AAPS Enrollment Up 231 Students; Modular Classrooms Cost $1.3M More

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (December 6, 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.

Several district educators will be recognized for recently won awards: Benjamin B. Tregoe Award for Strategic Leadership in Education; Darcy Knoll, SHAPE Michigan Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year; and Amy Van Appledorn, University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award.

The annual Fall Student Enrollment and Class Size Report will presented as an information item.

Eleven items are scheduled for first briefings. They include: the 2018 Operating Mills Proposal; the Love Public Education Campaign; Facilities Need Assessment; Playground Equipment Purchase & Installation (A2 STEAM, Angell, Logan, and Pittsfield Elementary Schools); Emergency Boilers, Condensate Tank and Air Handler Replacements; Modular Classroom Units – Change Orders; Diesel Fuel for Bus Fleet; 2018 Pioneer Parking Project Management Contract Bid Award; Huron High School Air Handling Unit Replacement; Custodial Supplies for 2017/18; and Roof Consultant.

There are no second briefing items on the agenda.

Voting tonight will be only be on the approval of meeting minutes and donations.

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

7:11 PM President Stead calls the regular meeting to order. The trustees went into Executive Session earlier at 5:30PM.


The trustees approve the agenda without change.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Benjamin B. Tregoe Award

Dr Katherine Blackburn from TregoED is on hand to present the Benjamin B. Tregoe Award for Strategic Leadership in Education to AAPS. In 2015, when the community approved the Bond, the district put systems in place to encourage community, staff, student, and parent engagement. They chose the TregoED method to use to facilitate the process.

Blackburn says the award honors school districts that values collaborative problem solving and strategic change. TregoED is finalizing a case study that features AAPS and their use of the TregoED process: “Harnessing the Power of Community Engagement.” Blackburn and Swift are working together to co-author a piece on the same topic.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: SHAPE Michigan Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year, Darcy Knoll

Knoll teaches physical education at Pittsfield and Pattengill Elementary Schools. She was named SHAPE Michigan Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year. Knoll has been teaching in AAPS for 20 years and is a Pioneer High School graduate. Swift says they are “proud of her efforts and proud of her.” Lightfoot thanks Knoll for her energy and being part of the district.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Recognition, Amy Van Appledorn

Van Appledorn, Huron High Social Studies teacher and Pioneer High graduate, was nominated for the award by a former student who is now a first year student at the University of Chicago. The award is given to teachers “who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to the education and personal development of their students.” Van Appledorn expresses gratitude for her family, the AAPS education her children receive,  her colleagues, her students, for the chance to teach IB (International Baccalaureate), to live in a community that supports the humanities.

Manley congratulates Van Appledorn, recalling how much students loved “Ms. Van” back when Manley was a counselor and administrator at Huron. Stead notes how lucky the community is to have such solid female athletes as district leaders.


Ken Stockton, former AAPS parent, community member: Adult survivor of child sexual abuse. He wants the district to do more to notify past and present students of Gerald Holley, who was suspended from the district after being charged with multiple accounts of child sexual activity. He argues AAPS has an obligation to communicate with past and present students of Holly and to the AAPS community. Stockton asks for more transparency from the administration, saying that they were trying to protect the district brand and adequately protecting the students.

Stead says public commentary is an opportunity for the board to listen to members of the community. She says the district has processes in place when it comes to matters of personnel. Their rules are that they won’t comment on personnel matters in public.

ASSOCIATION REPORTS: Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA)

President Linda Carter acknowledges how wonderful it was to recognize Van Appledorn, one of her former students.

Carter reads from a statement written by Steve Lorenz, choral director at Pioneer. The Ann Arbor community has a long legacy of supporting music education. Boosters, concert attendance, millage approval are all evidence of the support. In 2015, the residents of AA approved a Bond with the intention to purchase new instruments. The district has purchased those new instruments, which will help students for generations to come. Thank you to the board and the administration for their purchases.


Stead draws the trustees’ attention to the fact that in January, they will meet to talk about development growth in the district.


