AAPS Graduation Rates Remain at 89%; Trustees Consider Renaming Huron Softball Field

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (April 26, 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 5:00 PM this evening, discussing a attorney/client privilege item. Executive sessions are closed to the public. The regular meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

Students from Community High School will give a student leadership report. Representatives from each high school are invited to speak in front of the board once a school year.

Three information items will be presented: the 2016 Graduation Rates Annual Report, the 2017/18 Budget Overview, and an update on the 2017 Sinking Fund Millage.

The trustees will hear four first briefing items. A recommendation to name the Huron High School Softball Field for Dottie Davis, Huron’s Assistant Principal and Athletic Director will be made. Recommendations will also be made for a 2015 Bond Furniture Purchase and a 2015 Bond Bus Purchase. The 2017/18 Food Service Annual Contract Review will also be presented.

A Tech Bond E-Rate Network Infrastructure Purchase will be presented as a special briefing item. That means the trustees will hear about the item tonight for the first time, then vote on the purchase tonight. Generally, items with time sensitivity are brought forward for special briefings.

There are no second briefings scheduled.

Voting tonight will be on the Tech Bond E-Rate Network Infrastructure Purchase.

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7:02 PM President Christine Stead calls the meeting to order.  She introduces the non-voting member at the table, Superintendent Jeanice Swift.

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

Absent: Trustee Simone Lightfoot


The agenda is approved with the change of adding a special commentary item. Steve Olsen, WISD Board candidate, is here to speak to the trustees. He was scheduled to speak at the last regular meeting, but he was not able to make it.

SPECIAL COMMENTARY ITEM: Steve Olsen, Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) Board Candidate

Olsen is from Chelsea. He sat on the Chelsea BOE for 12 years up until December 2016. He wants to run for the WISD board because he says he has more to offer. It’s an important job that he believes in. “It’s the bedrock for our society and our country.” He doesn’t have any particular agenda items he wants to push. He just wants to be a good board member for the ISD.

Baskett asks if there are any other candidates running for the seat. Olsen says there are three candidates for two spots, one of them an incumbent. May 8 is the last day for candidates to file their affidavits. The election is on June 5.

Stead says she has served with Olsen on the WASB board. She calls attention to his energy and work on equity and opportunity. She says Olsen was instrumental in the early years for bringing that in focus county-wide.


Mary Jo Callan, WISD Board Member: Two seats are up on the WISD Board. She is an appointed trustee who is running again for an open seat. She worked at UofM at the Ginsberg Center, a community engagement center that works to connect the University with the community.  Her whole career has been working with children and families, working to advance the issues of equity and access. She is driven to serve, she says.


Student Leadership Report: Community High School

Dean Marci Tuzinsky and six Community students present to the trustees the purpose, vision, and beliefs of Community. The Community students introduce themselves, saying their names and their preferred pronouns.

The school community has focused on this year being a time for action: “Wake up and stand up” is their mantra. The students highlight many of the activities and events that happened at CHS over the year.

Letters to the President; Communicator awards; Community’s jazz band, led by Jack Wagner, won International Downbeat Magazine’s 2016 “Outstanding High School Jazz Group;” joint meeting of staff and students to address issues; MLK NCAU Selma Day; Jay Marks workshops for students and staff; diversity forum.

The students share some of their “personal connect” stories, some of the ways they’ve been able to use the Community Resource (CR) Department.

Manley is impressed by the Communicator, Community’s news magazine. Gaynor says he cannot say enough about Community. He thanks the students for coming, for sharing how their education is personalized.

Kelly asks how their personal objectives have changed over the year. One student says his agenda hasn’t changed, that he is still focused on keeping the fight going. Another student says they have really focused on involving the whole school.

Baskett remarks that her son is a graduate of Community. She thanks them for keeping up the reputation. She asks about the underlying negative current the students allude to. One of the students uses their Ides of Trump event, saying it “brought out hate in their school.” There was surprise that it presented itself in that activity. She says they have been working towards reconciliation as a community.

