AAPS Board Tackles Procedural Issues

Trustees to meet Nov. 2 as committee of the whole

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (October 26, 2011): The board spent the better portion of its meeting discussing a large set of changes to the procedures it uses to conduct its business.

Stemming directly from discussions held at the board’s Oct. 14 retreat, the changes covered the board meeting agenda structure and its committee structure.

Deb Mexicotte Susan Baskette AAPS mission

AAPS board president Deb Mexicotte (left) and Trustee Susan Baskett discuss linking the AAPS strategic plan to board discussion. Baskett is holding a copy of the plan's mission and goals. (Photo by the writer.)

The proposed changes were initially presented as special briefing items, meaning they could have been approved by board action that night. But in the end, the board approved just two of the changes at their Oct. 26 meeting – linking all agenda items directly to the strategic plan, and adding a section to the agenda to clarify facts related to public commentary. The board put off making two other decisions – one that would officially change the board’s committee structure, and another adding time limits to meetings.

The most substantive change – meeting monthly as a “committee of the whole” instead of maintaining two standing committees of three trustees each– was examined in light of the 21 board policies that such a change would affect. A large part of the policy discussion centered on how items are put on the board agenda, and how changing the committee structure could affect that process.

Responding to some trustees who said that they would like more time to let the proposed policy amendments “marinate” before committing to them, board president Deb Mexicotte led the board to treat the proposed changes as first briefing items. Issues typically come before the board as a first briefing and are then voted on at a subsequent meeting as a second briefing item.  Mexicotte later moved, and the board agreed, to meet as a committee of the whole on Nov. 2. The board will then vote on the policy changes necessary to enact the committee structure changes at the next regular meeting on Nov. 16.

The final suggested change – adding time limits to agenda items and meetings – was discussed in some detail, but not acted upon officially at Wednesday’s meeting. Board president Deb Mexicotte said she would present a summary of the discussion regarding time limits at the Nov. 2 committee meeting.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board heard public commentary on the upcoming NAACP freedom fund dinner, class sizes, transparency, transportation, and special needs services. Trustees also approved a series of policy updates as part of a short consent agenda.

Procedural Changes: Agendas, Committees

The board spent most of the meeting discussing procedural issues for doing its business. One set of those issues involved the basic template to be used for future meeting agendas. Another set of issues stemmed from a change of the board’s committee structure to a single “committee of the whole,” instead of two, three-member standing committees. Those committees had previously vetted new proposals, received new information, and set the board’s agenda.

First we present changes to the board agenda structure followed by the issues related to committee restructuring.

Changes to Board Agendas

The board considered three changes to the structure of its agendas. One change involved explicitly linking agenda items to the district’s strategic plan.  The board also discussed a section that would allow the board to clarify remarks made during public commentary. Finally, the board considered adding time limits to meeting agenda items, as well as limiting the length of entire meetings.

Board Agendas: Linkages to Strategic Plan

Mexicotte opened a discussion on a set of ways the board could more “thoughtfully and explicitly” link to the strategic plan during board meetings. She proposed adding strategic plan goals to meeting agendas near the items to which they refer, as she had done for the Oct. 26 agenda, and asked for the board’s feedback.

Trustee Andy Thomas said he liked the format, but wondered if the board should be sure to consider having some attention paid to each of the eight strategic planning goals at each meeting. As it stands, Thomas pointed out, only four of the eight goals were referenced on the Oct. 26 agenda.

Nelson said he would prefer to review periodically whether the board’s agenda is regularly addressing all eight goals, and respond then if any of them have “inadvertently fallen off” the board’s radar.

Mexicotte also introduced new “placemats” which will sit at each trustee’s seat during board meetings in order to help them “be conscious about linking to the strategic plan at the table.” She suggested that the board “should practice the inculcation [of the strategic plan] in everything we do as a good role model for what we expect from the rest of the district.”

