Stories indexed with the term ‘class size’

AAPS OKs Technology Upgrades

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. [Full Story]

In It For The Money: Classroom Sales

Editor’s note: Nelson’s “In it for the Money” column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. Sometimes it’s earlier, like this month. Columns for the two previous months were “In it for the Money: E Pluribus Progress” and “In it for the Money: Getting Schooled.”

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

I spent the last two columns talking about what we should be teaching in our schools [1]. As we teeter on the brink of another school year, I want to take a second to talk about how to best teach these things. And, fair warning, my suggestion – as a former teacher and school administrator, not just a current chattering gadfly – is one you’ve already heard a thousand times: small class sizes.

But in the next twelve minutes I’m going to give you a way to argue for small class sizes in a patois that business folks can get behind.

As I’ve mentioned before, the vogue among conservative politicians – both at the state and national level – is to argue that their business acumen makes them uniquely well-suited to govern in our economically troubled times. I don’t reject this claim out of hand, because I agree that there are many business practices that adapt well to the public sector.

The problem, to my eye, is that the practices these erstwhile businessmen want to import to the public sector are largely from the management offices, rather than the sales floor. [Full Story]

AAPS Board Praises Superintendent

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (June 27, 2012): After recessing to a five-hour closed session to conduct its first formal evaluation of AAPS superintendent Patricia Green, the board reconvened its regular meeting and unanimously voted to release a statement summarizing Green’s successes as she completes her first year with the district.

Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent Patricia Green

Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent Patricia Green.

The board’s evaluation was uniformly positive, and counted among her successes the filling of vacant cabinet positions, dealing with funding cuts, helping to get the technology millage passed, and developing a strategy to address the “achievement gap.”

Green’s evaluation had included input from a set of roughly 70 community members suggested by board trustees. See previous coverage by The Chronicle on the evaluation’s structure and process: ”AAPS Begins Superintendent Evaluation.”

Green joined the district July 1, 2011, and is working under a five-year contract.

Also at their meeting, the board heard public commentary on two topics: second grade class sizes at Lawton elementary; and teacher release time used to support Skyline’s theatre program. [Full Story]

AAPS Board Sets 2011-12 Budget

The 2011-12 Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) budget, approved by the board of education on June 8, will cut 62.3 teaching positions, modify bus service to high school students, and require the use of $810,000 of the district’s fund balance.

The $183 million budget went through many iterations since originally proposed in April, before the board approved it on Wednesday evening on a 5-2 vote. Trustees Simone Lightfoot and Christine Stead dissented.

Details on the board deliberations that led to the split vote on the budget will be included in The Chronicle’s forthcoming meeting report, along with the other board business transacted that evening.

This brief highlights the key elements of the approved budget. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor School Board Weighs Cuts

When the board of education trustees meet on Wednesday evening to pass the fiscal year 2011-12 budget for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, they will have to choose between what to cut now and what to cut later.

AAPS Robert Allen

AAPS interim superintendent Robert Allen and board chair Deb Mexicotte. (Photo by the writer.)

School districts across Michigan are facing an ongoing structural deficit in state funding, along with significant anticipated cuts in reimbursement for special education services, and increases in mandated payments into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS).

Since the AAPS board last met on May 25, Michigan legislators passed a budget for the upcoming state fiscal year, which begins in October 2011 – though it still awaits Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature. The budget includes a one-time provision to offset the increase in school districts’ MPSERS payments, as well as one-time grants to districts that meet at least four out of five “best practice” guidelines, as defined by the state.

For AAPS, this means the district could receive as much as $4 million more in state funding than anticipated when its 2011-12 budget was proposed – a $2.4 million retirement offset, and a possible $1.6 million in best practice grant funding. In light of these changes, AAPS trustees met Friday, June 3 to review possible amendments to the budget proposal they will be considering Wednesday. No binding decisions were made at the study session, and there was no consensus among trustees about how much to defer to recommendations brought by the administration.

Changes to transportation services and class sizes generated the most discussion. The proposed budget includes a reduction of 70 teaching positions, which would raise class sizes at all grade levels by two or three students per classroom. Administration has proposed bringing back 7.7 of those 70 positions, though trustees discussed whether the district should add back even more.

The board also discussed the possibility of proposing additional local millages. Revenues could be used to refresh technology districtwide and build more classrooms, allowing AAPS to offer all-day kindergarten at all elementary schools. Ballot language for any proposed millages would need to be completed by the end of August to be voted on this fall.

Two four-year terms for board of education trustees will also be on the Nov. 8 ballot, for seats currently held by trustees Simone Lightfoot and Andy Thomas. [Full Story]