On February 10, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education held their second meeting of 2021. 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.
- Public Commentary
- Board Committee Reports
- Highlights of NAAPID 2021
- Superintendent’s Update
- Monthly Budget Monitoring Report – December 2020
- First Briefings
- Deferred Compensation Plans Restatements
- Technology Purchase – Dell Chromebooks & MacBook Airs
- Technology Purchase – Student Headsets
- AED Replacement Purchase
- Consent Agenda
- Items from the Board
- Motion to Adjourn
Reopening School Status
The district is working towards reopening in a hybrid mode. They are concerned about local case rates and low vaccine availability. While Michigan and Region 1 have dropped below 100 daily cases per million and are now MI Safe Start Level D, Washtenaw County remains high at 165 cases per million – MI Safe Start Level D. We have one of the highest case rate in the lower peninsula and most of the state’s cases of the more contagious B117 variant are in our county. At the same time, we have one of the lowest teacher vaccination rates in the state.
Dr Swift emphasized that reopening does not hinge on everyone having both vaccines, but the progress in vaccinating in relation to the drop in community spread. They are concerned about staffing and quarantine needs.
Several board members expressed frustration that the state is supporting a return to sports with antigen testing but not making it available to students. Dr Swift stated that a return to sports is part of the reopening plan. It represents only 120 students vs thousands of students even in phase 1.
Trustee Kelly expresssed three requests of the public
- First, The media headlines don’t show the full picture. Other districts that are back are not welcoming all students and haven’t been able to open sustainably. The back and forth includes a loss of learning time and equity challenges. Plus, only 10-15% of our teachers have even been offered a vaccine appointment vs Dearborn where all teachers have had access.
- Second, the Governor’s press conference with a March 1 seemed feasible when teachers would be getting vaccinated starting January 11, but that hasn’t happened. And while the state cases have declined, ours have not.
- Third, None of the physicians advocating a return are doing what teachers are asked to – be in a single room all day, unvaccinated with multiple students and wearing only cloth masks. Additionally, they don’t know the challenges of school administration.
Fall Assessment Data
The district shared a report on fall assessment data. The biggest drop the district saw from past years was in participation rates. They expected it as more families opted out and some students had technical difficulties with the testing. Trustee Querijero asked if they had looked at the drop in testing by student grouping to see if some groups missed testing at higher rates and should be followed up with. The district will look into it.
The board receives first and second briefings on various topics before voting for spending and other resolutions.The district brought 4 first briefings at the meeting, one to restate the employee deferred compensation plans (403b & 457b plans) and three for purchases.
The deferred compensation plan needs to be restated every 10 years and needs updates for some COVID measures and law changes since the last statement.
The district is looking to buy 200 touch screen Chromebooks to pilot replacement of iPads currently in use at lower grades and 135 MacBook Airs to complete the teacher and staff replacement program. Both are funded through the 2018 tech bond. The new Chromebooks will simplify learning for younger grades with single login by Google web browser vs multiple logins in various apps. They will also provide a transition from Touchscreen to mouse and keyboard.
They are also looking to purchase 5000 headphones at $46K plus 250 device charging stations at $104K. These purchases are for in school learning. The headphones will include boom mikes and will be one per child with a focus on grades K-5. The headphones have an expected life of 3+ years. The device charging stations will facilitate charging devices in the classroom quickly. This is funded out of the 2015 bond (a total of $150K).
The district currently has 69 AED units in buildings throughout the district buildings. They are proposing to replace all of them (which are no longer supported) with state of the art units (the same units are in all AAPD cars). The new devices will include universal pads and are WiFi connected to provide alerts on unit condition and battery status. This will ease the maintenance work. The year 2-5 maintenance are a decrease over current maintenance costs.
Present: Lazarus, Kelly, Johnson, Dupree, Gaynor, Kelly, Baskett, Querijero
Non-Voting Attendees: Swift, Cluley, Osinski, Minnick, Kellstrom, Margolis
All of the Board Members confirmed that they were attending from Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.
The Board unanimously approved tonight’s agenda. Motioned by Querijero, Seconded by Baskett, with a clarification by Trustee Kelly that Committee reports are approved as #4.. Ms Osinski confirmed she is updating the agenda to reflect that.
Public Commentary is available on Board Docs. Letters submitted as public commentary are often read quickly and truncated to fit in the allotted time (there were 109 submissions tonight with 40 seconds allotted to each). Sharing the link to the posted public commentary means they are reported in a more complete and accurate manner – and without me having to guess at name spellings or paraphrasing to keep up with the pace they are read at.
I want to express my gratitude and the board also appreciates the time folks take to write and submit commentary. It is a big deal that our community engages. The superintendent’s update will have a more complete update on many topics but do want to address a few specific ones.
