Stories indexed with the term ‘school board’

Election Board: AAPS Recall Language Unclear

Washtenaw County election commission clarity/factual review hearing (Aug. 1, 2013): Unless the decision is appealed, a recall effort against six of the seven trustees on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education will not be moving forward with the originally proposed ballot language.

Scott Westerman, Donald Shelton, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Washtenaw County board of election commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Donald Shelton, right, talks with former Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent Scott Westerman, who attended an Aug. 1, 2013 hearing of the Washtenaw County election commission. Shelton, chief judge of the county trial court, chairs the commission, which held a clarity/factual review hearing for recall ballot language against six current AAPS trustees. For 18 years Westerman was a member of the men’s choral group Measure for Measure. Shelton is still a member. (Photos by the writer.)

Jody Huhn had submitted forms on July 17, 2013 to recall trustees Simone Lightfoot, Susan Baskett, Irene Patalan, Glenn Nelson, Andy Thomas, and Christine Stead. Patalan and Nelson did not attend the hearing. Three of the four trustees who did attend – Baskett, Thomas and Stead – addressed the commissioners, arguing that the recall language was not clear and not factual.

Huhn had cited four identical reasons in all six recall petitions: (1) failure to demonstrate thoughtful consideration of constituent priorities; (2) failure to demonstrate transparency in decision-making; (3) failure to demonstrate cohesive and singular direction as evidenced by consistent split voting; (4) failure to provide sufficient backing and support for district superintendent position as evidenced by high turnover rate averaging 2.25 years per term. [.pdf of recall petition language]

Board president Deb Mexicotte was not included because state election law prohibits the filing of a recall petition against elected officials who are in the first year of their term, if that term is longer than two years. Nor can such officials be recalled in the final year of their term, for terms longer than two years. Mexicotte was re-elected to a four-year term in November 2012, for the only AAPS trustee position on that ballot – so she is still serving the first year of her current term. This particular recall constraint was part of broader changes in state election law through Public Act 417 of 2012. [.pdf of Public Act 417 of 2012]

Related to item (4) in the proposed ballot language, the most recent AAPS superintendent, Patricia Green, turned in her resignation in early April after a little less than two years on the job. Her resignation took effect in mid-July.

Huhn had supported Ben Edmondson for the superintendent’s position. Edmonson, principal at district’s Roberto Clemente Student Development Center, had been one of six semi-finalists selected by the AAPS board in its current superintendent search, but was not picked as one of the two finalists. Those two finalists – Brian Osborne and Jeanice Kerr Swift – were not internal candidates. Last month the board offered the job to Osborne, but he ultimately rejected the offer. Earlier this week, the board made an offer to Swift, who has agreed to enter into contract negotiations. She currently is an assistant superintendent at a school system in Colorado Springs.

Huhn attended the recall language hearing, but declined to address the board.

The election commissioners are Donald E. Shelton, chief judge of the Washtenaw County trial court; Larry Kestenbaum, county clerk/register of deeds; and Catherine McClary, county treasurer. After hearing from three AAPS trustees, election commissioners decided to address the issue of clarity first, and if the language were deemed to be clear, they would then move on to discuss the issue of factuality. Initial steps of a recall require that ballot language be deemed clear and factual by the board of election commissioners in the jurisdiction of the elected officials who are the target of the recall.

The requirement that the language be factual was part of Public Act 417, enacted in late 2012. Early in the morning of Aug. 1, Kestenbaum sent an email to the other two election commissioners stating that he does not believe the factual-standard requirement is constitutional. [.pdf of Kestenbaum's Aug. 1, 2013 email] This is the first recall effort launched in Washtenaw County since the factual requirement became law.

After brief deliberations, the three commissioners voted unanimously that the recall language in all six petitions – which contained identical wording – lacked sufficient clarity.

McClary made a motion to address the issue of factuality, stating that the recall language did not appear to be factual. She felt it was important for commissioners to weigh in on that issue. Her motion died for lack of a second. Shelton and Kestenbaum indicated that there was no need to deliberate on that issue, since the question of clarity had already been determined and the law requires that the language must be both clear and factual. [Full Story]

Elections Board Rejects AAPS Recall Language

The Washtenaw County board of election commissioners has voted to reject the proposed ballot language to recall six of the seven trustees on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education. The action took place at an Aug. 1, 2013 hearing in the county boardroom in downtown Ann Arbor.

