Employee newsletter, September 13, 2019

Upcoming events

Stay up to date on the budget increase election

A 15% maintenance and operations budget increase, or override, is on the Nov. 5 mail-in only ballot. The budget increase helps the district retain and attract quality teachers and staff, improve school safety and security, and prepare students for college and the workforce. Learn the facts about the budget increase and find informational resources to share at mpsaz.org/info.

Employees and board members are prohibited from using district resources to influence the outcome of an election, per Arizona state law and district Policy GBG - District and Staff Participation in Political Activities and its regulation. As a reminder, district information about the budget increase, including fact sheets, should not be sent home with students.

Learn about the master facilities and strategic plans

The district is hosting six community meetings in September and October to share information about the master facilities and strategic plans. Join us to learn details and share your feedback. All are welcome.

Join us at the community resource fair

Learn about area healthcare and mental health organizations that are available to help your community. Administrators, counselors, school nurses and security officers are especially encouraged to browse and collect community resources to help your students, staff and families. The event is Thursday, Sept. 19, 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Student Services Center.

October break is Oct. 7-11

School is not in session Oct. 7-11. Certified and classified employees whose contract or regular work term is less than 12 months will not work during October break. Administrators, supervisors and 12-month contract classified employees will work Oct. 7-11, unless an absence is approved in advance. If requests are approved, employees must use accruals to cover their absences. 

Short-term classified employees have two paid holidays during October break: Oct. 10-11. Oct. 7-9 are unpaid. Learn more on the employee calendar page on the human resources webpage.

120 years of high schools logo: tradition, innovation and community, 1899-2019

Calling all Jackrabbits!

Do you know anyone who graduated from Mesa High School in 1945 or earlier? They're invited to a special reception and recognition at the Sept. 24 Governing Board meeting.

The event is the first of many to celebrate 120 years of high school excellence in Mesa. Learn more and get involved at mpsaz.org/120.

MPS alumnus? Don't forget to email your digital senior photo, name, title, site and favorite high school memory to news@mpsaz.org.

Wellness news and reminders

Free flu shots for all employees are available starting Sept. 16. If you have insurance, please be sure to bring along your insurance card. Save time by printing and completing the consent form in advance. Find the schedule on the wellness webpage.

No time to attend an onsite wellness class? No worries! Check out the new library of wellness webinars. Topics include managing stress, coping with grief and staying active. 

The Move It Maricopa walking challenge is coming soon. Gilbert Public Schools has again challenged Mesa Public Schools in the steps challenge, which starts Oct. 7. Register as a new user starting Sept. 16 and help the district retain our crown. There's also plenty of fun and prizes along the way. Keep an eye on the wellness webpage for more information.

Plan for retirement

Is retirement in the horizon? Plan to attend a 90-minute Arizona State Retirement System meeting. All meetings are held on the third floor of the Administrative Services Center, 63 E. Main St., Mesa.

Route 4 - Retiring within the next year
Monday, Dec. 2, 4 p.m.

Register for a meeting on the human resources webpage. Employees who do not have internet access may use the computers in the human resources lobby or seek assistance at their work site. Hurry, meetings fill up quickly!

Employees hired to work at least 20 weeks and at least 20 hours per week are required to enroll in ASRS. Contributions are set up automatically through payroll deduction for eligible employees.

It is important to establish an online ASRS account to ensure your contributions are correctly posted. Enrollees can review account statements, use benefit estimation tools and manage beneficiary information. Visit the ASRS resource page to learn more and build your retirement timeline.

Questions? Contact Deb Herman in human resources at 480-472-0404.

Customer service rockstars

Satisfied customers recognize staff for stellar customer service in the district's customer service survey. The schools that received the most responses in August were:

  • Lindbergh Elementary, 54 responses
  • Smith Junior High and Webster Elementary, 2 responses (tie)

Customers praised fantastic service, including this comment from a staff member about the MDC/used surplus staff: "Many moves were made over the summer and A LOT of furniture is waiting for pick up to be moved to used surplus. The coordination, patience and positive can-do attitude has not been overlooked. Kudos to the hard-working crew, from the office to the loading dock, for a job well done. I appreciate you!"

