AAPS Trustees Pass Resolution Opposing DeVos Nomination; Move Forward on Millage Proposal

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting/study session (January 25, 2017): Huron High School, 2727 Fuller Rd

The Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) Board of Education (BOE) trustees will have a combined regular meeting and study session tonight beginning at 5:30 PM.

The regular meeting will begin with special recognition given to the school board trustees. January is School Board Recognition Month.

The trustees will hear the monthly budget monitoring report for December, given by Chief Financial Officer Jill Minnick. Minnick will also give  special briefing on the 2016/17 budget amendment. The budget amendment is a fairly routine item to have mid-year.

No first briefings are scheduled.

A Sinking Fund Millage Proposal, of which the trustees will be determining the level [somewhere between 1 and 3 mills], and the District Liability Insurance Renewal are up for second briefings. Minnick is recommending the district switch liability insurance providers, for a premium cost savings over last year of $138,616. The total cost of the insurance is a $628,884 premium with a $10,000 deductible and a $200,000 aggregate.

Voting will be on the resolution to submit the sinking fund millage proposal, the liability insurance renewal, and the 16/17 budget amendment.

Board action is to be taken on the annual approval of financial institutions.

The study session, which is an opportunity for the trustees to dig deeper on a single issue, will focus on school start times. The Board is considering the issue of changing school start times to allow for a later start to the high school day.


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Present: President Christine Stead, Vice President Susan Baskett, Trustees Jeff Gaynor, Patricia Manley, Harmony Mitchell, Jessica Kelly, Simone Lightfoot

5:37PM Stead addresses the approximately 15 members of the public who are in attendance, saying the meeting will begin after trustee Simone Lightfoot arrives.

5:50 PM Stead calls the meeting to order. Lightfoot has not yet arrived. There is some confusion. The mikes weren’t working, and Lightfoot had, in fact arrived. Stead says they are going to postpone the meeting for another couple minutes because they are going to take a photo of the Board.

5:59 PM Stead calls the meeting to order. As she does, Lightfoot says she needs to step away for a moment.

AGENDA APPROVAL

Stead adds a resolution for the trustees to review and possibly take action on tonight.

The agenda with the change is approved unanimously.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: School Board Recognition 

January is School Board Recognition Month. Superintendent Jeanice Swift thanks the trustees for giving their time for “nothing but the reward of serving our schools.” A video is shown.

Mitchell says that “if you see the tears,” it’s because the video reminds her of why she sacrifices so much to serve. Gaynor says the video helps renew his faith. Lightfoot notes the video helps recharge the work, likening it to the Women’s March in Washington. She thanks Andrew Cluley, Communications Specialist, for his work. Manley says “every time I get ready to pull out, they suck me right back in.” When she sees the students, she is pulled right back in.

PUBLIC COMMENTARY: five signed up

Stephanie Chervin, Huron HS parent: represent AA chapter of Start School Later. She speaks for the group when she says how encouraged she is knowing the board is considering starting high school start times to 8:30 AM or later. She asks them to reach out to their group if they need any help. The group is hopeful the board will be able to implement a later start time by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. They hope the change will be instituted all at once. “Let’s start at 8:30 and not putz around.”

Moira Yuhas, district parent, AAPS graduate: support 2017 sinking proposal. In the past couple of years, she has been subbing in many of the buildings. She is also a member of PTOC. State of the buildings is failing, especially given lack of A/C. AAPS buildings do not measure up to the buildings of other school districts. Now that we are recovering from difficult times, the time has come to focus on infrastructure.

Peter Ways, AAPS teacher, parent, homeowner, local activist: Women’s March – even those who support conservative priorities must have been impressed. Heartening for students to see enormous expression of free speech. Question now is: what’s next? We must work locally, we must dialogue. We must support public education, protect people’s rights. A local coalition formed, strengthening and growing. Includes a variety of parent groups, K12 educators, higher ed educators, students, labor. This expanding local coalition is supportive of public education. These folks want to look forward, not back. Very much interested in working together. Growing coalition in place to work with board. Issues: financial issues, program quality, staff quality, student achievement, students first, family support. Question now: what about the sinking fund. Should it be extended, should it be increased. Does the coalition support this? Absolutely. But they can’t secure the support of all these supporters in a one week time frame. Need a winning strategy at the ballot box. Hopeful the board will see the necessity to hold off on crucial decision.

