AAPS Trustees Wrap Up the 17-18 Year

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (June 27, 2018): 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. Executive sessions are closed to the public. The regular meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

The meeting will begin with special retirement recognition of Jim Kosteva, University of Michigan Director of Community Relations; JoAnn Emmendorfer, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent; and Linda Carter, Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA) President.

The board will hear four information items: an update on the Freeman Environmental Education Advisory and three annual reports: NWEA Growth Report;  School Culture & Climate Survey Results; and the Superintendent 360 Survey Results.

There are no first briefing items.

Eight items are up for second briefing. Those include: Middle School Math Purchase; 2017/18 Budget Amendment; Project READ Phase II Purchase; Cafeteria Table Replacement Purchase; Soundfield System Refresh: Phase III; Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Membership Renewal for 2018/19 School Year; Policy 3040: Federal Grant Procurement; and a Sunset Review of the 5000 Series Policies.

The Middle School Math Purchase recommendation is to approve the purchase of Connected Mathematics Program 3 (CMP3) materials from Pearson Publishing Company at a cost of $418,404, to be paid in three annual installments of $139,468 beginning July 2018. Funding will be provided from the General Fund.

The Project READ Phase II Purchase will include a materials purchase in the amount of $73,386,60 and training in the amount of $38,010 to be paid from the AAPS IDEA Budget.

The Cafeteria Tables Replacement Purchase will be for a total of 224 tables in 24 schools for a total amount of $271,153.45. The tables will be scheduled to be placed before the start of the 2018/19 school year.

The Soundfield Systems Refresh Phase III will be for every classroom. Phase I and Phase II each replaced one third of all classroom units, and Phase III will complete the refresh. The total cost of equipment and installation is $539,375 and will be made through the 2012 Technology Bond Series 2 Funds.

Each year, AAPS is required to renew membership in the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA). No fees are charged for membership. The membership is a requirement for participation in MHSAA post-season tournaments.

The approval of Policy 3040: Federal Grant Procurement is a requirement for legal compliance with the federal government.

The trustees will vote on all second briefing items except for the 2017/18 Budget Amendment when they vote on the consent agenda.

Board action will be taken to vote to approve the 2017/18 Final Budget Amendment, Utility Easements, the Cell Tower, Summer 2018 Purchasing & Hiring, the 2018/19 Board Meeting Schedule, and a Personnel Matter.


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Present: President Christine Stead; Vice President Susan Baskett; Trustees Jessica Kelly, Harmony Mitchell, Jeff Gaynor, Simone Lightfoot; non-voting member Superintendent Jeanice Swift

Absent: Trustee Patricia Manley

7:05 PM Stead calls the meeting to order.

AGENDA APPROVAL

Baskett asks for item 12F to be moved to before committee reports.

Kelly says that in light of Gaynor’s request last week to not change the agenda last minute, she would like for it to stay the same. Baskett said that in light of the fact that they are paying for an attorney by the hour, she is considerate of that. She does not think there will be any more information coming forward.

The motion carries and the item is moved on the agenda.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION

Jim Kosteva, University of Michigan Community Relations Director, is retiring. Swift tells Kosteva how grateful she is for his support over the past five years. She says the district is better as the result of his contribution.

Baskett thanks Kosteva for a specific event where he helped out. Lightfoot appreciates his expertise at the table as a Blue Ribbon Panel member. Kosteva shares a few remarks about the recognition.

JoAnn Emmendorfer, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, is recognized for her retirement. Swift speaks of Emmendorfer’s significant and meaningful 34 years of contribution to AAPS.

Kelly thanks Emmendorfer for guiding her in Kelly’s early days as a trustee, telling her what to wear in certain places. Lightfoot says they will miss her tenacity and steadfastness. Mitchell says she feels she has been cheated because she didn’t get as long a time to know Emmendorfer. Baskett appreciates her institutional knowledge. Stead appreciates Emmendorfer’s tact, grace, and patience.

Emmendorfer tears up as she accepts the recognition.

Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA) President Linda Carter is also recognized for her retirement after 43 year in AAPS. Swift thanks her for her service to her gift of music and advocacy.

Carter shares an article from 1985 that ran on teachers “who appreciate our kids.” She was one of those teachers that was featured.

