AAPS OKs Technology Upgrades

Also: first school days prompt concern about class size

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education meeting (Sept. 5, 2012): Trustees were briefed on two proposals for technology improvements – a purchase of 30 laptops with the new Macintosh Mountain Lion operating system and a contract for network infrastructure equipment and installation. Both proposals were approved by the board.

Randy Trent

Randy Trent, AAPS executive director of physical properties. (Photos by the writer.)

The Ann Arbor Public Schools technology bond professional team asked that the board of trustees appropriate $54,540 to purchase 30 MacBook Pro laptop computers, in order to train and test on the new Mac operating system, Mountain Lion. The point of the testing is to check compatibility with the district’s current software applications as the district moves to replace all of its computers.

A $76,463 contract with Sentinel Technologies, Inc. for purchase and installation of computer network equipment was presented to the trustees. The new network equipment is supposed to make the district’s network and firewall more secure and reliable. The upgrade is also supposed to provide more internal and external bandwidth, and allow for increases in the future. The network equipment would be funded from the district’s technology bond.

Before hearing the briefings, the trustees were asked to consider them as special briefings, which meant they would be voted on at that same meeting. The change was driven by a decision the board made to alter its September meeting schedule.

The board also heard extensive public commentary at the start of the meeting on the issue of class sizes as the school year opened. Parents of Haisley Elementary School students asked the board for help in rectifying a situation they described as not viable – 32 students per class in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms.

Matters of Procedure: Agenda, Schedule

The agenda is typically approved at the beginning of meetings without many additions or changes. For this meeting, however, AAPS board president Deb Mexicotte asked for some changes to the upcoming meeting schedule, which had an impact on the agenda.

Deb Mexicotte, reflected in her laptop computer screen.

AAPS board president Deb Mexicotte, reflected in her laptop computer screen.

Mexicotte said it had been her intention that the next Committee of the Whole (COTW) meeting, then scheduled for Sept. 12, be focused on financial goals – an area identified at the board’s August retreat. However, several trustees had said they could not attend that COTW meeting. Because Mexicotte felt it was important that all trustees attend, she had worked with Amy Osinski, executive secretary to the board of education, to amend the board meeting schedule. Part of the mix was the fourth annual harvest dinner to benefit the AAPS Educational Foundation, which fell on Wednesday, Oct. 17, a scheduled meeting date.

With those factors in mind, Mexicotte requested that the Sept. 12 COTW be cancelled and that any regular board items that were to be addressed at that meeting be moved to the next scheduled meeting on Sept. 19. Part of the rationale  offered by Mexicotte for the move was that those items should actually not be handled at a COTW meeting in any case – because board business should be conducted only at board meetings.

So Mexicotte suggested changing the scheduled regular meeting on Oct. 3, 2012 to a COTW meeting, – at which the board could address financial goals. She also proposed that the COTW meeting previously scheduled  for Oct. 17 be cancelled. All other October meetings would remain as previously scheduled. [The AAPS maintains the board's updated meeting schedule on the district's website.]

After all trustees said they were amenable to the changes, Mexicotte asked district superintendent Patricia Green if the first briefing items on that night’s agenda could wait until the Sept. 19 regular meeting to be voted on [instead of being handled at the previously scheduled Sept. 12 COTW meeting. ] Green indicated that her preference would be that they be voted on at that night’s meeting. So she requested that the two items that were originally to be heard at the evening’s meeting as first briefing items be considered instead as special briefing items – which would mean they’d get a vote at that evening’s meeting.

Trustee Susan Baskett indicated she did not feel comfortable moving the infrastructure contract straight to a special briefing. Trustee Glenn Nelson said that while he expected to be comfortable considering both the infrastructure contract and the laptop purchase as special briefing items, he wanted to respect Baskett’s perspective. So Nelson suggested hearing the items initially as first briefings, then moving them to special briefing status at that point, if the trustees agreed.

Mexicotte offered another possibility if trustees weren’t comfortable moving forward with the items that evening. She suggested a short formal board meeting on Sept. 12 or another date soon enough to hear the items as second briefing items, at which time they would be voted on.

Ultimately, both items were moved to special briefing status after being heard as first briefing items. Special briefing items are voted on with the consent agenda at the meeting at which they are heard. At the request of Baskett, the network infrastructure proposal was removed from the consent agenda and changed to a board action item. So votes on both items were taken by the board on Sept. 5.

Tech Improvement

The board was briefed on, and ultimately voted on, two proposals to improve the district’s technological capabilities – a network infrastructure equipment upgrade and the purchase of 30 MacBook laptops to test the new Mac operating system.

