orientation meeting for candidates considering running for the school board. Three seats on the board will be up for election. Candidates must file by 4PM on July 26th to be on the November ballot.

Swift ends by thanking everyone for their hard work this year.


Planning: Stead notes there will be four bid agreements brought as first briefing items. The items are painting, asphalt repaving, roof replacement, and wood floor refinishing. She suggests that if there aren’t a lot of questions on the items, the items be considered as a special briefing, which means they will be voted on this evening.

Painting would be paid for out of the General Fund, as it is seen to be more of an operational expense. The other three items would come out of the Sinking Fund, which is set aside for building maintenance.

Stead noted they were potentially planning a board retreat for August and thinking about agenda items.

Performance: Has not met. No report

Governance: Has not met, but has a policy up for review this evening.

INFORMATION ITEM: Intervention Specialist Program

7:53 PM Elaine Brown, Executive Director Student Intervention & Support Services, gives some history on the achievement and discipline gap in AAPS. After seeing a significant gap between

Each of the Intervention Specialists introduce themselves and say how large their caseload is. Most have caseloads of between 15 and 23 students.

Program criteria:

  • general education student
  • failing grades in at least two subject

Before IS, 80 student suspensions. With IS, only 12 student suspensions in the caseload.


  • servicing 165 students in nine schools
  • raised caseload overall GPA – before team was in place, students averages a 1.2 GPA. Now average a 2.1 GPA.

Program Needs

  • professional development
  • funds to provide incentive for students
  • transportation for extracurricular activities

A video highlighting three students who are part of the Intervention Specialist program is shown.

Swift is pleased to share that AAPS is no longer identified as “significantly disproportionate” in the number of suspensions of African American special education students.

An emotional Stead says that when the program began, it was the first time she had seen meaningful change at the level needed for students. The personal attention those students needed to be successful. What IS had done in the first year was amazing to her. And now what they have done in their second year is even more impressive. As long as she is on the board, she will fight for this program.

Manley echoes Stead in saying she’ll do what it takes to keep the IS program. She shares a story of a parent sharing her daughter’s success because of the program.

Lightfoot says she “lost it” when the report was presented in committee. If people can get in there and “extract [those students’] gifts and skills,” that is where leadership lies, she asserts. She would write the program a check herself if funding was in question.

Lasinski notes the success of the program of meeting the child where he or she is, and bringing them along. She says there is a discrepancy in the school climate report of student and adult perception of trusted adults being available for students; this program helps rectify that for some students.

Baskett thanks Brown and the IS team for the thorough report. She asks Brown how much she would like to increase the program’s transportation budget. Brown estimates the program spent about $2700 in transportation, and she notes she will be bringing a package forward to the board.

Baskett asks what parents are wanting or needing. Brown says they need to be listened to and given support to advocate for their children. Baskett also asks what kind of professional development is needed for teachers regarding behavior intervention. Brown suggests potentially social-emotional PD.

Thomas encourages them to think big when planning for the future. He believes the board would look favorably on any funding request that comes from the program.

INFORMATION ITEM: Annual Culture and Climate Report

8:41PM Swift notes that with the Culture and Climate Report, they look for patterns and congruency and incongruency between staff, parents, and students. The total number of survey participants: 15,716.

Swift highlights several areas of ongoing focus and opportunities for improvement:

  • Discipline being enforced fairly
  • Improving bystander behavior
  • fresh, high quality food is served at school – 41% (elem),29% (middle), 20% (high)
  • School maintenance
  • Respect for diversity: lowest for sexual orientation and gender or gender identity

Lasinski asks how the culture report on food quality compares with the data Chartwells presents to the board.

Thomas says he’s frustrated that they can’t dig deeper into some of the report data, citing specifically the responses on respecting sexual orientation and gender identity.  Mexicotte replies that if they need to delve deeper, they should direct Swift and her staff to look into it. Thomas wants a better understanding of how widespread a problem bullying of LGBTQ students.

Areas of Celebration

  • Continuing increase year-to-ear in number of respondents
  • Majority of stakeholders rate their school with an A or a B
  • School leadership is improved in all areas.
  • Students enjoy going to school
  • Parents and students feel welcome in school

Lasinski asks that they do a better job of meeting students where they are. There is a discrepancy of how parents and teachers rate things, versus how students rate. She looks forward to action plans for moving forward. Lightfoot agrees with Lasinski, saying they need to ask students more.

INFORMATION ITEM: Superintendent 360 Evaluation

9:08 PM Stead introduces the superintendent evaluation. Prior to the 360 evaluation, the board did the evaluation themselves. They now hire an outside company to evaluate Swift in order to provide a more objective evaluation.

Michigan law dictates that student achievement is a big part of evaluation. This year, there was growth in every measure. Swift’s job is student achievement, but is also managing the district. The review is opinion based, not fact based.

Stead reads a statement, acknowledging the board “continues their strong support of Superintendent Jeanice Kerr Swift.”

9:14 PM Board takes a 10 minute recess

9:29PM Board is back.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Local Wellness Policy Update – 5700

The policy was brought to them by Jenna Bacalor. Changes to policies were driven by changes to legislative mandate. Long process of improving nutrition and healthiness in schools.

Proposed policy revision to better match the new requirements given by the state legislation. Most of the policy adjustments are to  measurement and evaluation section.

While MI legislation relaxed the law of what foods can be distributed in schools, AAPS did not relax their policy. Swift says that even though MI regulations may have been relaxed, the federal standards have not been.

