AAPS Focuses on Student Safety; Trustees OK Bus Purchases, Planetarium Server

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (February 28, 2018): Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd

The Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) Board of Education (BOE) trustees will meet tonight for a regular meeting beginning at 7:00 PM. [[AnnArbivore coverage will begin after 7:30PM. I’ve got kindergarten round-up to attend.]]

Tonight’s meeting will begin with a performance by the Thurston Elementary School choir, directed by Yale Rothfeld. Students from Skyline High School will perform in celebration of Black History Month.

The January Monthly Budget Monitoring Report will be the sole information item.

First briefing items include: a Musical Instrument Purchase; Pioneer Band Uniform Purchase; School Auditorium Sound System Purchase; and Pioneer High School Emergency Gymnasium Repair.

The trustees will hear four second briefing items. Second briefings for the evening will be the 2018 Sale of Bonds; the 2018 Communication & Network Maintenance Contracts Recommendations; Planetarium Servers Replacement; and the 2018 Purchase of School Buses.

The recommendation is to issue $14M in Bonds in April 2018 to complete the 2012 Technology Bond ($8) and the 2015 Building & Site Bonds ($6M).

The 2018 Communication and Network Maintenance Contracts include recommendations for Plain Ordinary Telephone Service (POTS) with Clear Rate Communications for a three year contract totaling $152,832.60; Cellular Services with Verizon for a three year contract totaling $362, 797.20; Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Service with Sentinel Technologies for a three year contract for $779,523.99; and Network Maintenance and Managed Services with Sentinel Technologies for a three year contract for $1,108,560.99.

The 2012 Technology Bond Committee has determined the Pioneer High School IMRA Planetarium Servers, which runs the lighting, projector, and content, are in need of replacement. The total cost of equipment and shipping is $28,200.00, to be purchased from Evans & Sutherland.

The recommendation to purchase 23 buses (20 regular education buses and 3 preschool buses) continues the work of the 2015 Bond Advisory Committee, which advised replacing an average of 23 buses per year for five years. The total cost of the 23 buses is $2,283,201, using 2015 Bonds.

The trustees will be voting tonight on the approval of the 2018 sale of bonds; the approval of the communication & network maintenance contracts; the planetarium server replacement; and the 2018 purchase of school buses.


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

7:48 PM I arrive to the sounds of applause for Skyline High School African American Humanities students who performed for the trustees.

The trustees share their praise for the students.

PUBLIC COMMENTARY (5)

Liam Keating, Skyline senior: Here to talk about the walkout that’s going to happen on 3/14. Washtenaw Youth Initiative, group of students across the country. Rally at Ypsilanti High School on 3/14. Students will need to be excused by their parents if they want to attend the rally.

Walkout at Skyline and how it’s going to be organized. The idea is to get people out there, and to sustain civic engagement through the walkout. Student led, happy to work with admin. Handing out flyers of how to get in contact with representatives, student speakers through the 17 minutes the walkout is planned for. Different phone numbers students can text to sign petitions and join organizations. Also working to publicize voter registration drive at Skyline on 3/15 and 3/16. Keating thanks the Board and the Skyline administration for supporting the student activism.

Kennedy Dixon, Eastern Michigan University freshman: Organizer of March for Our Lives at Pioneer High School. She thanks them for being supportive of their movement.

Celeste Kanpurwala: in support of students. Spent the majority of the day today in Lansing talking to representatives in support of gun legislation. She thanks them for their support.

James Hunter-Echrupp, Huron High School freshman: The only appropriate response is to organize a group of students to go to Washington DC to attend the March for Our Lives on March 24. Didn’t get a response from the school administration because they say they are waiting for district approval. Time is of the essence. He is asking for approval to hang flyers on the walls in school and to use a classroom.

Swift says they responded this afternoon. Paul DeAngelis, Executive Director High School Education, pulls aside Hunter Echrupp to talk with him.