Tech Improvement: Network Infrastructure

The trustees heard from Randy Trent, executive director of physical properties, about a $76,463 contract with Sentinel Technologies, Inc. for purchase and installation of computer network equipment. The purchase would be made through a state consortium bid with MiDEAL. MiDEAL allows Michigan local units of government to benefit from the State’s negotiating and purchasing power by permitting them to purchase the state’s contracts on the same terms, conditions, and prices as state government. The money for the contract would come from the technology bond, approved by voters in May 2012.

As the district has increased its usage of the Internet, its technology infrastructure has declined and is need of an upgrade to improve the security and reliability of the network and firewall, Trent said. The purchase was recommended in order to provide greater internal and external bandwidth and scalability for future needs. Trent compared the upgrade to expanding from a two-lane highway to a six or eight lane highway in terms of traffic on the network. Green indicated that the infrastructure improvement was the first in a series of opportunities to implement the  technology bond program.

Trent mentioned that over the summer, the district had borrowed pieces of equipment to maintain the security to provide better bandwidth. In the past, he said, it was easy for the network to be brought down. Because the borrowed equipment had solved that problem, they were looking to purchase it as soon as possible.

Baskett expressed concern over the bidding process for the contract. She wanted to know if the state goes through the same process for bidding that the district does. She expressed concern that Sentinel was based in Illinois and was not a local company. Trent assured her there was a local office for Sentinel Technologies and the district worked with Sentinel “every day.”

Baskett asked if the use of the state consortium bidding process was preventing local contractors from going  through the bidding process. She wanted to know more about proposed contractor. Trent acknowledged that purchasing and installing the equipment was of an “emergency nature,” and the state bidding process would be more expedient. He added that the district had been doing business with Sentinel for several years and their workers made very good wages and lived in southeastern Michigan.

Mexicotte said she would support the infrastructure improvement because there have been issues with broadband and multimedia in the schools. She said it would be a prudent move and would help to alleviate the issue in a short amount of time.

Outcome: The board approved the contract for purchase and installation of computer network equipment, after moving the item to the consent agenda, then changing it to a board action item. Susan Baskett’s was the sole dissenting vote.

Tech Improvement: Laptop Purchase

The Technology Bond Professional team requested to purchase 30 MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop computers for training and testing on Mountain Lion, the new Mac Operating System (OS), at a cost of $54,540. Information Technology Department (ITD) staff will use the computers to test the new OS with the district’s current software applications to ensure a smooth transition as computers are replaced district-wide.

In addition to the standard education pricing, Apple offered a 10.3% discount on the machines and a 7.8% discount on the three-year service agreement. Apple also will provide an 11-inch MacBook Air and a 21.5 inch iMac, free of charge, service included. Trent said that when the district makes larger purchases in the coming years, the discount will be more like 30-33%. He also mentioned that an on-site technician to address any issues with the hardware came with the purchase of the machines.

In justifying the purchase, Trent explained that a large portion of existing software the district uses would not run on the new OS. The purchase would allow ITD staff to train on the OS with updated computers, so they can work through all the software and hardware bugs while they’re getting the technology infrastructure improved for the fall of 2013. He said that the change in OS was so big and had such an impact on the software, they wanted to make sure they had everything worked out before introducing it to staff and students.

Several trustees acknowledged their appreciation of the thoughtfulness of the tech bond implementation stages. Nelson said he appreciated the sequential planning that was “designed to get the most out of [the bond] money.” Trustee Simone Lightfoot also recognized the preparation that had gone into the technology bond implementation.

Trustee Andy Thomas got clarification that the 30 laptops would be used by ITD over the next year, and then the following year, a significantly larger number would be purchased for teachers and students. Responding to a question from Thomas, Trent indicated that the original 30 machines would continue to be used by ITD. Thomas then offered his support, saying he wanted ITD to be as familiar as possible with the new machines and the new OS.

Citing a concern about obsoleteness, Lightfoot asked if the 30 laptops to be purchased would still be up to par a year from now. Trent replied that the district will be in a good position to make the large purchase of machines when they are priced a little lower, since they will have spent a year training on the machines. He also acknowledged that changes come weekly in the field of technology.

Trustee Christine Stead noted the balance between price and functionality when purchasing computers at “end of life,” a reference to buying computers right before a new model comes out. She said that while “end of life” is cheaper, it is not always the best, especially since newer applications require more memory and disk space.