With the concerns around allowing winter athletics. I absolutely hear and understand and appreciate the use of the word dissonance. There is not a trustee or a member of my team or I that don’t also struggle with this decision. The opening of winter athletics is a part of the overall opening strategies. Those seasons will extend through the first of April and I certainly hope we will have students in school by that time.
We are alos working on in-person learning options for students in CTE programs and moving forward with plans for students in home building and cosmetology and and needs that teachers have to work from the building – PLTW, CTE, & other specialty programs. There are MIOSHA requirements that must occur when folks are in the building. There are a number of safety steps that need to be taken.
Winter athletics does include smaller group of students – about 120 students. Beginning our reopening plan just with stage 1 will likely be thousands of students as opposed to this small group. The state has provided antigen testing for student athletes prior to athletic events. We do have a level of confidence for students and coaches engaged not for a full school day, but a smaller block of time. In my conversations with the governor’s team we are lobbying for the same antigen testing for many months and it would give us a greater level of confidence. I’m not saying reopening depends on it ,but it is a lever that improves confidence for parents and staff.
I do want to point out that Schoology was purchased with Title 1 funds is not correct. I do hear concerns on that platform. It was purchased with CARES fun.
We have surveyed our parents and are planning for more as we approach spring. Coming up you’ll hear more about it over the coming week. I’ll speak more to it in the superintendent’s update. We will be surveying parents again.
Statements around Fall Student count results. They have been surveyed and it was attached to Board Docs. We checked to see if the state is showing it as is normally the case and we don’t see it there yet. That is a state function. We stand by those numbers. As trustees are aware we are int he midst of our winter count. After that we will be giving an update to the community. There is always a different number for FTE and actual head count. Both those numbers are documented in our records.
I do want to follow up on delay of approval of winter sports competition. That was because we didn’t have the full testing protocol and safety procedures. We followed up on the weekend and through Monday into Tuesday. That was not due to anything other than our work and commitment to ensure safety protocols.
(I want to apologize to trustee Gaynor if I left out part of his commentary. He seemed to have a prepared statement that he read fairly quickly and I was struggling to keep up)
I haven’t spoken much in recent board meetings. I feel it’s my responsibility to share my thoughts and position with the community. I think it’s important to have conversations with every segment of AAPS community. Of course everyone wants a specific date, but I will say I’m largely in support of the administrations plan. The application of science to the decision is a judgement call. I”ve given my best good faith to make a decision understanding that others reach different conclusions. Given long term effects of COVID, I am not treating this lightly. I’m also sensitive to the load on families and students. The rates in Michigan and Washtenaw have come down, but Washtenaw is still one of the highest in the state, they are currently way above that level. While I support easing them, they’re still too high. Supporting our staff in getting vaccinations or stabilization of cases first. The case may be a case to bring back certain classes of students before that time.. As a former classroom teacher, I know there will still be risks. Offering in persons holds risk.
As to how we do a hybrid and have expressed concerns about how teachers teach both groups and I’ve explored every possible model and found issues with everyone. Matching students and teachers who want to stay remote vs in person, not mixing classes would mean large virtual classes, I fell our current hybrid is as good or better than alternatives.
I state my opposition to winter contact sports. I can state all the very real reasons to have sports, but my decision is based primarily to safety. If I’m going to be . Allowing sports and not other activities speaks to the power of MHSAA and sports in general. Other things have been placed on the back burner. I won’t be bringing it to a vote tonight These must be attended to and not ignored when
- Equity and how under-resourced communities are affected – not just this year but historically.
- Bond – how to spend it with a focus on carbon neutrality was a major reason I ran.
- As a career classroom teacher, I continue to support teacher autonomy and professional development. I was a bit alarmed when I heard everyone would teach the same lesson on the same schedule. While I made my peace with it for this year, I’m worried about he mandates affecting teachers ability to do right by their students.
Finally I want to thank you all for recognizing the incredible work of our teachers whether you agree or disagree with our decisions.
I would like to echo the other trustee and Dr Swift comments appreciating the engagement from the community. Tonight’s a great example of how varied opinions are in the community.
I know there was a reference tot he fall survey. In the fall, the goal was to understand the demand so that we could staff and have capacity for what we felt would be a hybrid launch later. But the increase in cases, resulted in virtual. I apologize that people felt it was an opinion survey. The goal in the summer wasn’t to understand public opinion but to make sure we had the correct capacity. Surveys going forward are that we want to understand how many families are interested in hybrid learning.
We’ll watch cases in the area, operational challenges, etc. I want to make it clear the surveys are about helping us make the right decisions going forward. They aren’t to have us do certain things or gauge public feedback. I appreciate trustees for being clear in how
I do believe we should do more engagement with the community. Trustee Gaynor and Dupree have coffees scheduled. I’ll try to set some too. I encourage trustees to do the same.