The online survey is available on the district website. Consider placing a link on your school or department home page.

SRP Touchdowns for Teachers grants

Teachers located in SRP service areas are eligible to win classroom grants in the Touchdown for Teachers program. For every Arizona Cardinals touchdown this season, two teachers will receive a $500 grant. Enter online and find more SRP teacher resources.

Save the date!

The 39th annual district College Fair is 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at Westwood High School. Encourage your students to come out and meet representatives from more than 100 colleges, universities, technical schools, military services and businesses. Parents of seniors can also get assistance completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the event.

Mesa Public Schools in the news

Field Elementary first-grade teacher Gina Ucci was interviewed on KJZZ about her 30 years of perfect attendance. Listen or read the story online.

Frontdoors Media featured a story about Whitman Elementary PE teacher Cara Shinjo receiving a $4,999 grant from American Heart Association. The grant funded active classroom seating.

Highland Arts Elementary was featured in Phoenix Magazine for its innovative arts programming.

Maricopa County School Superintendent Steve Watson visited Porter Elementary for his Where's Watson? video series. 

Dobson High counselor Christa Mussi appeared on ABC15 in a story about the impact of school counselors.

Al Moore, director of school safety & security, was interviewed by KTAR and 3TV/CBS5 about the consequences of making school threats. Moore also talked about campus security updates with East Valley Tribune and 3TV/CBS5.

Laurie Struna, media communications specialist, wrote about how the district keeps students safe in September issues of UpCloseNearby News and Ranchers Roundup.

Taylor Junior High was ranked the most improved junior high school by hoodline.com. The website rated Westwood as the most improved high school and Keller the most improved elementary school.

Review board policies on employee misconduct

Governing Board policies GCPD and GDPD refer to employee misconduct and procedures for administering appropriate discipline to staff engaged in misconduct. Action ranges from a written warning or letter of reprimand to dismissal. Find more information on P. 11 of the employee handbook.

Medical leave assistance program

Under Governing Board policy GBBD-R2, the district administers a medical leave assistance program. The program enables eligible employees to request and receive donations of sick leave from other employees so income may be received during a period of absence due to prolonged illness or injury. 

Cue the applause

Shepherd Junior High music teacher Taryn TidwellCongratulations to Tamara Scott, American sign language teacher at Mountain View High. Scott has received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Short Term Program (Fulbright DAST) grant from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She is one of 13 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad as part of Cycle II of the Fulbright DAST program in 2019.

Shepherd Junior High choir and drama teacher Taryn Tidwell (pictured) has been named one of five finalists for 2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced at an Oct. 24 awards luncheon. Lauren Cluff, Hughes Elementary reading interventionist, will also be honored at the luncheon as a semifinalist.

The district was recognized by the Wellness Council of Arizona for Process, Progress and Leadership in Worksite Health Promotion. Stevenson Elementary PE teacher Courtney Teatro was also honored as a Champion of Worksite Wellness for encouraging colleagues to be active and eat healthy. She goes above and beyond as a wellness ambassador. Way to go!

Office Depot gave a generous donation of school supplies, backpacks, gift cards and more to Falcon Hill Elementary students and staff as part of the Start Proud program. Learn more in this video from the district's visual communications team.

The good grant news keeps coming. Holmes Elementary received more than $7,000 in laptops, zip-up notebooks, hats and sports equipment from the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club, presented by pitcher Archie Bradley. Porter Elementary received a $4,000 Walmart grant to fund their STEM lab. Desert Financial Credit Union donated $1,500 in supplies and sports equipment to Wilson Elementary, along with a staff luncheon. Namesake Marilyn Wilson was on hand for the celebration.


Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, communications & engagement director

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