AAPS Focuses on Teacher Recruitment

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (December 20, 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. Tonight’s regular meeting beginning at 7:00 PM is the rescheduled meeting of last week’s cancelled one.

Special recognition will be given to several people in the district. Retirement recognition will be given to  Pittsfield Township Officer Ritchie Coleman. Pioneer High School Head Tennis Coach Tom Pullen will be recognized for making it into the National High School Athletic Coach Association Hall of Fame. David Comsa, Deputy Superintendent Human Resources/General Counsel, will be recognized for being named the Michigan Association of School Personnel Administrators’ (MAPSA) Outstanding Resources Administrator of the Year.

The annual Staffing and Recruitment Update, the Biennial Rec & Ed Report, and the November Monthly Monitoring Report will all be given as information items.

No first briefing items are on tonight’s agenda.

The trustees will review 10 second briefing items. They include: the 2018 Operating Mills Proposal; the Resolution to Love Public Education Campaign; Facilities Need Assessment Contract; 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 Purchase for Bus Fleet; 2018 Pioneer Parking Project Management Contract Bid Award; Huron High School Air Handling Unit Replacement; and Custodial Supplies 2017/18 Contract.

The Operating Mills Proposal request is for the trustees to approve the placement of a renewal of the Operating Millage [18 mills] on the May 2018 ballot, to extend 20 years, and to include a cushion of 3 mills to ensure the district will continue to collect the full 18 mills. AAPS has experienced a Headlee rollback on the millage, which means they have been collecting less than the 18 mills. [The Operating Mills Proposal was removed from tonight’s agenda, as only four trustees were present].

Voting tonight will be on the above 10 items, in addition to the approval of meeting minutes.

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Present: President Christine Stead, Trustees Jessica Kelly, Simone Lightfoot, Jeff Gaynor; Superintendent Jeanice Swift

Absent: Vice President Susan Baskett, Trustees Harmony Mitchell, Patricia Manley 

7:07 PM The trustees filter into the auditorium one by one. They are coming in from an executive session.

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


Stead notes they are going to remove the 2018 Operating Mills Proposal. Gaynor says that in consideration of the fact that while they have a quorum, it would be “most prudent” to postpone it to January since three trustees are absent.

The trustees unanimously vote to approve the agenda with the changes.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Retirement of Ritchie Coleman, Pittsfield Township Officer

Coleman is retiring as the Pittsfield Township Public Safety Public Coordinator after 27 years. He has spent those years as the liaison to the district.  Coleman has been a “champion for safety” in all the buildings, but especially at Carpenter Elementary. Coleman says AAPS has been amazing to work with and work for. He speaks of the importance of arts in the schools, citing his daughter’s school experience. He begs AAPS to never lose the arts programs.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: National High School Athletic Coach Association Hall of Fame Recognition: Pioneer Tennis Coach Tom Pullen 

The trustees and Superintendent Jeanice Swift recognize Pioneer Tennis Coach Tom Pullen’s induction to the National High School Athletic Coach Association Hall of Fame. Pullen says the secret of being a successful coach is having talented students: “This can only happen in Ann Arbor.”

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Michigan Association of School Personnel Administrators (MASPA) – Outstanding Human Resources Administrator of the Year Recognition: David Comsa

Swift says she doesn’t think MAPSA could have made a better choice in selecting their administrator of the year. Swift notes that “his compass is always set to what is right, what is appropriate, what is best.” His philosophy, he says: “The quieter I am, the more I hear.”


Michael Johnson, Carpenter Elementary principal: it’s his privilege and honor to salute a superhero in public service, Ritchie Coleman. Johnson recalled that on his first day as principal at Carpenter, Coleman told him that he had his back. On behalf of the whole Carpenter community, Johnson thanks Coleman.

Royce Kinniebrew, educational consultant: Kinniebrew introduces himself and gives his qualifications. He runs through some of the programs he offers as an educational consultant. He speaks of the book he wrote, which shares its on how to be successful in high school and college. He volunteers his service to the district to help them with issues of equity.