The election commissioners are Donald E. Shelton, chief judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court; Larry Kestenbaum, county clerk/register of deeds; and Catherine McClary, county treasurer. They cited a lack of sufficient clarity in the language as the reason for their decision.

On July 17, 2013 Jody Huhn – a parent with children in the AAPS system – submitted language to recall six trustees: Simone Lightfoot, Susan Baskett, Irene Patalan, Glenn … [Full Story]

Kestenbaum on Recall Law: Unconstitutional

Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum has announced that he does not think a new state law on recall elections is constitutional. The law, which was approved last year as Act 417 of 2012, changes the standards that a board of election commissioners must apply to recall ballot language – by adding a requirement that the reasons be factual.

Kestenbaum, who is one member of the three-member board of election commissioners for Washtenaw County, made the announcement in an email sent early on Aug. 1, 2013 to the other two members of the board: Donald E. Shelton, chief judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court; and Catherine McClary, county treasurer. [.pdf of Kestenbaum's Aug. 1, 2013 email]

Kestenbaum’s email comes in … [Full Story]

Recall Effort Begins for 6 AAPS Trustees

Jody Huhn has submitted language to recall six of the seven trustees on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education: Simone Lightfoot, Susan Baskett, Irene Patalan, Glenn Nelson, Andy Thomas, and Christine Stead. Not named in the recall effort is board president Deb Mexicotte.

In documents submitted to the Washtenaw County director of elections, Huhn cites  four reasons for this recall [.pdf of recall petition language]:
(1) failure to demonstrate thoughtful consideration of constituent priorities; (2) failure to demonstrate transparency in decision-making; (3) failure to demonstrate cohesive and singular direction as evidenced by consistent split voting; (4) failure to provide sufficient backing and support for district superintendent position as evidenced by high turnover rate averaging 2.25 years per term.
Updated … [Full Story]

A2: School Budget

On her blog, Ann Arbor Public Schools trustee Christine Stead posts a list of budget questions that she has sent to the AAPS administration in preparation for an upcoming study session. Many of the questions focus on finding ways to make budget cuts without impacting the classroom and programs. [Source]

AAPS Admin Hosts Board Candidates

Both candidates running for the board of the Ann Arbor Public Schools met with top district administrators for an informal question-and-answer session held at the the Balas administration building on Aug. 28, 2012. This kind of information session is regularly hosted by the district before each school board election. This year, Dale Leslie and incumbent Deb Mexicotte will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

After brief introductions, Leslie and Mexicotte were given a chance to ask the administrators any questions they had about the district and its operations.

Leslie took advantage of the occasion to talk about his campaign. He said he is familiar with the district, and made several criticisms – about the quality of instructional materials, the elimination of police liaisons in the high schools, and board’s goal setting.

Mexicotte responded to Leslie’s critique of the board by contrasting the goals that the board had set for itself internally with those it set for the district as a whole. Mexicotte had no informational questions of the administrators. She was first elected to the board in 2003 and currently serves as president of the board. Most recently, she was re-elected in 2010.

This year, the board seat that Leslie and Mexicotte are seeking will be for a four-year term ending in December 2016. The other six members of the AAPS board, whose terms continue at least through 2014, are Susan Baskett, Andy Thomas, Simone Lightfoot, Christine Stead, Glenn Nelson, and Irene Patalan. [Full Story]

Two Top AAPS Administrators Get Raises

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education meeting (Dec. 14, 2011) Part 1: After an extensive, sometimes heated discussion – and a rarely used parliamentary action taken well after midnight – the AAPS school board voted 4-3 to ratify contract amendments for two of its top administrators.

Brought forward by superintendent Patricia Green, the amendments raised the salary of deputy superintendent of operations Robert Allen by 7%, and that of assistant superintendent of human resource and legal services Dave Comsa by 12%. The board also reclassified Comsa’s position, bringing him up to the executive level of the superintendent’s cabinet, and changing his title to “deputy superintendent of human resources and general counsel.”