Several of the trustees thank Carter. Mitchell says she was offered wise words by Carter before she ran for the school board. She appreciates the talks the two of them had that helped push her to do more. Baskett congratulates her and asks what’s next. Carter says she wants to work with students in Ypsilanti Community Schools, encouraging them to attend University of Michigan’s School of Music. Kelly says they can’t think of the success of the district without considering Carter’s personal impact. Lightfoot thanks Carter profusely. Stead commends Carter’s powerful presence.

PUBLIC COMMENTARY: None

ASSOCIATION REPORTS

AAEA: President Linda Carter says she is going home to watch SVU.

AAPAC: Mary Duerksen wishes Dr. Elaine Brown a happy retirement from AAPS. Duerksen says they are happy with the purchase and implementation of the Naviance college and career tool for students. There are many features students with special needs will be able to use. They are also happy with the progress SHEAC has made on a curriculum that can be used for students in self-contained classrooms. She is also pleased with the progress made towards K readiness for preschoolers coming out of Westerman Preschool.

AAPAC encourages the district to continue to consider how students with special needs will be included in any changes. The link to AAPAC is now on every school’s homepage in the district. Looking to the future, she wants to alert the governance committee that they would like to make some changes to the by-laws.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

Stead thanks the trustees for coming together for making a statement on the “hyper partisan” proposed Social Studies curriculum standards changes. Stead says they chose to make a more technical statement than a more impassioned one, thinking it would have more impact. She asks for others to comment at the state level.

Stead says “we are all hurting from the toxic political environment” that exists. She asks people to come together as this is going to be an endurance test to keep our values ahead of us. She thanks the team for trying to keep together even when things get hard. Stead also thanks Swift for her hard work.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

Swift shares highlights from around the district, from Ann Marie Nicoll Turner receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching to acknowledging the last day of the school year. She wishes staff a happy and safe summer. She also acknowledges the retirements of district teachers and staff.

She talks about the Tech Trek, thanking Menlo Industries specifically for providing the space for AAPS to showcase its STEAM education opportunities.

Swift talks about the work that is done over the summer: infrastructure improvements, programming, summer camps, and classes. Twenty-three brand new school buses arrived today. The district now has 94 of 130 buses that are less than three-years-old. She thanks the voters for their support that allows for the purchase of the new buses.

Swift shares the countdown clock to School Year 2018-19. She thanks the community for an amazing 2017-18 school year.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

No committee has met since the last time the trustees met. Stead suggests moving past the reports since there are no updates.

BOARD ACTION ITEM: Personnel Matter

David Comsa, is in front of the board to present proposed tenure changes regarding Slauson Middle School teacher Amy ReVoir. She was presented having these charges in a closed board session; however she declined, so it is in a public session.

Charges are the result of both internal and external investigation. Teacher was advised in January 2018. On April 25, teacher and reps of AAEA were presented draft charges and the teacher was given the opportunity to respond either orally or in writing. A second investigation was conducted by counsel. It resulted in another opportunity to review the charges, to which the teacher declined to add anything more. The charges before the board are substantially the same as they have had a chance to review. Are the charges sufficiently serious that the district should seek the recommendation recommended by the administration. The board decides if the due process under the law be initiated. Comsa says they do not discuss the content of the charges, as this would interfere with the teacher’s due process rights. Comsa says they ask the board to adopt the proposed resolution for the charges.

Gaynor asks if their job is to look at the documentation and to determine if the charges are serious enough to warrant further action. The further action would be for her dismissal. Revoir will be placed on suspension while the charges are pending.

Baskett asks if the teacher has been counseled, to which Comsa says she was. The teacher is fully aware that they are reading her name aloud and taking a vote tonight.

Gaynor is the sole no vote. The resolution passes.

INFORMATION ITEM: Freeman Environmental Education Advisory Update

The Freeman School will be “camp level,” say Swift. It will be more rustic, which is appropriate for environmental education. The district regains possession of the building on July 1. Swift qualifies the presentation, saying it is very preliminary.

AAPS Environmental Educator David Szczygiel and Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director Community Division, present.

