Today’s Ann Arbor Board of Education Study Session has three main items on the agenda – Summer Learning, Budget Timeline, and Environmental Sustainability.
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.
While the meeting is scheduled to start at 7p the Board has a closed session with their legal team beginning at 6p. If that runs long, the meeting may start late. Also, I am attending a virtual meeting for my daughter’s school starting at 6p. If that runs long, I may miss the beginning of the meeting.
Note: We have published this slightly before the meeting with the agenda and will update it throughout the meeting. Please excuse any typos, misspellings, errors (hopefully minor), etc. A summary will be added after the meeting.
A Summary will be addd after the meeting.
Attendance will be updated as the meeting progresses. With a prior meeting lasting until 7p, I missed the beginning of the attendance role call. Trustee Baskett & Lazarus did not appear on video and were called before I joined so I cannot confirm their attendance at the start of the meeting. If they show on video or by voice during the meeting, I will update the list of attendees.
Attendees: Kelly, Johnson, Dupree, Gaynor, Querijero, Baskett, Lazarus
Non-Voting Attendees: Swift, Soderberg, Cluley, Linden, Karr
As is our practice, we did not cover public commentary. There are 20 comments tonight. Comments are available on BoardDocs. Ms Soderberg and Mr Cluley each read half of the comments. The total time for public commentary is limited which can lead to only portions of commentary being read when there are many comments. And, the comments are typically read very quickly to be able to read as much as possible in the time constraints. With such limited time per comment it is even harder to try to capture the context of the commentary.
Swift: We covered a wide area in public commentary. We want to extend our thanks and gratitude to all who take their time to share their thoughts. We do have the full content of the comments even when it is not all read.
We are very much aware of adapting CDC guidance. The headline is the adjustment from 6’ to 3’. There is quite a bit of nuance to CDC guidance. We are analyzing impact of that and monitoring where we are and with ongoing cases emerging int he district. We will continue to update you trustees throughout spring break and what impact it may have on the last quarters of the year.
I do want to point out with eating, adults, congregate areas the 6’ requirement does still apply. So the headline has more nuance.
I want to point out we have made several statements posted to our website on how seriously we take allegations of racism in the district. We have engaged an outside investigator to conduct a complete investigation. firstname.lastname@example.org (I have to verify the spelling on the domain). It will be responded to by non-district employees to make sure they are investigated. As superintendent we have followed up on everyone we have received.
I do want to share that on back to school speed zones, I appreciate Ms Margolis our liaison to the city. All the school zone slow applications have been approved by city. Lights, speed zones, etc. will activate beginning tomorrow for 30 minutes before and after school based on current school day time. That means enforcement will be in effect. It’s a good day tomorrow to slow down and watch for the school zones. AAPD will support with patrols to help out, remind folks, and monitor high traffic areas.
On the issue with inexpertly written legislation that after effect caused district to not qualify for funding. We followed governor’s guidance established. This is based on an arbitrary date (March 22). I met with state superintendent to get details on how we can navigate. There are many other districts in the same position.I forwarded to you trustees this afternoon. We haven’t fully analyzed it yet. It is unfortunate how it is turning out. We continue to vigorously work this issue and regret it. The governor said it last week we regret when legislatures look back instead of ahead and funds become a chokehold for students who need it the most.
There was a concern raised about timeline for vaccination and expected return of employees. This past week we have worked closely with leaders of employee groups. Ins one groups we have moved report dates due to discrepancy in vaccination process. I encourage other individuals who feel return and vaccination are incongruent, to followup with your supervisor & Ms Langford in HR.
Gaynor: I want to thank you for referring to increased COVID cases and CDC guidance. What’s posted on our website was apparently the previous CDC guidance with caseloads for 7 days per 100K. We’ve been creeping up. 100 cases marks high. We’re at 119. The previous guidance was not to open secondary with cases that high. I look forward to your guidance on that. I know we don’t have another meeting until April 14 and have to make decisions before that.
Swift: I want to clarify it isn’t a hard and fast at 100 cases right now> Trustees will receive those updates whether we have a meeting or not. That was true as of February 26. Forgive me, there have been several iterations of it.
Gaynor: An email came into us too late for public commentary I’d like to read on behalf of AA Voices for Carbon Neutrality. They say we are a community group deeply concerned with climate justice. It is time for AAPS to take time on climate crisis.
1 – AAPS must adopt a carbon goal.
2 – AAPS must create cabinet level sustainability champion to lead their efforts.
3 – BOE must create sustainability committee that requires regular reports on district actions.
I do know this will be a subject
Johnson: I want to remind public to get comments in before public commentary deadline so trustees don’t get personal emails with comments.
There were a lot of comments about Pioneer investigation. I want to make sure to those recent to this issue, we issued a Board statement on November 11. We said we were hiring a third party investigator. If there are allegations elsewhere as well. It’s on the BOE page under Board Statements. It takes more time to conduct a thorough investigation than to spread a rumor or tell a story> I understand the frustration with the amount of time it’s taking. But I hope the public regards this as a sign of a thorough investigation. We will release the results
About the black parents support group. They do have a special association designation. They can come tot he board and present without time limits.I was president of the organization for about 3 years. It’s where I met Trustee Baskett. When they ask for support the board and district is happy to give it. I know Mr (Darryl) Johnson does know that.