Board Committee Reports
Trustee Gaynor: We previewed many of the items on today’s agenda. A technical report on the 403b programs that our staff uses with some interesting updates to CARES act.
Johnson: We have not yet met. We’ll be working to get a date on the calendar.
Baskett: The committee has not yet scheduled a date. We’re trying to figure out everyone’s schedule. Please read latest MASB newsletter especially the articles with information on how federal dollars will be spent. We hope to have a meeting before the next board meeting.
Lazarus: We met on January 28. We have an update on safe water drinking on preparation for return to school. We’re getting that under control – filter replacement and regular flushing to make sure water flow is moving. We’ve also talked about update on staffing and improvement. We also dug deeper into student enrollment. And a preliminary update on student achievement and to monitor achievement testing from the fall.
Kelly: Trustee Gaynor, Querijero, and myself. We met on February 5. (Note, see my notes from this meeting). We reviewed equity and special education work. Some of those projects have been on our radar for a while. But COVID has shifted our timing and also changes to the plans. We’ll likely meet on Fridays going forward.
Highlights of NAAPID 2021
Dr Swift highlighted NAAPID 2021 activities through the district. This year NAAPID celebration continues until the beginning of March. NAAPID at night is on March 8 and will be virtual. The 26th annual NAAPID poster contest is still open until next Friday (Feb 19) at 4p with a theme that “Resilience is Timeless”.
Dupree: I had the opportunity to read to my son’ class on the 8th and we read a book called Say Something to spread activism and community.
Baskett: I just want to take a minute and say wow this is awesome that we are in our 26th year. It’s good to see it continue as we lose some of our founders I think this is our first NAAPID without Ms Johnson. I appreciate the acknowledgement that with the technology we can engage some parents who might not otherwise be able to.
Johnson: I spoke enough last time, so just giong to say great report and great to see Mr Dulin (founder of NAAPID).
We have a number of things to update on. I am conscious of the time, but I do want to make sure we do a thorough update. I will say we will share the information in a written update and publish this part of the Board Meeting and a few other parts of the board meeting.
We are just this week passing 11 months in this crisis. We hear the exhaustion and the struggle from all int he community – Those with children in our community, those who work on our team. It has been a long long journey. We all recognize the need to have students and staff back in school learning together. We look forward to a day we can welcome students to in school learning for those whose parents/family choose that option. We’ll talk about what we mean by as soon as we safely can.. We appreciate what you are doing to make this work for your family and others in the community. We know the benefit of in person learning goes beyond academic learning – social emotional health, learning needs, safety net, social infrastructure, etc.
We’ve set our direction to have an in person hybrid learning option for families who choose that options. Yet we do need to see the rate of COVID infection reduce to be able to cross the bridge to a healthy and safe return to in person learning. The discussions continue in our community and across the country. Students and families fall across a wide continuum of preference, needs, and family situations. I do want our community members to know that we do hear the wide continuum. Our goal is to provide as many options as possible. While we may not agree on a timing of a return as each family is different, we can all come together on the need and importance of having students and staff together back in school. The board is working alongside our team every day.
We’ve set our course to offer hybrid this spring and we will continue to offer virtual learning for families that prefer or need that option. And yet, we hold a responsibility to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff, parents and community. That is our highest priority. We monitor the situation and are watching to make the transition tot he in school hybrid. We hope that comes soon. It is not here now. I understand that will not make many folks happy, yet these are the facts behind that decision.
I appreciate and I know the board appreciates the input of pediatricians and physicians and experts in our community, we don’t diminish the needs of students abut we also have an operational responsibility to ensure we can offer a consistent in person experience. That we can staff our classrooms with qualified and certified teachers, that buses will run with qualified bus drivers, that food is properly serviced and distributed, that CDC cleaning can be completed. Our responsibility extends to the operational set of considerations and not just the learning. We know from the experience of other large districts that when levels of community spread, the staffing of a large system quickly breaks down more to folks in quarantine. Therefore it is critical to see cases come down out of the current high level and sustain a successful school opening.
Opening doesn’t hinge on everyone having both vaccines, but it does hinge on progress in vaccinating to affect community infection rates. That will reduce cases in the building and improve staffing and quarantine needs.
We’ve updated to a wider set of considerations. We have begun parent and community information sessions this week. We know it is critical that parents have an opportunity to understand options for hybrid in person. And of course parents are familiar with virtual. They provide general information about hybrid, share as ample daily schedule, a few principals are joining and will answer questions, and they review safety protocols and responsibilities of students and school/district. The next information session is tomorrow at 4p. They are available on demand after that time. We know folks will have many, many questions. We want to hear and see your questions. Last I looked we were at 650 questions. We’ll be moving to school based sessions. We will offer both in person for those who choose it regardless of numbers and to offer virtual. Choose what best suits your needs and not be concerned whether that will change the board or superintendent’s decision to move forward.