Swift makes a statement on student safety and the importance of safety in AAPS. They understand the concerns that arise surrounding student safety, especially given local and national news stories. They never take for granted that parents bring them their most precious and valued. Student safety remains absolute top priority.

When it comes to criminal manners, they are not at liberty to speak of things publicly. They are, however, very diligent at following up with each and every detail in an investigation. Appropriate and vigorous measures are in effect every day, she says. They are always working closely with parents, students, and with the AA Police Department to ensure safety of students and staff. They work to connect students and families to resources across the community. Swift encourages families with concerns to “reach out early, reach out often.”

After the statement on safety, Swift touts highlights from around the district. She mentions last night’s STEAM Expo at Skyline High School. A national Project Lead the Way video showcases the PLTW students at Carpenter Elementary. The A2 STEAM Fall Expo 2017 is tomorrow night.

Pioneer Rising Scholars hosted a symposium with University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The symposium concluded with a presentation on college admissions.

AAPS Rec and Ed winter break camps are filling up. Swift encourages folks to sign up.  She also introduces the district’s new CFO, Amanda Matheson. Matheson’s first day in the district was on Monday.


Planning: Manley says the committee has not met since the last regular meeting. Next meeting is 12/20. They will be discussing SAT achievement support.

Finance: Last meeting was on 11/29. They discussed  several items that are up as first briefing items tonight. The next meeting is in January.

Performance: At their most recent meeting, Lightfoot says, they discussed the annual student enrollment. The item will be up for information.

Governance: At the last meeting, they discussed the We Love Public Education campaign. They feel like it is important to make a stand on public education to show support. They did some work on the set of 5000 policies they need to review this year. They also are working on environmental sustainability efforts. The trustees are working to determine if the district could make the commitment to uphold the Paris Climate Accord goals.

INFORMATION ITEM: Fall 2017 Annual Student Enrollment & Class Size Report

Swift says they look forward to this report, as it is a barometer for how well the district is doing.

Student Enrollment Report

  • 17,681 …. 31 K-12 campuses
  • 459 …. preschool
  • 18,140 …. total enrollment for Fall 2017

Increase in Enrollment

  • 2013-14: 16,449
  • 2016-17: 17,450
  • 2017-18: 17,681

Growth is occurring at all three levels: elementary, middle and high school levels.

Preschool Enrollment

  • Allen (16)
  • Mitchell (32)
  • Thurston (16)
  • Westerman (395 students)

Washtenaw Educational Consortium Choices

  • WIHI: 133 students (8)
  • ECA 65 students +1
  • WAVE 11 (9)

Schools of Choice Enrollment

  • Newly Entered the District: 367 students
  • Previously Enrolled in the District: 93 student
  • Newly Enrolled from within the District: 422 students
  • Charter (224)
  • Parochial (40)
  • Private/Nonpublic (139)

Notable Increases by Grades

  • 3rd grade +121
  • 8th grade +45
  • 9th grade +76
  • 11th grade +75

Notable Increases by Schools

  • Burns Park +53
  • Mitchell +39
  • Thurston +48
  • Forsythe MS +30
  • Scarlett MS +44
  • Huron HS +89

What about new initiatives? Is the district seeing enrollment increases because of initiatives?

  • Mitchell has added 127 students since 2013-14
  • Scarlett has add 132 students since 2013-14
  • Huron has added 112 students since 2013-14
  • A2STEAM added 417 students since 2013-14

Class Size

  • Young Fives: 100% of classrooms are within or below the range. Average: 15 students/class
  • Kindergarten: 100% classrooms are within or below the range. Average: 22 students/class
  • Grades 1-2: 97% of classrooms are within or below the range. Average: 23 students/class
  • Grades 3-5: 100% of classrooms are within or below the range. Average: 23.5 students/class
  • There are zero combined grade classrooms (not including at intentional combined classrooms at Angell and Ann Arbor Open)
  • Grades 6-8: 99% of core classrooms are within or below the range.
  • Grades 9-12: 93% of core classrooms are within or below the range.