Phase I of Freeman School as an Environmental Education center

  • Life Safety and ADA Upgrades
  • EE field trips: 2nd grade: Plant Communities, 3rd grade: Habitat, 5th grade: Winter Survival, 7th grade: Climate Change and Forestry
  • Rec & Ed will assess potential use for youth camps and adult classes

Advisory Committee Membership (20 members)

  • 8 current AAPS teachers
  • 2 retired teachers
  • 1 current building admin
  • 1 retired building admin
  • 5 parents of current students
  • will add students in the fall

Advisory Group Purpose

  • to engage staff, parents, and community members in a collaborative process to envision programming for a future environmental education center

Advisory Committee Process for 2018-19

  • gain shared understanding of current reality of AAPS EE program
  • identify potential opportunities and research exemplars
  • decide on recommendations to the Superintendent

Advisory Group Products

  • list of recommendations to the Superintendent for the future of the Freeman School
  • a vision that will extend the current programming

Challenges/Opportunities

  • Facility needs a lot of rehab
  • Currently no ponds or other water on the grounds, limiting some EE programming
  • Partnering with local, state, and national environmental organizations to the fullest extent possible in service to students

Next Steps

  • establish and maintain connections to other district groups
  • prepare for Phase I (field trips)
  • complete situation appraisal of current EE programming
  • research EE opportunities, including exemplars

Szczygiel notes that the fact that there is no water on the property could be a great opportunity to bring in people to make improvements.

Lightfoot confirms that they are going to add students to the advisory committee. She asks how issues of diversity are being addressed in the makeup of the committee. Bacolor says there is a hard issue in it because there are a lot of women on the committee, they grabbed all the women they could, and there is a minimal level of racial diversity on the committee. In the fall, they are going to look at the committee and the work they are going to do in a multi-disciplinarian way. Other types of diversity in the committee: geographic, and experience and passion.

Lightfoot says that she is concerned that processes may get established before people of color are brought on. They should be deliberate and unapologetic about saying they want people of color, she says. She also encourages partnerships to be formed.

Kelly thanks Lightfoot for suggesting asking the community for needs. She asks if they are going to be using the property differently than how neighbors are used to the property being used, will there be a way of getting their buy-in. Bacolor says initially the Phase I will be less than what the neighbors are used for. She says there are two members on the committee who live near the property. She wants the relationship to be a positive one.

Baskett asks about the timeline. When is the deadline for recommendations to the Superintendent? Bacolor says they will spend the 2018-19 school year working on the recommendations with implementation beginning in 2019-20. Field trips, however, will happen this next school.

Baskett asks if they are planning on using the whole property, to which Szczygiel says he is a big fan of using the whole property and surrounding properties such as the UM Botanical Gardens. Baskett wants to know if they are looking to use the property for high school education.

Stead asks Szczygiel how things have went this first year. He was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly things have went so far. Stead would like to make a commitment to the district upholding the Paris Accord. The Environmental Education program will be part of that.

Lightfoot emphasizes not turning down anyone who wants to volunteer. She wants a focus on water affordability, water quality, and water levels.

9:06 PM The trustees take a brief break.

9:20 PM The meeting resumes.

INFORMATION ITEM: NWEA Achievement Report 2017-18

Swift notes that when talking about NWEA-MAP growth data, they are able to show national comparison data, since NWEA is a national program. 60% of Michigan school districts rely on MAP growth to inform their work. NWEA is a MDE-approved State Standards Assessment.

Dawn Linden, Executive Director Elementary Education, presents. Linden says they are seeing some positive trends in the district’s five-year data. She shares several quotes from teachers explaining how they use the NWEA MAP data.

Reading

The district is surpassing Mean RIT Growth in 1st-3rd grade reading, but African American students experience the least amount of growth across the board in all grades. In 4th grade, African American students in the district do not surpass the National Mean RIT Growth.

Kelly wonders if the early grades reading growth is higher than the other grades because there is more targeted work at those earlier grades, given the 3rd grade reading law. Linden says trends over the past five years show greater growth at those levels.

In fifth grade, there is less growth, but growth is most apparent in the Arab American and English Learners sub-groups. Baskett wonders if there is crossover between groups.

Math

District students exceed the National Mean RIT Growth in both first and second grade. In 3rd grade, there is a drop where both African American and Arab American students drop below the National Mean RIT Growth. Linden notes the change between the 2nd and 3rd grade tests, saying that in 3rd grade, the test is no longer read to students.

Kelly says that growth is not the same thing as achievement. She wonders about achievement. Swift says that will be part B of the NWEA Update.

Summary, challenges, and next steps

  • all student groups are increasing in RIT growth, year-to-year, over a 5 year timeframe
  • at most grade levels, in bother reading and math, AAPS is exceeding national levels of growth overall and in student groups
  • still observing disparities in the amount of growth across student groups and are focusing work in those areas

Gaynor asks what the RIT tells about the student. Linden says it tells teachers and the district where students fall in an achievement ladder of comparison. He wants to know what makes up the achievement. Linden says this is nationally normed data, so it is them comparing themselves to national data.