Dawn Linden, Liz Margolis, Alesia Flye, Dave Comsa, and Robert Allen

From left: Ann Arbor Public Schools administrators Dawn Linden, Liz Margolis, Alesia Flye, Dave Comsa, and Robert Allen. At its Dec. 14 meeting, the AAPS board voted on contracts for all of these administrators, with the exception of Margolis. (Photo by the writer.)

The board initially voted to consider the contracts as a first briefing, which meant the item would return to the board’s next meeting for a final vote, allowing more time for public input. But later in the meeting – about 1:30 a.m. – board president Deb Mexicotte moved to reconsider that initial vote, which it did, and the item was then classified as a special briefing, allowing the board to take a final vote that night. Trustee Simone Lightfoot called the move a “bait and switch.”

Mexicotte defended her decision, saying that she is elected to make decisions like these on behalf of the district. Other trustees backed that view. Irene Patalan said she often explains her vote to constituents after the fact, and this time would be no different.

In the end, concerns over transparency and equity for other employees were outweighed by the belief that salary adjustments were needed to retain Comsa and Allen, and to reflect their value to the district.

Also at the Dec. 14 meeting, on a 6-1 vote, the board ratified contracts for two new administrators hired by Green to complete her cabinet: deputy superintendent of instruction Alesia Flye, and assistant superintendent of elementary education Dawn Linden.

The set of contract ratifications reflect Green’s desire to reorganize her executive cabinet to contain three deputy superintendents – Allen, Comsa, and Flye – at an equivalent salary of $140,000.

This report will cover in detail the discussions and procedure regarding the administrative contract ratifications. Additional coverage of the remainder of the Dec. 14 board of education meeting will be forthcoming in a separate report. [Full Story]

Election Day: November 2011

It’s Election Day. Voters in the Ann Arbor Public Schools district have a choice of six candidates to fill two open seats on the AAPS board of trustees. And Ann Arbor city residents in four of five wards will have a choice about their representation on the 11-member city council.

Sign at Angell Elementary School

A sign directing voters at Angell Elementary School, where two precincts for Ann Arbor's Ward 2 are located. As of 7:05 a.m., five voters had arrived. It's unlikely the one-voter-per-minute pace will continue, but poll workers expect a higher turnout than the 68 people who voted here in the August primary.

If you’re still researching the candidates for the school board or for the city council, check out Chronicle coverage of the candidate forums.

City of Ann Arbor voters will also be presented with three ballot proposals, two of them involving approval of taxes for street and sidewalk repair. Proposal 1 would renew an existing street repair property tax at a rate of 2 mills. [A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of a property's taxable value.] Assuming Proposal 1 is approved, Proposal 2 would levy an additional 0.125 mills – for sidewalk repair. If Proposal 2 is approved by voters, the city would not start a new 5-year inspection cycle. Under that inspection program, property owners are formally notified that sidewalks adjacent to their property need repair and then must undertake those repairs themselves.

Attitudes of city council challengers towards the sidewalk millage are negative. Some current city councilmembers have offered only reluctant support for the sidewalk millage or else have a complete lack of a position on the question. Mayor John Hieftje, who is not up for re-election this year, has clearly stated his lack of a position on the sidewalk millage.

Proposal 3 is less controversial, enjoying solid support among councilmembers and challengers. It would change the makeup of the retirement system’s board of trustees so that fewer beneficiaries of the system are included on the board.

Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. A good place to get partial unofficial results (that are as close to official as you can get) is the Washtenaw County clerk’s office election results website.

To find your polling place, type in an address on the My Property page of the city of Ann Arbor’s website, and click on the Voter tab.

The Chronicle has established somewhat of an Election Day tradition: We tour as many precinct locations as we can through the day and file mini-reports from the polls. So we’re off – check back throughout the day for updates, appended after the jump. Add your own observations from the polls in the comments. [Full Story]

AAPS Board Mulls Committee Structure

At its annual retreat on Oct. 14, 2011, the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of trustees discussed the pros and cons of eliminating the board’s two three-member committees in favor of one “committee of the whole.” The new committee, comprising all seven board members, would hold a monthly meeting in addition to the two regular board meetings.

The board currently maintains two standing committees – a planning committee and a performance committee – through which most new agenda items are vetted and recommendations are crafted for board approval. Agendas for regular board meetings are then set by an executive committee made up of the standing committee chairs and the board president.

