Employee newsletter, November 14, 2019

Upcoming events

Voters approve budget increase

Voters living in district boundaries approved the 15% budget increase Nov. 5. In case you missed it, Superintendent Ember Conley and Governing Board President Elaine Miner recorded a video message about the election and next steps.

The 2020 Census and Mesa Public Schools

The 2020 Census will determine how over $700 billion in federal government resources will be distributed each year into the next decade to states and localities. The Census count will impact the federal funds Mesa Public Schools receives each year for critical programs and services, including:

  • Special education
  • Title I staff and programming
  • Summer school
  • Parent University
  • Family support specialists
  • Preschool and Head Start
  • Professional learning

The Statistics in Schools program provides activities and materials by grade level and subject that teachers can use to educate students about the importance of a correct Census count. Additionally, you can find helpful videos and resources on the district's 2020 Census webpage. National Census Week is March 23-27, 2020. Census Day is April 2, 2020.

Listen to an interview with Dr. Conley

Dr. Ember Conley appeared on Education Talk Radio Oct. 30 to discuss challenges facing large school districts. The superintendents of Greenville County Schools (SC) and Montgomery County Public Schools (MD) were also part of the conversation. Guests are part of The School Superintendents Association Large Countywide & Suburban District Consortium.

Annual operations tamale breakfast fundraiser

Each year, operations hosts a breakfast to benefit staff families in need. Team volunteers wake up before the sun to cook and serve delicious tamales, breakfast burritos and more. This year's event is 5:30-7:30 a.m. Dec. 5, at 555 S. Lewis, Mesa. We hope to see you there!

Sign up for PerkNow employee offers

Great news! Mesa Public Schools employees now have access to the PerkNow employee discounts website. Offers include:

  • Local concerts and sporting events
  • Nationwide theme parks, including Disneyland, Disney World and Six Flags
  • Hotels, Airbnb and travel activities
  • Insurance and finance-related deals
  • Online products including sporting goods and apparel

Fun fact: PerkNow was created by two Mountain View High alumni. Sign up at www.perknow.com/sign-up (link not supported by Internet Explorer). Use your work email or the code 0982 to create your account. Sign-up questions? Contact support@perknow.com.

Security awareness tips from information systems

With the holidays upon us and internet scams on the rise, here is a password tip that will help lower your risk of a cybersecurity attack on your home and work computers.

Should you save your password in a browser?

Absolutely not. Security researchers have proven that if a cybercriminal gains access to your computer, they can steal every password you store in your browser.

Why take chances, especially for accounts that contain highly sensitive data, such as banking and personally identifiable information (national ID numbers, home addresses, phone numbers, etc.)?

How can someone remember all these usernames and passwords?

Get a password manager! Password managers create, store and sync your login credentials across multiple devices. They can also auto-fill login forms on your behalf, removing the need to store your passwords in a browser. IS staff members recommend LastPass and Keeper.

Mesa Public Schools in the news

Cronkite News visited Keller Elementary's school garden for a story about childhood nutrition.

Mountain View High teacher Tamara Scott and the district's 53 America's Healthiest Schools were featured in the November issues of The Groves Report, The Breeze and The View

Scott was also featured in the November issues of UpClose publications Las Sendas, Mesa Uplands and The Groves. The issues also featured an article about Poston Junior High's Nov. 21 Astronomy Night event.

District media communications specialist Laurie Struna wrote about how the district prepares students for college and career readiness in the November issue of Ranchers' Roundup. Additionally, the issue featured an article about the district's $100,000 FAFSA completion grand prize.

East Valley Tribune featured an article about Mesa High's wrestling team acting as the unofficial spirit squad for other school athletes.

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 3 - Retiring within the next three years

Friday, Jan. 3, 8:30 a.m.

Route 4 - Retiring within the next year

Friday, Jan. 3, 10:30 a.m.

Register for a class 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 Debra Herman in human resources at 480-472-0404.