Ian Robinson, president of Huron Valley Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO: millage increase i one I haven’t been able to discuss of how to respond to it to my officers. His judgement of what they should do (not been endorsed by delegates): he fully endorses what Ways has said. The group has always supported public education, including millage increases. Need a better way of deciding process of what people are willing to spend. The size of the proposal is so great (3 mill version = $250M over ten years) that it could take up “all the oxygen in the room” on the ballot. He wants to see wage increases for direct service providers and worries school millage will take away from that ballot initiative. Need to devise a multi-stakeholder plan of how to move forward. The board cannot credibly put a ballot initiative in May and then come to other folks in Washtenaw county, saying they are ready to work. He wants them to work with organizations to have a united front.

Ron Motsinger, trustee for Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, IBEW: he thanks the board for their service. Like Robinson, hasn’t had time to talk with others. History is that they support the schools. They want to continue to partner with AAPS to recruit apprentices and want to encourage a strong education. Currently, AAPS doesn’t require that prevailing wage is required by its contractors. It’s tough for him to tell his people that AAPS wants to raise your taxes, but won’t go to a cheaper out-of-town contractor. He’s not sure how they are going to recommend. He hope he can tell his members they will be working on the projects that would be funded by the millage.

Stead says they will be making some changes to allow for more communication. When members of the public address issues, Swift and her team will be directed to tell the public more about what is being done to address the issues.

INFORMATION ITEM: Monthly Budget Monitoring Report 

Comparison of summary of all funds. Revenues in December 2016 exceed revenues collected in December 2015 by about 4.8%. Due to increased enrollment and collection of special education millage. Expenses exceed last years by about 8.5%. Due to increased payroll and expenditures for Allen Elementary flood.

Summary of all funds report. On the whole, YTD revenues collected about 42% of what budgeted. Have expended about 41% of budgeted expenditures. Reasonable for this time of year.

Gaynor makes a “minor math point,” drawing attention to a surplus deficit as a positive. Stead confirms that December is the first month that reflects the revenue from the new student count. Minnick says that it reflects the increased enrollment.

6:34 PM PUBLIC COMMENTARY ADDITION

Meg Fenech, Ann Arbor Open principal; Lisa Bankey, A2STEAM teacher, Classroom Environment Bond Committee: Fenech says they need agile furniture which allows for teacher choice. If they value a 21st center skill set, they need furniture that models it. She shares this with the trustees for their consideration when it comes to the deliberation about the bond. Bankey echoes Fenech, saying she believes they need to fund the furniture improvements.

SPECIAL BRIEFING ITEM: 2016/17 Budget Amendment

Swift says she loves what they are going to do this evening, as they get the chance every year to rectify their budget based on what actually is happening. Boards need to have a balanced budget by June of each year. That early June date means the districts don’t have their per pupil allowance. Tonight, Minnick will be go over the additional revenues they didn’t know about in June, as well as the additional expenditures.

Swift thanks Mitchell for her work as Board Treasurer, as she began looking at the amendment yesterday with the administration.

Minnick: original budget adopted in June 2016 without knowing key points like enrollment, per pupil foundation allowance. Each January, they go through this process.

Revisions of June 2016 revenue and expenditure. Now includes special education millage dollars of $9.4M. Attending to employee compensations, program enhancements, and reducing class sizes.

Revenues

  • State aid foundation allowance increase was, as projected, $60 year
  • Enrollment increase by 350 students, original budget of a 100 student increase
  • Additional special education millage
  • Increase of revenues: $11.3M

Expenditures

  • employee compensation $3.2M
  • additional staffing for program enhancements and reducing class sizes $6M
  • MPSERS retirement funding passthrough $400K
  • GCA Service Contact Amendment $1.6M
  • Durham Service Contract Amendment: $330K
  • Projected increase in expenditures: $11.3M

Fund Balance

  • Increase to Fund Balance per original budget :$352,566
  • Increase to Fund Balance per proposed amendment: $122,566
  • $21.5M audited fund balance (6/30/16)
  • $21.6M projected fund balance (6/30/17)
  • 2016/17 Projected Fund Balance equates to 9.6% of 2016-17 revenues an a 9.6% of expenditures

Conclusions

  • proposed amendment reflects goals of employee compensation, enhanced programming, and reducing class sizes
  • revenue and expenditures are subject to change

Swift says that the Allen flood monies will work their way through the insurance process. Day to day operating costs (busses, building rental) are running beyond insurance coverages. There is anticipated impact to the General Fund in June, because of Allen Elem building work.

