Trustees Ratify Contracts; Approve Non-Discrimination and Transgender Policies

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (June 28, 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, citing attorney/client privilege and for “strategy and negotiation sessions connected with the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement.” Executive sessions are closed to the public. The regular meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

Five information items will be presented. This items will include a presentation on the Rec & Ed Summer Camp Launch, a report on Student Engagement/Attendance, an update on the Comprehensive High School Schedule, the Culture and Climate Annual Report, and Superintendent Jeanice Swift’s 360 Evaluation.

These items are up for second briefing: the MHSSA Membership Renewal for the 2017/18 School Year; Sinking Fund Paving and Concrete Projects; Playgrounds; Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee (SHEAC) Annual Report and Recommendations; New Draft Policy 5010 – Non Discrimination; and New Draft Policy 5011 – Transgender and Gender Non Conforming Students.

Those six items will be on the consent agenda, which the trustees will vote on.

In addition to voting on the consent agenda, board action will be taken on two issues. The trustees will vote to give summer 2017 purchasing and hiring authority to Swift. The trustees will also ratify several bargaining unit agreements.


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

Trustee Harmony Mitchell, while sick, is participating in the meeting via phone.

7:16 PM President Christine Stead calls the regular meeting to order.

AGENDA APPROVAL

Kelly asks to move items E and F to the first two items on second briefing. Those are the policy change items.

The agenda is unanimously approved.

PUBLIC COMMENTARY – six signed up

Grace Kent, recent Huron High grad: support for and urge board’s adoption of policy of Transgender and Gender Non Conforming Students. While in school, she was a peer educator and a participant in SHEAC. In addition to the many demands student face academically, many students are coming to terms with their identity in the world. AAPS should be a place that fosters growth in all their students. Her concerns revolve around her LGBTQ peers. She is aware there is work to be done, having heard firsthand the experiences of LGBTQ students. She shares a story of a student who was not addressed by her preferred pronouns by teachers. This formal policy would address this. She urges the board to be “bold and confident” and vote for the policy.

Michael Fraley, parent: issue has been tough for him as a Christian. He has nothing against the LGBTQ community. He asks his son about transgenderism. His son says that if that happens, he doesn’t want to go to school. He refers to the policy, asking why “those students have to be singled out.,” He asks why there shouldn’t be enough unisex bathrooms. It would bring down the wall between the two types of people, saying it would allow people to develop relationships by choice.

Jenni Lane, district parent, SHEAC: Lane reads a letter on behalf of a colleague of hers, Sarah Weiner. Psychotherapist who has worked with over 200 transgender children. Everyday, she sits with those children who have experienced violence. Youth who are the victims of violence and discrimination are more likely. Transgender youth are not nameless statistics to me, and they are not immune to violence in AAPS. She encourages the board to support and pass the transgender policy. It is an exceptional policy, thoroughly and thoughtfully written.

Neeraja Aravamudan, district parent, local community member: grateful the board is putting this policy forward. This policy is necessary: it gives students agency to act for themselves and it gives priority to the education of faculty and staff on a comprehensive basis. It is hard to balance the needs of so many people. So much of this is about safety and comfort for students.

Nehal Patel, district parent: He shares a story that sums up the theme of what he has learned while researching the topic and working with LGBTQ kids and adults. The more he works with the LGBTQ kids, the prouder he is to be part of community that addresses the needs. He appreciates the responses of classmates, the overwhelmingly positive support of them. He thanks the board for the policy.

Kristin Mahler, Ann Arbor resident, AAPS school nurse: Keeping kids healthy keeps them learning. There is a lot of data that shows the dangers gender non-conforming students face. She works with those students in the school. When districts have clear policies on this, students and families feel supported. She encourages the board to support the policy.

