On December 2, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education held a study session focusing on the 2019 Bond Preliminary Phase 1 Plan. You can watch the meeting live on Zoom or on Xfinity Channel 18. The district typically posts the recording split into segments the day after the meeting.
Today’s meeting was a study session about the plans for improving the school district using 2019 bond money.
The $1.4 billion bond was approved in November 2019 to address issues uncovered after the 2018/2019 building audit. The district covers 125 square miles, 35 buildings (32 schools), and more than 3 million square feet. The buildings are an average of 64 years old.
Most buildings will receive major renovations many of which will require a temporary staging location during construction. The plan is to start with elementary schools, move to high schools and then to middle schools. Going from elementary to high school should prevent students from being disrupted multiple times in their school career.
The first big project is construction of a new Mitchell elementary school so that the old building can be a staging site for other elementary schools in the sector. Other sectors will also see new construction buildings to be used as staging sites.
There will be plenty of opportunities for the community to get information and provide feedback. In January there will be signups for district wide groups. There will also be future opportunities to be on school committees.
The meeting was attended by:
Board: Johnson, Kelly, Lazarus, Baskett, Lightfoot, Nelson, Gaynor
AAPS: Swift, Lauzzana, Minnick, Rice
Public Commentary is available on Board Docs. I did not take notes on it – I was finishing dinner and joined the meeting at the end of commentary.
2019 Bond Preliminary Phase 1 Plan
Dr Swift provided an introduction.
AAPS covers an area of 125 square miles. It includes the City of Ann Arbor plus parts of the townships of Ann Arbor, Lodi, Northfield, Pittsfield, Salem, Scio, Superior, & Webster. The district has 35 buildings, 32 of which are schools totaling more than 3 million square feet.
Back in 2017, the board commissioned an independent facilities condition assessment which was completed in 2018/2019. This highlighted the need for the 2019 bond.
AAPS Core Values:
- Education Excellence
- Equity, Opportunity, & Social Justice
- Health Safety & Well Being
- Responsible Stewardship
- Engaged Community & Ann Arbor Community Schools
The Four cornerstones of the 2019 Bond: Preparing for the Future
- Teaching & Learning
- Safety, Health & Well Being
- Sustainable & Environmentally Responsible Infrastructure
- Efficient & Effective Support Systems & Services
The AAPS Capital Bond was approved for $1.4 billion by voters in November 2019. This meeting is the first study session and will be followed by first and second briefings at other December meetings. There will also be community meetings (held virtually) on the plans.
Bond Sale started in June 2020 and $151 million was sold. This will be sold annually until 2030.
Prior to the bond, the district has done extensive work following a 2015 bond and an increase to the sinking fund
- Paving – $10 million
- Roofing – $10 million
- HVAC Renewal – $10 million
- Air conditioning projects to support summer/year round educational programming
- Gym Floor Replacement/Refinishing
- New Playgrounds at all Elementary & K-8
- Stadium Turf Replaced at all 3 comprehensive high schools
- Running Tracks Resurfaced at all 3 comprehensive high schools
- Tennis Court Reconstruction – 32 courts across all secondary campuses
- School Remodels
- A2 Steam at Northside 2014-2016
- Pathways – 2015
- Allen Elementary – 2016 (after flood)
- Mitchell Elementary – 2017
- Bryant-Pattengill Elementary – 2019
- Freestanding Modulars at
- Burns Park Elementary
- Carpenter Elementary
- King Elementary
- Mitchell Elementary (2 sets)
- Thurston Elementary
- Wines Elementary
- Sustainability & Environmental Responsibility
- Freeman Environmental Learning Center
- 5 large solar arrays – enough for 100 Michigan homes or 3 AAPS elementary schools
- Energy efficient LED lighting
The 2019 Bond has a different focus from the sinking fund and preliminary endeavors from 2015 bond. It is about reinforcing the cornerstones of the bond.
Mr Lauzzana took over the presentation. The two oldest building were built in the 1920s. Then in the 1940s after WWII, another 20 buildings were quickly built.
Bond Campaign Commitments
AAPS serves 18,000 children in Ann Arbor & surrounding townships. Buildings have an average age of 64 years.
- Constructing additions and/or remodeling including safety, security, classrooms, performing arts, laboratories, etc.
- Musical instruments, technology, & other equipment
He then walked through at a high level how each of the 4 goals listed above will be supported by specific infrastructure.
Nelson:Will this slide deck be available to the public?
Lauzzana: Yes, it will be posted in the next day or so.