Finally, Mexicotte pointed out that she has directed board secretary Amy Osinski to look into the cost of having the district’s mission statement printed on the back of the board’s business cards, to keep its focus front and center at all times.

Trustee Simone Lightfoot thanked Osinski for creating a new cover for board meeting packets, which lists the AAPS strategic plan mission and goals in a readable font. She said she continues to request larger font size be used throughout the packet. Trustee Susan Baskett added that she would like to see page numbers on all reports or enclosures in the packet that are longer than two pages.

Trustee Irene Patalan noted that she appreciated the renewed focus on the strategic plan. [.pdf of AAPS strategic plan]

Outcome: The board approved the addition of explicit links to the strategic plan goals next to each item on its meeting agendas.

Board Agendas: Clarification on Public Commentary

The board voted at the begining of the Oct. 26 meeting to remove a new “clarification” item from that night’s agenda until after it had a chance to discuss in more detail how it would be used. Later in the meeting, board members discussed what the purpose of a clarification item would be.

Mexicotte said the clarification section could be used to correct “substantive errors of fact” made at public commentary, perhaps by inviting AAPS administration to comment.

Trustees were interested in having a method for clarifying misconceptions, but stressed the importance of responding with empathy to constituents who address the board.

Patalan also pointed out that adding this section to the agenda was a significant departure from how the board has ever treated public commentary before, and asked her colleagues to “be careful with this and go slowly.”

After the discussion, a motion was approved to reinstate “Clarification” on the Oct. 26 agenda after the special briefing items on board committee restructuring.

Outcome: The board approved adding a section to each meeting agenda called “Clarification,” which could be used to correct factual errors made as part of public commentary.

Board Agendas: Time Limits

Mexicotte asked whether the board wanted to consider limiting the length of presentations made to the board, the length of association reports made at regular board meeting, and its overall meeting length.

There was general agreement that administrative presentations should be limited to around 15 minutes, with another 15 minutes of questions and answers. The board also seemed generally supportive of the idea of limiting association reports to around five minutes. Suggestions were made to institute a rotating system where only three associations report at each meeting, and to recognize a larger number of associations who make regular reports.

However, the bulk of discussion on time limits was about how to use meeting time most effectively. While there was general agreement about limiting meeting length, there was no consensus on what to do when a discussion reached its targeted time limit.

Trustees reviewed a variety of parliamentary procedures including “calling the question,” voting to extend the time allotted to a discussion, having the board secretary function as timekeeper, and requiring a supermajority to approve motions. While Mexicotte encouraged the board to embrace a “disciplined time frame,” Nelson expressed apprehension that cutting off discussion too early could cause many 4-3 votes instead of the common 7-0 decisions the board has generally reached. Baskett suggested limiting some elements of the meeting, but not board discussion.

Multiple board members suggested that if the board added time limits or made more frequent use of the parliamentary tools at their disposal, there should be a scheduled review of such changes, perhaps in three months, or at the board’s organizational meeting in January 2012.

Outcome: No action was taken on setting time limits at the Oct. 26 meeting, but instead will be discussed at the board’s first “committee of the whole” meeting on Nov. 2.

Committee Restructuring

At the Oct. 26 meeting, the board explored changing its committee structure, as recommended by the facilitator of the Oct. 14 board retreat.

Committee Restructuring: Background

The proposed new structure would replace the board’s two standing committees – the planning committee and the performance committee – with a “committee of the whole.” The committee of the whole would include all seven trustees, who would together vet new proposals, receive information from the administration and community, and set the board’s agenda.

The board framed its discussion on committee structure by reviewing the 21 board policies that would be affected by the change. Of these, 15 policies elicited no discussion among board members, and three others elicited only minor questions of wording. Discussion on the three remaining policies: Policy 1220 (Meetings – Type & Notice), Policy 1220 (Meetings – Agenda), and Policy 1460 (Auxiliary Committees/Task Forces) is outlined in more detail below.