ASSOCIATION REPORTS

Black Parent Student Support Group (BPSSG): The rep gives an overview. Three areas of focus: solidifying group membership; curriculum – main focus was on African American Humanity class. She asks how many students are enrolled in the class in each building; who is teaching it and what are their qualifications; how can BPSSG support the board in maintaining the rigor of the class. Last focus was on special education. Concerns that IEPs aren’t being followed. Would like to know how policies are implemented in the district. The group looks forward to working with the board in the fall.

Stead says Swift will follow up with the group to better answer the group’s questions.

Ann Arbor Parent Advisory Committee for Special Education (AAPAC-SE) : Mary Duerksen, co-chair:  Parent and guardian group for students who have IEPs and 504 Plans. The report is an update on what they’ve done over the past school year. Monthly parent meetings from October – June. The meetings are preceded with a 30 minute conference time for parents to talk with SISS staff. Duerksen highlights the issues that were brought the administration’s attention by AAPAC and were resolved.

Stead is saying that they will publish the Superintendent’s 360 Evaluation on the website “fairly soon.” She says they will take off the agenda the 360 Superintendent Evaluation. As a Board Action, they will read the statement they will make on Swift’s performance.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

Since it is the last board meeting of the school year, Stead takes some time to acknowledge the work people have done over the year.

Stead says it is her honor to work with new trustees Gaynor, Mitchell, and Kelly. She is excited about the team they have built.

She says this has been a challenging year, starting with the water main break at Allen Elementary. She recognizes Swift and others for the work they did to keep the Allen community together over the course of the year. The theme A2gether couldn’t be more appropriate for the year they had together, says Stead.

The district is strong – the district has added students, they are going to ratify contracts, and they are working towards strengthening public education in Ann Arbor.

She thanks Swift, the executive team, and the Ann Arbor community for the work they do and the dedication they have to Ann Arbor Public Schools.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

Swift notes that while school has been out for a week and a half, there is still a lot of work being done around the school buildings.

She speaks about highlights from around the district, starting with the AAPS retirement celebration, celebrating 27 retirees. Clague Middle School honored with National Schools to Watch designation. She encourages members of the community to read AAPS District News.

This summer, working on cleaning and repairs around the district. She appreciates that they are “sparkling up the buildings,” so they are ready in the fall for the district’s 17K+ students.

Swift shows their Back to School Countdown Clock. From right this minute, there are 68 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes until school starts.

An end of the year video is shown.

Stead moves that they remove from the information the Superintendent 360 Eval as an information item and that they add to Board Action, the statement from the board on the superintendent.

Baskett clarifies that the 360 Eval on the superintendent is the result of a survey sent out to members of the community. It is not the results of the board’s evaluation of the superintendent.

Stead apologizes for not doing that more formally before.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Planning: Manley reports out that they have not met since last meeting. They will make public their meeting schedule in the fall.

Performance: Lightfoot echoes Manley, saying Performance has not met since the last regular meeting. They will release their schedule in the fall.

Governance: Stead says they will firm up a fall schedule. Once that happens, the schedule will be public.

INFORMATION ITEM: Rec & Ed Summer Camp Launch

AAPS offers 11 weeks of summer programming and day care options. Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director Community Services & School Wellness, presents. She notes they launched the first 15 camps last week.

Camp program purpose: enhance student well being, engage students for growth, and build community.

Bacolor highlights some of the camp experiences, from the youngest preschooler campers, to young scientists, to artists, to young athletes, adaptive bike camps, HS volunteers as leaders. The high school volunteer program is designed to develop leadership awareness, increase self confidence through goal setting and accomplishment.

Bacolor notes that there are openings in some camps, to which Gaynor clarifies that it is still possible to sign up for those camps. Lightfoot thanks Bacolor for the work Rec & Ed is doing, and specifically calls out the volunteer opportunities provided for high school students. Baskett compliments Bacolor and her staff for their creativity in coming up with camp ideas. Manley loves seeing the breadth of the Rec & Ed

INFORMATION ITEM: Student Engagement/Attendance Annual Report

This is the first annual Student Engagement/Attendance report, notes Swift. Who intervenes when the student is *not* at school, asks Swift. She wanted to get more attention and focus on this issue, so they hired two team members. Since February, there is a newly reconfigured team whose focus is on finding the students who aren’t attending school, and to build supports and bridges to get those students back to school.