Consideration, Challenges, and Next Steps:

  • High rate of mobility is the nature of AAPS community
  • Continual evaluation & consideration of short, middle, and long-term space needs with special focus on elementary
  • Explore planning for locations where demand out-paces supply: Northeast, South, and West
  • Continue planning for new housing development (e.g. Textile, Platt, Jackson Rd)
  • Board update on Growth/Development scheduled for January


Mitchell commends the district on the increase in the preschool and Young 5s program. She’s concerned they are missing a great number of children, however. She wants greater outreach to families to encourage them to enroll in the preschool programs.

Given the increase in enrollment from former charter school students, Mitchell says “it’s awesome” that families figured it out, that they are now choosing AAPS and realizing the programming AAPS offers.

Baskett is grateful they can highlight the students who are able to stay within the district using the Schools of Choice (SOC) program. These are the students who had been with AAPS but who moved out of the district. They are still able to stay within the district given SOC.

Baskett thanks Swift for her visible presence in the community. She wants them to keep abreast of changes in University of Michigan housing policies, in order to anticipate changes in enrollment.

Baskett asks about the Young Fives program. Dawn Linden, Executive Director Elementary Education. In order to be eligible for Young Fives, a child must turn five between May 1 and December 1. Linden speaks to the benefits of the program. The Early Childhood Expo: February 24, Westerman Preschool Center, 10AM-2PM.

Lightfoot asks what they recommend if a child has a December 2 birthday. Linden says they recommend preschool, either within the district or other preschool programs. Lightfoot asks if they are considering making changes to the nomenclature of the Young Fives program.

Gaynor asks about detailed data on SOC enrollment, to which Swift says she’ll provide it to him at his one-on-one with her. He also asks about the “within range” designation at the middle and high school levels. He believes designating 31-33 students as “within range” is too high. Swift says she’ll look into it, saying she believes those numbers are contractual.

Manley draws attention to the fact that King Elementary has not shown the same kind of enrollment growth that Burns Park, Thurston, and Mitchell, all other schools that had the modular classroom units added. Swift says the modular space at King allowed them to “grow into it” but that it was not needed for notable growth in enrollment.

Manley also asks about the number of high school class sizes that are below range (30 students and below). She wants to know why so many classes (689) are below range. Swift says that they acknowledge Gaynor’s point that 30 students per class is still too high of a number. She says that a lot of the higher level classes have higher class enrollment.

Manley wonders how they can sustain increased growth each year. She wants to know if there is more opportunity to pull students from charter schools. Swift says they are working to learn from those families to learn why they are not choosing AAPS.

Lightfoot echoes Manley, wondering where they will peak with enrollment. She doesn’t think they are there yet, but she believes they are coming up on that. She says they will have to have hard conversations that balances out how many students they expect with how many millages and bonds they will need to pass. She wants them to be adequately prepared for the future.

Kelly says the report reads like the 2013-2017 greatest hits of the district. She appreciates Swift’s leadership making the district robust. She asks about a .5 enrollment, wondering how a student could be .5. She appreciates the half day Young Fives option at Abbott, saying there are some families who are concerned about “competency creep” and who don’t want to send their small children to full day

Stead would like to see a chart that shows the total enrollment by building. Those charts will be published for the community. She also shares her concern about the potential population growth, citing growth in Canton. She thinks they need to shift their thinking about how population growth could change in Ann Arbor.

Lightfoot is concerned about the growth in Ann Arbor, given the need for better infrastructure. Because of SOC, they need to know what kind of real estate development is happening in surrounding communities. She looks forward to them going deep in that conversation.

Gaynor says he can provide some resources on planning and development if people are interested, as he has been learning a lot about this issue. Swift says they will get support charts that will further enhance the information. She wants to emphasize the fact that while school size has grown, it does not mean that class size has changed. They are staffing to school size.

9:27 PM The trustees pause to take a 10 minute break before tackling the 11 first briefing items.