Gaynor wants to know how many of the questions are multiple-choice questions. Linden says most questions are, but they can be higher-level. Gaynor asks if any of the teachers who were quoted were tenured veteran teachers.

Mitchell asks if there is any feedback from students from how the MAP test helps them. Linden says they have instituted student conferences , which helps students see progress and set goals. Baskett what kinds of categories are given in math. The MAP test is given K through fifth grade. Kinders are not given the test in the fall. Baskett wonders how much is shared with parents at conferences.

Lightfoot notes the disparities in the achievement. She wonders when the board will hear about plans for closing the achievement gap between subgroups. Third grade math and fourth grade reading seem to be the real sticking points.

When the third grade reading plans were shared last week, swift says, they shared more specifics of what was being done for students in tiers one, two, and three. With this report, they have not done that in the same way. Swift says they would like to come back to share specific steps in mathematics.

Stead says that the NWEA report was probably the most informative report she ever received as a parent. It helped inform how she could help her son, as it identified the specific area he was struggling with. She also lauds the fact that the MAP is nationally-normed and is adaptive for students.

Linden thanks the teachers, saying the growth is something they can be proud of. Kelly notes these test results are not the full measure of a student.

Gaynor asks about Ann Arbor Open, noting they do not use he NWEA test. He wants to know their rationale. Swift says that decision occurred several years ago, but the Open team has since changed. Next year, they will deliver the assessment as it is one of the acceptable requirements from the third grade reading law. Swift says she believes their focus on multi-age group and open learning helped inform that earlier decision. Lee Ann Dickinson-Kelley says they gave Open the option of using Ames-Web, which was ultimately determined to not serve their needs. The leadership team has since requested to do the NWEA MAP test after a trial this past year.

INFORMATION ITEM: School Culture & Climate Survey Results

Swift notes the climate survey has only had minor tweaks over the past five years, which allows for a five-year trend line.

16,488 responses in 2018, which includes parents, staff, and students.

Highlights – 5 year trend  – significant improvements

  • Parents
    • Academic Preparation
    • children receiving “effective instruction” for his/her ability
    • “teachers give useful information about how to help children do well in school.”
    • overall perception of leadership
    • setting of high behavior expectations
  • Staff
    • “my school is kept clean.”
    • overall school operations
    • students have access to computers
    • support is available to help me incorporate tech into classroom
  • High School Students
    • overall parent involvement
    • guidance counseling advice
  • Middle School Students
    • my teachers give me extra help when needed
    • teachers give me timely feedback about academic progress
  • Elementary students
    • overall teacher quality
    • students help each other at this school.

Challenges – 5 year trend – areas that demonstrate need

  • Parents
    • perception of safety and behavior
    • respect for diversity – race, ethnicity, or national origin
    • “my child is safe at school”
  • Staff
    • respect for diversity – race, ethnicity, or national origin
    • “I have the support I need to maintain order and discipline at this school”
    • discipline is enforced fairly
    • staff surveys reflect a significant drop over time in “high behavior expectations are set for all students at this school”
  • HS students
    • “I feel safe at school
    • student support and engagement
    • “there is a teacher, counselor, or other stand member at school I can talk to about personal problems”
  • MS students
    • “I feel safe at school”
    • “I enjoy going to school”
    • student support and engagement
    • cleanliness
  • Elem Students
    • “Everyone is treated fairly”
    • “I enjoy going to school”
    • “My teachers give me extra help when I need ti”
    • “My teacher tells me to ask questions when I don’t understand.”
    • Cleanliness

Next Steps

  • Though there were increases in agreement from one year to the next for the first few years, the amount of agreement has plateaued
  • Possibly revise the survey to ask about different aspects of the educational experience.
  • Priority will be to align the survey with the new AAPS strategic plan, and it may also be beneficial to use survey items that will allow the district to a national benchmark.

Swift says that sometimes their inclination is to do more new stuff, but Lightfoot suggests better communication about what is currently being done in the district.

Mitchell notes that students in elementary school are already noticing some kids aren’t being treated fairly. And then as that continues, it becomes a norm until students get to high school where they feel like they can’t talk to any adult. She asks about the anonymous hotline the district uses, suggesting students call if they see an injustice.

Lightfoot wonders how they hold principals accountable for making sure students have adults available to talk to.