Lee Ann Dickinson-Kelley, Assistant Superintendent Instruction & Student Support Services, introduces a new team to the board. The team goes out, reconnects with disenfranchised students, and brings them back to school The team connects with students and families. They have worked with at-risk students and all have degrees of social work experience. The team focuses on truancy and chronic attendance.

Vision and Mission

  • every student attending school every say in order to thrive
  • support each student and their family by removing barriers of access

Student Engagement & Attendance

Total Number of Students with Chronic Absenteeism (students who are absent 10% or more of school days)

  • Elementary – 771 (9%)
  • Middle School – 457 (13%)
  • High School 987 (18%)

Three Major Causes of Chronic Absenteeism

  • Homelessness
  • Chronic Health
  • Students needing accommodations under 504 Plans

AAPS Students who qualify as homeless or transient have increased over the years. Transient youth: produce poor test scores twice as often, 4x more likely to drop out of school, 3x more likely to qualify for special education. 9x more likely to repeat a grade compared to housed peers.

Ten AAPS schools joined a pilot program to understand chronic absenteeism. Data was collected over the course of the 2016-17 school year. Strong correlation between absenteeism and chronic health conditions. The team also works to monitor the implementation of students’ 504 Plans, given the correlation between chronic absenteeism and the need for accommodations under a 504 Plan.

The team take a holistic approach, contacting agencies, staff and administration, families, and students.

Additional Barriers to Students Attending School Regularly

  • transportation
  • resources
  • student health condition
  • mental health – student and/or parent
  • bullying
  • lack of trust in the school system
  • substance abuse – student and/or parent
  • school refusal
  • incarceration
  • needed at home (provide childcare/assist parents)

Challenges with Opportunities

  • language barriers
  • develop trusting relationships
  • advocate for student and families slipping through the cracks
  • processes and programs vary by school
  • family dynamics
  • implement WISD School justice Partnership Program in all 32 AAPS schools.

The team shares success stories of some students they have worked with over the past school year.

Lightfoot notes the board has worked to “beef up this program” over the past few years. She asks about the challenges students face.  Transportation and peer conflict are two of the big ones. It is interesting for Lightfoot to hear that peer conflict is still an issue, given the amount of anti-bullying work they have done. It is clarified that it is not necessarily bullying, but social turmoil. She asks what more work needs to be done to better educate and train staff. Having school staff know there are resources available is the best route.

Lightfoot asks how the pilot schools were selected. Dickinson-Kelley says they were self-selected. Lightfoot marvels over the large number of students who have missed 10% of school or more – 2,100 students. She also notes the costs incurred by the district because of the McKinney-Vento Act’s requirement that the district needs to provide transportation to homeless students.

Baskett asks where the funds come from in order to pay for the team. The district used to have a truancy officer position. They have renamed the position – it is still a General Fund position. The team is funded by General Funds, as well as Title I funding.

Baskett asks how the team is measuring their effectiveness. The team really focuses on Huron High students, and is working to implement the program throughout the district. Swift says the protocol will be implemented by individual school’s teams, then this crisis team would come in to help if there are problems.

Baskett asks about “the protocol.” When a student has missed 5-10 days, the school team makes contact with that family. If it persists and goes to 10-15 days, the school staff meets with family to figure out barriers to attendance. If it escalates beyond that, then the Student Engagement & Attendance team comes in to work with the families.

Baskett asks for them to clarify “school refusal.” There have been several instances where students have refused to go to school, where parents haven’t been successful getting their students to attend.