Dr Swift said it was available on Board Docs.
Phase 1 Bond Plan Overview
Early Construction Projects at Every School
This will include use of solar and other renewable energy sources, air conditioning, and air quality improvements, energy efficient LED lights, outdoor learning enhancements, music, arts, science, and athletics improvements, small group & special needs learning spaces
Continued replacement and enhancement of:
- musical instruments & furnishings
- building management system
- bus fleet
- paving & storm water management
- roofing maintenance.
Summer Construction Projects
This will be for schools whose major project occurs later in the plan.
Care will be taken to not do work that will be undone in major projects. A few examples of summer projects in the past are Bryant Media Center and Pioneer High School Cafeteria renovation from 2018.
Staging Facility Construction
A school community may be relocated for a time to allow major work to be done. This would be projects that can’t be completed with students in the building or in the 10 weeks of summer.
Thjere will be staging locations in each quadrant of the city.
Major Construction Projects
This is the heart of the bond. They are planned for every school. Each community will have chance to engage in design process for thier major projects. Considerations on rennovation, replacement, or a hybrid that keeps parts like gym and cafeteria and replace the class wing.
Some buildings have been added to repeatedly and it is not logically laid out. Office is no longer near the door and other design layouts that no longer make sense.
- Academic program implications
- Construction first cost & operating costs
- Impact on health, wellbeing, & universal access – some buildings are not ADA friendly currently, old pipes, ductwork
- Environmental sustainability including embodied carbon & operating carbon emissions.
School Investment Prioritization
Captial Investment needs, matriculation, housing development.
Matriculation – for exmaple not having a child go from an elementary that was disrupted tby construction to a middle school that is now being under construction.
Investment needed – Carpenter, Mitchell, Dicken are the top. Allen (recent reonnovation), Bryant Pattengil, Forsythe, and Skyline
Highest level of need is at elementary level, so the plan starts there. Then moves to high school and back to middle school. If they went elementary, middle, high, a fourth/fifth grader could be
All 5 middle schools will get school wide air conditioning & ventilation, new lights & ceilings, & fire suppression plus custom projects at each school.
They are updating the housing development study to see where new housing developments are under construction or planning. This helps them anticipate where demand will be.
While all but 1 school are in city of Ann Arbor, the attendance outside the city is sizable.
Southeast Sector Elementary Schools
In the southeast quadrant, a new Mitchell will be built while students are at the current Mitchell. Once they move into the new building, the current Mitchell will be used as a temporary location for Burns Park, Angell, Pattengill, & Pittsfield. Carpenter & Allen would not need a relocation for their major project.
The plan is to start planning the New Mitchell in 2021 with construction starting in 2023 and being ready for the 2024-2025 school year.
Northeast Sector Elementary Schools
The Northeast Sector is a bit unique with their own challenges. None of the options seem perfect yet. They are determining a a feasibility study in 2021 to come up with a staging solution. The major project order is: Logan, King, Thurston.
Southwest Sector Elementary Schools
The Southwest Sector will start with projects at Dicken & Lakewood that don’t need staging. The chart shows a new elementary school being built in the southwest sector. It will initially serve as a staging site for Eberwhite, Bach, and Lawton. Then perhaps it will be its own school.
Northwest Sector Elementary Schools & K-8 Schools
The K-8 schools (AA Open and A2 STEAM) are in the Northwest region and grouped with them. This will be the last region. They will have intermediate summer projects in 2026-2028 before major projects in phase 2 (2029 and beyond). A new school will also be built as a staging site
The middle schools investment needs are not as great as elementary, but need some work. They will have 2 summer projects starting at Scarlett and Tappan in 2021/2022, Then Clague & Forsythe in 2022/2023 and finally Slauson in 2023 and 2024. They will have intermediate projects in 2029 and 2030. The 2031+ section is provided as an early estimate. Today’s presentation focuses on 2021-2030 but the entire plan is sketched out.
Community will start with 2021-2022 summer projects for air conditioning, lighting, and fire suppression. It is the only high school that does not already have air conditioning. Their major project is scheduled for 2030-2031. It will need staging that has not yet been determined.
Skyline is only 12 years old and does not need a major project. It will have three summer projects: an initial project in 2023, an intermediate summer project in 2028 and a final summer project.
The Major project in Pathways is scheduled for 2022-2023. It will not need staging, but will include a gymnasium that they currently do not have
Pioneer major project is scheduled for 2028-2030 without staging. Huron’s major project is scheduled for 2031-2033. It will require unspecified staging. Huron will have a summer project in 2028 and lighting improvements in 2024-2025.