Fall Assessment Data
Assessment report on fall assessment data. We fulfilled our commitment to complete it within the first 9 weeks of the school year. We did administer some NWEA and other required assessments in math and reading. They were administered differently than every before since they were taken remotely. As trustee Lazarus mentioned we will be interested in spring data to see how students have fared over the year. Of course we know the best assessment is the watchful eye of the teachers every day.
Ms Linden joined to share the fall assessment data.
Linden: By legislation assessment was required in the first 9 weeks and again prior to the end of the year. Fall data must be posted by February 1, 2021. This is the first time it has been administered in a remote way. Student experience varied greatly from student to student. Students in K-1 math and K-2 we did not use NWEA because of limitations with the remote environment and students not being able to get help. We did benchmark assessments, so we don’t have historical data.
We anticipated and did see lower assessment completion rates – opting out, access to adult support, and technical issues.
Math assessment for K was locally developed with 20 questions and using Everyday Math. It was delivered in live zoom with teachers – often one to one with teachers, sometimes in small groups of 2-3 students. The reading assessment was delivered via Lexia Core 5.. The assessment takes about 20 minutes. The skill level targets. They fall inline with Lexia mean data. Our second graders were slightly below the expectation. The breakdowns by student group shows lags for Black, Economically Disadvantaged students, English Language Learners, and Special Education.
NWEA data was presented for grades 2-8. There’s a disconnect on grade 2-8 . Second graders have information read to them and have other interventions. Those are gone at 3rd grade and that has frequently caused a drop-off. Prior to this year only one middle school took NWEA, so we didn’t who that data because it wasn’t as meaningful. There is a drop in the number of students completing it. We did not see a significant drop in fall data this year compared to previous years. When broken out by student groups, There’s a lot of data. Typically when we see drops , we see them across the board. There were not any significant places that we brought out just for fall 2020. Just the same drop for these student groups, We do intend to give NWEA in the spring as we always do. We hope to be face to face with the elementary students.
Swift: For the families who choose to remain virtual, they will take it the same way they did in fall.
Linden: Yes, that is correct. Summary, NWEA was administered differently than ever before. If they hit a glitch they would have to go to the help zoom instead of having a teacher there. The data is used regularly and often by teachers to help design lessons, understand supports, strengths of students, etc. Information was used to inform the first trimester. NWEA data revealed no evidence of significant learning loss. We realize they were a one day snapshot and what happens that one day impacts how a student performs.
Swift: This is really a benchmark for fall. Where we will see the work from this year is in the spring. We are anxious to see the end of the year data and growing our children from where they were in the fall.
Kelly: About the K-2 ELA assessments. We typically use the NWEA to identify students in risk categories. Is the Lexia an appropriate assessment for that?
Linden: We chose Lexia because they’ve done correlative studies to NWEA. It’s also broken down into sections like the NWEA. It’s more than jut an assessment. Teachers can monitor skill progress as they complete tasks.
Querijero: Whether e ran demographics on participation rates ?
Lidnen: We don’t for the benchmark because this is the first year we’ve given them. We do fro NWEA. We do see some drops in participation across the board. We haven’t analyzed the percent in the student group to see if they are significantly different. We haven’t analyzed it.
Querijero: Do the demographics of the students who didn’t take it match the demographics of those who don’t.Those would be the ones most in need of our support. (whether they opted out or didn’t complete, ot don’t have data on them).
Swift: I appreciate that. I don’t think it’s stated enough in this. The data needs to be taken with that balance in all of it. It isn’t at all like a normal set of data.
Querijero: I’m asking so we can see the drop year to year and see if it correlates.
Johnson: I appreciate seeing the data. I appreciate it is just one data point especially for upper grades . As we try out the virtual learning to have a metric of what learning loss may have happened. We’re using the data to gauge how much learning loss has happened.
Mr Cluley put up the AAPS COVID Metrics Dashboard. The additional considerations are there – student needs, COVID testing availability, contact tracing ability, level of COVID community spread, strain on health care, progress of COVID vaccination. (Trustee Gaynor I appreciate how you said that we didn’t set out with that, but it is a game changer for keeping school environment at a much safer level and hopefully avoiding the in-out situation), and our ability to ensure can keep the mitigation protocols – this is an absolute requirement. We completed training with many staff members this week. It also includes a commitment of parents to do the screening conversation with their student every morning before coming to school.