Agreeing with Stead, Trent said new computers will be rolled out in the district every year over the next nine years. He said that not just computers, but wireless devices and projectors will be treated in the same way. He mentioned tablets as being important technology devices in the future. He said that as the district determines how tablets might be used in schools and if it makes sense,  those purchases will be made.

Stead also asked if the trustees could be given periodic reports on the technology bond implementation plan so they can monitor how the district was tracking with it. Green responded by saying staff will be presenting the tech plan in October. At that time, she said, the implementation phases will be outlined.

Mexicotte said she believed that this “modest purchase” of laptops would help to improve rollout down the road.

Outcome: The purchase was unanimously approved after being changed from a first briefing item to a consent agenda item.

Financial Housekeeping

The board was asked to approve the designation of the auditor Plante & Moran to conduct the district’s financial audit for the previous fiscal year – 2011-12. The district’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Auditors would begin their work in September 2012 and conclude by mid-October 2012. The board would receive the auditor’s report in early November.

The audit will cost about $53,800 plus reasonable expenses. Last year, the base fee was $58,100. Nelson specifically emphasized the district will be looking to bid out the auditing work again after this year’s audit is complete.

The board also voted to approve a list of a dozen different financial institutions compliant with the district’s investment policies for fiscal year 2012-13.

Those institutions are Bank of America (Troy), Bank of Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor), Citizens Bank (Ann Arbor), Comerica Bank (Ann Arbor), Fifth Third Bank (Southfield), Flagstar Bank (Troy), JP Morgan Chase (Ann Arbor), MBIA of Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor), Michigan Commerce Bank (Ann Arbor), Michigan Liquid Asset Fund (Ronkonkoma, New York) TCF Bank (Ann Arbor) United Bank & Trust (Ann Arbor).

Outcome: The board approved the contract for Plante & Moran and the list of financial institutions as part of the consent agenda, without further discussion – having already discussed the items when they were first briefed at the Aug. 15, 2012 board meeting.

First Days of School

Several people addressed the board based on negative experiences from the first two days of school. One category of concern was scheduling problems, while the bulk the frustration was specifically with class sizes.

First Days of School: Scheduling

Jim Schueler introduced himself to the board of trustees by telling them that he had three children who attend school in the district – at Slauson Middle School, Community High School and Pioneer High School. He reported that he’d had a couple of rough days getting his 9th-grader scheduled. He felt confident, however, that his 9th-grader would make it to all of his classes the following day. He told the board that he felt that there has been a bit of pain with the schedule cuts. If we are going to keep cutting the schedule until someone says, “Ouch,” he told the board, then on his own behalf, and his family, other parents and their children: “Ouch!”

Maddie Hagan introduced herself as a junior at Skyline High School. She reported that her German 3 class had been cut. She had to choose between taking a German class online or taking a class at another school in the district – Pioneer High School. Her parents would either need to buy her a car so that she could drive herself to Pioneer to take that class, or pay $400 each semester to take the online class. She and her parents are very upset, she said, because her parents had spent a lot of money to send her to Germany for two months over the summer to help her learn the language. She did not want to have to give up the German 3 class.

Kirsten Tuck She told the board that she is also a student at Skyline High School. The first two days of school had been very chaotic, she reported. Most of the kids have their schedules “screwed up.” She was not certain what the cause for that is, but said that the counselors have not been able to fix everything. Many of her classes have around 36 kids, she said – which makes it hard for teachers to learn everyone’s name, and it makes it hard for her to hear what’s going on due to the distractions. The school feels very chaotic and rushed, she reported. A lot of her friends had left Skyline High School this year to go to different schools. She felt that reflects poorly on the staff and students at Skyline High School. She asked the board to help with overcrowding, cuts to classes, and overcrowding.

First Days of School: Class Size

Julie Christofferson told the board that she is the parent of a Haisley Elementary School 4th-grader. Her child’s class has 32 children – which she does not feel is very conducive to a positive learning environment. She asked for some consideration to fund additional staff for the school. Having 32 children in a classroom does not facilitate effective teaching, she said. She respects teachers and what they have to deal with everyday, she continued, and it’s hard for teachers address a wide variety of abilities in a classroom with 32 children. She also noted that there are multi-grade splits at Haisley, and those classes are large as well. She wondered how the achievement gap could be addressed with class sizes that large.