I also want to say I see absolute no problem with using the term hate crime. They are real, they are not political. As a trustee I would never threaten someone’s position at AAPS for stating that. I’ll commend you and other board members who reviewed that statement. We have to stand against that.
Swift: I will add on the CDC question, Ms Bacolor has helped us. I got emails saying you didn’t issue a statement on the first day. I’d challenge anyone to read all the changes and how we can implement in a large school system and make a response in one day. I do want to emphasize increase in cases, closures at other high schools across the state, are areas we continue to monitor. It’s on our website and practice since spring that we update you on cases every week and how it affects our extended continuity of learning plan and our approach. That won’t change once we go in person. (Dr Swift froze). CDC does make a distinction between middle and high school based on community spread. We are at high transmission in our community right now. Middle and high schools may use 3’ based on practice of chortling. Cohorting is one of our Super 6.mitigation strategies. It is also more complicated at secondary level with wide programming options our students have. We will be in touch. We are getting quite a few emails from parents of secondary students who are concerned about the number of cases among middle and high school students. We share that concern. It turns out that today, we have experienced our highest number of student cases as at any time in this pandemic. It’s literally still coming through on my phone now.
I encourage parents & community to please follow guidance on Spring Break. Many of the cases have come from cross=family gatherings in our own community> All these activities in the community affect COVID cases in our school. I’m not making a statement, just making you aware of where we stand this evening.
Summer Learning 2021
Ms Linden & Mr Karr will share the information. For several years we have had the most robust system int he area. Last summer we had 5K students, almost 1/3. This year we are looking to top that.
<My daughter interrupted as Dr Swift marked one year>
Tomorrow we welcome our Stage 1 students for in person learning. We’ve come a long way over this COVID times. I want to mark it is a special moment tomorrow in AAPS as we begin to return our students for hybrid in school learning. Subsequent stages will follow spring break. I will be out at schools – socially distanced & fully masked.
To support the transition to hybrid learning while also offering top quality learning experience for those choosing to stay virtual. Both groups will be joined into single unified learning communities. From the beginning of this time, we knew return to learn in school time would be a challenging time. I want to give a shout out to every classroom teacher, office professional, paraeducator, principals, all of our teaching & learning team. This is a heavy lift to scale up two learning systems.And our other partners – Chartwells, custodians, transportation, etc. I want to reassure our community whether they choose to finish this year strong in hybrid learning or fully virtual, we are here to serve you. We lift our vision from spring to Summer 2021.
This is the first of two briefings. As always we will bring plan in March and you’ll see the team in April to make sure parents are signing up & know the programs offered. As you know we try to offer these at no cost to parents in AAPS. We don’t have all the information on our budget, but we are applying for summer school monies that have been set aside. It is our hope and intention to provide this at no cost.
I sent Summer Learning link out today.
Mr Karr: Elementary programs first. All focus on literacy and math skills.
There is the Remote Learning Expeditions with open enrollment and Summer Learning Institute Adventure Games for invited students. They are set in an engaging game format to earn badges. As they “play” they earn more badges. Programs run 4 weeks. In Remote Learning Expeditions they choose either morning and afternoon. They are synchronous. The Summer Learning Institute can choose face to face or remote. These started last year and were wildly popular.
A new offering is A2Virtual Elementary Summer Success Program. This is asynchronous at your own pace. It is individualized, self-paced, asynchronous.
The Middle School Summer Challenges are 3 weeks long. They focus on core content – literacy and math. But connected to problem solving and critical thinking. It is for current 5th-7th graders. They shared a video from MSSS 2020 Challenge Example.
We showed the same video last year to kick off the Summer Challenge.
Swift: They are one week right?
Linden: Yes, they are one week. There are even bonus week challenges. They will be updated as the team works on new challenges.
Expanded High School Summer Options.
Free access to wide range of supports for
- Credit recovery and transitioning incomplete courses to credit or need to improve. That will be offered in person & remote.
- Access to A2Virtual+ to raise a grade or fill gaps for the 2020-2021 year.
- Programs to build strong bridges for incoming 9th graders & English Learners
- SAT supports for all incoming 11th graders.
It is a lot like last year. You’ll see program description, meeting times. Registration links aren’t available yet. Some are invitation only. Those families will be pre-registered.
Special Education Programs
- Extended School Year – students who need to continue to work on IEP goals Monday-Thursday 10:30-noon
- Intensive Reading Program – It’s been redesigned. June 28-July 30. 8-(;30 or 9:30-11a. Students will be engaged together. Some face to face and some remote
- SISS Summer Academy – recovery services and drop-in services – literacy, match, language, social & coping, fine motor. 9-10:30 or 1-2:30p. Family choice.