Baskett commends Dean Tuzinsky for having a joint meeting between students and staff. She asks if there was any resistance, to which Tuzinsky says no. She says that is part of what Community is.

Stead says it is valuable to hear the students’ voice. Some of the things the trustees hope district students get in high school is build the skills to do well in whatever comes next. Stead says they are learning resiliency and the skills needed to deal with whatever comes their way.


8:08 PM Stead says she recently met with State Rep Donna Lasinski. Lasinski shared a document that shows where the money is in the Lansing budget.

Strategies being explored in Lansing: Start cutting things now to create a case for the removal of the personal property tax. The State Senate is looking at cuts across the board, as well. Stead says they are getting closer in the budget at the state level. It is “disheartening, at best,” says Stead, thinking about the state of Michigan’s roads, public schools. It is something they have to fight for more and more, each budget cycle, notes Stead.


Swift shares highlights from around the district. Today is Administrative Professionals’ Day. She thanks Office Professionals across the district.

Swift highlights TedxYouth @ Ann Arbor that occurred this past weekend. She notes the district is collaborating with weloveannarbor.com.

There is a new flashing crosswalk at Fuller Road near Huron High School. This was put in at the location where a student was hit and killed in the fall of 2016. Swift recognizes the work of City Manager Howard Lazarus, Mayor Christopher Taylor, and the Transportation Safety Committee.

Tomorrow night is the last community forum for the sinking fund millage and the budget overview at Slauson Middle School. Swift reminds the community that  Tuesday, May 2, is election day.


Planning: Manley reports on the committee’s most recent meeting on Monday. At the meeting, they addressed four of the items that are being presented at tonight’s meeting: the special briefing item,  the 2015 Bond Recommendation for furniture and buses, and the contract renewal with Chartwell, the food service provider. Next committee meeting: May 8.

Performance: Baskett reports on the committee’s last meeting. Sole focus on last meeting was on graduation rates and performance. Next meeting: May 18.

Governance: Have not met since last regular meeting. Will meet on May 5.

8:29 PM Stead suggests they get through the information items, then check with the trustees to see if they need a break.

INFORMATION ITEM: 2016 Graduation Rates Annual Report

Swift says she will share the numbers, then Paul DeAngelis, Executive Director High School Education, will introduce each of the high school principals. The principals, along with DeAngelis, will share their action plan on how they are going to deal with the data.

Swift says high school students thrive when there is more choice. Most often, she says, they are working with students who have fallen behind on the acquisition of credits.

The work is done with systems programming at the base, moving to strategic methods, then individual methods.

2016 Grad Rates: 89%

Start from 2011 because that was the first year of Michigan Merit Curriculum. Art increased by 0.5 credit, Math increased by 2.0 credits, and an increase in 1.0 credit in Science. Since 2011, grad rates increase from 83.6% to 88.9% in 2016. Gained 5.3%. Over previous three years, the district has been hovering at the 89% level.

In all of the sub-groups, AAPS is above the state level. Latino-HIspanic and Economically Disadvantaged groups are very near to the state level, however. Swift says those groups need to be areas of focus.

They want every student group to be achieving at least a 90% rate. In 2016, African American group is at a 75% rate, Latino Hispanics is at 76%, Special Ed is at 61%, and Economically Disadvantage is at 69%. There has been little movement in Latino-Hispanic, Special Education, and Economically Disadvantaged groups over the past six years.

Swift says they also choose to compare themselves to the five highest performing districts across the state, as well as to other comparable districts. The district consistently uses the same districts to compare when looking at various data reports.

Swift looks at 4-year cohort categories: on-track graduated, off-track graduated, dropped out & missing, off track and continuing, other completed (GED). Over time, the district is getting more students to the goal of graduation. While the district is hovering at the 89% mark at the four-year mark, there is increases at the five-year mark (91.8%) and at the six-year mark (92.5%). The district is working to maintain students in the schools even if their cohort group has moved on.