Marcy Marshall told the board that she is also the parent of a 4th-grade Haisley student. She also has two children who attend school at Skyline High School. When her two high schoolers were in elementary school they lived in a different district, so she was not familiar with the history of Haisley, she allowed. She felt the principal at Haisley elementary school is doing the best job she can – so that if the school receives additional students those students can be absorbed. Having two 3rd-grade classes and two classes split between 3rd and 4th grade, and one purely 4th-grade class is a little too chaotic, she felt. So she asked that one more teacher to be added, so that the classroom structure could be returned to regular 3rd-grade classes and 4th-grade classes.

John Courtright introduced himself as the parent of four children who attend school in the district – three of them at Haisley. Over the first two days of school, he’d sensed an overwhelming feeling that class sizes have “exploded a little bit” – beyond what the principal and teachers had been expecting for the 2012-13 calendar year. On a macro level, he urged the board to think of Ann Arbor in the terms that it has always been considered – a “beacon” for the entire state. It’s considered a beacon in large part because of the school system, he said. The area’s growth in jobs and housing, he said, is predicated on the idea that people want to come to Ann Arbor because of the school district. They still feel that way. He hopes that can continue, not just selfishly on behalf of his kids, but for everybody going forward.

On a micro level, at Haisley Elementary School, Courtright’s understanding is that the student population is exactly at the limit of the maximum before another full time teacher could be added. He realizes that the district is experiencing some fiscal uncertainty, but it’s not the kids and the teachers who deserved bear the burden of that, he said. He urged the board to do whatever is possible – within the realm of fiscal prudence – to try to assist kids in the district to give them the best opportunity to grow, like all the other kids who have come through the district. He noted that Haisley has become a “Focus School,” as designated by the Michigan Department of Education. [These are schools that are in the bottom 10% of schools statewide measured by the achievement gap, according to recent data released by the Michigan Department of Education.] Assigning 31 or 32 kids to one teacher is really, really difficult, he said. He suggested fiscal curtailment in other areas, so that teachers and students are not affected.

Jennifer Lukela introduced herself as the parent of two children at Haisley Elementary school. Her older son is in one of the 4th-grade classes with 32 children. She also has a 1st-grader who attends school there. She is philosophically committed to public education – and she lives in Ann Arbor in part because of the great school system. She has a lot of friends who this year pulled their kids out of the Ann Arbor public school system to go to places like Emerson School – specifically because of concerns about class size. It has been eye-opening to have her son in a classroom of 32 children, she said.

Lukela told the board she’s not a teacher, but rather a physician – but she volunteers in the classroom when she can. And based on her observations, even in a classroom of 23 or 24 children, if you have one or two children who require a lot of extra attention or who have behavioral issues, it can really disrupt the learning for everyone. She could only imagine how in a group of 32 a teacher could contend with a class that size – especially in a school that has been identified as one that has significant achievement gap. Haisley has a wide diversity of learners and she thinks the teachers at Haisley are wonderful and the principal has made the best of a bad situation.

Lukela and others were there to ask the board for help, because she did not feel the current situation is viable. She ventured that this was probably a wake-up call for a lot of parents – that they need to get more involved in terms of what is happening with the state legislature in Lansing. But in terms of what is going to happen tomorrow and next week for her kid: “I guess I’m here to beg for you to find some way to get us some more teachers.”

Jean Song told the board that she is also a parent of a child attends Haisley. She expressed the same concerns that other parents had already expressed. She told the board that she was conflicted about possibly pulling her child out of the Ann Arbor Public Schools district.

Kathy Noble had a middle school child who attended Haisley elementary school for six years. She also had a child who is currently a 4th-grader. As a classroom volunteer, she did not understand how the current situation was felt to be a viable solution.

First Days of School: AAPS Response

Responding to the public commentary, district superintendent Patricia Green noted that it was the second day of the school year. She said the administration is monitoring all the class sizes for all the elementary schools, middle schools and high schools across the district. The numbers have shifted on a daily basis, she reported. Dawn Linden, assistant superintendent for elementary education, is in conversation with the Haisley principal about the enrollment numbers, Green said, and Linden is taking a broad look, not just at Haisley, but across the entire district. Robyne Thompson, assistant superintendent for secondary education and career and technical education, has been in conversation with middle school and high school principals, Green said.

As part of her superintendent’s report, Green assessed the first few days of the new school year, noting the impact made by changes to transportation. The new high school routes provided by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) worked well, she said, because of “lots of planning and communication.” The combined Bryant/Pattengill routes were expected to improve as the school year continued.

Green stated the administration was looking holistically across the district at issues with class size, a concern brought up by a number of parents during public commentary. She also mentioned the success of the start of all-day kindergarten.