Stead notes that they are completing the first year of trustees Harmony Mitchell, Jeff Gaynor, and Jessica Kelly’s service on the board. She congratulates them on their first year of  service, saying she looks forward to 2018 and the work they will continue to do as a board.


Swift begins her report by recognizing the 20+ students who are in the audience tonight. She thanks them for coming in.

She then shares several highlights around the district, from bilingual students presenting at the capitol building in Lansing to the Ann Arbor Student Building program being interviewed by Lucy Ann Lance. She notes concerts in the district, the monthly PTSO meeting focusing on social and emotional health in the district, the SISS family luncheon, the Magic of Christmas program that provides gifts to 250 district students. She thanks Michigan Power Rodding employees and Ross Business School students and employees who adopted district students.

At the close of the year, Swift thanks everyone for the support of “our schools and our classrooms.” She wishes people a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year. She encourages folks to be safe over the winter break. She also congratulates the three trustees who are celebrating their first year of service.

The A2Inspire video trailer is shown.


Planning: Kelly reports out. They met 11 hours ago. They received a first blush report on the work the district is taking on to reduce the disparities on the SAT results.

Finance: Has not met since last regular meeting. Next finance committee meeting is scheduled for 1/12.

Performance: Meeting was 12/12. The focus was on the Rec & Ed report, as well as the staffing report. Both reports will be given as information items tonight. Next meeting: 1/25. Public is welcome.

Governance: Met last Friday. The 5000 series, which has to do with students, is up for review this year. They had a brief look at the Epipen policy. They will couple that with health related policies and will bring forward to the board with any recommended changes. Next meeting: 1/26.

INFORMATION ITEM: Annual Staffing and Recruitment Report

Every December, they take a look at staffing at AAPS. Shonta Langford, Executive Director Human Resources & Employee Relations and Stephanie Fields, director of employee services, present.

Swift says they recognize that diversity is “our strength” and hold closely the importance and priority of having best quality individuals and their

They are hiring every day of the school year, says Swift. One of the questions they ask: How well does our AAPS staff mirror the diversity of our student and community population?

Swift shares some of the demographic numbers of student population and the teacher population, comparing them to state and national numbers.

AAPS Diversity Core Values

  • respect diversity, celebrate, and benefit from a rich diverse leaning and work environment, and understand that diversity strengthens the organization
  • recognize that diversity supports all creative energies
  • acknowledge diversity as a strength both with the AAPS community and in AAPS
  • understand that students and staff benefit from the many perspectives and rich culture of a diverse educational environment
  • know that it is beneficial for students to have diverse and positive role models
  • know that students who learn, grow, and succeed in a diverse K-12 environment will be much better prepared

2017/18 Action Plan for Minority Teacher Recruitment

  • work with Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion
  • develop network of key university contacts for outreach to minority candidates
  • deliver AAOS recruitment materials to HBCU
  • network with university staff to tap excellent student teachers
  • network with the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE)
  • develop a system to assist and follow student teachers and substitute minority candidates to contact when positions become available
  • hire teachers earlier in the hiring seasons
  • develop a Grow Your Own Teacher Cadet program within the district for outreach to minority AAPS high school students interested in education
  • develop a Grow Your Own paraeducator program for outreach to AAPS paraeducators interested in pursuing publications and job boards
  • advertise position on social media, education publications, and job boards
  • research Teacher of Tomorrow program

2017/18 Staffing increase reflects:

  • support growing enrollment
  • continued commitment to improved class sizes at all levels
  • extend intervention specialists
  • restore reading intervention specialists

Swift walks through how race and ethnicity representation compares from students across all levels of the district.

  • African American students: 14%
  • African American Teachers and Professional School Staff: 10%
  • Asian students: 15%
  • Asian Teachers: 4%
  • Caucasian students: 50%
  • Caucasian Teachers & Professional Staff: 82%
  • Hispanic students: 4%
  • Hispanic Teachers and Professional School Staff: 3%

Next Steps

Swift says there are critical areas that they need to attend to in order to recruit diverse candidates.