2016 Graduation Rates (change from 2011 to 2016 by high school)

  • Community: 93% to 95%
  • Huron: 87% to 92%
  • Pathways to Success: 37% to 46%
  • Pioneer: 91% to 93%
  • Skyline: 94% to 96%

Kelly asks how they count graduation rates for special education students who are receiving certificates. Swift says they only receive credit for graduation for special needs students if they receive a traditional diploma. Kelly asks if they keep an internal data for students who achieve their IEP plans, but who do not receive a traditional diploma. Swift affirms that they do.

Gaynor points out that graduation rate correlates to poverty rate. Looking at the data of Skyline and Community, he asks if that might work to explain the higher graduation rates at those schools versus the other high school plans. Swift says there is some fluctuation from year to year, but she asks DeAngelis to look into that.

Skyline, Pioneer, Community, Pathways principals are present, along with DeAngelis. DeAngelis says they all have an an outreach plan for how they are tracking their at-risk students. The principals, along with their teams, have been working to identify students who are at-risk of not graduating. They are making contact with those students on a regular basis. They work to create a comprehensive path for those students to have them graduate, if not in four years, to

DeAngelis says that there were 151 students who did not graduate this past year. He is working to get that to be 100 students, which would put the district at a 93% graduation rate.

Stead asks how their economically disadvantaged students compare to the comparable high performing districts. Swift says that while they don’t have the chart, she knows their index is much higher than comparable high performing districts. Stead says that to get AAPS into that same high caliber, they would need to most focus on that group.

Noting that the district is working to “recapture” students who are truant, Mitchell wonders how they are engaging the families, since they are going to be the ones who are the biggest support to the district. DeAngelis says that while that isn’t going to impact their four-year graduation rate, it will impact the five- and six-year rates. The outreach to families is already happening. Unfortunately, he says, there are students who fall behind, then the district works on getting them caught up. They need to work on helping students transition from 8th to 9th grade, says DeAngelis. They know that is an area where students have a difficult time transitioning. They need a better plan to support them at that level.

Swift says there was an instance where a high school student had been truant, the recapture team went to the home, found out the family’s utilities had been shut off. The team worked with the homeless liaison and got the family’s utilities back on. Since then, the student has not missed a day of school. This is the “individual” part of the pyramid, says Swift.

Manley is impressed with the amount of success that is happening at Pathways. She looks forward to that continuing.

Stead says it is impressive to continue to see this kind of work. She highlights Principal Tyrone Weeks’ work at Pathways. A vote of confidence in his work “remains strong” from the board, she says. She asks Weeks what he needs. If they can take care of students who are struggling with big problems, that is the test of schooling.

Swift says they are working to allow students to get credit recovery 24/7. This will allow for ninth grade students to not get lost.

INFORMATION ITEM: 2017/18 Budget Considerations

Swift says the board has to pass a balanced budget “in the dark,” without knowing enrollment, without knowing the State’s budget. However, Swift notes, the district is able to get to within a

Moving into May, they will be clarifying supports towards graduation rates and third grade reading law. There may be some adjustment needed to attend to some of those state required goals and priorities.

Jill Minnick, Chief Financial Officer, walks through the State Aid Proposals from the Executive, the House, and the Senate proposals.

Per Pupil foundation Allowance increase:

  • Executive proposal: $50/pp + $50/9-12 student  ($1,147,600 increase)
  • House proposal: $100/pp K-12 ($1,745,000 increase)
  • Senate proposal: $88/pp ($1,535,000 increase)

Senate is proposing to fund the per pupil increase by using the MPSERS 147a Offset. No change to MPSERS 147c flow through.

Section 31A At-Risk Funding – (new revenue, with limitations)

  • Executive: $2,780,712
  • House: $1,390,356
  • Senate: $214,380

Budget Assumptions: 

  • Additional Staff – 10 FTE (additional : $1,000,000
  • Transportation – increased compensation: $450,000
  • MPSERS Retirement Rate Increase: $930,000
  • Differential in Partial Year Compensation Increase: $800,000
    • Subtotal: $3,180,000
  • Savings: Teacher Retirements/Replacements: ($875,000)
    • Total of $2,305,000

Minnick is recommending employing the Executive proposal for assumptions for next year. The Senate proposal is the most conservative of the proposals, but the district feels it is too drastic.