9:43 PM We’re back

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: 2018 Operating Mills Proposal

The Operating Mills are the “bread and butter” of operating schools in Michigan. The millage, which was approved in 2009, will expire in 2019. The issue the district continues to experience is a Headlee Rollback on the millage. Currently collecting 17.57 mills, not 18 mill. Amount of loss is $1.4M due to the Headlee Override. The solution is to increase the mills with a cushion. It would impact non-homestead: rentals, business, etc. It would prevent the loss of revenue from the Headlee Rollback. The question is the placement of the proposal and the cushion increase to the mills proposal.

Mitchell says she realizes the community is probably tired of hearing from them, but this is the operating mills and is needed to operate public schools in Michigan. She would “be remiss” if she said this was something they could do without.

Gaynor says they were briefed on this proposal at the Executive Session before the Regular Meeting tonight. It is a simple question – they depend on the operational tax to keep going. Without it, they would not be able to run the schools. He is confident the community would be okay with getting it back to the 18 mills. The documents will be on Boarddocs for the public to read. When they approve the ballot proposal, they will provide more information.

He wonders if other board members want to vote on it at the next meeting or if they push it back until January. He knows they want to get it on the May ballot.

Manley emphasizes the need for public education on the millage. Lightfoot agrees with the need for communication to the public. The operating millage is critical.  At the end of the day, the public needs to trust that the trustees share their concerns, says Lightfoot.

Baskett summarizes what she absorbed tonight. This is their operating millage. It would be irresponsible if they did not go to the public to ask them for the millage. With this, they are looking to avoid the Headlee rollback, which is a potential loss of money. When they talk about 20 years, the longevity is to minimize voter fatigue and will provide some sense of stability.

Baskett asks for a definition of the Headlee Rollback for the public, what triggers it. She also wants a better definition of a “cushion.” She also asks for better labeling.

Kelly says she is comfortable with a longer ask, to avoid the voter fatigue. They need to work on their explanation for the cushion. The cushion is a way for the community to support their schools at the level they said they wanted to when they voted for the millage.

Baskett asks if there are any other potential ballot items on the May ballot. If it fails, there would still be time to go back to the ballot. Gaynor asks if this would be a special election just for this. Stead says it’s a little early to know, but she hasn’t heard any other issues percolating. May is appealing to Stead because if they wait and the levels go even lower, they would have to have not just one, but two items on the ballot.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Love Public Education Campaign

The Love Public Education is a national campaign to rally together on behalf of children who attend public education. 90% of America’s children attend public schools. The I Love Public Education campaign is designed to raise deliberate conversations and highlight the critical role public schools play in the solidifying the bedrock of the country’s democracy. Swift is bringing forward a resolution for the board to review.

Kelly calls supporting the resolution a “no brainer.” She asks if it’s part of the campaign that school boards are resolving the same language. The meat of the resolution is similar across the country, but Swift says they changed it slightly to reflect AAPS.

Gaynor would strongly endorse the resolution. He believes schools that receive public money need to be accountable to the public. He encourages them to look at their own practice around issues of equity and about educating the whole child.

Baskett is wowed by the three page resolution. She would like to add to the resolution that statistic that 90% of American children attend traditional public schools.  The trustees work on wordsmithing the resolution and discuss who should be sent the resolution.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Facilities Needs Assessment

The district is looking to have a professional, thorough assessment of all district facilities in order to determine need. The assessment and analysis will include the entire AAPS campus of 33 school buildings, Balas, the transportation service facility, and numerous support structures. In response to the RFP, the district received about 15 responses. Marios Demetriou, Assistant Superintendent Finance & Operations, makes the recommendation to give the work to EMG, based in Owings Mills, Maryland for a cost of $210,700.

Stead clarifies that this assessment was something they had talked about before the Sinking Fund millage was approved, as they want to be good stewards of the money. The assessment and analysis will help determine how the money is spent.

Baskett asks about the variances in bid amounts. They range from the mid $100Ks to the mid $700Ks. While EMG is not the lowest bidder, they scored the highest and they are a company that specifically does this kind of work. The work is estimated to take 6-9 months. Demetriou says they will have recommendations for sustainability, energy savings, and will plan out the next 10 years.

Lightfoot wonders if any of the assessment that was done years ago by Randy Trent, former Physical Properties Director, was still usable.  The public will be interested in this information, she says.

