Volume 44, No. 13, Apr. 28, 2016

Prop. 123 and budget update

Budget discussions continued at the April 26 board study session. Dual 2016-17 budgets are being prepared, one if Prop. 123 passes and one if it does not.

If Prop. 123 does not pass, the board indicated the approval of:

  • A 1 percent raise for all employee groups. 
  • New bus driver and substitute rate schedules. 
  • Increasing hours for instructional assistants working with students with emotional disorders and autism from 29 to 35 hours.
  • Additional positions, including 37 in special education, three ed tech trainers and seven information systems positions (to assist with one-to-one technology). 

If Prop. 123 passes, the board intends to approve:

  • Increasing new teacher salary to $38,500 from $36,500.
  • A $2,500 raise for existing certified staff.
  • A 5 percent raise for classified hourly employees.
  • A $2,500 raise for supervisors and administrators.
  • Adjusting extra factor stipends.
  • Increasing off-contract hourly pay for certified employees.
  • New bus driver and substitute rate schedules. 
  • Increasing hours for instructional assistants working with students with emotional disorders and autism from 29 to 35 hours.
  • Additional positions, including 37 in special education, six ed tech trainers and 17 information systems positions (to assist with one-to-one technology), seven elementary deans, a Canvas support trainer and a Visions security trainer.

2015-16 Prop. 123 funds

If Prop. 123 passes, the district will receive $12.9 million in additional 2015-16 funding. The board has indicated the approval of a 3.5 percent (calculated from 2015-16 salary) one-time additional compensation for eligible employees, which allocates approximately 87 percent of these funds. The remaining funds will be allocated for capital needs.

Visit mpsaz.org/info for more details about ongoing budget discussions.

Prop 123 forum

Informational forum

At 7 p.m. May 4, the district is hosting a Prop. 123 informational-only community forum at the Red Mountain High School auditorium. Guests including Dr. Cowan and Bobette Sylvester will discuss Prop. 123 and its impact on Mesa Public Schools. All staff and community members are welcome to attend.

Communications and marketing will be notifying parents about the event via SchoolMessenger. As a reminder, election or political information cannot be sent home with students. However, if you'd like to share the forum flier via your emailed school announcements and social media accounts, please do.

Nine new A+ schools announced

For the second year in a row, Mesa has nine schools among Arizona's best K-12 public schools. These outstanding schools are the 2016 winners of A+ School of Excellence™ awards from the Arizona Educational Foundation:

  • Brinton Elementary School, Dr. Patricia Estes, principal
  • Las Sendas Elementary School, Aaron Kaczmarek, principal
  • Mountain View High School, Greg Milbrandt, principal
  • Shepherd Junior High School, Eileen Cahoon, principal
  • Smith Junior High School, Casey Eagleburger, principal
  • Summit Academy, Mark Andrews, principal
  • Taft Elementary School, Russ Heath, principal
  • Westwood High School, Shawn Lynch, principal
  • Whitman Elementary School, Andrea Erickson, principal

To earn an A+ award, schools must show high achievement or significant improvement. Top schools identify and meet the academic and non-academic needs of their students. Awardees hold their title for three and a half years. Not only does the district have the most new A+ schools, but it also has more current A+ Schools of Excellence™ than any district in the state — 23. 

Three district schools honored for STEM success

Red Mountain High School, and Mendoza and Sirrine elementary schools have been accepted into the new AZ STEM School Community of Practice. Arizona SciTech, Intel, Arizona Science Center and the Maricopa County Education Service Agency are leading the initiative as part of a STEM ecosystem within the STEM Funders Network. In a community of practice, stakeholders share knowledge, build relationships and learn from each other.

The three district schools are part of a 57-school cohort. These schools are forward thinking, creative and dedicated to sharing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) best practices. Cohort participants will collaborate and design innovative solutions to the challenges of educating students in STEM, and to prepare them to meet the high-tech needs of the future.

Congratulate this year's Bench the Bag winners

Bench the bag 16Students at Sirrine Elementary worked hard in March to collect more than 351 pounds of recyclable plastic bags. This earned the school the Division I Bench the Bag title. Franklin at Brimhall topped Division II with more than 720 pounds collected.