Gaynor asks why General Administration budget costs have increased by 20%. Minnick says the district’s legal expenditures is driving much of the variation. Gaynor asks for a break-down of what goes into that category.

Lightfoot asks if there are costs associated with the Allen Elem flood the district has had to bear up front, and then will be reimbursed. Minnick says confirms they will see insurance reimbursements.

If not by June, Lightfoot asks, when should they expect the bills from the contractors who are working on the Allen restoration. Swift anticipates that by the fall, they should have a full account.

Gaynor also asked for a break down of Community Activities. Minnick says mainly includes Title One federal dollars. Might reflect an alteration of how those grant monies have been allocated across categories.

Stead thanks Mitchell for the seven days she’s formally been in service and already she has met with Minnick and Swift. She thanks her for rising so quickly to the challenge. Stead says that the Fund Balance as a percent of revenue is the area she works to keep an eye on. She affirms that it’s the 8% threshold the Board doesn’t want to go below.

SPECIAL BRIEFING ITEM: Resolution Opposing Betsy DeVos as United States Secretary of Education

Stead resolution to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as US Education Secretary and urge all US senators to vote no on her confirmation. Urge the President to seek a suitable replacement for nomination. The confirmation hearing is coming up before the Board will have another meeting. If they don’t take action tonight, it will be a moot point.

Kelly: not about partisan politics. She says this is a response to the unusual position that the nominee for the Secretary of Education has expressed hostility towards the very students she would be asked to serve. She proposes they join their senators and the East Lansing school board to oppose DeVos. She thanks the East Lansing trustees she worked with, saying they are interested in partnering with the

Kelly reads the text of the resolution in its entirety. [Text of Resolution]

Manley thanks Kelly for putting together the resolution. She suggests a change in the reordering of one of the “whereas” clauses. Kelly says that the reason she had it in the order she did was because those were issues that DeVos raised in her confirmation hearing. They move the last “whereas” to be the new fourth “whereas.”

Gaynor thanks Kelly for putting the resolution together. He catches a typo.

Swift wonders if the Board would be amenable to sending the resolution to MASA leadership, the NASB, and the AASA, saying she believes they would be interested in the resolution.

Stead moves the resolution to a Board Action Item, which means that the Board will immediately vote on it.

Lightfoot thanks Kelly and notes there are several other school boards across the country who are passing similar resolutions.

The resolution passes unanimously.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Sinking Fund Millage Ballot Proposal

Stead talks about the process of the Board. Before they put any initiative on the ballot, the Superintendent would put forth a case detailing what she believes the district needs. Board’s next step is considering the case, then launching a lengthy, engaging community effort. Stead says they know they have a unique responsibility to keep the district strong. Why now? Increase to enrollment because of new building. There is an urgency to the build effort because there will be new students next fall. Stead says they’ve been living with the state of the schools for a while. Community has approved a 1 mill sinking fund, which generates about $8M a year, but that’s not enough to cover the cost of one roofing project on one of the high schools. This has been percolating for some time, says Stead.

Three other things driving a sense of urgency: sinking fund laws can and did recently change. Michigan legislature has not been kind to public schools. Recent change to minimize the size and the duration a sinking fund millage could be levied. If they can get help from capital side of budget, would help alleviate general fund. Work we can do locally to protect our schools. She thanks Robinson for his comments about a coordinated effort about millage ballots across the county. She likes the idea and will commit to working with Robinson and other governing bodies to coordinate efforts.

Swift talks about the Sinking Fund Millage proposal and how it has changed since last week. Sinking Fund Millage Proposal: lever that is used for repair and construction of school buildings. Sinking fund proceeds cannot legally be used to pay teacher salaries or any operating expenses. Average age of buildings: 60 years. Angell, Ann Arbor Open, Bach, Burns Park, and Community High schools will soon celebrate their 100th birthdays.