By meeting as a “committee of the whole,” all seven trustees … [Full Story]

AAPS Info Session Draws Possible Candidates

On Thursday evening, June 30, 2011, the Ann Arbor Public Schools hosted an information session for prospective candidates for election to the AAPS board of trustees. Two board seats will be up for election on Nov. 8, 2011, both for four-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The two incumbents – trustees Simone Lightfoot and Andy Thomas – have told The Chronicle that they will seek re-election.

Voters will choose up to two from the field of candidates, and the top two vote-getters will take seats on the board.

Thomas, along with two other prospective candidates – Larry Murphy and Ahmar Iqbal – attended the informational meeting. The deadline to file an intention with the Washtenaw County clerk’s office to run for a school board seat is Aug.16 at 4 p.m.

In response to questions from Murphy, Iqbal, and Thomas, longtime board members Deb Mexicotte, Glenn Nelson, and Susan Baskett reflected on several topics: the campaigning and election processes; closing schools; the recent dearth of candidates in local school board elections; dealing with displeased constituents; the time commitment involved in serving as a trustee; the role of board members; skills needed on the board; the use of outside consultants; and countywide enhancement millage campaigning. [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]

AAPS Board to Address 2011-12 Deficit

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education meeting (April 20, 2011): Wednesday’s meeting of the AAPS board of education outlined the district’s planned budget cuts for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The district needs to cut about $15 million from their budget in response to reductions in education funding they expect to be handed down from the state.

Robert Allen

Robert Allen, interim superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, addresses the board of education at their April 20, 2011 meeting.

The proposed cuts would eliminate 70 teaching positions, and would likely lead to changes in the district that include larger class sizes, fewer elective options and new roles for teachers. Other proposals include eliminating busing for high school students, cutting salaries and benefits, and creating “shared” principal positions at four elementary schools. On the revenue side, the budget plan calls for expanding the district’s Schools of Choice program and increasing parking fees at Pioneer High School for University of Michigan football and basketball games.

Interim superintendent Robert Allen delivered the presentation, saying that this year’s budget preparations were the most difficult he’s had in his five years working with the district’s finances.

“Although we have made similar cuts, it is even more difficult to make them on the heels of the $18 million we reduced last year,” he said. “We tried to keep the cuts away from the classroom, but at some point that becomes impossible.”

Allen said the district’s structural deficit, which creates an annual hole of $6-7 million dollars, will not go away until it’s dealt with directly. ”We’ve been facing the structural deficit for about 10 years and we can’t address it by cutting,” he said. “We have to fix the structure.”

The deficit could grow even larger – by nearly $6 million – if voters don’t pass a special education millage renewal that’s on the May 3 ballot. At several points throughout the meeting, board members and AAPS staff urged the public to support the millage renewal.

Allen closed his introduction by saying that the district tried to make the cuts in an equitable manner, adding that everyone should maintain efforts to lobby state representatives to come up with a permanent fix for budget woes.

The budget update was an informational item at Wednesday’s meeting and will come back before the board as a briefing item next month before it can be approved. [Full Story]

AAPS Gets Update on Achievement Gap

The April 13 study session of the Ann Arbor Public Schools board was highlighted by an update on the district’s efforts on equity initiatives, as well as some blunt discussion about race in the Ann Arbor public schools. Study sessions are meetings of the board scheduled as needed to gather background information and discuss specific issues that will be coming before them in the future.

The session included a presentation from Glenn Singleton, a facilitator for the Pacific Educational Group (PEG). PEG was hired by AAPS in 2003 to assist in the district’s efforts to close the achievement gap – a disparity in academic performance between minority students and other students.

Singleton, who led a majority of the discussion, criticized the board on a number of points, contending that a lack of continuity in leadership has impeded progress in closing the gap. He also said the board has not shown full support for closing the achievement gap, resulting in uncertainty for principals, administrators and other building leaders as to the board’s commitment to solving the problem.

Interim superintendent Robert Allen was on hand and provided background on the district’s involvement with PEG. Allen said that Singleton was touching base with the district and visiting AAPS schools. Singleton was doing walkthroughs to evaluate the district’s progress on closing the achievement gap using techniques suggested by PEG.