So before any adjustments will be made, the administration is looking not just a Haisley Elementary School and not just at Skyline High School, but across the entire district, Green said. She noted that the administration had not made a last-minute adjustment at Haisley – so she concluded that an enrollment shift had taken place there.

Responding to public commentary, Thomas told the parents that he felt their pain, and related his own experience – as his son has started attending Pioneer high school this year as a freshman. He described in some detail how his son had not been able to take an art class in which he had wanted to enroll. As a parent, this bothers him, Thomas said, but that is the financial reality that the district said. It’s a pinch on students and is restricting educational opportunities, but this is “kind to the way it is.”

Mexicotte summarized Thomas’ comments by venturing that the factual clarification he was making about the public commentary was: It’s a difficult financial time for the district.

First Days of School: “Focus Schools”

Trustee Christine Stead addressed the issue of “Focus Schools.” She pointed out that almost every school in the district is on the list – there may be two or three that are not. So there’s nothing unique about the appearance of Haisley on the list, she noted.

By way of background, “Focus Schools” are those in the bottom 10% of schools statewide, measured by the achievement gap between their highest- and lowest-performing students, according to recent data released by the Michigan Department of Education. The three AAPS schools not designated as “Focus Schools” are Scarlett Middle School, Skyline High School and Community High School. Community is designated as a “Reward School,” which means that it has met at least one of three criteria:

  1. top 5% of schools on the Top-to-Bottom list
  2. top 5% of schools making the greatest gains in achievement (improvement metric) or
  3. “Beating the Odds.” Beating the Odds schools are those that are overcoming traditional barriers to student achievement and are outperforming schools with similar risk factors and demographic makeup.

Statewide, 358 schools were designated as “Focus Schools.” The “top-to-bottom” ranking of schools statewide is a weighted score, consisting of 50% achievement, 25% improvement and 25% achievement gap. So the Focus Schools show a full range of rankings on their top-to-bottom scores:

Distribution of Focus Schools on the Top-to-Bottom Ranking

Distribution of Michigan Focus Schools on the Top-to-Bottom Ranking. (Chart by The Chronicle with data from Michigan Department of Education.)

First Days of School: More on  Focus Schools

Later in the meeting, Stead brought up her concern about the new Focus School designation given to all but three schools in the district.  [A Focus School is determined by the state to be a school with the largest achievement gaps, defined as the difference between the average scale score for the top 30% of students and the bottom 30% of students. Focus schools are in the bottom 10% of schools, based on the gap measure.]

Stead looked to the trustees for confirmation that the board would not take an approach to rectifying Focus School designations that reduces the achievement levels on the higher end. She wanted to make sure the district continues working for all students to achieve their best, and not to close the gap by bringing high achieving students down lower.

Simone Lightfoot

Simone Lightfoot

Saying she often heard her talk about that possibility, Lightfoot said she was concerned Stead continued to raise that issue. To her, the assertion was unfounded and they would never consider going down that path. Responding to Lightfoot, Stead contended she had heard that concern from families in the district, so she wanted to reassure people that they would never lower the achievement at the top to close the gap between the top and bottom percentage of students.

The public needs to understand, maintained Nelson, that the district will proudly raise the achievement of all students. The board is devoted to working on the achievement gap, which will mean the lower-achieving students will improve, but that will not come at the cost of the higher achieving students. Nelson concluded that because AAPS is a high performing district, as the schools work on pushing the top and the bottom, the numbers will work to widen the statewide achievement gap. He stated he did not believe it was a well thought-out policy.

Mexicotte emphasized the district would not change their focus – top achievement for all students. She said Ann Arbor’s engaged and intelligent community can fully understand how districts could gerrymander their achievement to make themselves look better in the “misguided” state reporting system, but not actually be better. “The integrity of the community, the board, and the administration will not let this happen,” she asserted, as she asked for [and received] verbal assent from the other trustees.

First Days of School: Cuts to Curriculum?

During “agenda planning” portion of the meeting,  Stead asked that the trustees be presented with a review of the breadth of the district’s curriculum. Acknowledging the concerns expressed during public commentary, Stead said that programs had been cut, but the board had worked to keep teachers’ jobs from being cut. She wanted to know how the curriculum offerings would have to change, as the district has had to make adjustments financially.

Mexicotte and Baskett both seconded the request, with Mexicotte asking for a summary of the changes made to curriculum and class offerings in the past 1-2 years.