  • Continue to seek additional resources and partnerships that focus on minority recruitment
  • enhance programs to retain minority staff
  • continue to provide diversity and sensitivity training
  • continue to partner with Minority Affairs committee
  • monitor our progress in ensuring all race/ethnic areas are well represented
  • continue to ensure that interview teams include a diverse reprobation of staff
  • consider Grow Your Own teacher preparation programs.

A video focusing on the diversity in the district is shown.

One of the next steps they would like to focus on, Swift says, is to formalize the high school Grow Your Own Cadet program. One of the goals would be to raise money to help support the schooling costs of those students who participated in the program.

Gaynor is glad to hear there will be a greater focus on recruitment from HBCUs. He has some concern about the Teacher of Tomorrow program. He asks that they look critically at the program. Gaynor asks that they do exit interviews with teachers who leave the district  to determine why they are leaving. He asks for help interpreting the fact that AAPS has a low percentage of African American teachers but a higher percentage of African American school principals and central leaders. Langford notes that the trend shows fewer minorities going into the teaching profession, which makes the pool smaller.

Kelly asks for more details on the Grow Your Own teacher prep program. She asks if they envision it to be like any of the other career programs, to which Swift says it would be. There are several kinds of teacher cadet programs the district would use as models.

Kelly asks if they look at other types of diversity, such as gender or gender nonconforming diversity. Langford says that while she doesn’t believe they currently do, it is something they could do in the future.

Lightfoot asks how problematic it is for there to be teacher resignations. People are just not committed as they used to be, says Field. She’s noticed a change over the last several years. So while they lose teachers mainly due to retirement, they also lose teachers due to resignations.

Lightfoot said that as vigilant as she and Baskett have been on issues of race, if minorities are not going into the profession, that makes it more difficult to recruit them. Like Gaynor, she also takes issue with the fast tracking Teacher of Tomorrow. She likes the recruitment ideas of enhancing relationships with the HBCUs.

Langford says they will begin tracking the ethnicities of the teachers who are leaving, noting that they haven’t been doing that.

Gaynor asks about the reimbursements paid out to the teachers for the return of the 3% the Michigan Supreme Court ruled out today. Comsa says that districts are going to distribute the money. The difficulty, Comsa sees, is to find the people who have left the district.

Lightfoot asks when teachers should expect a check. Comsa says, “it won’t be here before the holidays.” Swift says they can expect that there will be additional administrative costs in order to implement it.  Swift says the court order is “great news” and they will be carrying it out as “expeditiously as they can.”

Stead encourages them to move forward with the “Grow Your Own” programs. As they are committing to growing their own, Lightfoot asks that they work to make sure they have some level of commitment from the students who are participating in the program.

Given the support of the board, Swift says they will do preliminary work on the Grow Your Own programs for both students and paraprofessionals.

INFORMATION ITEM: Biennial Rec & Ed Report

Swift says there aren’t many other Rec & Ed programs in the country that match the quality and the size of AAPS. They benchmark to programs in Boulder, CO and Madison, WI. Swift says Rec & Ed is what makes the schools into the neighborhood centers they are.

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director Community Services & School Wellness, presents.

Mission, Values, Staffing

  • Mission: to improve the quality life in our community through recreation and education.
  • Values: be inclusive, build community, promote wellness, meet district and community needs, ensure sustainability
  • Staff and volunteers:
    • 32 permanent employees
    • 714 part-time/seasonal employees
    • 930 adult volunteers

Rec & Ed Departments

  • early childhood
  • lifelong learning
  • school age child care
  • team sports

Program Highlights

  • UMS partnership
  • Coding club
  • Flipside Art Studio partnership

Early Childhood Registration

  • Rec & Ed has experience a decline in registrations for early childhood. 2014-15: 3,529; 2015-16: 3,264; 2016-17: 2,990

K-12 Registration

  • Increase in K-12 registrations over a three year period. 2014-15: 18,993; 2015-16: 19.121; 2016-17: 19,505

Adult Registration

  • Downturn in team sports registrations. Traditional sports that Boomers and Gen Xers participated in are “fading,” says Bacolor. They are looking to add different types of sports to the roster that have been popular in other communities.
  • Enrollment totals:  2014-15: 16,539; 2015-16: 15,796; 2016-17: 14,895

Total 2016-17 Registrations: 37,390

Scholarship Program

  • Purpose: Equity, Access, Opportunity
  • Application Process – available to families who participate in the Free or Reduced lunch program.
  • Scholarship Award – are awarded to entire family. Each family member can participate in one class per season, plus children get one week of summer camp.