Because of the current process of deferral and delay, the district has fallen behind on up keeping of buildings, says Swift. Current sinking fund: 1 mill out of possible 5 mills. Now, because of law changes, can only reach a maximum of 3 mills, with a reduced 10 year time from a previous 20 years.

  • Repair, improvement, and replacement of infrastructure
    • HVAC
    • Roofing
    • Essential repairs
    • Updating aging systems
    • Building restoration
  • Expansion/construction of facilities to meet increased enrollment due to housing growth demands
    • transitional plan of some modular classrooms – conservative approach to allow community planning time. Don’t want to construct buildings that might not be needed
    • houses being built are projected to bring ~1000 students to AAPS.
    • Space for A2Virtual+ building, credit recovery
  • Completion of 2015 Bond Advisory Committee recommendations

Swift says she has been asked why there isn’t enough money in the 2015 Bond to meet the needs. Ballot initiative was designed to take advantage of historically low interest rates. Set the rate at the exact amount to not increase taxpayer demands at all.

The Bond Advisory committees spent the monies, and then it ran out before they could address all issues.

Estimate of Sinking Fund Needs:

  • Repairs: 69% ($210M)
  • Expansion/Construction: 26% ($80M)
  • Continuation of 2015 Bond Advisory Rec: 5% ($14M)

Swift offers a sample school update estimate. They estimate updates to each elementary at approximately $3M to include building-wide repair, improvements, and replacements such as:

  • HVAC (including A/C)
  • roofing
  • flooring
  • ceiling
  • auditoriums/performance failities
  • painting
  • lighting
  • windows
  • playgrounds/athletic facilities

Replace current Sinking Fund Millage

  • May 2, 2017 election
  • Increase to 2, 2.5, or 3 mills
  • extend to 10 years, beginning 2017

Swift asks for the Board to discuss, then direct her and her team on what they need to do moving forward.

Stead says they will have discussion, then she will ask the trustee that if they support the millage proposal, at what level mill they support.

Stead emphasizes the funding method used in the state of Michigan for public education. With Proposal A – if there are 6 mills levied, that amount goes to Lansing. Lansing determines allocation per pupil. As Ann Arbor housing values increase, that does not translate to increased foundation allowance for Ann Arbor students.

Mitchell says she toured several schools last week and sees the issues they need to address. She wants to make sure the schools are well maintained. The matter of timing on this issue, however, she has many questions about. She asks for clarification on the amount of taxes the district will be asking homeowners to pay. She asks if the millage is reflected on the chart that shows all the current bonds and voter approved millages, which Swift confirms is.

Once the amount is determined, Mitchell says they are asking voters to swallow a heavy hill. She wants to make sure they are looking out for those who are struggling. While her first priority is to the students, the students have parents who are struggling to stay in Ann Arbor. If tax burden is too much, those families will have to move out of the district.

Mitchell also raises the issue of millage fatigue. She is concerned that the district will be at odds with other community organizations that are also wanting ballot initiatives. Swift says they are as solid on their costs as they possibly can be, at the beginning of a process. Mitchell asks about the impact of the A/C electric bill on the General Fund. Swift says they would have to look that up.

Speaking on capacity needs, Mitchell says they will need to have the discussion about having a cap on schools of choice enrollment, if they are looking at increased enrollment of building. She wants them to make sure they are always looking at the impact of an increase in enrollment due to schools of choice.

Lightfoot said she too had the concerns of millage fatigue when she first came on to the board. And then she realized that it was her role to do what was right for the school. It is their job to make the case for what the money would be spent on. When they look at the way education is not being funded, their role is doing the job to educate the public that they might be seeing more millages. That’s the one way the district has to leverage local monies.

Lightfoot asks Swift to share the actual numbers of how Schools of Choice (SOC) actually works out with pulling students from other districts so that they are not perpetuating the myth of who is in the district because of SOC.

When it comes to ballot measures, the district is beholden to the election dates on the calendar, says Lightfoot. She doesn’t want them to miss their window. She also brings up the “punitive” nature of the Michigan legislature, and she is concerned “they are not done yet” with changes.

