Trustees Mull Purchasing Modular Classrooms; Approve Refunding 2008 Bond

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting March 15, 2017): Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd

The Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) Board of Education (BOE) trustees will vote themselves into executive session at 5:30 PM this evening, citing attorney/client privilege. Executive sessions are closed to the public. The regular meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

The meeting will begin with a performance by the Scarlett Middle School orchestra, directed by Timario Wilkins.

The trustees will hear several information items. Chief Financial Officer Jill Minnick will give February’s monthly budget monitoring report. Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director of Community Services & School Wellness, will give the Rec & Ed Summer 2017 Preview. Superintendent Jeanice Swift will preview the annual climate survey, as well as offer an update on the 2017 Sinking Fund. Swift and Executive Director of Physical Properties Jen Hein will update the trustees on the impact of the recent windstorm to district facilities.

Two first briefing items will be presented: a 2015 Bond Furniture Purchase and a Modular Classroom Units Bid Recommendation.

A special briefing on a refunding of the 2008 Bonds will be given by Minnick.

There are no second briefing items.

Voting will be on a resolution to approve the refunding of the 2008 Bonds.


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7:05 PM President Christine Stead calls the regular meeting to order.

Present: Vice President Susan Baskett, Trustees Jessica Kelly, Patricia Manley, Jeff Gaynor, Harmony Mitchell. Absent: Trustee Simone Lightfoot

AGENDA APPROVAL

The agenda is unanimously approved without any changes.

STUDENT PERFORMANCE: Scarlett Middle School Orchestra

The Scarlett Middle School orchestra, led by Timario Wilkins, performs two pieces for the trustees.

Kelly commends the orchestra for not only for “the beautiful music” but also because of their “attention to the dynamics.” Baskett asks Wilkins what his biggest challenge is of teaching orchestra as Scarlett, to which he replies is teaching orchestra at 8:45 in the morning when students are just beginning to be awake. Manley commends Wilkins for his dedication to Scarlett. He was a student at Scarlett himself and currently has a child at Scarlett.

PUBLIC COMMENTARY

Ron Motzinger, agent for IBEW Electrical Workers: Here on a good note, he says. They have recently taken in a new class of apprentices, and they awarded two apprenticeships to recent graduates of AAPS. He says they are going to be needing apprenticeships in all the trades and asks the district to keep sending their well-prepared students. After students graduate apprenticeship program, they are just a few credits short of getting their Associate’s Degree.

He hopes that when the trustees discuss the modular classroom bid recommendation, they would encourage any out-of-town contractors who do work for the district to  use local workers.

Stead thanks him for the IBEW supervision over the DTE workers who have been working overtime to restore power from the recent windstorm. He clarifies that work is from a different Local, but

ASSOCIATION REPORTS

Arab American Parent Support Group (AAPSG): The representative thanks the board and Swift for coming out in support of immigrants and Muslim students. The rep shares the mission statement of the parent group. She says it has been a pleasure working with the board, the administrative team, and Swift, especially. She says parents can find out more about the group on the district website.

Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA): President Linda Carter thanks some of the administration for attending the most recent caucus meeting. She looks forward to some of the trustees coming to the next caucus meeting. She shares a story about one of her former students who came in to her house to do some plumbing work. He told her to thank everyone for the good work they did educating him.

Black Parent Support Group (BPSG):  Christina Montague thanks Manley for her support in keeping the BPSG. She says she is at tonight’s meeting to learn about what is being offered over the summer for kids, especially at risk students.

BOARD PRESIDENT REPORT

7:35 PM Stead shares the election results for the Washtenaw County Education. She talks about some o

Past Monday, met with local legislators. They talked about School Aid budget, along with other proposals coming out of Lansing.  Governor’s proposal was released in early February. Some of it looks to be a non-starter, such as a $2000 reduction in foundation allowance money for cyber school students. There is a  $130M shift from the general fund to secondary education for community college. That translates to a $130M cut to K-12 education.

Also some discussion about the state income tax repeal. Conversation was about how soon we could see another income tax repeal proposal.