- Summer Learning Institute Adventure Games – This is the game program with intervention. For students currently in Y5-4th grade. This is 4 weeks long. You can choose 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks. Throughout July. Will run 8:30a-2p. It is invitation only. Can be in person or remote.
- Remote Learning Expeditions – Is similar, but open enrollment and all remote. Students attend either 8:30-11:30a or 11a-2p. It is synchronous
- A2VE – Summer Success – Individualized, Flexible, Self-Paced. It runs for 6 different weeks. Families can opt in based on schedule. It is a new program. Open enrollment.
- Summer English as a Second Language Academy (SESLA) – Includes Elementary & Middle. Part of partnership with UM School of Education. June 21-July 9 runs Monday-Friday except July 5. For invited students. In person at Huron High School.
Middle School Programs
- Middle School Summer Challenges – Parallel to Remote Learning Expeditions & Summer Learning Institute Adventure Games. Invitation and Open Enrollment options. Open enrollment is remote only. Invitation is in person or remote.
- SESLA as described above
English Language Learners: Also contains links to SESLA. It’s important to have programs linked in multiple groups
High School Programs
- Credit Recovery or Incomplete grade recovery – June 29-July 30. Focus on relationship building. It is not a redo of a full course. Summer school teachers communicate with course teachers to fill in the gaps. Slots for classroom instruction based on what students need.
- A2 Virtual+ – To raise a grade or take a new class. Raising grade or filling in gap is free. There is a $100 discount to take a new class. Same discount as offered last year.
- SAT Prep – It is open to any student in class fo 2022 or 2023. They’ll use Schoology & Khan Academy/College Board
Swift: We are doing everything we can to offer this at no cost. We are doing our best to offer in person and virtual because we know parents want those options. We are doing the best of our ability to accommodate every student and family who want to attend. We need to stand up our staff. We do know our staff has had a hard year. We are looking to do the most we can.
We know catch up and move up isn’t just this spring and will continue with summer and fall.
There will also be summer school information sessions at each level so parents & students can get questions answered and students enrolled. Those will occur virtually since they’ll occur this spring.
Kelly: Quick question. You talked briefly about ESY and i is indicated in IEPs. I know we’ve had struggles with IEPs and evaluations due to CVOID challenges. How are we defining eligibility – last year,
Linden: That’s a significant challenge we have. We’ll use all data available and err on side of enrollment.
Kelly: If there’s a family who has struggled to get an evaluation at all due to nature of suspected disability, can they opt in? How should they reach out? Maybe there is no data – the child is very young.
Linden: We had a brand new family with a recent diagnosis ask at an SISS information. They should reach out to principals. We have urgency around this issue. Our teams are working to get IEPs scheduled. It’s why we’re proud of SISS Summer Academy. It doesn’t just have to be ESY and the intensive reading program. They may be in multiple programs and get support that way. We want to serve as many students as who need it this summer
Kelly: A follow-up. I’m making an assumption if a family is in ESY, that the asme documentation and monitoring is same as IEP. (Linden Correct) If a family chooses another avenue than ESY, how will we ensure documentation and progress monitoring also happens in general education lane.
Linden: Communication about student growth in these programs is very important. I can’t say it will be identical, but they are completed in each program.
Swift: The intensive reading program does document.
Linden: All 3 document. All summer programs have monitoring pieces to it, not just special education.
Kelly: I know this is a conversation we have with regard to Rec & Ed, if a student is in an open enrollment but require certain accommodations/support will they be available.
Linden: Yes. Any student who meets criteria is invited and all supports follow the student into those programs.
Kelly: With the date ranges, it looks like it is one 3 week block. I believe last year we asked to commit to the entire time. Is that true again this year? How do we make sure people don’t go on vacation. Is there a way to get the info out now to have folks pencil in those dates.
Swift: It’s part of the press for virtual summer activities. People want to be able to pack the laptop & go. Mr Karr showed flexibility in Elementary is option to choose 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks.
Karr: Many students who came in first week, ended up signing up for multiple weeks because they loved it.
Swift: It’s quite a shift from the old model of summer school to the adventure series. Kids want to earn the badge. I even worked on the bird watching badge. The challenges are hard to turn away from.
Linden: Most are Monday-Thursday so families can take a quick camping trip, family embers visit. Hopefully they’re vaccinated or taking proper precautions this summer. It’s an important part of the design.
Kelly: The experience in my own home was positive last summer. Dr Swift mentions, are we going to hear about everyone has chromebook now. Will those still be used for summer, or an update?
Linden: Maybe wait on specifics, but they wlll be part of the program.
Swift: Every child will have a device.
Baskett: This is one of the fun presentations. I appreciate the speaking of the old punitive summer school vs. fun program is a big change. To manage expectations, you spoke of 5k students las year and we want to meet or exceed the number. As a high level manager, I’m worried about capacity. Is it first come, first serve, student need, etc.