Committee Restructuring: Meetings – Type & Notice

Board Policy 1200 lists the configurations in which the board meets – regular meetings, an annual organizational meeting, special meetings, emergency meetings, information/work/study sessions, retreats, public hearings, and closed sessions – and the type of notice required for each. The proposed change was to add “committee of the whole” to the list of configurations.

At the Oct. 26 meeting, board secretary Amy Osinski asked whether meeting as the committee of the whole (COTW) would replace study sessions, and Mexicotte said the board would need to discuss that.

Stead then asked whether the expectation that “no action shall be taken by the board,” which applies to study sessions and retreats, would apply to the COTW. She wondered if all the trustees were present, what would prevent them for voting themselves into a regular meeting. Mexicotte said that she believes the board should not take action at COTW meetings, but that she was looking into posting requirements.

Committee Restructuring: Meetings – Agenda

The proposed policy change that generated the most discussion at the Oct. 26 meeting was Policy 1220 – Meetings-Agenda. This policy identifies the four ways that items may currently be placed on the board agenda: (1) the executive committee (standing committee chairs and president) and superintendent, by mutual consent, decide to put an item on the agenda; (2) the board consents to put an item on the agenda during the regular “agenda planning” portion of each regular meeting; (3) the board consents to place an item on the agenda during a study session, special meeting, or emergency meeting; or (4) any board member makes a motion to place an item on the agenda that is approved by the board in a regular meeting.

The policy also specifies that the agenda for each specific meeting shall be set by the board president in consultation with the superintendent.

If the board decides to move to the committee of the whole (COTW) system, the “president” would replace the “executive committee” in number one above, and all policies would be vetted by the COTW instead of by one of the two standing committees.

Committee Restructuring: Meetings – Agenda (Nelson’s Rotation)

Lightfoot expressed concern about “concentrated control being placed at superintendent and president level.” Nelson added that it’s essential that that board maintain communication among all members.

In that vein, Nelson proposed that the six board members who are not the president rotate through an “advisory committee” with Mexicotte and Green to set the agenda, two at a time.

Nelson defended his suggestion, which he acknowledged “is a lot like the old executive committee,” by saying that there is value in formalizing small group meetings between sub-quorum groups of board members and the superintendent. “I think we still need to figure out systems of small group communication and that it’s better if we do that as part of the formal structure … Those groups are important to the process [of agenda-setting]. They will occur either way, and the board is less transparent if we meet informally.”

Stead and Patalan each responded that they would like to try setting the agenda all together as a COTW before returning to a subcommittee model, even a rotating one. “This was part of what I heard at the retreat,” said Stead, “that trustees felt their voices were not being heard.” Thomas called Nelson’s proposal “overkill” and said he was uncomfortable adding a new piece to the committee structure before the board had even tried meeting as a COTW.

Nelson pointed out that his proposed agenda-advisory subcommittee would also add efficiency, and said he was concerned that “half of every COTW will be taken up with what will be on the next agenda, and where on the agenda, since we know that everything at the end could be shifted [to future meetings].” Thomas agreed that setting the agenda as a group might be a lot to manage, but suggested the board “just go with it and see how it works out.”

Mexicotte said she did not share Nelson’s “pessimism,” and that she firmly believes the board will be able to place important items on the agenda in a timely fashion using the COTW.

Committee Restructuring: Meetings – Agenda (Requests Process)

Lightfoot requested clarification on how individual board members could make agenda requests. She noted that she would support Nelson’s rotating agenda advisory committee proposal, as it would “broaden the inclusion of all trustees” in setting the board’s agenda.

Mexicotte explained that she had requested the planning committee and performance committee chairs forward her any topics pending in their committees. She had also e-mailed a request for agenda items to all board members. She had then met with Green, and together they placed every item except for one on upcoming board agendas over the next few months, which she said was a similar process to what had previously been followed by the executive committee.