SUPERINTENDENT REPORT

7:42 PM Swift announces Clague Middle School has been named a National Trailblazer School to Watch. It’s awarded to schools that are able to demonstrate they are excellent in four different ways: Developmentally responsive, educationally excellent, socially equitable, the school has norms and structures in place to sustain its excellence. The Clague MS team will be traveling to DC to receive their award in June.

Swift shares highlights of schools, students, and events around the district. The Pathways High School boys basketball team won the MAAA state championship. Bands in Review is happening March 18 and March 21. 2017 Youth Art Walk is happening this Sunday.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

7:54 PM Planning Committee: Manley reports out. Met March 8. Discussed three of tonight’s agenda items: 2015 bond furniture purchase. Refunding 2008 bond, would allow for reduction for taxpayers. Will receive a deeper understanding during tonight’s special briefing. Modular classroom units needed at King, Thurston, Burns Park, and Mitchell to keep up with projected increases in students and to keep class sizes in check.

Performance Committee: Met February 23. Mitchell shares that they went over the student discipline report, which will be shared with the board in its entirety at the next regular meeting.

Governance Committee: Meets March 17 at Balas. Policies surrounding LGBTQ+ issues are on the agenda.

INFORMATION ITEM: February Monthly Budget Report

Chief Financial Officer Jill Minnick present the financial monitoring report for February. Overall revenues in excess of last years by about 10.7% because of increased enrollment and special education millage. Expenditures exceed last years by about 9.6%.

Monthly expenditure: processing issues in the business office, which have now been resolved.

Cash and Investments Report: This month, a positive position in cash and investment holdings.

Overall, the revenues collected for this fiscal year are at 64% of what has been budgeted. Expenditures are at about 55% of what has been budgeted.

Baskett clarifies that these documents are available online for the public.

INFORMATION ITEM: Rec & Ed 2017 Summer Preview 

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director Community Services & School Wellness, says it’s “always summer in Rec & Ed” since they are always thinking about their summer camp program.

Why summer camps? To enhance well being, to engage for growth, and to build community.

Operations Overview

  • 207 weekly camp sessions
  • preschool-12th grade
  • 4,000+ registrations
  • camp locations rotate – main hub is Forsythe MS this year.
  • AAPS students who are part of scholarship program receive one full week of camp

Teen Camps – 14 camps specifically for middle school through 10th grade

  • Counselor-in-Training
  • Themes
  • Sports

Adapted Camps: camps for preschoolers through young adults with disabilities

  • 28 more adapted camp slots
  • free bike camp to 40 children
  • PlayMazium: new two-week multipart camp for preschoolers – 3rd graders

Science and STEAM Camps: preschool-9th grade

  • Hands-On programming
  • Camp Invention

High School Volunteer Program

  • www.aareced.com – there is a link on the page to apply for the volunteer program
  • looking for incoming 9th graders-incoming 12th graders.

Baskett is impressed with all the Rec & Ed program is offering this year. The programs begin the Monday after school gets out.  Baskett is also impressed with the number of new partnerships. Bacolor says that sometimes partners approach the district and sometimes partnerships result because of conversations she has had.

Bacolor says last year they served over 4,300 students. Capacity is somewhere between 4,000 and 4,500 registrations.

INFORMATION ITEM: Preview of 2017 School Climate Survey

Swift thanks the community in advance for filling out the survey. The surveys are for parents, staff, students, and community members. Swift says they are a “continuous improvement organization” – they want to get better.

The climate surveys are dedicated to finding out how the schools are doing. They focus on five areas:

  • academic preparation
  • student support
  • parent engagement
  • safety and behavior
  • school operations

The window for the survey is open now, from March 14-March 28. They reserve the right to leave the window open longer to get more results.

Participants

  • parent/guardians
  • students in grades 3-12
  • staff members

Process

  • 100% anonymous
  • K12 Insight, the company the district uses to compile the data, emails individual invitations with survey links
  • students access the survey during the school day.
  • takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Stead believes the particular tool they are using has helped clear up some of the concerns surrounding the methodology people have had in the past. The district has been using K12 Insights for the past four years.

Manley speaks to the community, saying it is “very, very important” for people to fill out the survey. Linden says the climate survey is offered online and in a paper-pencil mode for those who don’t have access to the Internet. The survey is available in English, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish.