Swift: I appreciate that question. I was on a couple national conference calls. One of the biggest worry is the ability to staff summer programming due to difficult year educators have had. They’re looking at all manners of strategies including using teaching interns. We are focused on that. Our goal is to serve all who want to come. Several program are by invitation because they’re funded – English language, special education. Our wide open programs we always offer folks to sign up as soon as the links go up and schedule around them. I’ll be speaking to trustees on strategies. I want to give a shoutout to folks signing up to teach summer. I hope we can work it out where everyone has the opportunity. It is a puzzle and I appreciate you calling it out up front.
Linden: I would add that we ask for teachers to sacrifice a bit of summer. It is a big ask after the year we’ve had. They always answer the call. The model we have is what we used last year. We bring in staff who are willing. Last year we could match everyone.
Baskett: Regarding credit recovery are we capping number of classes a student may take?
Swift: They do by virtue of how much they cover. They are naturally capped due to time constraints.
Linden: They can take up to 2 per the entire summer. They’re intense classes.
Baskett: Someone is monitoring that right?
Baskett: I love that we have options for students. Are they graded or pass/fail?
Linden: I know A2 Virtual they are graded. I don’t believe credit recovery is a grade, but I’ll make sure they’re more specific in the next presentation.
Other programs make students choose course or other opportunity.
Baskett: If I was taking because I didn’t have good grade, but for some students they weren’t successful this year. Is there an opportunity to springboard their GPA. Will there be an opportunity for Board Members to visit? A show-off event.
Karr: There will be a culminating event. We are planning and hoping for in person.
Swift: We’ll base on guidance at the time. Today that limit would be 25 people.
Baskett: The elementary program, I love there is a virtual component for those who can’t come face to face. It’s also a time some children are with distant parents. Thank you for that flexibility. The video – is it posted somewhere? Make sure to send us the link, I want to know more.
Lazarus: It was successful last yer. My two kids participated and loved it. I’m trying to get them to work again this year.
Have we thought about the music since we can do it outside?
Karr: We are planning to offer the summer music program this year. We’re seeing this as face to face and virtual. Students could opt in in ways they did in the past.
Lazarus: So that will be announced later?
DuPree: I’m visual so there’s a couple things I wanted to ask about us being able to see. I see under SISS there are options for social emotional skills and coping skills. Do you have examples?
Linden: My team & Dr Fidishin could probable do more justice to the question. Our social workers create and delivery programming. We have opportunities for students to engage together. We’re looking to do as much as possible when we’re in person since we know we haven’t done much of that this year.
In general education programs are also opportunities to engage together and have students with 504 & IEP. Learning important things like waiting in line, resolving conflict.
I will make sure when we come back we bring some examples of that and share with you.
Budget Timeline 2021-2022
Every day is budget day in AAPS. But between January consensus meeting and requirement to pass a balanced budget by June 30, we work every spring to set the table so we are ready to pass the budget. We usually work the timeline about now and work steps the next couple months. We know this is going to be a buckle your seatbelt budget season.
As part of a roundtable with Gov Whitmer, she shared she doesn’t expect to deliver a state budget prior to June 30. We would really need that information significantly ahead of June 30. This will be an interesting year. I’m grateful we have Ms Minnick to guide us through that.
Tonight’s not really a budget presentation but warming everyone up to series of events between now and June 30.
- First Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference – Januar y15
- Release of Governor’s Proposed Budget – February 11
- 2021-2022 Budget Review & Discussion – April Updates
- Review Budget Projections with Trustees in 1:1 Meetings – mid-May
- Approve Budget Public Hearing – May 12
- Second Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference – May 14 (tentative)
- Publish Notice for Public Hearing – May 17
- Review Executive/Senate/House Budgets – May 19
- First Briefing on Proposed Budgets – May 26
- FY 20202021 Final Budget Amendment
- FY 2021-2022 Budget
- Public Hearing on the FY 2021-2022 Budget
- Millage Resolution (Compliance w/Truth in Budgeting Act)
- Second Briefing on Proposed Budget
- FY 20202021 Final Budget Amendment
- FY 2021-2022 Budget
- Public Hearing on the FY 2021-2022 Budget
- Millage Resolution (Compliance w/Truth in Budgeting Act)
- Adoption of Budgets & Millage resolution – General Appropriations Act
- 2021-22 Budget Adoption if necessary – June 23
- Additional Special Meeting if necessary – June 30
Lazarus: Thank you for that overview to keep it on our calendars & radars. I’d like your opinion on where our best efforts would be.
Minnick: You are correct, this list he time we’d normally pursue a mid-year amendment to our current budget. There’s so much in flex now – how and when money would be appropriated from federal funds and school aid fund. There’s a lot of uncertainty now. I too have had conversations with Dr Swift. I’ve noted the final budget amendment on our timeline. I think that would be most valuable. But if a mid-year budget amendment is desired, we can do that.
Baskett: I know we’ll be looking at budget, but I’m also interested in how we’re accounting for our expenses. The amount of money spent on COVID mitigation. This money has to come from somewhere. If we’re not going to get money from money coming from feds, we need to be clear how much we spent and where it will come from if we don’t get reimbursements. At what point do you think we’ll be able to assess that. When you come back, or later?