Next change to fund balance: a reduction of $229,000. Under the House proposal, a gain of $373,000. Under the Senate proposal, a reduction of nearly $1.4M.

Minnick notes they are keeping the At-Risk monies to the side, since it is not guaranteed. If it were implemented, it will be included into the budget through the amendment process.

Next Steps: Board Adoption of a balanced budget prior to June 30, 2017 (in accordance with state law)

  • Approve notice calling for Public Hearing on the budget: May 10
  • First Briefing and Public Hearing: May 17
  • Second Briefing and Approval of the Budget: May 24 or June 14

Snyder has promised to approve the State budget by June 30, says Minnick. School districts need to approve their budgets by then, as well, so districts need to be a couple weeks ahead.

Gaynor says the projected number of 25 retiring teachers seems low to him. Swift says they will adjust it as they go into May.

Manley asks where the Executive proposal comes from. Stead confirms that is from the Governor. She asks how they consolidate the budget. Stead says the groups will confer to settle on projections on the state revenue levels on May 17 at the Revenue Consensus Estimating Conference. From there, they convene to come up with a consensus budget.

INFORMATION ITEM: Sinking Fund Millage Update

Swift says she understands the “ask is a big ask” of the community, but she is grateful they are considering it. She encourages members of the community to visit the district website to read through the sinking fund information.

A video is shown, highlighting some of the 32 district properties. AAPS was incorporated in 1904. Five schools will approach their 100th birthday. Just two building have been constructed since 2000: Skyline High School and Westerman Preschool.

Swift says it is our generation’s turn to consider the question of protecting the district’s buildings. Every dollar will be invested into the buildings and the students.

Stead is making no assumptions about this election. She says Swift and her team have provided easily accessible materials to learn about the need for the millage. She does not assume it is an easy vote for anyone in the community. In general, the community makes the hard decision to support public education in Ann Arbor.

9:48 PM Stead suggests a 10 minute break. The board recesses, to reconvene at 9:57PM.

9:59 PM Meeting is resumed

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Huron High School Softball Field Naming Recommended for Dottie Davis’ 

Swift says Dottie Davis, Huron High School Athletic Director, has blazed a trail for female athletes. DeAngelis introduces the recommendation of naming the Huron High School Softball Field for Davis. He reads from a binder of letters of support and recognition of Davis.

Swift adds that this will be the first briefing. At the second briefing, Davis will come along to the meeting on May 10. There will be a reception for her. The field would be dedicated in the fall, if the trustees move forward with the naming.

Kelly asks if it is possible to move Davis’s second briefing earlier on the agenda at the next meeting. The reception is set at 6:00PM. Stead says it is typical of the Board to do this after someone has “left our family.” It is rare to have someone whose legacy is so obvious, to honor her while she is still employed in the Ann Arbor schools. Stead also notes they don’t have many women honored in naming in AAPS.

Manley clarifies that they will vote on the naming recommendation after the reception. Amy Osinski, clarifies, saying that is typically what happens. Baskett asks if there is a way to fix it. Stead says things like this wouldn’t come up in front of the board if there weren’t enough support for it. Stead asks if they should vote first, then have the reception?

Baskett says they could call a quick meeting to address this one item. She says this sends a picture of presumption, having the reception before they vote on the recommendation. They are a little out of sync, she says.

Stead thanks Baskett for that suggestion. They would like to gather people to give their support. Baskett says she doesn’t need that in order to make her vote. The voices are acknowledgement and celebration, not persuasion.

Stead says she is struggling with this. Baskett clarifies, saying those people who would voice their support would have their chance to speak. Manley says most of the time, you don’t celebrate before it’s confirmed. “Except we do,” says Stead, citing the naming of Scott Westerman Preschool.