Preschool buildings will see an outdoor learning expansion and some summer projects. There will be continued enhancement of Freeman Environmental Education Center, Transportation upgrades.
Balas will have an office utilization analysis. There’s a new DTE substation there and the possibility of a new format in post-COVID since everyone has been working from home. They will evaluate in 2021 and also look for ways to make Balas more visible to the community. The transportation building will get updated lighting, outdoor seating, roofing, and solar.
- Music, Arts & Science
- Roofing & solar energy
- Paving & stormwater
- Buildings management systems.
Arts, Music, & Science
- Modernizing rigging systems in theaters.
- Furnishings for art, music, & science classrooms and labs
- Musical instruments and storage systems
- STEAM lab updates & improvements
They continue to receive more buses. This week they received the first of 4 electric buses from the VW settlement.
Infrastructure & Security – refresh WiFi, update core networking equipment. Upgrade data center, redundant data center, refresh classroom and student & staff technology
Building Management Systems
Integrate systems to
- HVAC controls
- Fire Safety
- Door Access
- Exeterior Lighitng
- Public Address
- Emergency Communciations
- They all have their own systems currently. This will integrate them to Open Source systems. You won’t need multiple logins.
- There is a mult0-year roofing and solar plan. Over $10 mililon in roofing has been invested in teh last 3 years. There are plans to replace many roofs follwoed by solar on new roofs.
There will be opportunities in the next several months and over the program.
Community Organization Presentations. There will be public town halls, topical presentations, stakeholder surveys. There will be thought exchange engagement, a bond advisory committee (application January 2021) and Bond Working Groups. There will be school design committees for major projects. There will also be a dedicated web page at A2schools.org
Additional supoprting documents being prepared include
- COVID Informed design Brie
- Housing Development Study
- Communications Plan
- Community Feedback Plan
- Community Engagement Materials
- Community Engagement Calendar.
Nelson: This is exciting. This is a plan that will make our community even more attractive than it is. When I talk to people new to the district, one of the reactions is “I really thought Ann Arbor would have better buildings”. This is an investment in community and future. Everyone who owns property will see a value from this.
I noticed that the major project is laid out as a 1 year project. I can imagine that being different. Am I correct that that’s a significant time as a placeholder that may or may not be exactly 12-15 months.
Lauzzana: I was remiss in pointing out how the chart was put together. Each year represents 3 semesters – summer, fall, winter. The construction timeline is trying to be a full school year and a summer on each end – about 16 months. It is typical to plan for 14 months if you were doing a brand new elementary school. A renovation would be a bit shorter. Middle or high schools are larger buildings and would take longer than one year.
Lightfoot: I agree with Nelson about the investment and benefits will provide. I do think it is important that we be creative in carrying information to public. The people will ask didn’t we just pass a bond? Why are you asking again. Differentiation is necessary. Helping to show how this is a continued continuation of improved infrastructure. The public may see that we just did work ther, or Skyline is new. I’d love to see a visual per buildings showing what has already been done and what is now being talked about.
To help narratives be better informed.The last question I have is, I appreciate the benefit of consolidating in one control system. But I also worry about the security and ease of hacking if under one system. I’d like to be better assured that one system is ok.
Kelly: (I apologize, this section got lost in notes, so I am recreating it from memory). People will say we have the moeny from the bond, the buildings have been empty.since March. Why aren’t we doing the major renovations now.
Lauzzana: We can’t just say we’re giong to go build a new Mitchell right now. The process is not that simple. We have to make the plans, the architects, the engineers, bid the project out, bring it to the board for approvals, Sourcing materials – many of which have 12-14 week lead times even in a non-COVID world. All that takes time. We have been working in the buildings. Commissioning the HVAC, replacing converting restrooms to touchless, and more.
Minnick: Just from a financial perspective we cannot borrow $1 billion up front. It would be a big load. It’s important to keep the taxes level. We have planned our bond sales to meet the funds over the next 10 years.
Kelly: My second question: For the bond committees – who is the audience? What is the selection process and the composition.?
Swift: The board on your committees you’ve been in deep discussion on the composition of the bond advisory group. I appreciate the prep work and the importance of having a community advisory group.