Rosemary Combs: She is of the opinion that getting anything done about the root causes in our society of the shooting in Florida. She asks what is being done right now to keep students and staff safe. She also asks how she can help.

Baskett asks for speakers to send the trustees more information about the marches and rallies.

Stead says there are a few items in the President’s Report and the Superintendent’s Report that people might want to hang out to listen to.

Gaynor says that while he is supportive of voter drives, he wanted to clarify that if you are a first time voter and you register to vote out in the community and not at the City Clerk’s office, students won’t be able to vote absentee.

ASSOCIATION REPORTS

Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA) President Linda Carter: thanks Robin Bailey for leading the music department through some courageous conversations on race and diversity during today’s professional development.

Carter highlights the National Education Association’s (NEA) response to the recent student activism surrounding gun legislation. NEA and its affiliates support the student activism but issues some helpful legal guidelines on what educators can do in support of students.

BOARD PRESIDENT’S REPORT

Stead says she’ll defer most of the detailed planning work of safety to Swift. On behalf of the board, she says, this must stop. The student voice is an important time. We look forward to amplifying the student voice and whatever it takes to stop the kinds of mass shootings in our country.

In April 2015, the board passed three policies in AAPS. Policy 5400: a dangerous weapon on a school campus constitutes an emergency. Policy 5410 designates all property owned or leased by AAPS as dangerous weapon and disruption free zones. Policy 5420 bars anyone with a dangerous weapons from any property owned or leased by AAPS while students are in the building or on their way to or from the property.

The policies have been tried in court twice. The policies have been held up. May be heard by the Michigan Supreme Court in March. Other steps taken: doors locked, conduct ALICE training. Arming up more is not the answer. There are three bills in the Senate targeting the AAPS policies. They will be doing the work to defeat those bills.

Elections matter. Student voice matters. Students don’t lose their First Amendment rights when they walk into school buildings. The balance is doing it without being disruptive to the learning environment. There is a bill in Michigan legislation to arm teachers. Stead affirms that won’t happen in AAPS.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

Superintendent Jeanice Swift shares highlights from across the district. She thanks the Thurston Choir and the Skyline African American Humanities class for performing for the trustees this evening.

She recognizes and thanks all staff members of AAPS who made Orchestra Night possible last Thursday night. Over 1200 orchestra students performed at Hill Auditorium.

Community High School jazz students jammed with Dr. Thomas Jones from Hampton University. AAPS Homebuilders team

The district’s Great Start Readiness Program has increased by 23 slots, which means more students will be able to enter into the preschool program at AAPS.

24 AAPS schools have been recognized by Project Lead the Way (PLTW) for being 2017-18 PLTW Distinguished Schools.

District Safety Program: We are very aware this will be a defining moment, says Swift. The district’s goal is to take full advantage of this time to do our work on behalf of serving children and serving the community.

  • Given our current school safety climate, what are we trying to for in our schools?
    • Wordcloud results: compassion, empathy, awareness, safety, support, respect

She emphasizes the top priority of the district is student safety, even more so than education. Ok2Say

Swift says they have been busy working through how best to support district students through this post-Parkland time.

Student protests and action: AAPS fully supports First Amendment rights of students. While they fully support students, they know the expressions must not interfere with the orderly conduct of business in school. Proud of students and their work to draw attention to student safety in schools. Student voices are clearly key and critical to bring attention to this issue. This is a teachable moment for the country. It’s district intention to support the March 14 event. It is our intention to support students in exercising their First Amendment rights.

During those 17 minutes on the morning of March 14, the district will be helping students do what they need to do.

The national group has called for this day and has called for it to be 6th through 12th grade. Middle school and high school administration have already been in contact with student leaders.

Outside of this designated time, students will need to make arrangements with their parents. Walkouts will be treated like any other absence. She asks that students remain on campus for this designated walkout. If they are going to leave after that time, she asks, students need to follow regular protocol.

Posting of flyers is up to building policy. Swift says they will support every students wherever they fall on the continuum of activism.