“Until we get to a place where past concerns are no longer concerns,” Lightfoot stressed, “… we have to be considerate of how we operated as a board in the past.” She then reiterated her concern about the Achievement Gap Elimination Plan (AGEP) staying “on the radar,” as an example of a flawed agenda planning process. Green noted that the AGEP was not off the radar from the administration’s perspective, and that it will come to the board early in 2012.

Mexicotte reviewed the four ways that any item can be placed on the board agenda listed above, and suggested that she would bring a “narrative” about the process to the first COTW meeting.

Lightfoot pointed out that the process of setting the agenda requires either a majority vote, or a decision by the president and superintendent, and restated her support for an agenda-advisory committee with rotating membership. “Anything we can do to broaden the inclusion of all trustees should be done,” she asserted.

Mexicotte responded, “For good or for ill, in all of our work … we work as a majority board. There are always times when we aren’t going to be able to convince our fellow trustees to move in the direction we want to move in, but there are so many avenues to getting something on the agenda. If you can’t get a majority, you can’t get a majority – it’s like that with all agenda items.”

Lightfoot stated, “My concern is based on having been there, done that. I want to ensure that we have mechanisms in place to do better.”

Committee Restructuring: Auxiliary Committees/Task Forces

Board Policy 1460 defines auxiliary committees and task forces, as charged by the board. Auxiliary committees are defined as “joint commissions broadly formed around an area of on-going district interest or concern,” and typically have a long-standing charge (at least three years). Task forces are defined as bring “created for a specific purpose, role, or job,” and expire automatically after one year without board action.

Lightfoot asked about the process for setting auxiliary committees or task forces, and said the board should enlist additional community input through these measures. She suggested setting up groups regarding the key areas of budget, transportation, technology, achievement, and state funding, among others.

Mexicotte answered that the process for establishing auxiliary committees or task forces is the same as for any of the board’s work. If the formation of such groups is formally moved, she said, the board will debate priority, capacity, and whether or not the suggested topics are the board’s work.

Nelson suggested that all ideas for task forces or auxiliary committees should come forward at one time, so the board can debate which are the most important. “Without a doubt,” he said, “these are vehicles to bring in community members.”

Mexicotte said that there is not currently a stipulation in Policy 1460 that requires community engagement, but that such an amendment could be added. When any such groups are set up, she explained, they will have some mechanism for choosing their membership, having meetings, and engaging with the community.

Committee Restructuring: Next Steps

Outcome: The board approved a motion to meet as a committee of the whole on Nov. 2. At their next regular meeting on Nov. 16., trustees will consider at second briefing and vote on the 21 policy changes that would be necessary to institutionalize the new committee structure.

Policy Updates

The planning committee, chaired by Stead, reviewed and amended five policies, which the board reviewed at first briefing at its previous meeting. Mexicotte asked if there had been any changes since the first briefing, and Stead said no.

Stead then spoke to a question about Policy 5200 (Progress Reporting) that had come up at the previous meeting. Lightfoot had asked if Policy 5200 should include a list of situations that would trigger closer monitoring of student progress, and Stead had said she would look into that. At the Oct, 26 meeting, Stead pointed out that numerous other policies, including 6300 (Achievement for all Students), 6350 (Special Education), 5150 (Student Attendance), 6140 (Homework), and 5050 (Graduation Requirements), require student assessment, monitoring, and intervention. Therefore, she said, she does not recommend adding a requirement for additional monitoring in Policy 5200 (Progress Reporting). The intent of Policy 5200, Stead argued, is simply to ensure that progress reports are disseminated to families.

Lightfoot questioned whether the other policies are as effective without a “catch-all” requirement included in Policy 5200, but let it stand without suggesting an amendment.

Outcome: The policy changes were approved unanimously, as part of a consent agenda that also included minutes and gift offers.

Public Commentary

The board provides an opportunity for public participation at its meetings.