Another piece is the work groups. After how 2015 bond we used a full bond engagement process and it served fairly well and we learned a lot. The work groups will be composed of AAPS team members, specific tot he area – environmental, teaching/learning, etc. They will be similar to what we used before with AAPS staff members with interest/expertise, parents, and having a board representative
The composition of the Board Advisory group, the board has discussed and we’ll continue that I’m sure. Representatives from each of the work groups, and we’ve discussed in preliminary conversations other community
Sorry, I was interrupted and lost the end of the comment and beginning of Nelson’s comment:
Nelson: The working group for each major project would be good for those interested in their neighborhood school.
Gaynor: Even though I’ve been on the bond committee and working groups, this is such an immense plan. Want to make sure all issues from sustainability on are covered and that we stay on track.
Lazarus: I wanted to follow up and agree with everything Dr Swift and Gaynor, Nelson said about he whole structure of how we’re planning to get information and feedback from the community. Like Car Swift said, the goal of setting up the advisory committee and to make sure we aren’t in silos and have cross-communcaiton. This i about improving education from students and also to the actual environment and that it’s safe and healthy. One of the things we wanted was to make sure each work group has a board representative. I want to make are everyone understands that this is a big project to get our hands around. We’ve been working alls summer on the bond committee. The way to get involved is to come to the things on the list.
Kelly: I just wanted to thank the trustees on the bond committee, I’m not on the bond committee and don’t know what happens at those meeting. It’s important to me that we’re ensuring representation and that we ensure that the people on the work groups are there at square one. and helping to form the values and visions that the architects and engineers are using to start the process. It would be a shame to bring the community in too late.
Baskett: This is not clear to me. For the public to know we have all been briefed in committee meetings. The question has come up and not been clarified. Let me stress that while there is representation on the work group, it i s the board that will be receiving information and clarifying things. I’m still not sure and look forward to seeing it in writing.
This is a lot of work having survived a lot fo campaigns. Things can change which is why it’s important to understand the projects and timelines. As we know there are alway surprises with construction and it sets us back – or offers opportunities we didn’t knwo we had.
To the community, I know we’re committed to making sure the community knows what happens as we go along. Wed on’t want to hear anything about the lack of transparency.
My question to the team is if someone from the community wants to be more involved in the process, who should they communicate with.
Dr Swift: We will be rolling out an application process during Q1 2021. We want to convene the public tour so people who may have an interest can attend the meetings and get more information first. Goal is to have committees set by March to begin meeting later int he spring. There will be district level committees and opportunities at their own neighborhood school when we get ready to do their major project.
Nelson: I want to make one comment: I think it’s worth taking a moment to remember that one of our first steps in the project is the sale fo the first round of bonds and it was a fantastic success.
I think what will be most exciting and full of opportunity but also hard choices will be the decision between renovation and construction. I’m sure there will be many discussions of that. I think I like one thing of this plan that the Mitchell site is both very important – we know it needs a new building – and it’s somewhat easier because it will be built adjacent to it and students and staff can just move the short distance. The nice thing is you’re putting that early in the plan means we will have a new building which people can come and look at and see what does a modern environmentally sensitive building built for excellent education look like. Then when they go back to their own neighborhood on keeping or new building, they have a place to go as a demonstration project.
Swift: That is absolutely correct.
Lauzzana: That’s an astute comment. There is a lot of wins there. Mitchel is one of the highest needs in capital investment. We’ve added modulars twice because of population growth, and we have a lot of open land. There would be 7 concurrent soccer games so we have space (don’t worry there are los of other places to play soccer in District). Yes, it is meant to be a demonstration building. It talks about energy efficiency, material selection, daylight lighting, security, playscapes (more natural playgrounds instead of the traditional out of a catalog play structure), etc.
Johnson: I want to echo what other trustees have said. I love the timelines and it makes it easy to understand. The major project piece and how there will be opportunity for people to get involved at the school level. And the timeline show me not to worry if I haven’t heard anything from my school which isn’t scheduled until 2024.
At the end of the day, board members and trustees will make decisions, but community will provide input. I understand how the idea of having brand new buildings everywhere isn’t what everyone will want. And we’ll need to balance the wants/needs from operating cost/sustainability
About the debt load and what we can borrow at a given time. How far will the first series of $150 million bond sales get us and how is it related to what we’re asked to approve as a board? Are we approving spending now, or a plan?
Swift: The intention of the December work is to approve a draft of the 20 year plan. That has been informed by Ms Minnick’s budget work, but this is not an intention to approve budget now.
Motion to Adjourn
Trustee Kelly. Seconded by Lazarus. Meeting Adjourned at 7:47pm,