David Comsa, Deputy Superintendent, Human Resources/General Counsel speaks on the legal rights of students. Students have the right to free speech, but  it not itself absolute. Three major considerations: disruption, offensiveness, and impairing the educational mission. Seminal case: Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

Swift says their number one responsibility is to the student. She reassures the board that she and her team are working to have a support plan in place for students to be able to exercise their First Amendment right and that teaching and learning will move forward every day.

The district is working on putting together a FAQ on student rights.

Lightfoot thanks Swift and her team, along with the students who are committed to responsible protest. She is pleased with the level of mutual respect between administration and students. She asks if there is a place parents can go on the internet to find out information about student safety. Swift says there is some information on the district website.

Kelly assures students that they have allies on the Board. She says that maybe they have work to do to discuss the idea of what if there was a 17 minute walkout on a topic the board and district wasn’t allied on. Would that feel disruptive? She asks for the board to do that thought work.

Gaynor says there is still clarification that needs to happen on the issue of students posting flyers in school. He reminds students and adults that if, during the Civil Rights movement or the Vietnam War movement, permission were required, change would not have happened.

Manley thanks Swift and her cabinet for working on this. She asks for clarification on dates and times of marches and protests. Gaynor says March 14 is a national school walkout for 17 minutes. March 24: March for Our Lives rally at Pioneer High School (a community event occurring on district property but not a district event) and in Washington DC.

Baskett is concerned about the confusion they have at this table. She is nervous about people believing that the trustees and the district own this information. She is going to look to the youth to be responsible for the organization and the implementation of the events. The district is not organizing this activity, but is supporting the students. She clarifies what is meant by support. She assumes students won’t be penalized for their absence during the designated walkout on the 14th. Swift is allowing a 40 minute buffer of time.

Baskett asks what about students who don’t want to walk out. Swift says they respect the rights of all students.

Stead says what she is hearing is that walkouts that involve large numbers of students walking out of school need district approval. Comsa says the best course of action is to follow district policy on absences. AAPS is not sponsoring the event.

Swift asks Comsa to speak on limited public forum. Because they allow student groups to meet on building property after school, they are classified as a limited public forum. If a group meets the qualifications, AAPS would provide the space and the time as a limited public forum. Swift says that flyers need to be approved by building principals. Flyers need to be content neutral.

Baskett asks if they are assuming that every high school will be participating. Swift says they have heard a yes from each of the high schools and from several of the middle schools. She says they are preparing for all schools.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Planning: Manley reports. They haven’t met since last week’s regular meeting.

Finance: Mitchell says they met today. Went over many of tonight’s first briefing items. Next meeting: April 4.

Performance: Lightfoot: Went over graduation data. Looking forward to presenting that data at a future regular meeting.

Governance: Stead says they haven’t met yet, but they will have one March 15.

9:29PM The trustees take a five minute break.

INFORMATION ITEM: January Monthly Budget Monitoring Report

  • Cash and investments: $40,979,108 ($1,547,515 less than last year)
  • Monthly expenditures: $19,983,246 – a very normal month, says Marios Demetriou, Assistant Superintendent Finances and Operations
  • Revenue: $137,582,035; an increase of $5,924,271 since last year.
  • Expenditures: $119,666,121
  • Fund Balance: $41,197,937

Gaynor asks about the difference between the total balance of revenue of $107,769,444 (56.1%) and the total expenditures of $124,536,858 (49.0%). Demetriou says it has a lot to do with the timing of when money is distributed by the State of Michigan.