Here in Washtenaw County we are at the top of the state of Michigan for rate of community transmission. The good news is in Michigan we have 34 days declining and out of the highest level of risk. The region is very similar and it is lower than the state – 95 cases per million. The county is high – 165 daily cases per million. We’ve started to come down a bit, but still remain at Level E in MI Safe Start. Washtenaw County has the highest level of community spread in the lower peninsula. We are also concerned about the B117 variant. We are glad it appears to be contained in UM Community. And yet, Dr Khaldoun has shared her concern that it is in 10 Michigan counties. With 23 of the 45 cases in Ann Arbor. We’re keeping an eye on that.
Conversely we are at the bottom of another list – even though vaccination of all staff and students is not a condition for return to afce to face learning. We do respect the value of having the adults vaccinated and will make the in school environment safer and more consistent. We know there is a high demand for vaccine among all of our staff. MEA released information and Washtenaw County was at the bottom with only 25% of teachers receiving an invitation to make an appointment for a vaccine. The vaccine supply for AAPS school personnel has been a trickle. We hope it changes soon. The county has been receiving about 3000 a week with only 25% allocated to school per week. The math doesn’t work in our favor currently.. We’re sorry to share that the vaccine process has become kind of a Hunger Game process. It’s not how we want it to be. Recently supplies were reallocated by need, and that means Wayne and others will receive more. The reality is Washtenaw County remains flat. We are actively working with members of the governor’s team. Without their assistance, we’ll remain at the bottom o the state despite leading the state in community transmission.
At AAPS, we do hold to our course for return to in person learning option this spring. It’s my job to share the facts. We continue to advocate at local, state, and national level for more and faster vaccine process and to ensure we are prioritizing the opening of schools. We will follow the steps when we see the data come in line. I will bring data to the board, they will deliberate in public and vote. Every parent, staff member, etc. will get a letter confirming the date for the opening of schools.
Kelly: This is hard right. I want to thank Dr Swift for what is a careful update. I hear the details and nuances that aren’t collected anywhere else. I’m just becoming more and more frustrated and even sad and angry on behalf of the board, administrators and staff, and the misrepresentation and gaslighting by entities within our community. If you’ll indulge me on putting my thoughts out there.
First, if you only read the media headlines you’d probably be really confused as to why Ann Arbor schools aren’t open. It’s true that we’re unique, but the reality is what the results of those hybrid learning attempts have tried it. Some only a few students are ever in the classroom. Not a single district has been able to open sustainability. The back and forth creates a los of instructional time, poses equity challenges for families who can’t turn on a dime like that. The difference in teacher vaccination rates. Dearborn schools will be phasing back in because all of their teachers had access to the vaccine week. Meanwhile maybe 10-15% of ours have been offered a vaccine. Even some of the neighbors here in Washtenaw including Michigan Medicine including many folks in fully remote support positions. Dr swift mentioned declining in the state while ours have not.
Second, if you listen to our governor’s press conferences she urged opening school building by March 1. Then it seemed feasible because teachers would be getting vaccines on January 11. It’s long passed that date and our teachers haven’t had any. Winter sports are going forward. They’re providing supports for athletes with antigen testing and and safety protocols. That’s just outrageous that that support isn’t for learning. When teenagers are better supported for wrestling than for attending chem lab -that is a problem.
A third area is the fact that there are some doctors in our community who are positioning themselves in school administration. I’m appreciative of physicians about growth and medical issues, but not a single doctor is willing to do themselves what they’re demanding of the teachers. You won’t find an unvaccinated doctor attending 10 patients even for well visits in a single room with just a cloth mask for many hours.
Yes, I’m disappointed as a community we haev opened restaurants, and gyms, and casinos, and not schools. And we haven’t made teacher vaccines a priority.
I’m going to ask the community to do three things. Think critically about what you read in the media and if it is telling Ann Arbor’s Story. Take your energy and fight for the same resources that go to athletics to go for academics. Third, I beg you give as much deference to administer schools as you do to health care providers to provide health care.
DuPree: Back to one of our public comments about the NYT article how do we plan to equitably enforce mask mandates. There is mistrust among how some students particularly black students and special education students are disciplined. I’ve brought this up before, and how are we planning for this?
Swift: I appreciate that question. I have not felt that intervening with mask wearing would be a discipline issue. Certainly if a student is not wearing them, we’re going to educate and support, and engage. I would not see that as a discipline. I do have meetings coming up with parents of color and black community leaders. We don’t want to make assumptions that we understand and know. We want to make sure we’re engaging.
Swift; President Johnson I put it in your update, and I want Ms Osinski to post those last 2 slides with the reports of school outbreaks. I want to make sure they end up in the public record although they are on BoardDocs.. There are 136 new staff & students infected in 29 K-12 new school districts. Locally, a new outbreak at Concordia and ongoing at St Paul, Chelsea, Dexter, UM & EMIU.
Monthly Budget Monitoring Report – December 2020
Ms Minnick presented the monthly budge monitoring report for December 2020. Cash holdings are lower in 2020. Partially due to 3 bi-weekly payment periods this month and a delay in some property tax collections. Differences are believed to just be timing differences, but we’ll keep an eye on it.