Minnick: Some of the estimated funds have been released. As those amounts become known and legislative processes evolve, I can update you. If we get to the point that we’re looking at next year’s budget without a firm understanding, we’re always looking at expedited covid related expenditures because those will be so unique. If there aren’t federal funds or they go beyond those, we’re constantly looking for ways to absorb those.
Swift: I’ll add that since Day 1 all COVID related expenses have been coded.
Baskett: I’d like to show that this isn’t cheap. We have a budget too. It would be interesting to know if it impacts other things.
Johnson: About relief money tied to in person instruction and CARES money. We’ve been counting on that for the full year. Are they related at all? Does CARES money have any relation to in person instruction?
Swift: Many states are using federal plans to supplant not supplement money school districts have. They’re using federal money to replace state monies to keep more money in the state.
Minnick: Money we expect to receive comes in various forms and different dollars.
<At this point I took a bathroom break so I would be available for the next section>
Lazarus: Where we legally have to pass a budget when we dont’ know how much money you’re going to get. We’re blindly making decisions. But we are required to pass a budget by June 30. We have done it well in the past with Ms Minnick and our previous financial officer. We need to step-up and talk about it in our community. So the pressure is not on us, but where it belongs in Lansing. Sorry I went off on that tangent.
Swift: This is really our main attraction for the evening. I appreciate your patience. To speak to one of our fundamental priorities beyond our critical mission of teaching and learning. For sometime we have held a commitment to sustainability.
We do have a little thinking document, but mostly this evening is about your discussion. Members of my team and I will take careful notes so we can support this work going forward. We know it’s time to renew our commitment to a strong environmental stewardship and sustainability. We’re using a tool we’ve bluntly named an action plan> I want to share the idea of an Environmental Stability Action Plan. It’s come from your commitment. I want to say we’re using Action Plans.
We’ve been deep in crisis and emergency planning for over a year. We’ve been working long days caught up completely with the COVID related changes and requirements and really crisis management. As a way of renewing and restoring and reset we will be bringing forward action plans. Like quick start options to resetting our pace to work post-COVID. The board and trustees have been discussing a variety of areas such as Equity Strategic Plan, 2019 Capital Bond, Special Education Enhancements, Social/Emotional Learning, District COVID emergent priorities. We’re looking at Action Plans over the next few months. Engagement post spring break will ask what are our priorities as we emerge from COVID. This is the last study session prior to Earth Day 2021.
We’re describing three legs of the stool
- Establishment of AAPS Environmental Sustainability Task Force
- Suite of Environmental Sustainability Policies
- Continue to look at with Environmental Education team how to enhance their programming
Today is about the first leg.
In the document I’ve added part of board policy about task force that board assigns to an urgent topic.
I want to highlight what the board has done. We have not waited for the action plan. We’ve been bout the business of working diligently to improve and live our commitment to environmental stability. In 2019 we passed the capital bond. It included a commitment to the environment.
- Planted more than 500 native hardwood trees
- Enhanced natural play areas
- Constructed first fully natural playground at AAO
- Enhanced outdoor learning classrooms
- We have one of best school garden programs in country
- With a grant added 4 electric buses. One of a few districts in pilot and research to improve viability
- Energy Efficiency. One of commenters spoke to LED lights & retrofitting mechanical systems, adding solar energy. Each year energy saving offsets more than 6000 miles driven by cars or 3million pounds of coal burned.
- Storm water management Pioneer, Scarlett, Mitchell, Carpenter
- With grant monies redesigning & recommitting to recycling program
- Enhanced Freeman environmental center and updated 2 teaching labs there.
Johnson: Dr Swift, you stole some of my thunder. You’re right tonight is to examine the task force. To remind everyone in the public, this is a study session so we can’t make any decisions tonight.
The charge of the task force is to advise AAPS BOE on formal sustainability plan and guide adjustments in operations and capital improvement. And the plan must support District’s moral imperative and critical mission to delivery high-quality teaching learning for all students every day. The goal is being work in April. It will include local climate change & sustainability experts.
- Energy Audit – inventory & assessment of current carbon footprint
- Recommendations for phased improvements to reach goal o carbon neutrality
- Present recommendations for sustainability roadmap with investments required, timelines, benefits, and challenges
They’d present quarterly update and recommendation by Spring 2022. A one year time frame for this work.
It’s easy to put a flag in the ground with goals. We want to see what carbon neutrality looks like and set that goal.
I look forward to your feedback, who we think needs to be on it, are we directionally accurate here, are there other things we should think about?
Gaynor: I’m excited and relieved too. To get to the formation of a task force. We have so many in this community who are knowledgeable and have a breadth of understanding of what it takes to meet carbon neutrality goal. I’ve expressed this often that we are fortunate to have Mr Lauzzana heading up our bond campaign. I’m excited about new construction to meet this standard. I think the board and Dr Swift are unified in this goal. I think the board has a role in making sure we stay on pace.