Stead notes they are fast approaching the time of year when they will amend their budget. The amendment occurs in order to true up the budget that has to be passed by the board on June 30. The board passes a budget before they know student count and before they have a finalized number from the State for the foundational allowance.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Musical Instrument Purchase

The recommendation is to purchase 18 electric keyboards from Steinway Piano Gallery for a cost of $36,306 and an English Horn for a cost of $7600. The cost will be paid out of the 2015 Bond.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Pioneer Band Uniform Purchase

Many of the Pioneer band uniforms need to be replaced due to wear and tear, as well as to increase the number of uniforms. The recommendation is to purchase 65 uniforms for a cost of $23K.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: School Auditorium Sound System Purchase

Swift says she is grateful to make this area of the district right. The 2015 Bond Advisory Committee recommended the purchase/replacement of auditorium equipment. The recommendation is upgrade the sound systems in each auditorium space at a cost of $205,235.09. Funding will be provided from the 2015 Bond.

If the equipment sounded terrible, wasn’t in compliance, or was broken, it is on the list to be replaced. Bailey says that at the high school level, much of the equipment wasn’t FCC compliant and needs to be replaced.

Baskett asks about the general terms and conditions of the contract. It states that they will not be using union labor for installation, but they do pay prevailing wage. Swift says they are following up with the company in order to get an answer.

Kelly asks about the FCC compliancy issue. The FCC recently changed the law where schools cannot operate equipment above 600 Hz.

Gaynor asks what is going to be done with the equipment that is out of compliance.

FIRST BRIEFING ITEM: Pioneer Emergency Gymnasium Repair

On January 31, the coil inside a rooftop HVAC unit at Pioneer froze and water leaked into the main gymnasium damaging the floor, weight room, and running track. The HVAC unit was immediately repaired and a company was deployed to dehumidify and dry the impacted area for a cost of $38,625.37.

Due to the extent of the damage, the entire gym floor is scheduled to be refinished and painted during summer break for a total cost of $21,205. The entire cost is $59,830.37. Funding will be provided through an insurance claim and the sinking fund.

Swift says that frozen pipe was caused by a HVAC damper that froze and got stuck open.

Lightfoot asks that when the district has emergencies like this, how do they align these repairs with what work was going to be scheduled to be done anyway.  Demetriou says that in some instances, there is faulty equipment. They are currently conducting a needs assessment across all district buildings. That will better inform them to make these decisions.

Baskett asks about the $10,000 deductible. She asks if the $59K included the deductible. Demetriou replies that the district will pay the $10,000 deductible out of the sinking fund, then the insurance company will reimburse the additional $49K.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: 2018 Bond Sales

The recommendation is to issue $14M in Bonds in April 2018 to complete the 2012 Technology Bond ($8) and the 2015 Building & Site Bonds ($6M).

There are no changes to the item. Demetriou reports back to the board on the question they asked him last week: what debt other school districts in the county hold.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Communication & Network Maintenance Contracts 2018

The 2018 Communication and Network Maintenance Contracts include recommendations for Plain Ordinary Telephone Service (POTS) with Clear Rate Communications for a three year contract totaling $152,832.60; Cellular Services with Verizon for a three year contract totaling $362, 797.20; Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Service with Sentinel Technologies for a three year contract for $779,523.99; and Network Maintenance and Managed Services with Sentinel Technologies for a three year contract for $1,108,560.99.

No changes to the item. No discussion.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: Planetarium Server Replacement

The 2012 Technology Bond Committee has determined the Pioneer High School IMRA Planetarium Servers, which runs the lighting, projector, and content, are in need of replacement. The total cost of equipment and shipping is $28,200.00, to be purchased from Evans & Sutherland.

No changes to the item. No discussion.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEM: 2018 Purchase of School Buses

The recommendation to purchase 23 buses (20 regular education buses and 3 preschool buses) continues the work of the 2015 Bond Advisory Committee, which advised replacing an average of 23 buses per year for five years. The total cost of the 23 buses is $2,283,201, using 2015 Bonds.

No changes to the item. No discussion.

CONSENT AGENDA

The trustees vote to approve:

  • 2018 Sale of Bonds for a total of $14M
  • Communication & Network Maintenance Contracts 2018
  • Planetarium Server Replacement
  • 2018 Purchase of School Buses
  • Meeting Minutes from 2/28/18

Outcome: The consent agenda is unanimously passed.

 

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