HIGHLIGHTS
OF THE GOVERNING BOARD MEETING
OF THE MESA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 4
TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2012
MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CURRICULUM SERVICES CENTER
BUILDING 2
549 North Stapley Drive, Mesa, AZ

EXECUTIVE SESSION

1. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 38-431.03.A.5, Direction to Representatives of the School District Regarding Meet and Confer

2.  Pursuant to A.R.S § 38-431.03.A.1, Discussion of the Evaluation of the Superintendent

STUDY SESSION

1.  Review of Governing Board Calendar
The Board briefly reviewed its calendar.

2.  Discussion of Plans for Arizona Education
Dr. Cowan welcomed and introduced Mr. John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Superintendent Huppenthal  shared with the Board that he is pleased with the substantial increase in parental approval ratings of Mesa schools.  He stated that his primary goal for the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is to provide a more accountable system as well as technical support for school districts to operate efficiently. 

Mr. Huppenthal stated that he is somewhat concerned with the Move on When Reading initiative that will require schools to retain third-grade students who are not yet reading at grade level.  Dr. Cowan informed Mr. Huppenthal that the district's early alerts to this new initiative have caused people to jump into action to help students achieve this objective. 

Mr. Huppenthal asked for feedback on the new Common Core standards.  Dr. DePrez informed him that East Valley school districts have formed a consortium that meets monthly to discuss content areas and professional development, and to share resources.  She stated that the district has provided training for teachers and is building internal capacity.  Mr. Huppenthal stated that the big challenge for education at the federal and state levels is the correlation between money and outcomes.  Mesa Public Schools' success proves the case that districts can provide a quality education with limited resources.  He also expressed his concern that, as resources become scarcer, leadership and quality teachers will abandon their educational careers. 

3.  Review of Calendars for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015
Mr. Cox reviewed the calendar options for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. He also stated that about 2,200 additional community comments will be forwarded to the Board.

4.  Review of Agenda Items
The Board briefly reviewed its agenda.

5.  Updates from Board Members/Superintendents
Dr. Cowan told the Board that, due to a power outage at Westwood High School on Tuesday, the AIMS test was postponed with approval from the Arizona Department of Education, and will be administered on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Dr. Cowan informed the Board that the district has received 15 applications for the Chief Educational Technology/Innovation Officer position.  Several applicants have been recommended by district partners such as Cisco and INACOL.

Dr. Cowan also informed the Board that, with their approval of the personnel sheets in the open meeting, they would be appointing the following new principals and administrative transfers for the 2012-13 school year.  Dr. Cowan introduced:  
  • Kathy Ray - Stevenson Elementary School Principal
  • Renee Parker - Sirrine Elementary School Principal
  • Genessee Montes - Jefferson Elementary School Principal
  • Aaron Kaczmarek- Las Sendas Elementary School Principal
  • Greg Reid - Entz Elementary School Principal

    REGULAR SESSION

1.  Minutes
On the motion of Mr. Nichols, the Board unanimously approved minutes of a regluar meeting held March 27, 2012, and the minutes of a joint meeting with the Mesa City Council.

2.  Personnel Requests
A.
  Certificated and Classified  
On the motion of Mrs. Udall, the Board unanimously approved the Certificated and Classified Personnel Requests, including an addendum.

Dr. Cowan introduced the new principals and administrative transfers to the audience.

B.  Adiministrative Personnel Rehires
On the motion of Mrs. Udall, the Board approved the rehire of administrative personnel for the 2012-2013 school year.

3.  Consent Agenda Items
On the motion of Dr. Whiting, the Board unanimously approved the consent agenda.

4.  Superintendent's Report
Dr. Cowan reported on the following:

Later on the agenda, the Board will be proclaiming April 16-20 as Public School Volunteer Week.  Dr. Cowan thanked the Board for their tireless volunteer efforts on behalf of students and staff.  Governing Board service is a volunteer position with tremendous responsibility.  Board members spend a significant amount of time understanding issues, evaluating impact, and guiding the district.

Brandon Scott Hansen, Red Mountain High School, and Eseoghene Uwhuba, Skyline High School, were awarded $2,500 National Achievement Scholarships.

Students from Smith and Rhodes junior high schools took charge of public policy at the annual Project Citizen Showcase for Districts 5 and 6 on March 26.  Project Citizen is a nationwide civics education program that teaches young people to monitor and influence public policy through hands-on experience as active members of society.  Mesa Public Schools garnered three superior awards in Pro-Rated College Tuition - Rhodes Junior High School; Bullying - Smith Junior High School; and Driving Distractions -  Smith Junior High School.

Maria Quiroga, fifth-grade student at Eisenhower Elementary School, won a state level essay contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Maria's essay will be entered in the national contest.

Cathy Raible, Mesa Public Schools' Demonstration Nurse, will be recognized this summer at the National School Nurse Association Annual Conference as the Outstanding Nurse Educator.  The award is presented for significant contributions to school nursing.

Arizona Students Recycling Used Technology (AZ StRUT) invites area residents to drop off their obsolete computer equipment at Mesa High School between 8 a.m. and noon on Computer Recycle Day, Saturday, April 21.

The 2012 East Valley Transition Expo will be held on April 24, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mountain View High School.  East Valley students and their families are invited to meet with representatives from about 40 colleges, universities, government agencies, and community organizations that support students with a range of disabilities.

Dr. Cowan invited the Board to join him in recognitions.

5.  Recognitions
Nikki Fox, dance teacher at Red Mountain High School, was named the Arizona Dance Educator of the Year by the Arizona Dance Education Organization.  The Katherine Lindholm-Lane Award is presented to a professional dance educator who demonstrates support for and contributes to the larger dance education community; inspires students and colleagues through example, enthusiasm, and encouragement; and advocates for quality dance education and the arts.

Mesa High Biotechnology Academy is home to three first-place winners in the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.  For the competition, students investigate a scientific question that had never been published before.  Working with local universities and with their teacher, Amanda Grimes, the students conduct yearlong research, compile data, communicate the findings by creating poster displays, and are interviewed on their research.  All 16 of the participating Biotech students placed in the top four of their respective categories, and three took home first-place medals.

Over 275 Career and Technical Education students competed in the SkillsUSA, FCCLA, HOSA, and FBLA events, bringing home numerous awards.  They participated in competitions ranging from model making to fashion design.

6.  Proclamation in Recognition of April 16-20, 2012, as Public School Volunteer Week
Mrs. Udall read a proclamation in recognition of April 16-20, 2012, as Public School Volunteer Week.  The Board unanimously adopted the proclamation.

7.  Update on the Implementation of the Common Core Curriculum
Dr. DePrez gave an update on the Common Core curriculum.  She explained the timeline expectation changes and what has been done for teachers to be ready to implement the new curriculum.  She stated that she is pleased with the teachers' hard work and said that training had to be rescheduled to be ready for the start of the next school year.

8.  Presentation on Inclusive Practices
Mrs. Jan Cawthorne, Executive Director of Special Education, made a presentation on inclusive practices and provided a video. She informed the Board that twelve schools were identified to participate this school year, and other schools were encouraged to create a climate of inclusion for special education students.  She stated that inclusion creates a positive experience for both special education students and general education students.  Inclusion builds confidence and provides the opportunity to socially develop and mature. It also involves students within their community and neighborhood.  Five more schools are expected to move forward with inclusion next year, and many of the high schools are also moving toward inclusion.

9.  First Hearing on Calendars
A.  First Hearing on Proposed Calendars for the 2013-2014 School Year
B.  First Hearing on Proposed Calendars for the 2014-2015 School Year

The first hearing was held on proposed calendars for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.  Mr. Cox spoke about the differences among the proposed calendars.  He informed the Board that state law requires schools to be in session not less than 180 days and be closed on July 4, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25.  Mr. Cox stated that many factors need to be considered when establishing the new school calendars.  Dr. Cowan stated that there is no perfect calendar that meets the needs of all parents, families, and employees.  He said that ultimately the Board must adopt the calendar that is the most educationally sound for students.

The following persons spoke on this topic:  Tamara Larson and Sarah Freeman, parents

The meeting adjourned at 8:32 p.m.