Public Comment: Freedom Fund Dinner

William Hampton, president of the Ann Arbor branch of the NAACP, addressed the board regarding the NAACP’s annual freedom fund dinner, at which all AAPS black students with GPAs over 3.2 will be honored. He noted that this year’s keynote speaker, Raymond Randolph, was one of the freedom riders of the South who played a significant role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and would “share his compelling story to connect the dots from past to future.” Hampton asserted that the “success of all future generations depends on what we do today,” and thanked the board for “remaining in the process.”

Public Comment: Suggestions for Maintaining Trust

Ahmar Iqbal, school board candidate and AAPS parent, thanked the board members for their service and shared his view that the role of a school board trustee is to maintain the trust of the community while setting the tone and the expectations. He made three suggestions to the board: (1) reinstate the city committee on transportation; (2) explain how the proposed tech bond will be used to benefit the community, and (3) address large classes by offering teachers additional training on how to manage them and letting administrators return to classroom teaching.

Public Comment: Disparate Impact of Suspensions

Beverly Geltner said her trust has not been assured by the board and she was very concerned about students being suspended at Pioneer High School for not having returned books. She noted that the same principal suspended a large group of students “in bulk” last year and questioned the legality of how suspensions are administered in the district.

Geltner then offered what she described as a quote from an American Civil Liberties Union report, which said that 58% of AAPS students suspended in 2006-07 were black, while black students only made up 18% of the student population that year. She stated she is concerned that the district does not plan to make recent suspension data public until February.

Geltner also asserted that AAPS is in violation of a state statute requiring a state-mandated icon to appear on the front web page of the district which links to budget and salary data, that check register data is not on the website, and that the latest MEAP data has not been made public.

Public Comment: Sleep Study, Bus Plan

Jerri Jenista, a local pediatrician and parent of a student at Roberto Clemente Student Development Center brought to the board’s attention a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on adolescent sleep. The study linked less than eight of hours of sleep per night to a host of risk factors in adolescents, including less physical activity, drug and alcohol use, and suicidal feelings.

Jenista contended that the current bus schedule requires many Clemente students to be at their bus stops by 6:15 a.m., which is unreasonably early, and significantly cuts into their sleep. Students then experience total commuting time each day of 3.5 to 4 hours, she pointed out. On the bus in the morning, Jenista argued, it’s too dark to study, so the time is completely wasted.

Jenista then pointed out that Clemente students are an “extremely high risk” population, 38% of which have an individualized education plan, or IEP. She said she is considering asking for more reasonable transportation as a function of her son’s IEP, and encouraging others at Clemente to do the same.

Public Comment: Special Needs

Al Boehnlein asserted that his son, who has autism, has not been receiving the services he is due as part of his IEP, and that the district is doing a disservice in general to special needs students by not ensuring that they are taught reading, regardless of their level. Specifically, Boehnlein noted, his son has not been assessed by a reading specialist, and has not been given an intensive reading program to follow. Boehnlein said the district has not responded to his concerns, and that he has filed a state complaint. Children with special needs, he argued, can educate themselves if they can read. “I want my son to succeed, and he deserves a chance to succeed … I would love a comment from you.”

Clarification on Public Commentary

Mexicotte asked district superintendent Patricia Green if there were any points from public commentary on which she would like to add clarification.

Regarding MEAP scores, Green called on Alesia Flye, AAPS deputy superintendent of instruction, who clarified that current MEAP scores are on the district website, under the School Improvement Plan for each building.

Regarding the state-mandated “transparency in reporting” icon, Green called on Robert Allen, AAPS deputy superintendent of operations, who clarified that the required icon does, in fact, appear in the upper right-hand corner of the district’s website.

Regarding the assertion that students were suspended for not returning books, Green called on AAPS assistant superintendent for secondary education, Joyce Hunter, who clarified that students with unpaid fines were not allowed to register for classes, but that there were no suspensions for unreturned books.