Baskett asks if there has been an area uncovered by the survey that the district learns they need to address. Linden says one of the areas a couple years ago was feedback that parents were getting about their students. Because of that report, the district focused on it and worked to improve.

Swift says last year, they noticed a discrepancy between how students and parents rated students feeling safe and supported in schools. Swift says they have worked to

Kelly asks if they are required to do the climate survey because of State or Federal law. Linden says they are not. There is a requirement for districts to survey parents of Title I schools, but that tends to be a different survey.

1,265 families have already completed the survey since it opened yesterday.

INFORMATION ITEM: 2017 Windstorm Update

Schools without power because of the storm:

  • Bach, Forsythe, Haisley, Lakewood, Lawton, Logan, King, Skyline, Wines, Allen on Towner

Things that blew away:

  • ceiling and combustion air intake in Pattengill boiler room
  • fan covers on rooftops
  • trees
  • Huron copper decorative siding
  • power lines

Subsequent Cold Snap:

  • schools without power on Saturday: Bach, Logan, King, Allen, Lakewood
  • generators and cable rented – buildings went to generator power
  • security engaged at those five schools

Systems Complications:

  • boilers down at King
  • problem with transfer switch at Logan
  • repair on transfer switch by Utilities Instrumentation Service

Reopening:

  • DTE repairs completed by 8:20PM on Sunday
  • completed transition from generator back to building power by 8:50PM (King and Bach)
  • All schools reopened for classes on Monday

Swift thanks partners at DTE and other companies. She also thanks the AAPS facilities team who worked 16-20 hour days.

INFORMATION ITEM: Sinking Fund Millage Proposal Update

Asking to increase the Sinking Fund Millage from 1 mill to 2.5 mills for a duration of 10 years, beginning in 2017. The millage will be voted on the May 2, 2017 election.

The anticipate sinking fund allocations:

  • Repair, improvement, and replacement of infrastructure (70% – $140M)
    • update aging systems
      • HVAC, boilers, roofing
    • essential repairs
      • plumbing, parking lots, ADA accessibility
    • restoration of school buildings
      • lighting, flooring, ceilings, minor re-design
  • Expansion/construction of facilities to serve increased enrollment due to housing growth demands (14% – $28M)
    • expansion at Thurston, King, Burns Park, and Mitchell
      • monitor other schools this next year
        • Swift says the increased enrollment is not due to schools of choice or in-district transfers.
  • Continue progress in addressing the additional 2015 Bond Advisory Committee recommendations (16% – $32M)
    • classroom environment
    • elementary playground structures
    • auditorium/performance facilities
    • athletic/outdoor learning areas
    • security enhancements

Swift says it is their hope to get all the relevant documents online by Friday. The documents that will be made public and used to explain the need for the sinking fund millage increase:

  • PowerPoint slide presentation
  • Executive summary and rationale
  • School View
  • 2015 Bond Advisory Recommendations
    • furniture and musical instruments cannot transfer over, as they cannot be paid for by sinking fund monies
  • Sinking Fund Cost Analysis and Sample Repair Scope
  • Expansion Map
  • FAQs
  • Calendar

Based on the recent experience with updates performed at Allen Elementary, they estimate updates to each elementary at approximately $2M, to include building-wide repair, improvements, and replacements.

9:13 PM Baskett wants to clarify the language they use to show the increased annual cost to taxpayers. She wants them to indicate that the increase is not the current cost, plus the 2.5 mills.

Kelly thanks Swift for putting this information together. She appreciates how the documents have been refined. Kelly asks for a bird-eye view of what sinking fund money can be used for to be added in the presentation, saying that can help voters to understand how the monies can be used, depending on how they are collected.

Mitchell also thanks Swift for the detailed presentation. Mitchell says that if last week was any indication as to what there is a potential for, those repairs take a hit from the General Fund. The more hits they take to the General Fund, the worse off the district will be. She says they are trying to take precautions and measured steps to protect the sovereignty of AAPS. They need to protect the fund equity balance, which needs to be kept at greater than 5% in order to not trigger the State’s oversight.

Gaynor asks to make a change to a line in the Executive Summary, indicating that they knew the 2015 Bond money wasn’t going to be enough to provide for all the improvements the district wants to make. For each of these major expenses, he says, that each recommendation is going to come to the board for approval. Just because it’s on this list, doesn’t mean it’s a done deal, he says. Swift affirms that yes, each item will be vetted and approved by the board.

Manley urges the public to “pay close attention” because there will be forums and information sessions across the district about the millage.

Stead says there is an intent to combine both topics of the sinking fund millage, as well as a preview of the district budget. She says this is a “great time for the community” to get an overview of the budget moving forward.

Stead noted that she attended the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting on Tuesday. The Chamber is interested in the economic development and competitiveness of the area. They asked why the trustees didn’t go for the full amount. They also asked what it would take for the district to get ahead. The Chamber was more ambitious about what they believed the district needs.

Swift says May 2 will be a defining moment for the district. She thanks the principals who have joined them this evening, to show their support for the millage proposal.

Stead asks if the trustees would like to take a ten minute break. Manley says they have guests and so she would rather not take a break. Stead asks if they are amenable to moving up the first briefing item of the modular units, to which they agreed.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Modular Classroom Units Bid Recommendation

9:38 PM Due to anticipated increases in enrollment due to new construction, the administration is asking to add modular classrooms to Thurston, King, Burns Park, and Mitchell. The modular sets will have four classrooms, a set of bathrooms, a hallway, and a small office.

Kevin Stansbury, architect at Mitchell and Mouat, presents. They put together a design-build plan  for a square module. They are connected to the existing building by a covered walkway. The modules are turn-key.

The bid was bid through an RFP process. Each bidder looked at by merit first, then by price. Prior to opening any bids, the highest scored company was Innovative Modular Solutions, Inc, based in Oswego, IL. Once they opened purchase prices, they found Innovation Modular Solutions was the lowest priced, as well. All companies will work with the district to make sure that they can be paid prevailing wage. The companies are national companies. Stansbury says the companies very often pay union wage and very often they pay prevailing wage, they pay what is asked. They are bringing local trades on site to do painting.

Swift clarifies that the biggest chunk of money is the fabrication of the modular unit, in Indiana. The installation crews might not always be from Michigan. The electricians, the plumbers, though are “generally local trades” who will be paid prevailing wage. There is a mechanism in place to get that done, says Stansbury.

Manley thanks Stansbury, saying they had a robust discussion about prevailing wage during the Planning Committee meeting. Mitchell confirms that prevailing wage will be paid for. Swift says they have received assurance from the company that that will occur.

Gaynor asks if there is some way they can do a check to confirm the companies are prevailing wage. Swift says they get a commitment from the company. They can check to see if they are indeed paying prevailing wage, but they generally go by the company’s commitment. Swift says that if there were any companies they did not trust, she would not want to do work with them.

Gaynor confirms that the district puts bids out to local companies. Swift says they make sure to do.

Baskett asks if they can help facilitate the contact between the modular company and local companies. Stansbury says they have already done that. Baskett says that the issue of prevailing wage was an example of getting what you ask for. The board is asking companies about prevailing wage, and because they are asking, companies are providing it.

The modular buildings will be installed permanently. The classrooms will each be about 900 sf. Stansbury says the modular classrooms will need slightly more maintenance than a regular brick building.  The modular classrooms will be ready by August 20.

Stansbury says he doesn’t expect any of the modular classrooms to be put on top of existing parking lots. If they have to move playground equipment, the district will bear the cost.

Kelly wonders what Stansbury’s confidence is in Innovative Modular Solutions in providing the modular classrooms in a timely manner, within the budget given. Stansbury says they have worked with the company before. He’s not worried about what they’re going to deliver.

Kelly asks if any of the principals present would like to speak about the impact of the modular expansions at their schools.

Mary Cooper, principal at King Elementary, says her community is relieved. They have been wondering where they are going to house all the students the community has been sending to them. She thinks it’s a wonderful opportunity, and it means they are alive and growing.

Kevin Carr, Mitchell elementary principal, says they are excited. They look forward to the expansions and what it means for the growth of their community.