Baskett thanks the team for their work. She asks about tardiness, wondering if schools are able to aggregate tardies, converting them into an absence. They are not able to do that. She asks how long the team works to bring students back. The team is already working to head off problems moving into the next school year, working to set up meetings with families early in the school year. “September matters.” It’s an indicator of what the school year will look like for the students.

Kelly asks who the intended audience is for the brochure the team put together. She notes that the brochure is written at a high level of literacy, and suggests that it might be revised, keeping in mind the intended audience.

As trusts builds, the workload is going to increase, notes Kelly. She asks if they have enough resources. Dickinson-Kelley says they don’t, but they will be looking to maximize their resources as much as they can.

Manley thanks the team for the presentation. She suggests to the team that they include percentages of success. She wants to see the numbers. Given that the protocol will be rolling out to all 32 schools, Manley says, they will be busy. Dickinson-Kelley again notes that the work will be done with the support of building teams. Manley recognizes the importance of training building office professionals.

Gaynor says they don’t want to place unrealistic expectations on the team, but that building the overall awareness is going to be key. Lightfoot asks if there is a need to look at a transportation contract specifically designed around picking up homeless students.

Lightfoot wants intervention to happen earlier than the 15-20 day mark. She asks if there is a peer program students work with after they are brought to school. They are not “dropped off,” but there is a 15 day period where the team works with the students.

INFORMATION ITEM: Comprehensive High School Schedule Update

Swift says AAPS families expect to have choices: what they learn, how they learn, and when they learn. Swift thanks the members of the comprehensive high school schedule advisory team. The members range from parents, principals, teachers, and students.

She asks the board gives head nod support that they give immediate support for the goals they have for the immediate future. Swift says they will be back in front of the board in the next six months with more suggestions, ideas.

Paul DeAngelis, Executive Director High School, says the advisory committee made it not just about start times. They avoided pitfalls other districts have come across: transportation and after school activities. They focuses on the question: how do they look at ways they can create a more comprehensive high school schedule that meets the needs of students?

The advisory team focused on determining what a comprehensive daily high school schedule looks like. A comprehensive daily High School schedule, one the ensures equity and access for all students, is constructed with consideration of the following: Variations in start times, daily schedules, and school-year calendar; mental, emotional, and physical health; options for, and flexibility of, transportation; academic workload; extra-curricular activities; logistics (student scheduling, employee work schedules).

2017-18 Implementation

  • Address pre-7:00 AM pick ups for high school students
  • Provide a ‘second tier option’ for HS students
    • 2nd Hour Start Times – students would be able to catch middle school bus to the middle school, then take middle school shuttles to high school
      • Huron @ 8:39AM
      • Pioneer @ 8:49AM
      • Skyline @ 9:01 AM

Next Steps

  • Communicate the new options for ‘late start’
  • Gauge student/parent interest in ‘late start’ options weighed against key factors (i.e. transportation, extracurricular activities, alternative method of instruction)
  • Study costs and impact

Manley clarifies that high school tier is the first pick up, which means that elementary students won’t be picked up before high school students. She clarifies that the first hour start time is 7:45 AM. The second tier option will be available this fall.

Mitchell thanks DeAngelis and the advisory team for their work. She asks if the later start will work for the IB program at Huron High School. DeAngelis says they need to further expand the options of extended day at Huron. Mitchell asks how the second tier option choices will impact students’ schedules. Students will be notified of the option this summer, then if they choose to take the option, the district will work to change their schedules.

Baskett is nervous about all the coordination it will take in order to make this happen. She asks if they are confident this can be rolled out this school year. Swift says they will invest the effort to make sure it can happen, even if it means sweetening the pot for counselors to put in more time this summer. Baskett believes they are moving in the right direction.

This is a “great hybrid,” says Lightfoot. She asks for patience from parents for the first week or so as changes in transportation are rolled out.