Mexicotte then clarified that the district participates on a Transportation Safety Committee, an “active, ongoing” group composed of city, county, and state representation, along with AAPS board members, parents, and staff. The TSC, she said, has met regularly every two months to address a wide range of safety concerns related to transportation. The TSC met this October, she said. Mexicotte said that the committee a speaker may have been referring to is the “City-Schools” committee that used to meet to bring Ann Arbor and AAPS together on other areas of mutual concern.

First Briefing: Support Group Website Link

Glenn Nelson introduced a resolution at first briefing that would allow a new organization of Arab-American district parents to link to their group from the AAPS website. The resolution explained that this group has already contributed to the AAPS curriculum by helping to develop a unit on Islam to be taught in 6th grade, and by helping with training teachers on that unit. Nelson also noted that the AAPSG “has a documented history of regular meetings and leadership plus well-developed plans for the future that will enable continued accessibility to staff and citizens and continued constructive actions.”

Outcome: The board had no discussion on this resolution at the Oct. 26 meeting, but will consider it again at second briefing on Nov. 16.

Association Reports

At each meeting, the board invites reports from six associations: the Youth Senate, the Ann Arbor Parent Advisory Committee on Special Education (AAPAC), the Parent-Teacher-Organization Council (PTOC), the Black Parents Student Support Group (BPSSG), the Ann Arbor Administrators Association (AAAA), and the Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA). At the Oct. 26 meeting, the board heard reports from just two associations – the BPSSG and the AAPAC.

Association Reports: BPSSG

Bryan Johnson, BPSSG chair, reported that the BPSSG executive committee met recently to outline its “Academic, Character, and Citizenship” program, and develop a shared calendar of program events. He also reviewed the BPSSG’s other committees – advocacy, development, finance, membership, and programs/services – and encouraged community participation on committees. Johnson thanked those community groups who have come forward to collaborate with the BPSSG to impact student achievement. He also noted that the BPSSG has arranged transportation to the Eastern Michigan University college fair on Nov. 9 for any high school student who is interested.

Association Reports: AAPAC

AAPAC’s representative reported that the AAPAC has been working with the district’s student intervention and support services department to create a handbook specific to AAPS to complement the Washtenaw Intermediate School District parent handbook. She invited trustees to the two Disability Awareness Workshops occurring in November. And, she noted that the AAPAC is scheduling a workshop on iPad applications that could be used to teach life skills, social skills, and fine motor skills, among other skills, to special needs students. “Without technology,” she said, “it would be impossible for many students to access the curriculum as is their legal right.”

Superintendent’s Report

AAPS superintendent Patricia Green reported that Ann Arbor Technological (A2 Tech) high school’s new name was officially celebrated on Oct. 14. A2 Tech was formerly known as Stone School.

She noted that students from Community high have been invited to submit articles to the Huffington Post, the 17th-most-visited website in the U.S.

Green offered a series of accolades regarding different aspects of the AAPS environmental education program, which is 50 years old this year, including the receipt of a $29,000 donation to support the program. She highlighted a project by Chartwells, the district’s food service contractor. Chartwells was able to serve food grown on a student farm as part of the Green adventure camp. [There is no relation between the Green adventure camp and AAPS superintendent Pat Green.]

Finally, Green thanked the AAPS educational foundation for its continued support as the foundation prepares to award $18,000 in “Great Ideas” grants to individual teachers in the district. She also recognized everyone who attended the foundation’s Harvest Dinner, which raised money for the AAPS physics department.

Student Engagement

A new section of the agenda called “student engagement” highlights the connection between student performances at board meetings and the strategic plan goal #3, which reads: “We will actualize the potential for excellence in all students through inspiration and support.” Board members did not comment on this revamping of the agenda.

Clague Orchestra

A subset of Clague Middle School  7th grade orchestra students played two songs for the board at the Oct. 26 meeting, under the direction of Abby Alwin. One student had to sit out after feeling faint, but was quickly revived after being offered a sip of water by board secretary Amy Osinski.