Baskett feels for the new board members. She says there is no luxury of time. When she came on the board in 2003, they were looking at a sinking fund and a bond. She asks why they are not doing a bond versus a sinking fund millage or a combination of both. With state backed bonds, they are obligated by the state to pay prevailing. She says they are not looking at a sinking fund to get around paying prevailing wage.

From a Superintendent’s perspective, says Swift, this kind of an endeavor with these kinds of items (repair, renewal, infrastructure) would be most appropriate for a sinking fund. A superintendent would look at a bond when they are going to build a new school. Sinking funds are better for ongoing projects. A bond issue is for when voters approve a set amount of money. Bonds cannot be used for repairs. They give a larger infusion of money right up front, but for recurring projects, for repairs, they cannot be used.

Baskett understands the anxiety of “yet another millage.” There aren’t many options to do so, though, she says. Regarding timing, they don’t have any option there. Why May? Not going to get any more comfortable waiting a few more months. If they get the funds, they can get started. Valuable construction season of the summer. Won’t need to work around students. She fully supports collaboration with unions, etc, but they can’t be delayed by “having to wait for the others to catch up.” The housing developments are going up. “The children are coming.”  She pledges her support for the community mental health millage, as well. And she knows they need to support the AAPS sinking fund millage.

Manley says this is a complex decision they are trying to make. As a employee in the district for many years, she understands the need to address the infrastructure. She also understands the concerns of families who are worried about paying more on their taxes. Swift notes that while renters don’t pay a tax bill, they are paying for their share of tax increases through rent increases.

Swift addresses what AAPS will do if they don’t pass the sinking fund millage. She says it is her job to not only have a Plan A, but a Plan B and C and D. They would move forward on transitional modular classrooms to address increased enrollment. They would have to take that money out of fund equity. They would continue to fix what breaks, to the best of their ability. They would not be able to get ahead of anything. The district has been on that status, and if that is the will of the board, they will continue to do that.

Baskett says she is very sensitive to the issues of families. She also recognizes that the school district is important to property values.

Gaynor asks when the next opportunity would be if they didn’t put it on the May ballot.  Swift says it would be in August or in November. If the Board was going to move forward in August, she says, the bulk of the campaign would be in June and in July. She says they have found in previous years that the public engagement occurs best when students are in school. May and November are the better dates. School board questions are always on the end of the ballot. Have been sensitive to the November ballot.

Gaynor also asks for some history with bonds and millages. with other millages, he asks, when has the district gotten community involvement? He would feel more comfortable to have some buy-in from the community. When groups who are supportive of the schools say we should wait, it raises a red flag for him.

Stead says her experience has been that they vote to put something on the ballot, then they go out into the community to get buy-in. The case for this is that “this didn’t come out of nowhere.” Stead says that when they were going through massive cuts, they protected the classroom and they let infrastructure go. It’s more cost-effective to do preventative work than to repair things piecemeal.

Manley said she heard Gaynor’s question differently. She asks how they get the info out regarding Bonds versus millages. She said that it seemed like a rush job by the Board to decide they were going to move forward, and then there was time to consider and engage with the community.

Gaynor asks if they have the confidence to propose the millage. Lightfoot is confident the staff is forthright on what is needed. She is confident in what she sees. She says it would be “less than prudent” to not act in a timely manner. Their role is handling the mechanics of the administration. When engaging the public about the amount, that is also their role to determine what they need and what it will cost to get them there without being overbearing.

Swift says 70% of the millage is about repairs. She believes there will be a couple of questions the Board will want to get input from the public: Would you find out what the will of the community and the staff is about A/C? Gaynor says he feels like they would want to have the answer to those questions before they set the millage rate.

Gaynor thanks Swift for providing all the info he’s asked for in a timely manner. He appreciates having an open and robust discussion. He echoes the concerns Mitchell brings up. He also wants to examine the SOC issue. Looking at the data, he doesn’t see it as an urgently needed part of this discussion, but it’s one he doesn’t want to let go in terms of district needs and equity.

He also wants to discuss the length of time suggested for the millage. It sounds as if they are talking about ten years as a matter of fact. In the past, they have asked for five year sinking funds. Are they risking too much by asking for too much? While he knows they want to build in the safety of the money,

Stead says the renewal of the sinking fund for five years was done deliberately considering that it was as they were just coming out of the recession. Baskett says they could go for choosing fewer than 10 years. Swift says her recommendation was based on the needs she had been hearing from the community, but the trustees could choose to do any number of years from 10 or less.