Gaynor: I guess I’ve sat through too many of these and understand them. They only thing I was alert to was the 3 pay periods throw things off this month. Otherwise everything looked in accordance with what we’d expect.
Deferred Compensation Plans Restatements
Swift; It is a matter of course that we would bring an updated readout on 457 and 403b programs. Typically w wewould do it every 10 years. Ms Minnic isn’t not just bringing the regular update but as trustee Gaynor highlighted earlier, some paritcular provisions that are allowed as a result of CARES & COVID.
Minnick: The Cares Act does provide for additional options for our employer deferred plans. Our employees have voluntary participation in 403b and a 457b plan. These are similar to 401K that are offered by private employees. The IRS requires employers to update or restate their plans periodically. We are incorporating any required IRS updates and incorporating changes of CARES act. We have Ms Kopacz with our attorney who has worked with us on this plan.
Kopacz: The restatements are restating the 403b & 457b. They are funded purely by employee money – either pre or post tax. There is no employer/public school contributions. For the most pat all the current provisions remain the same. We worked closely with the administrator to ensure anything we did changed the intent or current administration of the plan. We were looking at plan changes since they were last stated. The catalyst was the cARES act . The COVID related distribution was available until December 31. A few participants took it. We are formalizing it with a plan amendment. That allowed participants to take out money from their retirement plans if they had adverse financial consequences from the pandemic without an early withdrawal fee – but still have tax consequences. The next is allowing a waiver of minimum distributions that started at 70.5 and is now 72. They could waive those last year if they wanted. With the se4cure act which started in late 2019 there was an option to make 457b withdrawals starting at 59.5 vs 70.5. We recommend that change effective at the beginning of this year to lineup with the 403b. to give employees flexibility. We also added option to provide distribution for qualified birth or adoption. We know that time can be financially draining.
The last update was to permit Roth contributions – after tax into the 457b plan. They’ve been historically permitted by 403b so we aligned that.
Gaynor: Reading through all the documents, I worked my way through 20 pages only to find a 150 page supplement. It isn’t at all straight forward. I was reassured that this is a plan that has been in place and this i sa restatement. As far as the CARES act, the district did what they could to give staff full flexibility. In the end this is straight forward and makes sense.
Technology Purchase – Dell Chromebooks & MacBook Airs
Swift: Dr Kellstrom joins us with Ms Minnick to bring forward two technology purchase. The first is a regular course of business to keep each part of our district refreshed and on the refreshment cycle. We want to remind our community how grateful we are for the technology bond funds. It’s always important for the learning environment, but even more so with virtual learning. Second component will enhance th learning environment as we return to a hybrid environment. This will make it nicer for those considering an in person learning opportunity.
Kellstrom: The current virtual environment highlights the need to tailor the needs to certain environments – A2 STEAM, special education, and a few others. This is a regular district business service. We want to purchase 200 chromebooks to test with different student user groups. We want to fit the best technology for the best environmental. We repurposed an additional 5000. Originally we looked at Dell 2 in 1 touchscreen chrome books with front and rear facing camera making it easier for littler students. They are more costly, but cheaper than the iPad. They have a simplified login, 13 hour battery, gorilla glass screen, and rugged case. The purchase price of 200 is $72000 including the licensing to manage and a 3 year warranty.
This also includes a purchase from Apple to close the refreshment prices for building leaders 135 MacBook Airs the 4 year apple care warranty, adapters as needed. This is $192,300.75.
Both purchases are sourced through the bid processing. They would come from the 2018 tech bond for $264,300.75
Lazarus: I don’t really have a question. Just wanted to have Dr Kellstrom expand on why we’re looking at, testing the rugged Chromebook vs. iPads that need to be refreshed out. There are some limitations to the iPads. We got a little down and dirty in finance about that. maybe you can explain why when iPads are supposed to be the best.
Kellstrom: We talked about this in 2010 when Apple had the market for Ed Tech. Life was simple. When you fast-forward to 2021, Apps are on the way out. Everything is web based. The Chromebook Web based is one and done when you log in with the badge or google password, it is one and done. With the apple iPads, it isn’t. We’re looking at replacing less than 1%. Last summer we wanted to purchase this for the K-5, but you couldn’t get it. Now we have the availability. Usually in technology we like to test in advance before we buy large scale.
when you have an iPad you need peripherals. With this all the tools are on board. A touch screen and a keyboard which is nice as they start to grow and develop their skills. Just in general, the simpler easier way to consume and participate everyday. We see it not he help desk. Our younger students are starting to call us and have good questions, but we want to give them the easiest solution.