Yes the task force and goals are good. I think an audit is needed. The second point is broadly stated, but important and points to we understand infrastructure, but there is much that goes on in and around our school that contributes to carbon footprint. The A2Zero effort would be a tremendous partner helping us combine forces. Aside from UM, we’re one of the largest single forces in this effort. I want to be part of helping with the task force. I know there are other things we should consider like a climate goal or having sustainability officer (or whatever we title it) to pull it together and work on areas that aren’t as concrete or specific.
Querijero: Looking over the language of the charge with how it is written, normally when we ask someone to create a plan that’s usually aligned with a vision. I understand the task force is to create the vision> It’s tricky to come up with a plan without a vision to align it to. They’re coming up with both the vision and the plan> There’s a lot of ideas of what sustainability means. There will be some differentiation on where efforts go forward first. having an overall vision helps that move forward.
If I could add clarification bout the professional consultant. Is that the same language as a sustainability officer we’re going to employ> Curious about what our thinking was and who crafted the language.
Johnson: We have people employed by district working on day to day. When we want this effort, we bring someone in who can carry some of the extra teeth for the task force without pulling on current folks who are often overly stretched at this point.
Swift: I think part of the thinking is also the greenhouse gas inventory would be a specialty type of consultant you would engage to complete the work for the task force.
Querijero: But isn’t that what we have a task force for – to plan to hold that study and who to hire. That’s what my question is there simultaneously coming up with plan and vision.
Swift: I can do it at board request and should have done it. A good start was the work done in policy 8000 (from 2018). Trustees at the time spent time drafting those priorities. That would be the closest to a written vision we had so far.
Baskett: My question is kind of along the line of vision. What are we trying to do here? We crafted this plan last adopted in 2018. I don’t think we’ve discussed since. I don’t know where people stand. I’ve heard sustainability, carbon neutral, what are we trying to do? Refine policy? Give a plan, create a tab force to make a recommendation. What is the end goal? I feel we missed a step here. Maybe a discussion happened in another committee (perhaps bond committee). Do we have a commitment to what we’re talking about. A lot has happened in the last 2 years. Second, what is the reporting structure of the task force. Is it to make recommendations, to be adopted, who is staff support? We talked about hiring consultants – what could they do vs resources and skillsets we have on staff. How is it funded? Is it allowable expense out of bond funds?
Lazarus: Can I step in here. My understanding of the goal and why I support a task force’s we all agree climate change is real, we need to lower greenhouse gases, and our ultimate goal is to be at net zero. The question is how do we get there. We need to understand we have a bond and will be dong a lot of building and capital investments. The task force needs latitude to do energy audit and figure out where we are. With technology changing every year how we actually get there. There needs to be a lot of research – an outside consultant with that expertise to guide us through the energy audit. The charge of the task force it to advise the work of the bond and the expenses of the rollout we’ve already adopted back in December and how it would roll out. Advise the board and committee the we are at Point A and need to Point Z, but can only get to Point M if we do XYZ. Technology may change but at least we have a way to make logical and thoughtful decisions on rolling out bond and capital investments in buildings. We can’t have one push the other. We only have a finite amount of money, I know $1 billion sounds like a lot but we have 32 buildings over a long period of time. That would be the charge of the task force to figure out what we have, where we are and work with every single capital improvement going forward needs to consider greenhouse gases. That’s how we as a board affect policy. To make sure the next board will continue on this process and legacy. We’re basing decisions on meeting Net Zero by a reasonable goal. I’d love to say by 2022, but that isn’t reasonable. That’s the beauty of the task force, it has the way to do the research and make the decision on sho to reach a sustainable goal of Net Zero.
Johnson: To ask about where we get the money, I think if they should have a consultant, we ask Ms Minnick & Dr Swift where we get the money. I agree with Lazarus that many say we want to get to Net Zero for our organization. The question about the vision is show us what it would take to get to zero in 2030, 2050, whatever that is. I’m not sure there needs to be additional definition. Given our resources and constraints so we understand what that means. Many organizations and companies don’t have an idea of how to get there.
Swift; In addition to the policy, Mr Cluley has up we want to share the vision that was in the bond. It is in the Infrastructure on the AAPS website in the bond materials. There’s been groundwork done and want to point out those two sources. If you think of other written sources in addition tot he policy and bond commitment, I want to make sure we set out what has been committed to so far.
Baskett: So, I’m trying to wrap my head around> What you’re proposing is putting together this group which will include board members possible a consultant, subject matter experts in community to talk about proposed changes in policy or direction or practices and help with that results to guide bond work for construction/reconstruction/enhancmeents. Do I have that right. A simple nod is fine (several nodded – Johnson, Gaynor)
As you’ve said the bond committee is working, we’ve put out bids, is there a timeline.
Gaynor: Because of COVID we’re 6 months behind the work. I’d expect this to move quickly.
Baskett: DO the task force have a timeline
Lazarus: As chair of bond committee, we’d like their report tomorrow because it would guide their decision. What is written here is they would report quarterly and advise along the way. If they have information they want the committee to know, it’s a cooperative and fluid sharing of information. I think there’s a 1 year timeline we can put on a taskforce, we can get it done in that time frame. If they can get it sooner, that’s great. If it takes longer, we can extend.