“At this point we can have a meaningful evaluation of where we are with the equity work and what we’ll need to do to achieve our goals,” Allen said. The study session focused on lack of board support, failures in leadership structure and the need for “courageous conversations.” [Full Story]

AAPS Board Opposes State Aid Transfer

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (March 30, 2011): Wednesday’s meeting of the Ann Arbor Public Schools board began by welcoming incoming superintendent Patricia Green to the district. Trustees selected Green, who’s been superintendent of schools at North Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania, as the next AAPS superintendent at their March 5 special meeting.

Patricia Green

Patricia Green, incoming superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, spoke during the AAPS board's March 30 meeting. She starts her job in July. (Photo by the writer.)

Green was in town for a brief visit to meet with members of the administration and will start her tenure here in July. Noting that she hopes to make one more visit before then, Green stated her commitment to connecting with the district and encouraging members of the community to reach out.

Wednesday’s meeting was highlighted by talk of how to deal with looming budget issues. The board discussed – then unanimously approved – a resolution opposing the transfer of some state School Aid Fund money, which has traditionally financed K-12 schools, to fund higher education instead. Trustee Andy Thomas called the proposed transfer “a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul scenario, done in a very underhanded manner.”

Budget issues were also a key part of a report to the board by Brit Satchwell, president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, the teacher’s union. He said the union’s efforts are focused on educating the public about sacrifices the district would have to make to accommodate proposed cuts, keeping in mind concessions that have already been made.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted to expand the district’s schools of choice program. They got an update about a partnership with the University of Michigan involving Mitchell Elementary and Scarlett Middle schools, and heard a report on efforts to reduce energy costs throughout the district.

Four people spoke during the time set aside for public commentary. Speakers expressed concern over the district’s scheduling of events in conflict with religious holidays, and objected to a proposed expansion of the parking lot at Haisley Elementary School. [Full Story]

AAPS Preps to Push for Special Ed Tax

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (March 2, 2011): The board’s decision – made at a special meeting held Saturday – to begin negotiations with Patricia Green about becoming the district’s next superintendent was preceded earlier in the week by a regular, routine meeting of the board.

At Wednesday’s regular meeting, the highlight was a presentation on the special education millage that will appear on the ballot on May 3, 2011. The proposed tax would renew an existing levy for the next seven years, and is projected to generate $14 million to support special education services in school districts across Washtenaw County. Of that amount, AAPS would be allocated around $5.7 million.

The special ed millage is not the same kind of proposal as the unsuccessful November 2009 ballot proposal – which was to levy a new, additional 2 mill tax to support general operations for districts countywide.

In addition to the presentation, the board heard its usual range of board and association reports during the meeting. [Full Story]

AAPS Board Ponders Search Process

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (Oct. 13, 2010): Robert Allen’s first board meeting as the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) interim superintendent saw the school board pick up the threads of two previous, unfinished discussions.

The first conversation concerned a decision about whether to allow trustees to review the full set of applications that will eventually be submitted for the superintendent’s job. Trustees did not come to a decision on that question – it was tabled pending input from the consultant hired to assist with the search for a new superintendent.

The second discussion involved the merits and risks of joining the countywide consortium that is creating a local international baccalaureate school. The board decided to join the consortium.

The meeting also included the second part of an update on two of the district’s three comprehensive high schools – Huron and Pioneer. The first half of the update, on Skyline High School, had been presented to the board in June, but the Huron/Pioneer presentation was delayed due to inclement weather that evening. The substance of the update and discussion surrounding the three high schools will be reported in an upcoming article. [Full Story]

Firm to Aid Schools in Superintendent Search

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (Aug. 18, 2010): At their opening meeting of the 2010-11 school year, the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) school board trustees discussed how to proceed in light of the recent resignation of superintendent Todd Roberts. Roberts is moving to his hometown of Durham, N.C. to become chancellor of the North Carolina School for Science and Math.


The information sign outside Skyline High School welcomes incoming freshmen. Registration for Skyline's 9th graders is Aug. 26, for 10th graders it's Aug. 25, and for 11th graders, it's Aug. 24. Tues., Aug. 24 is also the same day the school board has added an extra meeting – at the Balas administration building – to work on an RFP to hire a search firm to help with the hiring of a new superintendent.