Green said they were working to ascertain exactly why classes were cut – to determine if it was a function of enrollment or lack of interest. Demand tallies and staffing are done in the spring, and can differ from the number of students that actually show up in the fall, Green said. She said the administration will be investigating the issue further.

Communications and Comment

Board meetings include a number of agenda slots where trustees cans highlight issues they feel are important, including “items from the board” and “agenda planning.” Every meeting typically includes public commentary on subjects not necessarily on the formal agenda.

Comm/Comm: Dr. James Comer Visit

Green said she was pleased to note that Dr. James Comer, the founder of the Comer School Development Program, and the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University will be visiting the district in October. He has expressed interest in visiting because of the recent work towards eliminating both the achievement and the discipline gaps in the district. Green said she will be working with both Comer and UM on the gaps.

Comm/Comm: Report Bundling

During “agenda planning,” Stead asked that the trimester and semester structure in the high schools be examined at COTW meeting. Mexicotte said that would probably bundled and looked at with other high school issues.

When Lightfoot asked if suspension and truancy information would fall under high school issues, Green replied that the discipline report would be bundled with the student achievement report. That would be a good time to talk about those issues, Green asserted.

Comm/Comm: Police Presence

Baskett raised concern over the cuts to the police liaison positions. She noted that they had played roles in traffic control and counseling. So she wondered how those functions were being replaced. She wanted to know what schools have been doing to assure students’ safety, mentioning the limited police presence at the most recent Pioneer High School football game.

The police liaison positions had nothing to do with games after school hours, Green said. That was left up to schools individually. Money for a police presence at high school games has always been separate from the liaison positions. She also said that she and Robert Allen, deputy superintendent for operations, have been in meetings with city administrator Steve Powers and chief of police John Seto to discuss a community policing model. She said she can give a more detailed description of that model at another time.

Comm/Comm: Looking Through a Lens

Nelson saw the agenda planning taking place as an example of the concerns he had expressed at the retreat. To him, the highest priorities need to be: implementing the strategic plan; implementing the AGEP and the discipline gap elimination plan; and addressing the social and emotional learning of the students. The board periodically affirmed those were the top priorities, but often, in his opinion, drew away from the strategic plan. He was concerned that the board work hard to keep their focus on the central priorities of the mission.

Mexicotte responded that she saw it as a matter of triage – managing the flow of information to the trustees without full-blown presentations. She said it was good caution to think about the lens through which the trustees report on individual items. To her, the overarching lens should be student performance and meeting strategic goals.

Comm/Comm: Reasons to Celebrate

During “items from the board,” Thomas mentioned that AAPS had pulled off a “cultural coup,” as Pioneer High School was one of five schools selected by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) to host a free DSO community concert this fall. The sold-out performance is to be held on Sunday, Sept. 23.

Nelson noted that, over the summer, the UM Depression Center celebrated their fifth year of partnership with AAPS. He wanted to emphasize how seriously the district took mental health issues for students.

Baskett, Lightfoot, and Mexicotte all spoke about the start of the new year. Mexicotte noted that she was able to attend the school year kick off and could feel the palpable energy. She thanked all who contribute to the success of students every year.

Mexicotte also commended the trustees on the second sub-five hour meeting since the retreat. This was important in light of the board’s recent goal set to shorten meetings. Mexicotte said that the meetings have been shorter because of the discipline shown by the trustees and urged them to keep up the good work.

Present: President Deb Mexicotte, vice president Christine Stead, secretary Andy Thomas, and trustees Susan Baskett, Simone Lightfoot, and Glenn Nelson.

Absent: Treasurer Irene Patalan

Next regular meeting: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, at 7 p.m. at the fourth-floor boardroom of the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown branch, 343 S. Fifth Ave.

Chronicle editor Dave Askins contributed to this report.

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  1. September 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | permalink

    Why is the district in such a rush to move to Mountain Lion if a large portion of their software won’t run on it?

    Does the Chronicle have a link to the network infrastructure contract? I’d be curious to see what’s involved.

    Cutting German seems like a bad idea. It’s still a fairly important language. Aside from the importance of Germany to the EU, many of Ann Arbor’s early settlers were German, so it’s part of our history.

    My Eberwhite fifth-grader reports there are 30 kids in his class. That does seem excessive to me.

  2. By Monet Tiedemann
    September 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | permalink

    You can access the network infrastructure contract via BoardDocs: http://www.boarddocs.com/mi/aaps/Board.nsf/Public. From that link, click on the Sept. 5 agenda, then go to point 12A. You should find the contract there. [Also direct link here: .pdf of Sentinel contract]