Employee newsletter, December 6, 2019

Upcoming events

  • Dec. 6: Holiday Boutique at Student Services Center
  • Dec. 20: End of second quarter, early release
  • Dec. 23-Jan. 3: Winter break

Dr. Pete Lesar named interim superintendent

At a Dec. 2 special board meeting, the Governing Board accepted Dr. Ember Conley's resignation and appointed Dr. Pete Lesar as interim superintendent. Lesar retired in July after a 32-year career at the district, serving in a variety of roles including teacher, principal and associate superintendent. 

Learn the facts about the district leadership transition at mpsaz.org/info.

Limited administrative services available during winter break

Human resources and payroll are closed Dec. 23-Jan. 1, with limited services available Jan. 2-3. Reach human resources at 480-472-7200 and payroll at 480-472-0444. Please note, HR and benefits will be closed noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 19. 

Employee Assistance Program

During the holiday season, stress, anxiety and depression can be challenges many people face. EAP Preferred is available to help employees and their families with benefits including clinical counseling and work-life services. Receive up to eight free counseling visits per event. Call 602-264-4600 anytime or visit eappreferred.com. Find more employee resources at mpsaz.org/wellness.

Help students and lower your tax bill with the ECA tax credit

Extracurricular Activity (ECA) contributions support district students in everything from field trips to testing fees for SAT, ACT, AP and more. Help a student and possibly lower your tax bill with the dollar-for-dollar ECA state tax credit. An individual may contribute up to $200, and a couple filing jointly can contribute up to $400. Donate by mail, at district schools through Friday, Dec. 20, or at the Administrative Services Center. You can also contribute online through MPS web pay.

Contact Carol Alexander in student activities at 480-472-0133 for guidance. To be eligible for the 2019 tax credit, your contribution must be received or postmarked by April 15, 2020.

Pete Lesar at operations tamale breakfastOperations holds annual tamale breakfast fundraiser

On Dec. 5, operations held its annual tamale breakfast fundraiser to help district families in need. Team volunteers were up before the sun to cook and serve breakfast to guests including Governing Board members, district colleagues and community supporters. This year's event raised over $2,700 in donations to benefit six families. 

Calling all Mustangs

Did you or someone you know graduate from Dobson High in 1982-1985? You're invited to celebrate 120 years of high schools in Mesa at the Jan. 28 Governing Board meeting. We're inviting alumni to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and be recognized at the meeting. RSVP and learn more at mpsaz.org/120

SmartDollar free for benefits-eligible employees

Dave Ramsey's SmartDollar has helped millions of people get out of debt and gain control of their financial future. The program is free for benefits-eligible district employees. SmartDollar includes a proven step-by-step plan, video lessons and online tools. Learn more and register online.

Staff email signature expectation

As part of the quality service goal in the pay-for-performance plan, all employees should update their signature to include the link to the survey. Remember to include your school or department name (unless your title is self-explanatory). Find the link to the district survey at mpsaz.org/service

Important personnel reminders

Governing Board policies GDK and GDK-R contain references to support staff workdays. Learn more about classified and certificated workdays on page 24 of the employee handbook

The district forbids sexual harassment of or by any employee. Please review Governing Board policies GBCX and GBCX-R. Learn more on page 21 of the employee handbook.

Cue the applause

Diane Galligher and students at Johnson ElementaryAt a Nov. 19 special event, 23 district teachers were celebrated at the annual Masonic Lodge Teacher Awards. Congratulations to Bush Elementary's Jacy Soltis, Carson Junior High's Sally Walston, Dobson High's Austin Cilone, Eagleridge Enrichment Center's Sharla Wiatt, Edison Elementary's Karrene Park, Eisenhower Center for Innovation's Alyssa Weston, Falcon Hill Elementary's Babette Haynie, Guerrero Elementary's Eloise Aguiluz, Highland Arts Elementary's Emily Hultz, Holmes Elementary's Amanda Cottle, Johnson Elementary's Dianne Galligher (pictured), Mesa Center for Success at Jordan's Brian Hanna, Kino Junior High's Karin Lingle, Madison Elementary's Lynette Mahon, Mendoza Elementary's Janea Waite, O'Connor Elementary's Jerri Lee Pendleton, Pomeroy Elementary's Melinda Jones, Red Mountain High's Stacy Claycomb, Skyline High's Allen Slate, Smith Junior High's Margaret Reilly, Taylor Junior High's Matison Jensen, Washington Elementary's Carole Warren and Webster Elementary's Lynn Merrill-Akin. View a photo gallery of these fantastic educators doing what they do best.

Dr. Kristen Lilly, Crismon Elementary psychologist, was named the 2019 School Psychologist of the Year by the Arizona Association of School Psychologists.

Red Mountain High's Jeannine Kuropatkin has been elected to the executive board of the Arizona Council for the Social Studies. Her one-year term as secretary begins January 2020.

Kerr Elementary's Christine Conrad won the Rookie Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award at the Arizona Health and Physical Education Honor and Recognition Awards.

Lehi Elementary spotlight recognition

Doug Akey, music teacher at Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, won the Silver Apple Award from azfamily 3TV. Akey was nominated for the award by one of his eighth-grade students, who said that Akey is a schoolwide favorite and loved by all students.

Red Mountain High theatre teacher Matt Erickson was named Teacher of the Year at the Arizona State Thespian Festival.

Mountain View High coach Gary Ernst was one of several inducted into the 2019 Mesa Public Schools Hall of Fame. See all inductees at mesasports.org.

Employees were honored during the spotlight recognitions program at the Nov. 26 Governing Board meeting. Educator of the Month was Whitman Elementary first-grade teacher Linda Schweitzer. Employee of the Month was Lehi Elementary lead custodian William Van Sant. Customer Service Champions were Lehi Elementary office specialist Susie Santiago (pictured with Principal Christina Larson), and Whitman Elementary secretary to the principal Stephanie Hatley and office specialist Yolanda Wulff. See all honorees and view spotlight videos on the communications & engagement webpage.

View some of the district's recent accomplishments in the Nov. 26 celebrations video.

Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, communications & engagement director

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