Mitchell says she didn’t hear that the suggestion wasn’t that Davis’s supporters couldn’t say anything. Her supporters should come to share their support after the fact. If the tradition is otherwise, possibly, they need to rewrite tradition.

Swift says a number of the supporters would like to see the vote. She asks if the board would be willing to have the vote before the celebration. Stead confirms that the trustees feel that the important thing is that the vote happens before the celebration. Baskett says she doesn’t need to hear the speakers to convince them, but if they want the time, the speakers can speak at the beginning of the meeting. It puts things in a better order, she says.

Stead believes the speakers will want to speak before the vote. She agrees this is a better process. Swift says they will reorganize: speakers first, take the board vote, then proceed to the reception.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: 2015 Bond Furniture Purchase Recommendations Phase I

This item went to the Planning Committee on Monday. The request is for approval and authorization to purchase and install core classroom furniture from VS America and Steelcase in the identified buildings from 2015 Bond Funds in the amount of $3,225,000, with an up to +/- 15% contingency.  Following the final purchase, exact cost of this project will be reported to the Board, although Swift says they believe it will come in very close to that total number.

Phase I will eliminate any broken furniture throughout the district. As furniture in good condition will be redistributed to other schools as phases are completed.

With the completion of this purchase, Swift says, they will be not quite halfway through the money that was allocated to the furniture budget.

Swift requests to move this item to Special Briefing status, which means the trustees would vote on this item tonight. This is on a state bid, which means they have the lowest price.

The table below lists the buildings and costs included in the Phase I recommendation:

Core Classrooms Estimated 



 Installation     Total


$ 204,000.00

$ 8,500.00

$ 212,500.00 



$ 216,000.00

$ 9,000.00

$ 225,000.00 



$ 228,000.00

$ 9,500.00

$ 237,500.00 



$ 276,000.00

$ 11,500.00

$ 287,500.00 



$ 336,000.00

$ 14,000.00

$ 350,000.00 



$ 180,000.00

$ 7,500.00

$ 187,500.00 



$ 204,000.00

$ 8,500.00

$ 212,500.00 



$ 156,000.00

$ 6,500.00

$ 162,500.00 



$ 264,000.00

$ 11,000.00

$ 275,000.00 



$ 384,000.00

$ 16,000.00

$ 400,000.00 



$ 312,000.00

$ 13,000.00

$ 325,000.00 



$ 336,000.00

$ 14,000.00

$ 350,000.00 


$ 3,096,000.00 

$ 129,000.00 

$ 3,225,000.00 


Gaynor seriously considered coming in here giving his 30+ year teacher rant, saying he taught for so long with wobbly furniture and did just fine, but he’s not going to do it. He wasn’t aware the intention was to put that expensive in every classroom in the district. Is there a need for that much new furniture? Gaynor asks what the cost is to furnish a classroom with more traditional furniture versus “best practices furniture”. Swift says it is about a $6,000 difference per classroom. She feels as if they are fulfilling the promise they made to the community regarding the furniture, that is based on the

Mitchell says that if they don’t give it to all the classrooms, how would they determine which classrooms get the new furniture? When this was proposed to us as a community, this is what they wanted. She wants to make sure they are listening to the community, and the community spoke with their vote. When you visit classrooms with this furniture, she says, kids are actively learning and they love the furniture.

Gaynor says he doesn’t want it to be a debate.

Manley clarifies that at the Planning Committee meeting, the teacher could make the decision if he or she wanted the new furniture. Manley agrees that there would be parents who questioned the teachers who didn’t choose the new furniture.

Baskett addresses the issue of buying “fancy fancy new furniture.” She’s assuming this furniture will last the district a long time. The vote was that the community wanted new furniture. Baskett confronts Gaynor, saying it sounds as if he is thinking they are just buying the furniture “for the heck of it.” She says she would love for him to get on board with this.

Baskett asks if they approve this tonight, how soon would the furniture be installed. Swift says the order would go in by May 1, with installation over the summer.

Stead says that just as they are going through the sinking fund millage process, so they did with the Bond. They spent time over the past year piloting furniture in the classroom. She says they are ending up with a fairly good approach so they are “likely to see some success in the classroom environment.”