Bench the Bag is an Earth Day-themed partnership between the district, Bashas', Trex and the City of Mesa. Elementary students are asked to bring in empty plastic grocery or shopping bags, bread bags, shrink wrap, dry cleaning bags and produce bags to help their school be the top recycler. This year, 23 district schools participated in the challenge and collected more than 5,000 pounds of recyclable plastic material.

The City of Mesa presented Sirrine Elementary with a tree and City of Mesa Earth Day award April 18. Franklin at Brimhall will be honored in May.

All of the bags collected were kept out of the landfill and recycled through Bashas' recycling program.
Congratulations to Sirrine, Franklin at Brimhall and all participating schools!

New administrators announced

At the April 26 board meeting, six new administrator appointments were announced. Administrators will begin their positions July 1. Congratulations to:

  • Jennifer Echols, director, Mesa Distance Learning Program. Echols is currently the MDLP social studies content specialist.
  • Shaun Holmes, assistant superintendent, human resources. Holmes is currently director of human resources at Scottsdale Unified School District.
  • Jami Hovet, chief financial officer, financial services. Hovet is currently director of financial services.
  • Pete Lesar, associate superintendent, educational services. Lesar is currently assistant superintendent, human resources.
  • Greg Mendez, principal, Riverview High School. Mendez currently teaches and coaches at Skyline High School.
  • William Schultz, principal, Entz Elementary. Schultz is currently a principal in Queen Creek Unified School District.

A district retiree makes a special donation to music students

Floyd Peter Jenkins, a retired Poston Junior High social studies teacher, established the Ernestina Jenkins Memorial Fund in April. The $40,000 gift is intended to supplement the music education program and provide additional experiences for students to develop musical skills and enhance their love of the art. The gift, in honor of Jenkins' late wife, Ernestina, will go toward instruments, books, private instruction and summer music class tuition.

Celebrate retirees at school and department retirement parties

Offer our retirees your congratulations and best wishes at their school and department receptions. The parties are listed alphabetically by last name. Please email party information to Miguel Flores. Check the Web page often for additional party updates.

Cue the applause

MagnussonCongratulations to our April Employees of the Month. Teresa Duranti, kindergarten teacher at Mendoza Elementary, and Beth Hunt, first-grade teacher at Red Mountain Ranch Elementary, were named Educators of the Month. Deb Lee, secretary to the assistant principal at Westwood High School, and Jesika Mejia, Kino Junior High registrar, were named Employees of the Month. Ishikawa Elementary's Lisa McGee was named Volunteer of the Month.

The Mesa Chamber of Commerce will honor Maureen Magnusson, Westwood High School math teacher (pictured), as the 2016 Teacher of the Year, and Kasandra Zapien, Mountain View High School senior, as the 2016 Student of the Year, at the chamber's Leadership Awards Dinner this Friday, April 29.

Dobson High School biology teacher Kelly Brabeck is Channel 3's Silver Apple recipient. Brabeck was nominated by her student Kameryn Andrews for her caring attitude, "open heart, willingness to always help, quirky nature and drive" to help students.

Westwood High School drama teacher Jeana Whitaker received the 2016 Teacher of the Year award from the Arizona Thespians at the state conference. She was nominated through an essay written by Sarah Stinocher, a junior, and selected by a state-level committee.

Joanie Seavey, Kids Corner program director at Edison Elementary, received the 2016 Program Line Staff of the Year award from the Arizona Community Education Association, for consistently going above and beyond to deliver outstanding programming to children.

Joelyn Hilton, EdTech trainer, is a recipient of the Nearpod VR grant. Nearpod is an education technology company focused on developing digital learning tools, virtual reality and interactive content across mobile devices that provides teachers an easy and efficient way to leverage technology in the classroom. The grant broadens access to cutting edge technology. Beginning fall 2016, the district will have access to sets of high-quality Nearpod VR headsets, more than 25 VR-based lesson plans, professional development and dedicated one-on-one support. Hilton submitted a video testimonial and written essay to be considered for the grant. 

Congratulations to this year's Mesa Public Schools Flinn Scholars! As the only school with more than one scholar, Westwood High School boasts a whopping three scholars this year: Maeve Kennedy, Ivette Montes and Andrew Roberts. Skyline High School's Toni Marcheva was also named a scholar. The highly prestigious scholarship package was awarded to 20 Arizona students. It is valued at more than $115,000 and includes tuition, room and board, study abroad opportunities and more.


Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, district communications supervisor

Submit an award or recognition or tell us about a special event via our good news form.


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