Baskett: I have a couple question. I assume the sis the best cost using the cooperative pricing. Tell me about the transitioning. Who do you plan to give them to & what about training. You mentioned the little people are used to the old way, but also the staff as well.
Kellstrom: We’re working with teaching & learning and seeing which teachers would be interested. We have 3 teachers at A2 STEAM. It’s the 5th grade group. As soon as the devices are in we’ll start working with the staff.At Bryant, we are working with a 1st grade At Eberwhite a Kindergarten, Bach a 1st grade teacher, and in special education we’d work with our assistant technology coordinator, at A2 Virtual, and we need a partner at preschool. And we’ll have a few other devices for staff testing. ITD will support classrooms & students in this testing.
Baskett: If I understand this is a pilot? For a couple months, end of the year?
Kellstrom: Through the end of the school year. Then we’ll look at if we want to continue. We’re excited about Schoology update – there’s an enhanced elementary.
Baskett: So if everything goes well we could expect summer or fall another request?
Kellstrom: It would be early summer to get ahead of the curve.
Kellstrom: We do some work in house, otherwise we send out for repairs and get new devices if they aren’t repairable.
Baskett: when would they get them?
Kellstrom: We called a few days ago and the lead time is about 4 weeks. Chromebooks take minimal effort on our part.
Lazarus: We transition out old technology to use these for a few months. How are we going to handle all that is out? Will we have a turn in at the end of the school year? Or kids keep them because of summer school?
Kellstrom: We don’t have the answer today. We take our lead from teaching & learning. Right now they’re working on summer learning. We play out all scenarios. The Chromebooks themselves are always updating. We don’t really need to refresh them, but we need to work out how students enter and leave our system – graduating, moving, etc.
Technology Purchase – Student Headsets
Kellstrom: This is for student tech supports for in person learning. We are requesting to buy over the ear headsets with boom microphone to support in person learning. K-5 and any other students returning. They will support students learning individually, small learning groups, individual assignments. These would remain in the classroom. They are tried and true in the district. Ear pieces are easy to clean and work for all ages. Boom mike is good. The price is $46k for 5000 devices. The other time is for a purchase to address daily in classroom charging need especially in 2-5 to start. We recommend Adapt 4 charging system. A centralized charging bin. It does snack charging quickly. We want one in every 2-5 classroom to keep cohorts together and safe. Each product holds 4 devices. LED light indicates charge. It is scalable and can be moved. You can also add additional active and passive chargers. They are $96/brick. Can be placed on furniture or mounted to the wall. It was through the national purchasing alignment. It was $104k for 250 charging stations.
This totals $152K from the 2015 bond and close out the old bond pieces.
Kelly: How many kids per set?
Kellstrom: One set per classroom. Research shows about 10% will come with an uncharged devices. If we see a problem we can add little brick for $96 which adds additional charging. We’ll track how it is going and see if the 4 bin will work. The intention is that they’re not on tech all day and can charge in 15 min to gain enough time.
Kelly: With the headsets how many kids per headset?
Kellstrom: One. You’d be assigned your own headset. As kids come back you’d get your own and take it to the next grade level. Once kids get to high school they aren’t so interested in our headsets.
Kelly: They are not wireless right? They’ll have to be plugged in to the device.Do they need to be charged?Are the two parts of this related.
Kellstrom: Right, they are not wireless. They do not need charging. They are separate.
Baskett: So 5000 headsets, we’re talking what gradelevel?
Baskett: So they’d have to be cleaned daily?
Kellstrom: There would be classroom protocol.
Baskett: Durability. Talk to us about warranty.
Kellstrom: This is built specifically for education. We’ve used them for years. If students care for them, we’re looking to buy pegboard for storage. . Cords are braided which is nice so they don’t break. We’ll build habits into how to take care. The boom mike is really nice too. It lets them have clear conversations. Classrooms are not quiet places even with less students.
Baskett: What is the longevity?
Kellstrom: I’d say a good 3+ years if they are taken care of.
Baskett: Again, this is preparing for in person learning. Should the board approve at our next meeting, what is the lead time.
Kellstrom: We’re seeing 2.5 weeks now depending what other schools order.
Swift: Trustee Baskett & Dr Kellstrom – each child will have their assigned set, so yes we will have them cleaned but they use the same set everyday which lessens worry about child to child transmission. I should note it is mostly lice.
Kellstrom: That’s why the headset ear pieces are vinyl.
AED Replacement Purchase
Swift: We’re working to replace the AED devices across the district. Our current devices have been in need of replacement for some time. Because of COVID this wasn’t brought as rapidly as they finished the work. But now would be a good time to get this work done.
Minnick: We have 69 AED (automated external defibrillators). About 1/3 are no longer supported by the current vendor and have had to remove about a dozen. Maintenance costs about $7100/year. It is imperative that we replace and upgrade our AEDs and have a coordinated and improved maintenance system.