Making the scholarship application process easier has led to more awards given and a greater value of scholarships being given. Rec & Ed conducted a scholarship participant survey. Key feedback leads to improvements in registration process and communication about upcoming registration dates, more scholarship spots per after school class, and more scholarships at schools where there is a greater percentage of free and reduced lunch students.

Rec & Ed Challenges

  • facilities (keeping buildings comfortable during summer camp programming, pools)
  • staffing for child area, weekend sports leagues
  • decline in coach volunteers for youth sports
  • keeping fees low as employment costs rise
  • decline in adult participation in traditional team sports

Focus for Next 2-5 Years

  • focus on program quality and exceptional customer service
  • adjusting to generational differences in programming
  • improving upon partnerships
  • increased PD for staff

Bacolor notes that registration is open now for winter programming.

Lightfoot thanks Bacolor for doing such a good job with their funding. She asks how adult sports are changing. Bacolor says adult softball has always been the most popular sport, but what they’re finding is that fewer adults are participating in softball. Kickball went away but is returning. Lightfoot asks if there could be more programming at the middle school level.

Gaynor briefly reminisces on his time playing Rec & Ed softball. He asks if Rec & Ed scholarships are only available to students who live in the district boundaries. Bacolor says the scholarship program is open to any AAPS student, regardless of where they live.

Kelly asks if Rec & Ed has considered doing any kind of running program. Bacolor says it seems as if that niche is already been filled by other places in town who offer running programs for free. She also suggests drivers education training classes.

9:54 PM The trustees take a five minute break.

10:03 PM The trustees return

INFORMATION ITEM: November Monthly Budget Monitoring Report

  • Monthly Expenditures: $20,904,362
  • Revenue YTD: $78,801,756
    • Compared to 2016, up $9,035,535
  • Expenditures YTD: $78,744,848
  • Fund Balance YTD: $23,338,939
  • Budget YTD: Revenue Collection: 32.1%, Expenditures: 32.2%

Lightfoot emphasizes that while they collected more revenue this year, they are incurring greater cost. She notes how close revenue and expenditures are.

Gaynor confirms with Demetriou that there is nothing of concern in the budget. Demetriou addresses some of the timing issues with funding.


Stead asks if there have been any changes to any of the second briefing items.

Swift addresses the modular classroom change orders. Stead says that during committee, they talked a lot about if there was any way they could have anticipated the issues that came up with the modular units. The change orders were a result of concerns with Fire Marshall requirements, fire road access, water main engineering, fire hydrant relation, DTE transformer relocation and upgrade, electrical service, dumpster relocations, asphalt paving, and prevailing wage.

The other big picture message, Stead says, is that they added 16 classrooms to the district for $4M. Had they not made them modular classrooms, but permanent structures, it would have cost $15M+. Lessons to be learned: increase contingency buffers. Stead says none of this was a surprise to trustees, as Swift kept them apprised of changes.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Love Public Education Campaign

No changes or discussion.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Facilities Needs Assessment 

No changes or discussion.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Playground Equipment Purchase & Installation – Spring/Summer 2018

No changes or discussion.

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

No changes or discussion.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Modular Classroom Units – Change Orders

While there were no changes, Swift says they did hear from the public regarding the modular classrooms. They responded to the individuals personally, she says.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Diesel Fuel Purchase for Bus Fleet

No changes. Kelly thanks the executive cabinet for fast follow up on some questions she had regarding the diesel fuel purchase.

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

No changes or discussion.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Huron High School Air Handling Unit Replacement 

No changes or discussion.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Custodial Supplies for 2017/18

No changes or discussion.


The consent agenda is unanimously approved.


Gaynor highlights a former AAPS student who will be on Jeopardy.

10:28 PM The meeting is adjourned.

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