Chuck Hatt, Burns Park principal, says the idea of having an expansion in this manner, was suggested by parents. It gives them back their auditorium.

Thurston Elementary principal Natasha York says the expansion will allow for the opportunity for them to grow.

Manley asks about the movement of students from the modular classrooms to the main building. There will be a covered walkway with open sides, Stansbury says. The length of the walkway could be anywhere from 30 to 150 feet.

Stead asks about the future growth of the district. She wonders if they have considered this. Stansbury says they will be using the modular units at these four sites initially, but they can be moved to other sites as needed. They can also be sold in the future.

10:13 PM Stead asks the trustees if they are amenable to taking a break. They decide to press on.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: 2015 Bond Furniture Purchase

Dawn Linden, Executive Director Elementary Education, is asking for approval for four of the VS model classroom furniture. She covers the work the bond advisory committee did to determine the furniture needs across the district.

Linden shows pictures of the four classrooms where the VS model furniture. She is asking for the board’s approval to purchase the last batch of model furniture for a cost of $75, 330. The furniture meets both US and German environmental standards. This furniture purchase is to finish purchasing the trial furniture that has been in use over this school year in the pilot classrooms.

Gaynor says that he taught for 38 years and never did he imagine having world class furniture. He’s not enthralled with the buzzwords, but he’s glad to see the district is looking into furniture options to increase student attention span.

Linden says there have been lessons learned through the pilot process. The wiggle stools are important, and there is particular model that they tried from a vendor that kept squeaking.

Mitchell asks if there will there be any kind of warranty on the furniture. Linden says the companies they are working with offer 15 year warranties.

Gaynor asks about the furniture the district found fault with that they have already purchased.  The district worked with companies, with one of the companies redesigning the furniture based on the AAPS pilot.

SPECIAL BRIEFING ITEM: Refunding of 2008 Bond

Swift says every once in a while they’ve been able to find opportunities to save the taxpayers some money. The taxpayers won’t get a big check in the mail, Swift says, but over time, they will realize some savings.

It’s a limited opportunity because of interest rates. If the trustees are in support of the endeavor, Swift is asking for their approval tonight.

About $12.5M of the 2008 Bonds are still outstanding. As Swift mentioned earlier, Minnick explains, the district’s financial advisors brought to the district’s attention the opportunity to refinance the bonds. Savings of $1.1M – the savings would ultimately be to the taxpayer, not to the district. It could be a reduction to the debt levy, or it could be realized in purchase power. The debt levy would not change next year, but will still ultimately reduce debt costs by $1.1M.

In order to refund the bonds, the district reissues bonds at a lower interest rate. The refunding of the bonds would transact by the end of the month. Minnick is recommending the board adopt the resolution to refund the bonds.

Kelly asks if there is any prediction that it could be better to wait. Minnick says the Federal Reserve is looking at increasing rates, so if rates were to change, they may not go forward with the refunding.

CONSENT AGENDA

10:47PM The trustees vote on the

  • Resolution to Approve Refunding of 2008 Bonds
  • Approval of Minutes from the February 8, 2017 Regular Meeting
  • Approval of Minutes from the February 15, 2017 Board Retreat

The consent agenda is unanimously approved.

AGENDA PLANNING: None

ITEMS FROM THE BOARD

Manley thanks CTN for providing new microphones to the trustees.

Kelly shares some of her experiences of touring some of the district schools. Three themes: all working in their own way to improve equity and access for all students; each would like to take the next steps to build on what makes their program unique; desperate need to address teen mental health issue.

Gaynor thanks the parents who came to his first coffee hour. He wants to encourage input, conversation, and transparency. He will be holding them twice a month. Kelly will be meeting with constituents at Westgate library, as well.

Baskett shares her experience with touring Skyline High School with a prospective parent. She thanks the Skyline family for making that opportunity. She also gives a shout-out to the Pathways Panthers for winning the basketball state championship. Baskett also shares her excitement about the IB career pathway.

Stead thanks Swift for bringing several people with her to the Center for Independent Living celebration. Vice President Baskett will be presiding over the next regular meeting, as Stead will be absent because of a work commitment.

10:58 PM Meeting is adjourned.


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