Kelly asks if they can use the millage money to reduce other costs, suggesting a solar installation to reduce energy costs. Maintaining is cheaper than crisis management. Overall costs could be lowered by using this money wisely, she asserts.

Kelly notes that district needs exceeds what could possibly be asked for, even with a 3 mill proposal. She says this would be an opportunity to protect the General Fund. They have to manage crisis, they have to educate kids. The protection provided by the millage allows for that room.

If the millage proposal fails, Swift says, the current millage expires in 2019. Last collection would be in July or December. If it didn’t pass, the Board would discuss when they would like to try adding it to a ballot again, with November 2017 being the soonest they could place another ballot proposal. If it weren’t to pass, they would be hard pressed to have a tough discussion on what to do about the burgeoning repairs.

Kelly says she would hope they would learn the lessons Battle Creek PS learned. Battle Creek is placing a ballot initiative on May’s ballot after having one fail. Failure lays in communication.

Mitchell asks if there is a risk assessment done on how quickly or how urgently the district should move on building repairs. Swift says that everything they are able to charge under Sinking Fund monies, they do. They have a work order system where they use to determine how long it takes to get the work done and for prioritization.

Gaynor says he would be reassured by hearing from the Mitchell & Mouat architects the costs of some of repairs, such as roof replacements. The estimates are based on the architects’ assessments of what they know about the building conditions, says Kevin Stansbury, architect.

Baskett raises the question about what they do about the district’s old buildings. She doesn’t want to lose that question, as she does not want to lose the discussion about SOC. When do they talk about turning off the spigot? She also doesn’t want to forget talking about equity, collaboration, and community care. They will have to eventually get to that.

Stead says they are about ready to call the issue on the Sinking Fund Millage Proposal. She asks the trustees if they are amenable to move the discussion about school start times to the next regular meeting, saying she wants to give it an appropriate amount of time for discussion.

Gaynor says he is leery of delaying it. Baskett asks if there are any decision deadlines. Swift says they want to take the board through “an immense amount of data.” By the end of that roughly 90 minute session and the subsequent discussion, the administration is hoping the Board would allow them to put together an advisory group. They would like to go off “and work and study and collaborate” to bring back to the board some options.

Stead asks if they would be able to put together the advisory team before the board meets next, so the Board isn’t the limiting factor on moving forward. Baskett asks what the Advisory team would be doing without having the Board’s direction.

Lightfoot says it’s not likely they’ll change the school start time at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The Advisory committee would start the process of reviewing all the information. the sooner they could get started looking at that info, the better.

Baskett’s concern is that if the Advisory Board goes off tonight with that information and the trustees don’t yet have the info, they would need to answer the questions.

Stead again asks if they are willing to adjust the agenda to address the issue of school start time at the next regular meeting, saying their consultants won’t be available. The trustees do not seem amenable to do so. Manley says she wants them to go over the info tonight.

When they return from a ten minute break, they will vote on the proposal for the sinking fund millage. They will need to include a rate and a duration of time.

9:33 PM 10 MINUTE RECESS

9:52 PM MEETING RESUMES

Stead says the cost of going out to ask voters for a ballot initiative is about $190K. She gives it as

Lightfoot puts motion forward they consider a millage of 2.5 mills for 10 years.

Kelly asks how she came to that number. Baskett says that if you go out, go large. Gaynor is weary of doing it for 10 years. He proposes a friendly amendment to the motion, of changing it to a six year term. Lightfoot does not accept the amendment, saying she wants to understand what it is based on. At the three or four year mark, they would be going back out again to the community.

Lightfoot says these numbers are based on actual needs throughout the district. The millage would allow for not only emergencies, but for going forward. She notes she is most comfortable with the 2.5 mills from the current 1 mill levy.

Kelly said she would not support going less than eight years, saying she would want protection from a potential hostile education environment from the current administration.

Stead shares Proposal A’s impact on funding. If Prop A hadn’t passed in 1996, AAPS would currently be receiving $3,988 per pupil more than they currently are.