Stead asks if they are going to have to think about providing students food, given that students will be in the school buildings longer. DeAngelis recognizes that there are some challenges they will need to work through, like providing food.

INFORMATION ITEM: 2016-17 School Climate Survey Report

Swift thanks the 16K+ people who took the time to fill out the survey. She says they use this info to help guide them in improving the district.

Dawn Linden, Executive Director Elementary Education, presents. Survey window was open March 14-April 14. Participation is up 5% over last year. There is a trend of growing participation.

Highlights

  • Parents
    • 6% improvement over four years in academic preparation
    • 8% improvement over four years in building leadership
    • 94% of parents feel welcome in schools
  • Staff
    • Highest overall rating in “setting high learning standards” and “clear expectations in school”
    • 8% improvement in school operations
  • High School
    • Highest rating to day in “respect for diversity”
    • continuing high overall ratings for

Areas of Focus

  • Parents
    • 3% decline in homework supporting their children’s education
    • relatively low, but improving – “there is a staff member to whom my child can go if he/she has a problem”
  • Staff
    • 5% in decline over four years in “Parent Support for Behavior”
    • 12% decline in four years in “High Behavior Standards are Set”
  • High/Middle School
    • comparatively low in “what I learn in school relates to life outside of school”
    • comparatively low in “fresh high quality food is served”

Linden compares dimension scores by subgroups: parents, staff, high school, middle school, and elementary students. The overall perception of school quality over the past four years has remained pretty steady, among all the stakeholders.

Linden moves quickly through the slides of the presentation. She pulls out some specifics.

Next Steps

  • Climate survey date informs the School Improvement Plan goals and strategies at each school
  • School Administrators present the climate survey report each year at Parent Teacher Organizations meetings
  • Executive Director of Elementary, Middle, and High Schools work with building administration

Gaynor thanks Linden for the report. He notes that he is seeing mostly stable scores over the past three years. Data that stands out to him: Elementary school students know “what it takes to do well on tests” yet don’t feel that teachers know them. He wonders if the district’s focus on testing drives these scores.

Baskett says she took the item of knowing “what it takes to do well on tests” as students know what the process is. Linden says they hope students take that question to mean that they know what to do on tests because they have know the right skills.

Baskett is concerned about “the food question.” She asks what they will do with Chartwells in order to address that. Swift says they will continue to work on it, and they will probe more to see what student perception actually is. Lightfoot says that every time they get the Chartwells contract in front of them, they hear glowing reviews, then shortly after, they get the students’ take on it, which tends to be negative.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: New Draft Policy 5010 – Non Discrimination

Stead asks if there are any changes trustees would like to see. Baskett thanks the community for the feedback, regarding the two policy drafts. Gaynor echoes Baskett, saying there was an outpouring of advocacy from the community, regarding the policies.

In keeping with consistent language of other 5000 policies, Kelly suggests striking out “his/her” to remove any binary gender identification. Manley says they went over that policy in Governance, and she wants to clarify exactly what the proposed change is.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: New Draft Policy 5011 – Transgender and Gender Non Conforming Students

The trustees decide to eliminate the suggested pronouns. Kelly says in the emails that came to her inbox, there was a 20 to 1 response in support of the policy. Manley says she is so proud of the work the Governance committee did in order to get to this final policy.

Baskett stresses this policy is a long time coming. She wants the public to know there will be an alternative regarding the bathroom use. Those bathrooms will be for all students, regardless of gender identity or orientation.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEMS

  • MHSAA Membership Renewal for 2017/18 School Year
  • Sinking Fund Concrete Site Improvements
  • Playgrounds
  • Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee Annual Report and Recommendations
  • College & Career Planning – Naviance Platform

There are no changes to or any discussion on any of these items.