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: 2015 Bond Bus Purchase Recommendation

Already, there are 48 new buses on the roads since the Bond approval. This recommendation is for an additional 23 buses. State bid price, which is closely regulated. If all goes to plan, the buses would be on the road in about October.

Swift notes that this purchase puts them at about spending 2/3 of the bus bucket.

Gaynor clarifies that all the buses they are ordering have A/C, which Swift affirms.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: 2017/18 Food Service Annual Contract Review

Annual review of the five year contract with Chartwells. This is the fourth year of the the five year contract.

Three part process: first briefing, which is the technical aspects of the endeavor. Next regular meeting: the Chartwells folks will be there to present their annual report. At the following meeting, on May 17, there will be the second briefing.

The contract term is one year plus four, one-year renewals.  The 2017/18 contract will be the third of the four, one-year renewals.

Per the District’s RFP for this contract in 2014, the management and administrative fees shall increase annually by the lesser of 3% or the annualized Consumer Price Index – Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the calendar year prior to renewal.  For the FY 2017/18 renewal, the CPI-U was 2.3%, therefore MDE has approved:

  • A 2.3% increase in the current management fee from $0.0422 per meal to $0.0431 per meal.
  • A 2.3% increase in the current administrative fee from $8,031 per month to $8,215 per month for 10 months.

The Michigan Department of Education approved the 2017/18 contract with one change as required by USDA/MDE guidelines:  a lunch price increase of $0.15 effective with the 2017-18 school year. The new lunch prices will be $2.65 elementary; $3.15 middle school; and $3.65 high school. There has not been an increase in lunch prices since 2006.

There is no discussion.

SPECIAL BRIEFING ITEM:  Tech Bond Network Infrastructure Purchase / E-rate reimbursement

AAPS posted a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the 2017-18 Network Infrastructure equipment following the requirements of the USAC process to apply for E-rate funding reimbursement. This purchase will be paid through the 2012 Technology Bond and submitted via E-rate for reimbursement. It is up for special briefing since the contract must be approved and signed prior to the close of the E-rate 470 window, May 11, 2017. Swift notes they expect that about 40% of the cost will be reimbursed.

This Bid includes Network LAN/WAN equipment to maintain the district wireless infrastructure including wireless controllers with licenses, server to support the Prime software upgrade for the wireless, switches, access points and uninterruptible power supplies.

The Technology department recommends a contract be awarded to Sentinel Technologies in the amount of $326,546.00.  The contract will include:



Base Bid –  procurement of 2 wireless controllers with licenses, 16 switches, 16 access points and 15 uninterruptible power supplies with 3 year Smartnet warranty and installation/ configuration


Voluntary Alternate 2 – Cisco Prime Installation on Server in Base Bid


Voluntary Alternate 3 – Replace base bid Access Point model with latest version (3800 Series)


Voluntary Alternate 5 – Spark Board


Voluntary Alternate 6 – Add these device in bid to our Remote Monitoring solution




This purchase will be paid through the 2012 Technology Bond.

The purchase and e-rate reimbursement is unanimously approved without discussion.

Stead asks if there is a motion to place the furniture purchase to a special briefing and to the consent agenda. It is moved.

Gaynor is inclined to support the Phase I purchase. From his teaching experience, he says, he is not sure that school wide implementation is not necessarily the right way. He would like to exercise due caution before they approve them for every building.

He reads a letter from an Ann Arbor Open parent who is not in support of the new furniture, as her son says the new chairs are uncomfortable. While they look cool, they aren’t comfortable.

All trustees, except for Gaynor, vote to move the item to the consent agenda.


  • 2015 Bond Furniture Purchase Recommendations – Phase I
  • Approve minutes from April 19

The consent agenda is unanimously approved.


There are no items.


Kelly says, “We are in good hands. The future is bright.”

Stead says they are looking at developing a plan for literacy improvements at the county level.

11:08 PM The meeting is adjourned.


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