Baskett: yes, Gaynor: no, Kelly: yes, Lightfoot: yes, Manley: yes, Mitchell: no, Stead: yes.

The motion passes, 5 to 2. The sinking fund millage proposal will be for a 2.5 mills for a duration of 10 years.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Liability Insurance Renewal Proposal

Gaynor asks for clarification on the removal of the flood insurance. It has been moved around to a different part of the insurance.

CONSENT AGENDA

  • Liability Insurance Renewal
  • 2016/17 Budget Amendment

The consent agenda passes unanimously.

BOARD ACTION ITEM: Annual Approval of Financial Institutions

Stead says they do this each year to approve the banks the district wants to work with.

To substantiate the banks are in good standing they, have received copies of their most recent audit and certification that they have received, read, and understood the district’s policies.

After Stead reads off the list of banks, Mitchell reads a statement: One thing they take for granted is access to basic rights and necessities. But as of recently, in Michigan, clean water has become dinner table talk. Neighbors in Flint are suffering from gross negligence and misconduct. She stands with her neighbors in Flint. There is another serious issue concerning water in this country. Battle underway of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). She cannot support in good conscience district working with JPMorgan Chase and Comerica since they support and finance DAPL.

Baskett asks what the impact would be if they didn’t approve. Minnick says JPMorgan Chase is used for payroll, and Comerica is used extensively for athletics and other things.

Minnick: if the board voted against, they would need to take action to switch banks for those accounts. Swift says they would need to do a careful analysis since payroll is a huge endeavor. If the Board were to go in the direction, Minnick would need some time. They would have to issue an RFP. No consequences if they didn’t approve this tonight. Just need to get it done before the end of the fiscal year [by June 30, 2016].

Swift says she doesn’t think they could change their payroll quickly. She would like to get responses from the companies in question.

Lightfoot says she thinks they should take the vote, then let the issue move into committee.

Baskett asks that she would like to know how these institutions support the district. Swift says she believes that Minnick’s role is to get the best rates possible. They also expect their financial partners to contribute to the committee. They have not made “the perks in the rubric of making the selection,” says Swift. David Comsa, legal counsel, says he heard it as asking the financial situations how they can

Stead says this issue will go to Planning Committee to learn more about the level of involvement of these banks. Want to make sure there is no disruption to payroll.

Swift asks for clarification on what the administration should ask for.  Mitchell says she would clarification on their role in funding DAPL. Mitchell also asks that they look into the local banking institutions and what they are able to handle in terms of payroll.

Minnick says they haven’t surveyed the banking institutions during her two-year-tenure with the district, but she knows there are some local banks that could not handle it. Stead clarifies that they would issue an RFP and financial institutions who felt they could handle it would be the ones to apply. Swift says the district in the past has surveyed their financial institutions as to their capabilities.

STUDY SESSION: School Start Times

10:26 PM Swift notes that this is a repeat of what was presented to the Planning Committee in December.

Swift says they entered the study with set of core values: consider needs of ALL students. Easier said than done, she says.

Science is well established. Swift directs people who are interested in learning more about the science to StartSchoolLater.net.

Incremental steps to address the needs: opened Pathways to Success with a morning, afternoon, and evening learning session. Last year, they moved all three comprehensive high schools to 7:45AM start time. The district moved high school bus pick up times so the earliest start times occur at 6:45 – 7:15 range. Still not where they want it, but still significant shift. At both Huron HS and Pioneer HS, have built a full seven hour day.

Initial focus in this study has been on high school start times. Swift says many students use A2Virtual+ to give themselves more flexibility in their schedule. Currently have more than 1,000 students enrolled for some part of their schedule.

The district started with one research question: what is the will of the high school community: staff, students, parents, community members: surrounding start times and schedules. The district began the conversation through ThoughtExchange, beginning on November 30, 2016 through December 16, 2016.

  • First phase: All stakeholders received an initial email asking them to share their initial responses.
  • Second phase: Star process. Asked the responders to rate the statements.
  • Third phase: Discovery phase. Charts and graphs are made available to the public.

They found that there were about equal numbers for people who were strongly satisfied with school start times, strongly dissatisfied with school start times.

Ask that they have create an advisory board to continue to go back out to gain input and feedback from community. Position those questions with hypothetical solutions. Would like to come back to the Board with more information and more choices.