Stead wonders if the term “school day” needs to be better defined, given different schedules kept in the district. She also muses on the responsibility schools have in educating students on health and well-being. She loves that the district is building nutrition education into its process.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Policy 3760 – Transportation

The revision recommends a space-available transportation option. If a student was able to get to a set bus stop and the student lives either out of the 1.5 mile range or a School of Choice (SOC) student coming into the district and there is space available, that student can apply to for a spot on the bus. It would fill buses, help get students to school, and help parents juggle their schedules.

Mexicotte clarifies that this would not be done on the first day of school, but after transportation is sorted out in the beginning of the school year. Students would need to apply each year.

Thomas asks about the implementation of the policy, wondering if weather would impact students’ need. He wonders if it were possible ridership would need to be revoked if for some reason, ridership from students in the district increased.

Baskett does not support offering transportation to students from SOC. She is open to offering bus transportation to employees’ students. Swift says typically they would not fill a bus all the way to capacity regardless of the origin of the child.

Lasinski says “an empty seat is an empty seat and an AAPS student is an AAPS student” regardless of where he or she comes from. Baskett sees it differently. She thinks a bus seat should go to a student within the district. She doesn’t want to have to add another bus or displace a student who they offered a bus seat if there is an influx of students into a school boundary.

Swift would appreciate some general direction as to which is the more comfortable path in how students should be awarded a space. Mexicotte says it could be decided by a lottery, which would create a mix of in-district versus out of district students. SOC students make up a small percentage of students.

Thomas is generally open to the policy change. If there’s space on the buses, they should be able to open it up to students who need it.

Lightfoot says if there’s a seat available, put a kid in the seat. She appreciates that it wouldn’t be put into practice until after September. She asks about the timeframe. Swift says her team is meeting tomorrow morning with a goal of having it ironed out by Labor Day.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEMS: 2016 Summer Facilities Work

10:16 PM Asphalt paving: Huron High and Bryant Elementary – bid recommendation to Pavex Corp for $345,000, which would be paid out of the Sinking Fund.

Painting: full painting in areas with the greatest need, Project Lead the Way labs will be painted, and some areas in all schools will be painted. Due to the amount of work, Hein is recommending the bid be split up. Recommendation to Papa’s Painting for $177,220 for Ann Arbor Open, Tappan Middle, and PLTW labs and to Continental Contracting for $85,000 for painting of Burns Park Elementary. Painting work would be paid out of the General Fund.

Roof replacement: in March and April, the district completed 133 roof repairs. Roof replacement is recommended for Huron High and the Balas Administration Building. Bid recommendation is to William Molnar Roofing for $274,320. Would be paid out of Sinking Fund.

Wood floor refinishing: Huron, Pioneer, Skyline gymnasium wood refinishing, repairs at Eberwhite, Tappan, Clague, Forsythe. Bid recommendations go to Allcourt Inc for $3,600 for the Tappan repair and all other work goes to Star for $298,100.

Thomas asks what the difference in cost would be between replacing whole floors over repairing parts of floors. Lightfoot asks about insurance claims made with floor repairs. Swift says they have made some claims in the past.


  • Increase hourly rate of front line staff from $10/hour to $12/hour.
  • increase staffing in strategic areas of need > +6 FTE
  • increase number of days of cleaning from 240 to 260
  • remove the general maintenance tasks (light bulbs and ceiling tiles) from the GCA responsibilities
  • replace cleaning equipment

These changes would amount to about $1M increase. Swift says these changes will allow the GCA team and the district to achieve greater good.

Lasinski notes that the school culture and climate report shows that this is an area that must improve. She will have a difficult time supporting this another time, given the improvements the district insisted upon from GCA last year.

Lightfoot is ready for a Plan B to be put into place as she is “at her wit’s end” with the district’s experience with GCA. She believes there should be some change given the contract renegotiations.

Thomas asks how the $1M increase compares to the savings of contracting out the work. Swift says they are still saving roughly $750,000.

Baskett takes issue with an exhibit in the board packet, wondering why the information is included. Baskett appreciates that they are increasing the hourly wage and doesn’t think $12/hour is enough. The situation with GCA, however, is “getting worrisome.”

Thomas is concerned they are going to pay a company that has been inconsistent more money to try to solve the problem. He is reluctantly willing to give them “one more last chance.” At what point do they bid it out again, Thomas asks.

Mexicotte says they experienced inconsistency with their janitorial staff prior to contracting with GCA. She didn’t want it to stand that they didn’t have any inconsistencies prior to this contract. She noted that some of the district cleaning equipment is not up to snuff. Mexicotte points out that they are not voting to give the company more money, but the staff more money.

Stead agrees with Mexicotte. She adds that moving to another managing organization doesn’t mean the staff necessarily change.

Swift is asking the board to authorize her to negotiate these changes with GCA. She says they are not going to accept anything less than the best. They will implement monthly measures and will bringing that to the board on a regular basis.


Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee (SHEAC) 2016 Report & Recommendations – no changes, no discussion

Rec & Ed contracts – no changes, no discussion

Inventory Resource Management System recommendation – no changes, no discussion

MHSAA Membership Renewal for 2016/17 School Year – no changes, no discussion


  • MHSAA Membership Renewal for 2016/17 School Year
  • Rec & Ed contracts
  • Inventory Resource Management System recommendation
  • Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee (SHEAC) 2016 Report & Recommendations
  • GCA Contract Renegotiations

Consent agenda passes unanimously.


The board votes to approve a resolution to approve summer 2016 purchasing and hiring authority. The resolution delegates to the superintendent the responsibility to make purchases up to and equal to $250,000 in order to continue the business of the district.


There is a board retreat scheduled for August 17. July 13th meeting and August 24 meeting scheduled for the summer. Thomas would like to revisit the issue of school start times. Mexicotte agrees with him that it should be included in the Performance Committee’s future agenda.


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