Swift: I’ve heard from each of you desire to inform a carbon neutral goal.
Baskett: I need real definition for a lay person. People throw out carbon neutrality, sustainability. We need a real definition. Our goal is education. I don’t want to be a pawn to someone else’s goal. I don’t want to be in 10 years realizing we went the wrong way for education at the direction of the task force. I want to see educators, people who’ve educated around this area. When we looked at developing skyline, we brought in those experts. What does it meant to have a school with a magnet, with small learning communities, we looked at how others did it and does it make sense for Ann Arbor. Speak about how task force members will be selected, who will selected, etc.
Johnson: I agree we have to define what the buzz words mean for AAPS. People throw jargon out and it can mean different things to different groups. Was thinking like an auxiliary committee any trustee interested in serving lets me know. I appreciate wanting educators on it. The composition of the group is up to us as a board. Hopefully we’ll hear who we think needs to be involved. So it can be designed as the board would like it designed.
Querijero: I liked Lazarus analogy of A to Z. The way the language is when they come back and say we can only get to Q. If that’s not aligned to the vision, that’s not the job. We need to give them direction. Do we want to be positive collecting energy? What if we can get to 70%. Although we’re advocates, we’re not experts.
Johnson: I think if we say we want to get to 0, but can only get to 5, I don’t think anyone would say the group is a failure. Lot of the conditions for can and can’t depend on resources. The answer could be it depends. The bond is a great example. At $1B we can do X, we can do less based on lower amounts. At this point, there isn’t enough detail or any options to really know how close or far we are and what it would take to get to perfect. And to know what we can get to.
Lazarus: When we were on campaign trail for bond, we did not say we would hit net zero. We said we were committed to use funds included sustainable energy technology like solar, air conditioning and were looking at geothermal for new buildings. We’ve never promised anyone we would get to Net Zero. We don’t know how to, so we can’t promise. This task force is charged to determine how to get us there…bond repair, retrofits, etc. over a 15-20 year construction timeline. If we can’t get there in our $1B budget, we need to know if we had whatever and if tech changed if we could hit net zero. Sustainability and technology is changing everyday. We can do more in 5 years. We need experts to foresee and predict. There’s a lot of planning and decision making when building a new school – it could be 2-3 year process. We need to know what to evaluate. Are we on the bleeding edge? Maybe we want to be leading edge to have more information. It’s just a question of how do we get there.
Johnson: I would add, that I hope folks who are experts in the area would know other funding sources that wouldn’t come from current budget. We need to get the right people together to chart that path. That would be the goal fo the task force.
Lazarus: Mr Lauzzana laid out you really can’t get to sustainable net zero in 100 year old buildings. There’s a cost in renovations and we dont’ want to lose the value of our old buildings. If we wanted to be 100% carbon neutral and most sustainable building we would need to build from ground zero. We can’t do that. We don’t have the budget for that. There are give and takes to decide on.
Gaynor: There’s obviously tough decisions the board will be facing. We do need to make a goal. Trustee Lazarus talked about our history but there’s also our future. Our goal is the future of our students. I don’t think there’s a conflict. This isn’t a passing fancy whether we call it net zero or carbon neutrality, we have to address. I think we need to be as strong as possible within the restraints we had. I supported the largest bond. Other organizations also supported the largest bond to use the buffer at the top end towards sustainability. Hopefully the federal government will fund sustainability infrastructure items. We need to leverage that as much as possible. As has been aid here, the task force can refine that. We have to take leadership and have a vision.
Baskett:I don’t need answers on composition tonight. But I would appreciate understanding the process. This idea of the taks force has come before us and you’ve written the charges for the group. Would it work under the guise of the bond committee who would bring it to the board or does it work through planning committee/ Help me understand where the oversight lies.
Gaynor: I hadn’t thought that through. It obviously reports to the board. Id’ think thin bond committee. We’d have reps from the board on the task force.
Johnson: I would think in the verbiage it reports to the board on a quarterly basis. The full board would govern. But it would interface with the bond committee, if the task force finds information they can submit to bond committee to consider as they make their recommendation. The task force primary goal is to give us a primary road map. They’re not there to make recommendations
Baskett: What if bond committee doesn’t agree with recommendations of task force.
Johnson: Task force is looking at big picture. They’re not looking at six months, they’re looking at 30 years. But they should share if what they know is useful.
Gaynor: Their focus will be broader than just want the bond finances.
Lazarus: The task force might find something that is immediate if we just change operations. We shouldn’t wait for a quarterly report. That could save us immediately.
Baskett: I think the process is still fuzzy and I think it needs to be fleshed out more clearly. Everything is doable when everyone is friend. When there’s a dispute and no clarity at the beginning it’s a a mess. I see the need, and will support it, but want to figure out the process before we start. At this point, I don’t feel comfortable enough to make a decision. It seems every committee could gain value from this task force. This is a bit murky yet. We haven’t talked about how folks are selected. I see the validity and value, but you need to work out finer details and come back. I’m assuming this is just proposal for discussion tonight.
