OF THE GOVERNING BOARD MEETING
OF THE MESA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 4
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2011
MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CURRICULUM SERVICES CENTER
549 North Stapley Drive, Mesa, AZ 85201
1. Review of Agenda Items
The Board briefly reviewed the agenda. Dr. Cowan explained the student travel
policy and the appropriate chaperon-to-student ratio allowed for an out-of-country
field trip. He also explained that the ARRA stimulus dollars were used to
purchase special education assessment materials.
2. Review of Governing Board Calendar
The Board briefly reviewed its calendar and decided to move the October
11, 2011, meeting to October 4, 2011, and the October 25, 2011, meeting to
October 18, 2011.
3. Update on Pay to Participate for Athletics
Dr. Hogen gave an update on Pay to Participate to the Board. He informed them
that no student was turned away for their inability to pay and that 20 percent of
students playing did receive help from the district. Over $153,000 has been
collected by the district to help with the cost of supporting the district's sports
programs. The Board asked that this continue to be monitored and requested
updates at a later date.
4. Discussion on District Facilities
Dr. Cowan explained that, with the decrease in enrollment, there is a need to
"right-size" the district and address excess space at schools throughout the
district. He informed the Board that the superintendency has been meeting on a
weekly basis to come up with an aggressive plan and an analysis of facility usage
to address this concern. Ms. Sylvester gave an overview on the Defining the
Future process, both past and present. She gave a presentation on the junior
high schools' excess square footage, which is a result of moving the ninth-grade
students from the junior highs to the high schools. Ms. Sylvester reviewed a
timeline and informed the Board that recommendations would be brought back to
them at the next regularly scheduled meeting on September 27, 2011.
5. Updates from Board Members/Superintendents
This item was not addressed.
On the motion of Mr. Nichols, the Board unanimously approved minutes of a
regular meeting held on August 23, 2011.
2. Personnel Requests
On the motion of Mrs. Udall, the Board unanimously approved certificated and
classified personnel requests, including an addendum.
3. Consent Agenda
On the motion of Mr. Nichols, the Board unanimously approved the consent
4. Superintendent's Report
Dr. Cowan reported on the following:
Students in our district took time over the past few days to remember the victims
and their families of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The Junior ROTC from
Skyline High School helped children at Patterson Elementary School with a flag
ceremony. They also collected items for care packages to send to soldiers
overseas. The O'Connor Elementary School community honored military
families, police officers, and firefighters during lunch by thanking them personally
for their efforts to save lives and preserve our freedom. Sousa Elementary School
students focused on the personal sacrifice of the 3,093 World Trade Center
victims. Each person was memorialized on a handmade flag. They shared
their recognition ceremony with community members from the American Legion,
the Mesa Police Department, and the Apache Junction Fire Department.
Three teachers Ms. Eleanor Scheman, kindergarten teacher at Jefferson
Elementary School, Mr. James Clemens, fourth-grade teacher, and Ms. Nancy
LaSlavic, third-grade teacher, both at Kerr Elementary School have been
selected as semifinalists for the 2012 Rodel Exemplary Teacher Award.
This annual initiative of the Rodel Foundation seeks to learn from excellent
teachers in high-need schools by recognizing exceptional teachers who
encourage extraordinary student achievement. The award recipients then share
their expertise and best practices by mentoring six Rodel Promising Student
Teachers over three years.
Red Mountain High School social studies teacher, Julie Collums, took a student
team to the National History Day competition this summer. Her team of three
students placed third among a group of 2,000 from across the nation.
Red Mountain High School's agricultural science curriculum was named the
state's 2011 Program of the Year by the Association for Career and Technical
Education of Arizona. This is the highest honor given by the state organization.
The district has received the 2011 National Network of Partnership Schools
Award. The network, based at Johns Hopkins University, cited the district's
leadership in developing and sharing best practices to connect school resources,
systemic attention to professional development, and enthusiastic leadership
activities that help school-based teams nurture a climate of involvement. Award
recipients are selected for high quality plans and practices as well as continuous
improvement in partnership programs from year to year.
Dr. Jo Anne Vasquez, Helios Foundation vice-president and program director of
teacher, curriculum, and professional initiatives, was introduced. The Helios
Foundation was recognized for its diligent work in educational excellence in
Arizona and Florida. This year, the district received a $450,000 Foundation grant
to support a three-year literacy initiative at Taylor, Mesa, and
Rhodes junior high schools and Crossroads to establish a school-wide, systemic
approach to improving student literacy.
Last spring, the Governing Board directed the administration to develop a
comprehensive plan for addressing excess square footage in the district as a
result of the previous year's declining enrollment. Site-by-site data related to
"right-sizing" the district was developed by using a variety of data sources,
including square footage, enrollment trends, age of facilities, energy usage
indices, anticipated facility repairs and maintenance plans, specialized programs
offered at schools, and several other factors in preparation of repurposing/closing
Dr. Cowan introduced Ms. Sylvester who made a presentation concerning a
Defining the Future Phases I, II, and III power point. She explained that the
superintendency has been meeting on a regular basis to analyze and review
data associated with each of our schools. She explained the data will be used to
help address excess square footage while keeping in mind how to best address
student's educational needs. She noted an excess capacity of 3,699 "student
spaces" at the junior high school level. She also expressed the importance of
helping parents, community, and staff members understand the need for these
changes. Ms. Sylvester reviewed the timeline for implementing these plans and
stated that the superintendency will bring back recommendations at the next
5. First Hearing on Proposed Changes to Governing Board Policy GBG
The first hearing was held on proposed changes to Governing Board Policy GBG:
District and Staff Participation in Political Activities. A second hearing and
action on this item will take place at the next regular Board meeting.
6. Presentation on State Board of Education Framework for Teacher and
Mr. Lesar shared an overview of the teacher and principal evaluation process
which will be implemented in the 2012-13 school year. He stated that, per
Arizona Revised Statute § 15-203 (A) (38), school districts must use an
instrument that meets the data requirements established by the State Board of
Education. The evaluation instrument must include data on student academic
progress, that accounts for 33 to 50 percent of the evaluation outcomes. Mr.
Lesar informed the Board that he has put together a 30-member committee to
help develop the new components of the evaluation instrument. Dr. DePrez
stated that Arizona's legislation has one of the most aggressive timelines of all 50
7. Use of Technology to Support Instruction and Student Achievement
President Peterson noted the recent article in the New York Times regarding
technology use in the Kyrene School District. He stated that the negative article
does not change the charge to the superintendency to develop a plan for
classroom technology. He asked that the superintendency put a plan in place
on how technology will be used in the classroom, with an emphasis on using a
blended model. Dr. Cowan stated that technology in the district will be used to
enhance Instruction and support teachers to be more effective in meeting the
needs ofstudents. He also stated that the challenge comes in the identification of
The meeting adjourned at 8:26 p.m.