Paul DeAngelis, Executive Director High School Education, presents.

The initial questions asked:

  • What are your concerns related to later high school start times?
  • What would you appreciate about later high school times?
  • What other thoughts, questions, would you like to share about later high school start times?

Over 4,500 people participated in the survey. DeAngelis walks through the survey results, showing where the conversation was centered. The largest areas of conversation were focused on reasons for later start times.

Next steps: 

  • Make website public
  • Establish an advisory team to continue the study
  • ThoughtExchange conversation on scenarios/topics

DeAngelis says logistics and decisions around the impact on human and financial resources, transportation are part of the consideration.  Impact on after school activities: what time does school start battle the issues of activities. Would like to take conversation to a different level. What ways can they provide options for students to be able to start school whenever they want.

Kelly asks about the wording used on “how satisfied are you with the current daily high school schedule?” Could someone have answered that not based on the start time, but on the options within the current schedule? Swift says this is something they hope to revisit with the Advisory board.

Lightfoot says DeAngelis is talking about making the conversation more contemporary by offering choice when it comes to schedule. When they start making it about choice, she is more open. Lightfoot is not open to wholesale change to start times.

Mitchell hears the choices as being in conflict with bussing and possibly excluding those without transportation. Swift says that’s part of the tension they are dealing with. They are currently providing AAATA passes to at least 100 students within the district. Possible solution to that in the future. Swift says they don’t have all the answers tonight, but they are working towards this.

One of their core values is equity. Opportunity and choice is available for all. Gaynor brings up staffing concerns, which Swift agrees with.

Baskett asks where they have answers to the questions asked. Had they had the ThoughtExchange consultants available, they would have had more data available for the presentation tonight. DeAngelis says there will be a website available soon.

Baskett asks how long the Advisory Board will exist for. She worries they will get into “analysis paralysis.” Swift asks for 45 days to be able to develop clear scenarios and options, then gain community input. Come back to the board within 60 days, after talking to Durham about transportation.

Baskett doesn’t want to take the option of an early school start time away. She looks forward to hearing more.

Stead articulates that one of the values of Ann Arbor is choice. She says it drives her crazy when a government agency severely restricts options that exists. Example: the same year when Betsy DeVos was lifting caps on charter schools, Michigan legislature said there was no choice about half day kindergarten class. If schools kept half day K, they were going to have their per pupil funding cut in half for those students.

Stead wonders if they would get a better response rate if they would post the survey post-election. People have realized how important it is to engage.

Lightfoot thanks the administration for the work they are doing on A2Virtual+. Ann Arbor was a magnet attraction for students across the state. And now there is more growth that is mainly AAPS students. She has a concern that they remain vigilant by focusing on students who need the extra support.

Baskett confirms that Swift is asking for their guidance to create an Advisory Board, comprised of a heterogeneous group of students, parents, staff, and other stakeholders. They like to keep boards at 15 or fewer students. If someone is interested in being part of the Advisory Board should look for a posting online.

The board is amenable to moving forward on the next steps: making the website public and forming an Advisory board. The ThoughtExchange team will be available to present at the next meeting on February 8.

Swift thanks the trustees for letting them explore this topic using ThoughtExchange. She says it allowed for more input from the community, on the whole.

11:30 PM Comsa says the trustees must read the Sinking Fund Millage Proposal resolution aloud to enter it into the public record. Stead reads the resolution.

ITEMS FOR AGENDA PLANNING

Gaynor says he wants to take a look at level of data collection the district undertakes. Stead says they will circle back with him to make sure the Exec committee know what he is asking, then they will direct Swift and her team to look at it.

Baskett asks to schedule the Superintendent evaluation into the calendar. She also asks for professional development for the board members.

ITEMS FROM THE BOARD

Baskett: Talk to the Trustee Thursday starts tomorrow at Bryant Elementary. Thanks Plante Moran and Clark Hill – sponsored a school laws forum.

Gaynor reaffirms the board’s continued desire to engage with the community. He invites the community to engage with them.

Stead: All the school districts countywide are gathering at WISD on Saturday, 8:30-11:30 PM. Working together.

11:39 PM MEETING ADJOURNED


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