Kelly: I think that’s an important reminder. The date on here says April which is 7 days from now. That’s not a lot of time to have the who what why when where process in place. Those answers would be good to have before we take action tonight.
I’ve been listening. There are things we do every day in our mission to educate children that aren’t environmentally friendly. While our mission is to educate, it is our ethic to do it in a responsible way to protect the earth for their future.
The second thing I’m hearing is whether we want to have an aspirational goal that we charge the task force how to tell us or we task them to gather the information to tell us what we an do. I wonder if that’s a semantic if we staff this with the most best motivated environmentalist. If we have the best of the best they should be able to figure out the way to get there. I think the middle ground is are we setting a goal, vision, what we hope will happen and tasking them. Is it a hope to be carbon neutral and come back with a feasibility study of how to get there.
The fourth thing would be easy to start talking about is the how. Lazarus pointed out technology is changing fast. It would be hard to make a goal based on technology we know about today. It denies things are changing quickly. Does it happen through our work on site or through programs like off-set. I can tell people it’s carbon neutral even though I put out emissions because I pay for off-sets somewhere else. What does it mean for us? Buildings that don’t pollute, a bigger vision of what carbon neutral means? Maybe it isn’t at one of our old buildings but we make it up somewhere else.
To wrap it all up with those questions I ave in mind, we aren’t taking action tonight, but what do we hope to leave with tonight? What is that end point for tonight?
Johnson: I’d like a
- general understanding that the board as a whole supports a task force.
- I’d like trustees to know enough to know if they want to serve.
- Who are the right people to serve to know the answers tot the questions folks are asking tonight.
To take all the jargon out, we want to have the least impact on the environment possible. Knowing who will help us understand that is important.
Kelly: Can I ask for a head nod that it’s a good idea?
Querijero: I’d like to hear from Mr Lauzzana.
Lauzzana: I’ll say it’s a thumbs up. I’ve been doing this work for 30 years – energy efficiency, carbon efficiency. Most of the work is often convincing the decision makers it’s a good idea. It’s refreshing to be where the decision makers are on board and just deicing
I think greenhouse gas inventory (and expansive in our case) is a good idea. Many inventories focus on energy, but there’s a lot of other activities that contribute like cutting grass, food in cafeteria, in a previous engagement we moved to meatless Monday. A hamburger is about 5x the footprint of a bean burrito. Buying text books, generating trash, teachers driving, busing students. It’s more than just buildings.
The other piece that sets us apart from other institutions, is the school district probably contributes 1-2% to our community. We have 75% of the youth in our buildings hundred of days a year. They’re setting out to the world. One of our biggest leverage points is the youth and educating them about the importance of these issues.
DuPree: The question I was having this time was the composition of the task force One of the things we prioritize was environmental education. Will the task force engage students and other youth groups that have been instrumental in activism work.
Johnson: I think it can if that’s what we want as a board. Several of us have talked to students in the sunrise groups. We’ve talked about students, experts, trustees.
Swift: I appreciate Trustee DuPree about including students and would also say our environmental educators have long been advocates of this work. My thought is they would likely be interested.
Johnson: I had that as a note since Baskett mentioned educators.
Gaynor: There are a couple people I think would be excellent characters.
Both Gaynor and Querijero both threw out names.
Johnson: I’m wondering about project managers who keeps this on task and the other is someone who handles finances. Or are there other ways someone interfaces with the task force.
Swift: There will be some component but not all can be funded by bond money. That’s the beauty of a consultant you can contract for parts of this.
Gaynor: I would ask you Dr Swift & Mr Lauzzana for suggestions.
Baskett: Now that it looks like there isn’t strong opposition, I think it’s an idea to define categories of people if not actual people. Like construction. I don’t need specific people, just a general idea to support. I want to manage expectations. Advise is one thing, but we have the fiduciary responsibility to the community.
Lauzzana: It would be a good consideration for other institutional reps – city, university, county possibility.
Johnson: I do think that there could be a task force that reaches out to these other folks. Everyone wouldn’t need to be on the task force at every meeting. I propose trustees interested email me to let me know. Depending who those folks are, we’d narrow down the process to move forward then bring it to the full board. That’s what I would propose as next steps.
Querijero: No thoughts, but in lieu of email I will say I’m interested in serving.
Johnson: Well, I want to give trustees time to think about it first, but thank you trustee Querijero.
Swift: I want to thank you for being willing to work from a draft and I’ve taken notes and we’ll work with a new draft and send it back to the board. It feels like a significant step and the board was committed, but we needed to get to a place where we could address it.
Johnson: In your opening you discussed other groups, and I look forward to study sessions on those areas as well – equity and special education.
The meeting will adjourn.
Motion to Adjourn by DuPree. Seconded by Querijero. No discussion. Vote unanimously to adjourn.
Meeting adjourned at 10:34p.