CONSENT AGENDA

  • Adopt Policy 5010 – Non Discrimination [removed from consent agenda]
  • Adopt Policy 5011 – Transgender and Gender Non Conforming Students [removed from consent agenda]
  • MHSAA Membership Renewal for 2017/18 School Year
  • Sinking Fund Concrete Site Improvements
  • Playgrounds
  • Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee Annual Report and Recommendations [removed from consent agenda]
  • College & Career Planning – Naviance Platform

Baskett asks that adopt Policy 5011 – Transgender and Gender Non Conforming Students, adopt Policy 5010 – Non Discrimination, and Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee Annual Report and Recommendations be removed from the consent agenda.

The consent agenda is unanimously approved. 

BOARD ACTION: Adopt Policy 5010 – Non Discrimination

Baskett says she removed this item and the other two from the consent agenda because she believes something this important deserves its own vote.

The policy is unanimously approved for adoption.

BOARD ACTION: Adopt Policy 5011 – Transgender and Gender Non Conforming Students

The policy is unanimously approved for adoption.

BOARD ACTION: Adopt Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee Annual Report and Recommendations

The policy is unanimously approved for adoption.

BOARD ACTION: Summer 2017 Purchasing & Hiring Authority

The trustees vote annually to give the superintendent purchasing and hiring authority over the summer. Swift assures she will update the board weekly or biweekly as things move forward. A full account of purchases and hires will be presented to the board in the fall.

The authority is unanimously approved.

BOARD ACTION: Ratification of Bargaining Unit Agreement – AAEA 

As the board speaks, the members of the AAEA are voting on their contract. If the board approves the agreement at tonight’s meeting, it is still contingent on the agreement being ratified by the union.

Swift thanks the negotiation teams. With the ratification of these agreements, it brings six agreements to a close.

The contracts, says Swift, represent $8M in investment over the next two years in the district’s employees. This will help the district continue to attract the best and brightest educators.

Kelly appreciates the engaged community and the conversations that occur. She found that the input she received was about being stewards of the district. Gaynor says he hopes AAEA members vote their conscience.

The trustees unanimously vote to ratify the agreement.

BOARD ACTION: Ratification of Bargaining Unit Agreement – AAEA-P

The board is still waiting for the bargaining group to vote on their contract. The ratification is contingent on the AAEA-P voting to approve by June 30.

The trustees unanimously vote to ratify the agreement.

BOARD ACTION: Ratification of Bargaining Unit Agreement – AAAA

The trustees unanimously vote to ratify the agreement.

BOARD ACTION: Ratification of Bargaining Unit Agreement – AAEA-OP

The trustees unanimously vote to ratify the agreement.

BOARD ACTION: Adjustments to AFSCME Agreement

The AFSCME contract was ratified at last regular meeting. The agreement was reached before other bargaining units reached their agreements. Tonight, the trustees vote to make adjustments to the agreement.

The trustees unanimously vote to ratify the agreement.

BOARD ACTION: Approve Tentative Agreements of Non-Bargaining Units 1,3, 9

The trustees unanimously vote to ratify the agreement.

BOARD ACTION: Board Statement on Superintendent’s Evaluation

Stead speaks of the evaluation process used to review Superintendent Swift. There is an informal review early in the year. A 360 review is done, with a survey sent out to community members. A formal review is conducted by the board in the early summer.

Stead says there is a “myriad” of data the board uses to evaluate the superintendent.

Stead reads the statement from the board. The Board of Education continues their strong support of Swift. They look forward to continuing to work forward towards a bright future.

The statement is unanimously approved. 

AGENDA PLANNING

The board will be planning a retreat in August, either the 23rd or 30th.

Kelly would appreciate a briefing on the third grade reading program.

Swift reads an announcement she received during the meeting. Mitchell Elementary is happy to announce that it is authorized to become an official IB World school.  It is the third leg of the IB school piece.

ITEMS FROM THE BOARD

Gaynor thanks everyone who contacted the board to offer their opinions. Manley thanks district families for all their work over the school year.

11:52 PM Meeting is adjourned

 

 

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