INFORMATION ITEM: Superintendent 360 Survey

The results of the Superintendent 360 survey are shared. This is the fifth year in a row of asking the same questions and administering the same evaluation. Four point scale. 82 respondents.

Superintendent Swift is rated in six different areas: Communication, community relations, student opportunities and achievement, sustainability, leadership, and innovation.

Swift notes that there are opportunities for growth in areas of supporting high expectation and ensuring equal access and opportunities for students, as well as providing effective guidance to individuals and teams. Swift says that if she could do it again, she would maybe change that question to better get at what she would want to know.

Challenges & Next Steps

  • time – AAPS has retained a consistent 360 survey for five years and the board has discussed adjustments to the survey instrument moving forward
  • consider aligning the Superintendent survey with AAPS emerging Strategic Plan
  • also discuss setting 2-3 strategic performance goals each year, and measure both perception and progress toward achieving those specific goals

Stead congratulates Swift on the results of the survey, acknowledging they are very strong. The areas that showed up with lower scores in general have been lower all along. Baskett says it has been good to have a five year trend of data. There were some areas with significant improvement from last year to this.

Stead thanks Baskett for her work spearheading the Superintendent evaluation.

SECOND BRIEFING ITEMS

The number of cafeteria tables have adjusted by five. Schools have the option of ordering new tables. Now is the time to order new tables. The price that is now reflected includes the additional five tables. Baskett says these tables should last at least ten years. She wants to know what happens to the old tables. Marios Demetriou, Assistant Superintendent Finance & Operations, says they will try to auction off the tables before they donate them.

SECOND BRIEFING: Sunset Review 5000 Policies

Some of the policies will be sent back to Governance committee and more work will be done next year with the 5000 policies. The Board can approve the series as is to follow policy, but then finish the work next year. Stead asks if there are any 5000 Policies that are listed that they reviewed that they needed to return to. Baskett would prefer they do not review item by item. Stead says that their end of year policy dictates that they approve the policies as are, but then the work would go to Governance for work next year.

CONSENT AGENDA

  • Middle School Math Purchase
  • Project READ Purchase
  • Cafeteria Table Replacements
  • Soundfield System Refresh: Phase III
  • MHSAA Membership Renewal
  • Adoption of Policy 3040 – Federal Grant Procurement
  • Sunset Review: 5000 Series Policies

Outcome: The consent agenda is unanimously approved.

BOARD ACTION: Final Budget Amendment 2017/18

No changes have been made.

Outcome: The final budget amendment for 2017/18 is unanimously approved.

BOARD ACTION: Approval of Utility Easements

The City has requested utility easements in four different places to provide utilities to district properties.

Outcome: The utility easement is unanimously approved.

BOARD ACTION: Approval of Cell Tower

In the pursuit of additional revenue, this resolution would authorize Comsa and Demetriou to wrap up their endeavor in finalizing a cell tower deal. Whereas the district is considering entering into a 30 year contract which would pay a one time payment of $2,340,000 and recurring rent payments of 50% of all revenue.

Outcome: The cell tower is unanimously approved.

BOARD ACTION: Approval of Summer Purchasing and Hiring

This is generally a pro forma approval, as it allows Swift some autonomy in purchases up to and including $250,000 per transaction and hiring without having to have board approval.

This summer, Swift’s team will update the trustees on a bi-weekly basis. The Superintendent is required to update the trustees on any purchases made under this tenet at the first board meeting in August.

Outcome: Summer Purchasing and Hiring is unanimously approved.

BOARD ACTION: Approval of Board Meeting Schedule 

Stead confirms that the schedule is designed to avoid five star holidays. Baskett registers concerns that Community High School’s 2019 graduation is on Eid. Swift says she doesn’t believe that is in keeping with the policy and will look to change it.

Baskett asks exactly what are they voting on. Stead says they are voting on the draft. Swift says that graduation schedules are different than the board meeting schedule. So while they are voting on the board meeting schedule, there will most likely be a change on the graduation schedule.

Outcome: The board meeting schedule is unanimously approved.

ITEMS FROM THE BOARD

Gaynor recently attended a meeting of the Michigan Educational Justice Coalition. They are working on an action plan for better funding for public schools.

Kelly shares that she reached out to other surrounding Board of Ed trustees about the proposed Social Studies curriculum changes. She got several responses, one from Saline, Ypsilanti, and East Lansing. She reads the response from the East Lansing trustee.

11:48 THE MEETING IS ADJOURNED.

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