Kelly asks if there is any way to resolve the mechanical and the architectural needs are with the desire of the communities. Demetriou says that after the assessment needs, they will get input from the Board and from the community in order to plan.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Playground Equipment Purchase & Installation

A2STEAM, Angell, Logan, and Pittsfield Elementary Schools have bids in for playground equipment. The recommendation is to approve the purchase and installation of playground equipment from GameTime in the total amount of $402,350. Funding will be provided

Linden shows off the equipment that is being requested. Baskett asks what percentage of equipment is accessible for all students. Linden says they are working to make sure at least 20% of equipment is accessible.

Manley notes the differences in money spent at each school. Linden notes that part of the bond advisory committee’s work was to leave some of the money aside for equity work to ensure that playgrounds are equitable across the district.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Emergency Boilers, Condensate Tank and Air Handler Replacements

AAPS has had five boilers failed requiring emergency replacement due to the arrival of the heating season. Work has already started on at Wines, Slauson, Clague, Balas, and the transportation building. The approximate total cost of all projected projects: $463,212.95, which will be funded through the Sinking Fund.

Baskett is concerned with the fact that the work has already begun and the Board has not voted on it yet. Swift clarifies that the work was begun under emergency status, which means it can be done without initial Board approval and then must be approved at the next Board meeting.

Lightfoot asks if there is a threshold that can be legally spent without asking for board approval. Demetriou quickly says: $23,881.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Modular Classroom Units – Change Order

When installing the modular classroom units, there was a “series of unfortunate events” that occurred, says Swift. A new transformer at Mitchell and a new road, along with a new fire hydrant, at Thurston had to be put in. All of these kinds of things resulted in additional expenditures. While originally, the trustees approved $2.8M, the actual cost is $4.1M. Swift says in her mind, they are now thinking of modulars to be $1M each. In the future, when they set up their budget for modular installation, they will schedule it higher based on this experience.

Demetriou says that $850K of the additional $1.3M is to deal with fire safety issues. About $750K will be spent at Thurston to install a fire hydrant at the back of the building and everything that goes along with that.

Baskett wonders how they did not anticipate any of that additional $1.3M, given much of the cost is fire safety measures. Swift says there were some things, such as where the location of the modular ended up going,

Baskett asks if they appealed to anyone when the changes were made. The rules didn’t change but the interpretation of the rules changed.  Demetriou says they had multiple meetings, but they could not gain occupancy of the unit until they had certification from the fire department.

Swift says they didn’t see the electrical needs coming. According to calculations they had, with the additional four classrooms, the load would be able to be handled. When DTE came to connect the modular units, they said they would have to replace the old transformer that was serving both Mitchell and Scarlett, as it turns out it could not handle the load.

Baskett wonders who installed the units. She takes issue with the fact that local workers weren’t called until too late, and that maybe if they had local people install, local people would have known local laws and could have avoided this additional cost.

Baskett also asks about prevailing wage being part of the contract and how that increased the contract. Swift says that the company initially thought they would be able to pay local workers prevailing wage within the 5% cushion, but then once they called the local workers, local prevailing wage was higher than they anticipated.

Lightfoot says it puts a bad taste in her mouth when the vendor says one thing and does another. She would rather they say no or not guarantee something. She asks that they be vigilant in accommodating some opposition.

Swift says concerns are duly noted. Lessons learned: many properties have not been evaluated in many years. Now they’ve been through the initial four modulars, Swift, Demetriou, and the company involved with the modulars will be “much smarter” in the future.

Mitchell echoes the concerns of Lightfoot and Baskett. Moving the unit at Thurston cost significant money. They need to evaluate moves before they happen.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Diesel Fuel Purchase

The District’s bus fleet annually uses approximately 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel for student transportation at a cost of approximately $450,000.

The recommendation is to approve the purchase of diesel fuel through he MITN Cooperative from RKA Petroleum in an amount not to exceed $450,000 annually for FY18 and FY19. Funding will be provided from the General Fund.