As part of the plan, the board settled Wednesday on the idea of hiring a search firm to assist with the selection of a new superintendent. To review an RFP (request for proposals) for a search firm, an additional board meeting has been set for 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at the Balas administration building main conference room, 2555 S. State St. Update: The date and time for the additional board meeting has been changed to Monday, Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m.

Early in Wednesday’s meeting, Roberts thanked the board, the staff, and district parents for their support of his work over the past four years. He named the district’s parents specifically as a “great strength” of AAPS, and said that during his tenure, he has felt both “supported and pushed – as it should be – by the community of parents to be the best that [he] could.” Referring to the district’s budget challenges last year, Roberts noted that the collaboration, partnership, and shared sacrifice has set AAPS up for a good year this year. He said he is sad to leave, and reassured everyone that he will be here this fall to get the district off to a great start.

President Deb Mexicotte said the board would be sad to see Roberts leave, but that they are happy that he and his family have this opportunity. She thanked Roberts and wished him “all the best and continued success.”

Also at this meeting: the final projects being funded by the 2004 Comprehensive School Improvement Program (known as “the Bond”) were reviewed; the board welcomed Elaine Brown, the newly-hired director of Student Intervention and Support Services (SISS); Chartwells provided an update on the district’s food service program; and two local programs offering students alternative paths to a high school diploma were presented for the board’s consideration. [Full Story]

School Board Sets Plan to Fill Vacancy – Again

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (Feb. 3, 2010): Trustee Adam Hollier announced his resignation near the end of Wednesday’s school board meeting, setting in motion a plan to fill his seat when he leaves on Feb. 12. This is the second time within three months that a trustee has resigned – Helen Gates-Bryant stepped down in mid-November.

Todd Roberts Adam Hollier

Todd Roberts, left, superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools, talks Adam Hollier, who resigned as an AAPS board of education trustee on Wednesday night. (Photos by the writer.)

Leading up to his announcement, Hollier used his parting comments as an AAPS trustee to offer support to the workers facing possible privatization, as well as to make a strong pitch for private giving to support the schools in light of a looming budget shortfall.

Also during the meeting, 13 speakers filled the maximum allotted public commentary time of 45 minutes, most of them focusing on the perils of privatization. A few speakers were there to express frustration with the district’s handling of a recent incident at Logan Elementary School.

Other actions at Wednesday’s meeting included a report on a new communication system that would allow the district to quickly send mass voicemails, texts or emails, and the presentation of several awards. And in the board’s informational packet – but not discussed at the meeting – was news of a possible state retirement mandate that could negatively impact the district’s budget. [Full Story]

An Unchallenging School Board Election

Three candidates are running unopposed for the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of trustees. From left: Glenn Nelson, Irene Patalon, xxx

The three candidates running unopposed for the Ann Arbor Public Schools board at a League of Women Voters forum Monday night at CTN studios. From left: Glenn Nelson, Irene Patalan, and Ravi Nigam.

On May 5, voters in Ann Arbor will choose three people to serve on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board. Actually, “choose” might not be the operative word: All three candidates are running unopposed.

Two incumbents – Glenn Nelson and Irene Patalan – are running for four-year terms. Ravi Nigam, a local attorney who has not previously held an elected position, was originally running against Adam Hollier for a two-year term. Hollier has dropped out of the race, though his name will still appear on the ballot.

So rather than the debates they typically hold before local elections, the League of Women Voters instead held a forum Monday evening for the three candidates, asking their opinions on the budget, technology, the achievement gap and a range of other topics. The hour-long event was broadcast live from the Community Television Network studios on South Industrial, and is available to view online.

The league had asked Chronicle readers to suggest questions for the forum, which moderator Judy Mich incorporated to some extent. Here’s a summary of candidates’ responses. [Full Story]

May 5 School Board Elections

During the last election cycle, The Chronicle spent several hours at the Community Television Network studios, watching debates among candidates for various local and state offices. Those debates were held by the League of Women Voters, which holds these events before every local election – and later this month, they’ll be focused on school board candidates for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

This year, the league is asking Chronicle readers to help come up with questions for the board candidates. [Full Story]