Consecutive absences for certified staff

All consecutive absences of more than five days for certified staff must be reported to human resources as soon as the absence is known. According to Article 40, Section V of the working conditions for certificated employees, "Other than for an approved leave of absence, it is expected that employees not be absent using personal leave and/or off-contract days for more than five (5) consecutive days during the school year."

Any exception (bereavement, personal days or off-contract days) must have administrative approval and a PAR created by human resources. Report the absence to LeAnn Heaton, HR technician, as soon as it is known. 

NAU administrative cohorts starting in January

Interested in school administration? Cohorts for Northern Arizona University's M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification start in January. Cohorts are offered in Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert and North Phoenix. Courses are offered from 5-7:30 p.m. one night per week in eight-week sessions. An accelerated model is available in Gilbert. Save over $4,000 by enrolling in the cohort program. Contact Josh Perkins or Josh Wilkins, 602-728-9510 or northvalley@nau.edu.

Cue the applause

Bush staff holding A letter grade bannerCongratulations to the 22 district schools recognized with 2018-19 A accountability letter grades by the State Board of Education: Franklin and Fremont junior high schools; Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies; Summit Academy; Bush, Franklin at Alma, Franklin at Brimhall, Franklin East, Franklin West, Hale, Hermosa Vista, Highland Arts, Irving, Ishikawa, Johnson, Las Sendas, MacArthur, Patterson, Red Mountain Ranch, Sousa, Wilson and Zaharis elementary schools. Overall, the district trended upward, with 63.5% of schools earning an A or B, and 26% of schools improving their letter grade over the previous year.

Newsweek named the top 5,000 STEM high schools, and Mountain View and Red Mountain high schools made the list. Both schools were recognized for innovative educational opportunities for students.

On Nov. 13, Safeway, Extra Yard for Teachers and Eckrich donated $57,000 to fulfill Donors Choose projects for district teachers. Thanks to our community partners for making a difference.

Congratulations to the 24 district educators who were named 2019 Wishes for Teachers recipients by Fiesta Bowl Charities and DriveTime. Each winner receives a $5,000 classroom grant. They are also invited to walk in the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade and be recognized on the field at the Cheez-It® Bowl. Winners are: Timothy Bergen, Janet Bleeker, Chandler Brown, Valerie Cichy, Chris Donlon, Victoria Ford, Jo Ann Hallstrom, Mike Haney, Laura Hessler, Emily Kleyn, Amy Lembo, Soumalee McNamara, Susan Might, Denise Mika, Rebecca Neal, Angela Ross, Amy Salinas, Michael Schmidt, Karen Sobczak, Larissa Talamantes, Travis Thomas, Jessica Tunnell, Jennifer Watson and Tammy Wilson. 

Katriece Jamison with Brian Minarcik at Nov. 12 governing board meeting

Mountain View High girls swim coach Glen Coy has been named Div. 1 Girls Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.

Sandra Ampha, eighth-grade math teacher at Shepherd Junior High, received the Volunteer of Excellence Award for her efforts with the Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. This prestigious national award recognizes volunteers who contribute outstanding service and continue the Girl Scouts mission.

Employees were honored during the spotlight recognitions program at the Nov. 12 Governing Board meeting. Educators of the Month were Guerrero Elementary fifth-grade teacher Katriece Jamison (pictured with Principal Brian Minarcik) and Red Mountain Ranch Elementary special education teacher Kimberlee Gibson. Employee of the Month was printing & publishing press operator David Aranda. Customer Service Champions were Guerrero Elementary office specialist Duvia Ozuna, Red Mountain Ranch Elementary facility assistant Laura Hamel, and printing & publishing graphic designer Matt Scoutten and desktop publisher Jacob Phillips. See all honorees and view spotlight videos on the communications & engagement webpage.

View some of the district's recent accomplishments in the November 12 celebrations video.

Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, communications & engagement director

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