Swift says the new buses are slightly more efficient than the old ones. Kelly would love to see the district purchase hybrid buses that would be further increase efficiency.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Pioneer Parking Management Contract Bid Award for 2018 – 2021

The district gains ~$1.1M gross revenue from parking at Pioneer High during University of Michigan home football games. As the contract recently expired, a new RFP went out. The company the district had been using in years past was the lowest bidder.

The recommendation is to approve the parking management contract to Michigan Event Parking in the amount of 10.9% gate receipts and $1,000 per small event.

Baskett wants to know about the prevailing wage. While prevailing wage is a construction term, she wants there to be a community wage. Stead offers Demetriou the suggestion to tell the Board when there is a possibility of prevailing wage, in order to save them the discussion.


11:36 PM Stead notes that they will need to vote more time, since their bylaws state that they cannot meet more than five hours straight without voting to extend the board meeting. Kelly makes a motion to extend the meeting for another hour, with a potential end time of 12:40 AM.

Gaynor asks if someone can explain the consequences if they don’t vote to extend the meeting. Stead says that the meeting will have to finish at midnight, and whatever is left undone will be moved to the next regular meeting.

All vote yay, except for Gaynor, who votes no. The motion passes. 

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Huron High School Air Handling Unit Replacement

The current unit has had a catastrophic failure and must be replaced. Currently, the gym heating system is providing some warmth to the area. The unit cannot be replaced until Summer 2018 due to extensive renovation work that must be done to complete the project.

The recommendation is to approve the purchase and installation of the Air Handling Unit in the Huron Athletic Department from Goyette Mechanical of Flint, MI in the amount of $760,769. Funding will be provided from the Sinking Fund.

Swift says they weren’t exaggerating the need for the infrastructure renewal. There is years of work to do, she emphasizes. The district will be better on the other side of these projects.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Custodial Supplies for 2017/18

In the GCA contract, only cleaning supplies are provided. The district needs to provide all other items. The recommendation is to go with Coleman Wolf Supply for those supplies (paper, soap, lightbulbs, etc) for a total of not to exceed $215,318. Funding will be provided from the General Fund.

Baskett asks how much they spent last year, to which Swift says she needs to check. Lightfoot asks about supply levels, wondering how they reconcile the needs. She wonders how they account for GCA purchasing the cleaning items they need.


Given the average age of buildings in the  district is at 63 years, there are issues with roofs. The district is looking to get a full professional evaluation of all the 33 roofs in the district.

The roof evaluation fees are not to exceed $0.24 per square foot of building roofs, with AAPS’s cost being closer to $0.03/square foot. The construction management fees for design, development, bidding, and administration will be 3.1% of the total roof work being done. The recommendation is to with WeatherTech Consulting Group, Inc.

Kelly asks if Demetriou anticipates there being any other needs that will need to be expedited in this manner. He replies that there are HVAC needs, and they are trying to deal with all the urgent issues. They are working on several buildings that need tuck pointing and leaking windows. They don’t want to wait on those things.

Baskett asks for more clarification on the memo. She wants the pricing to be clearer. She asks if they had competing companies submit proposals. They all take several minutes to look at the competing bids without saying anything.

Stead notes that this is an issue that has a time component attached to it. Demetriou says that if they approve the contract tonight, they could start work tomorrow.

The item is moved to special briefing, which means they will vote on it at tonight’s meeting.


  • approval of meeting minutes
  • approval of donations

The consent agenda is unanimously approved.

BOARD ACTION ITEM: Roof Consultant Contract Approval

There is no additional discussion.

The contract is unanimously approved.


Baskett says they need to set a timeline for the superintendent evaluation. Stead says they will have to figure out at the Exec meeting before they present the timeline to the whole board.

Stead reminds them that they have put this up for a vote twice and it has failed twice. Baskett emphasizes that she is just asking for it to be on the agenda. Manley says since they have all went through the training, they should be able to have the vote. Stead and Swift will review next week’s meeting agenda and possibly add it to the agenda then. Lightfoot says she would like it to go through Executive Committee.


Mitchell extends her congratulations to the Huron music program, noting several concerts that recently took place.


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