Huron Challenge Day

Candace Rozelle-Williams and Linda Gibbs addressed the board about Huron’s Challenge Day, a one-day workshop for Huron students and adults which addresses the root causes of problems in the school community, and challenges participants to step out of their comfort zones and to learn how to better connect with others.

Trustees who had participated in past Challenge Days applauded the program and expressed their appreciation for its coordinators. Green said she will be attending part of the Nov. 7 Challenge Day at Huron “wearing slacks and sneakers,” a reference to the high-energy exercises that occur at the beginning of the workshop. Gibbs stressed that adults from the community are welcome, and encouraged anyone interested in learning more about Challenge Day or attending to contact her directly at Ldhibbs@comcast.net, or 734-214-5723.

Agenda Planning

Mexicotte suggested adding a discussion of the Northwest Evaluation Association’s assessment, to the January committee of the whole (COTW) meeting. The NWEA assessment was just added to the district testing calendar this school year.

Nelson reported that he and Christine Stead have volunteered to write a resolution on personal property tax in response to an active bill in the state legislature that would eliminate personal property tax. If this bill passes, Nelson said, student revenues would decrease by $316 per student and, taxes on homeowners would increase by almost 0.5 mill due to tax shifting. He asserted, “This is a critical issue for students throughout the state.”

Nelson also suggested that the results of the FY 2010-11 audit should be reviewed before holding community budget forums in November, and urged the administration to “sequence that right.”

Green responded that she and AAPS deputy superintendent of operations Robert Allen are planning to meet with the auditor before the forums, and that the data from the audit will be incorporated into the presentation to the community.

Stead added that she would like to schedule a second round of community forums on the budget after the state revenue conference at the end of January, because AAPS will “know a lot more about what the intent of the state is at that point.” She suggested adding forums to the schedule in early March since February is already very busy, as well as keeping the budget on every COTW meeting as an agenda item.

Mexicotte looked to the board for a consensus on a start time for the COTW meeting on Nov. 2. The board agreed to meet beginning at 5:30 p.m.

She then explained her expectations regarding building a template agenda for COTW meetings, and said she was inclined to have policy review and updates occur at the COTW, and bid contracts come to the regular board meetings, as a way to split up the work. At the COTW, Mexicotte suggested, the board should develop talking points around issues as they come up.

Finally, she suggested framing the work of the committee with a template that would include the following pieces: (1) acknowledging the problem or change; (2) linking to the strategic plan; (3) recognizing the affected stakeholders; and (4) identifying next steps, such as making recommendations to the administration. Mexicotte closed by thanking her fellow trustees for their dedication to the board.

Items from the Board

Stead noted the large amount of legislation targeted at K-12 schools currently under consideration at the state level, especially a bill to remove the cap on the number of charter schools statewide. There are already 250 charters in the state, Stead said, which take funding away from traditional public schools.

Lightfoot asked how the board could “close the loop” and get updated on how questions from the public will be answered. For example, she asked where AAPS stands in the process of reviewing bus transportation to Pine Lake Village Cooperative and Roberto Clemente Student Development Center. Lightfoot also requested that the district consider changing school start times.

Patalan reported that she spent the morning of Oct. 23 at Occupy Wall St. in New York City. Noting that she had been part of the generation who protested the Vietnam War and participated in the “black action movement,” Patalan said, “I understood what they were doing – it made sense to me.”

Mexicotte said she had participated in a panel on college readiness among underrepresented students and that she would provide information to the board on the topic.

Present: President Deb Mexicotte, vice-president Susan Baskett (until 10 p.m.), secretary Andy Thomas, treasurer Irene Patalan, and trustees Simone Lightfoot, Glenn Nelson, and Christine Stead. Meeting adjourned at 11:55 p.m.

Next regular meeting: Nov. 16, 2011, 7 p.m., at the fourth-floor conference room of the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave.