HIGHLIGHTS
OF THE GOVERNING BOARD MEETING
OF THE MESA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 4
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017
MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CURRICULUM SERVICES CENTER
BUILDING 2
549 N. Stapley, Mesa, AZ

STUDY SESSION

1. Review of Agenda Items
The Board briefly reviewed the agenda.

2. Update on Meet and Confer and 2017/2018 Budget
Mrs. Sylvester-McCarroll provided the Board an updated Maintenance and Operations Budget sheet. Proposition 301 money totals are more than expected. The state’s final budget should be released within the next month. Within the next 45 days the insurance rates should also be available. She recommended that teacher contracts be distributed with a 1.4% increase and hold on compensation decisions for the classified and administrative staff members.

Dr. Holmes spoke briefly of the Meet and Confer sessions with the Mesa Education Association (MEA) and the Mesa Education Support Personnel Association (MESPA). MEA has continued to express their concern about class size, particularly in special education preschool. Dr. Cawthorne, Executive Director of Special Education, is working with Dr. Quie, Red Mountain Center for Early Education Principal, to explore ways to reduce class size. They have identified several changes that could address this issue. MEA has also addressed duty free lunches, teacher supports, and professional development.

MESPA continues to focus their talks on the evaluation tool. There has also been discussion on the impact of Proposition 206 and the consolidation of the salary ranges for all classified positions. 

3. Discussion on New School Proposal
Mr. Smith spoke about the Red Mountain Academy Proposal. This is a proposed 7th- through 12th- grade College Prep School located on the campus of Mesa Community College’s Red Mountain Campus. The school would be owned and operated by the District and would follow the educational philosophies established at Zaharis Elementary School. It would also provide students a transition to college through concurrent enrollment and provide them an opportunity to earn their Associate’s Degree by the time they graduate high school. Mr. Smith also proposed that a partnership be created with Mesa Community College.

Mr. Peterson reminded the Board and administration that the District is currently looking into other proposed school models. He stressed that he would like to continue researching these models, keeping in mind the current budget. He also expressed concerns that the Zaharis model would pull students away from other District schools.

Dr. Cowan commented on the costs associated with building a new school and/or repurposing a current building. He also stressed the need to develop a timeline, philosophy for the proposed school, and a cost analysis for all the proposals.   

4. Discussion on Inclusive Learning and Working Environment
Mrs. Sears addressed the need to support a culture of respect and inclusion in our schools and the community as a whole. She has reached out to Mayor Giles and hopes to work together in addressing this issue.

Dr. Cowan informed the Board that Mrs. Mann is working with the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens (MAHC) to identify dates to conduct  parent information forums regarding immigration. The Mesa police, ACLU, Mesa Community College Outreach Department, and an immigration attorney will also be at the community forums to provide information, as well as answer any questions from the community.

Dr. Cowan also informed the Board that professional development is being provided to teachers and staff. The Culturally Inclusive Classroom is being offered June 1, 2017, through August 1, 2018. All employees are expected to go through this training.

Calvin Terrell, national spokesperson, was also identified as a resource to help address the issues of diversity, bias, and relationships in our high schools.

5. Review of Governing Board Calendar
The Board briefly reviewed the calendar.

6. Updates from Superintendents 
Dr. Cowan informed the Board that with their approval of the personnel sheets in the open meeting, they would be appointing the following new administrators for the 2017-2018 school year. Dr. Cowan introduced:

  • Beth Bishop – Whitman Elementary School Principal
  • Monique Brandau – Mesa High School Assistant Principal
  • David Huffine – Mesa High School Assistant Principal
  • Laura Contreras – Red Mountain High School Assistant Principal
  • Jason Grantham – Red Mountain High School Assistant Principal

STUDY SESSION

1. Minutes
On the motion of Mrs. Sears, the Board unanimously approved the minutes of a regular meeting held March 28, 2017. 

2. Personnel Requests
On the motion of Mr. Peterson, the Board unanimously approved the certificated and classified personnel requests, including an addendum.