We recommend replacing all of them by contracting to ZOAL AED3 unit and use their maintenance package. It includes purchase of 69, removing and replacing, ongoing training and maintenance. This model has a universal pad that works on adults, children, and infants to make it simpler to use. It also has wifi connectivity that conducts weekly checks. It alerts site contacts when there is an error – building nurse. Plus there will be monthly service checks. Total cost $110,055 for the units through a purchasing cooperative. We will get a trade-in depending on value – currently estimated at $10k. First year service is included with 2-5 at $4950/year. Funding is from the 2015 bond for the unit purchase with general fund for years 2-5. Ms Margolis will share more about safety and school nurses.
Margolis: We’re working with the nurses and they’re excited. The nurses rotate around buildings and the new system will have the ability to know and notify of any error message or battery issues. There is a 24 hr or less response right. It is replaced on site if any repair is needed. Not only do they have universal pad, they also have CPR instructional device. It is hands-free. It happens by the unit.
The units are the same as in all AA Police Department vehicles. We will do a thorough training system. We’ll start with buildings with the most need first.
Kelly: This is important stuff. It is so critical in terms of response time. My understanding is one on every floor of the buildings and able to get it to them in 3-4 minutes. Have we done the message on best practice number of AEDs? Is 69 enough?
Margolis: When we did the security assessment years ago, we asked them to asses the AEDs, yes they did confirm that we were meeting the needs. They’re clearly marked. In high schools in athletic areas, office areas, and different levels. We’ll also be working with athletics for what their needs are. We did asses that. Our new evaluation signs, AED locations are noted on the signs as well as fire extinguishers.
Lazarus: In finance, I had a question on wifi connectivity is wonderful and they provide the weekly checks, I had a question about liability If a unit didn’t work in an emergency and they’re checking them weekly, what happens in that situation.
Swift: I made a note to follow up with counselor Comsa and we’ll get him ready to answer the board on that.
Querijero: In committee, I got excitement from Liz’s team. I think it’s important to know the group is very excited – maybe it didn’t come across with the late hour.
Margolis: Our team is excited. It is a relief to know about the wifi monitoring. They are so busy and will be even more busy when we return. Knowing we have more eyes on these systems gives us assurance. We have ideas on another type of situation we want to get geared up in our school.
Johnson: Glad to hear the enthusiasm around that.
Lazarus: I wanted to say Liz and Jill you did a wonderful job. I’m very excited because this i good negotiations on your part. These units are not cheap. With the new technology, universal pads, wifi, pricing -we’re saving money on maintenance. You should be proud of this.
Move to approve minutes form the February 10 meeting. Unaninmously approved.
Items from the Board
Baskett: I have a small list.
Start with a thank you to Tappan Science Teacher for sponsoring hot meal distribution in the Bryant school community. (I missed the name of the restaurant).
Shout out to health department. I know we have been disappointed as a community to not have enough vaccine, but it’s not their fault. I had the experience of taking my 85 year old mom and almost as old aunt out to get their first shot. The staff came out and took care of them. It was almost no waiting and just want to say thank you.
I also wanted to mention our RAHS (Regional alliance for healthy schools). They’re offering virtual mental health services. They have almost no waiting list. Not only our students but anyone in the family. Services are available regardless of legal status or insurance status. Call clinic in the area – Pioneer, Scarlet, & Pathways. It’s available tot he community, it’s just in our buildings. We’ve got to get them in for a presentation.
I mentioned earlier that our legislative committee has not yet met. I’d like to have MASB out to do a grassroots advocacy training. Not just our team but others in the community as well.
Also want to mention National School Board equity symposium. As always some stellar presentations and some not so stellar presentations. There were lots of resources.
One last thing, as others have noted we are part of a larger community. There seems to be a lot of construction around town. Valhalla project slated near Pioneer. I’ve had a few community members ask that I sit in on that. I’ll bring hat back to Dr Swift to see if there’s anything we need to know because of the project.
Johnson: Trustee Baskett if the RAHS group wants to come do a presentation that shouldn’t be a problem. Let me know when they want to come.
Shoutout to Jack Wagner & Community HS Jazz Band for the concert created with the new technology we have. My kid probably practices a lot more with virtual than she did when we didn’t have virtual. Having the tech to keep the music arts going is great.
Given that it’s black history month a shoutout to a jazz band is appropriate.
Swift; Just one loose end. I want trustees to know and to say it publicly. I want to say how valuable it is for me to have a written copy of the public commentary and that might be something to see go forward in non-covid times. I want to thank those who get that all put together for us in short order on Wednesdays. It’s all correct on the doc now.
Motion to Adjourn
Motion to adjourn by Kelly, seconded by Gaynor. No discussion. Unanimously voted to adjourn at 11:21p.