3. Administrative Rehires
On the motion of Mr. Smith, the Board unanimously approved the rehire of all administrative personnel for the 2017-2018 school year.

4. Consent Agenda
On the motion of Mrs. Miner, the Board unanimously approved the consent agenda according to the recommended action for each item.

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

Last Thursday and Friday, Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. Sears, and Dr. Cowan attended the Arizona School Boards Association’s Equity Event. The Equity Event shared crucial leadership strategies for identifying and closing the opportunity and achievement gaps, and highlighted promising practices currently being implemented.

Model United Nations is an academic simulation that educates participants about current events, topics in international relations, and diplomacy. A delegation of 11 Westwood High School students and their coach recently traveled to Russia to participate in the St. Petersburg International Model United Nations conference. Eight committees comprising 460 students from 31 schools and 17 countries participated. Westwood was represented on seven of the committees. After the three-day event, each committee selected Best Delegate awardees based on their diplomacy, writing, debating, and success passing resolutions to the world’s most pressing issues. David Jaffe, Jessica Yan, and Joseph Ritchie earned Best Delegate awards, and Lindsay McConnell and David passed their resolutions, which is a rare feat. 

There were 69 All-State Music students identified through competitive statewide auditions in Arizona. They performed in the 2017 All-State Music Festival of Honor at Arizona State University’s Grady Gammage Auditorium. Mesa Public Schools’ contingent included 43 choir members, 14 band musicians, and 12 orchestra performers.

Chris Saenz and Burt Garcia, Mountain View High School juniors, participated in the first high school division of the Annual World Outdoor Racquetball tournament. They were able to win the match against the Mesa High School Jackrabbits, win the boys doubles title, and secure the team championship. 

The Communications and Marketing Department was awarded 10 ASPRA*tion awards. ASPRA is an organization for education-focused public relations professionals who represent districts, private and charter schools, and advocacy groups. These awards recognize the importance of the work they do to communicate with our community, ensuring they are informed of and knowledgeable about the strategic direction, educational focus, and business management of Mesa Public Schools The Department won Awards of Excellence for the Points of Pride cards, which highlight each of our schools; the back-to-school video “Best Day of My Life”; the employee recruitment campaign; and the College Fair brochure. Awards of Distinction went to Achieve magazine, the Xplore brochure, and the communication survey. A special Award of Excellence will be presented to Mayor John Giles at a later meeting for his contributions to education advocacy.

The Young at Art opening night gala is Friday, April 21. The Creative and Performing Arts Department host this celebration of expression and provide the opportunity for all to view adjudicated junior- and senior-high school artwork. The event takes place at Historic Irving, which, in addition to the impressive visual art, include theater, music, vocal, and dance performances, as well as delectable cuisine, all provided by students. 

6. Student and Staff Recognitions
Todd Poer, Director of Operations, received a Best Practices Award from the Arizona Association of School Business Officials for the ideation and implementation of the Blue Crew. The Blue Crew was introduced as a way to provide schools with a higher level of maintenance service without impacting classroom instruction. The Blue Crew complements the day operations staff in addressing campus maintenance issues. The crew of seven skilled tradesmen includes painters, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians. They are outfitted with a stocked warehouse on wheels so they can concentrate their efforts on one site at a time.

For the second year in a row, Stapley Junior High School dominated the District’s Feeding Frenzy food-drive competition. This year, the students collected 22,675 pounds of food for the United Food Bank. That’s 23 pounds per student. In total, Stapley and other participating junior high schools collected 24,150 pounds of food. Stapley students presented Melissa Forrester, United Food Bank, a check for $3,978. This check will provide 19,890 pounds of food for the community. Stapley Junior High was presented a plaque as the 2017 winner of Feeding Frenzy and the students will also enjoy a special treat, a visit from an ice-cream truck.

Under the guidance of Director Marlo Loria, Career and Technical Education provides students the foundational skills necessary to help them move forward in a career pathway. DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. 

Jordan Harb, Mountain View High School sophomore, earned a gold medal at the state DECA competition in retail merchandising. Competitors take a comprehensive 100-question exam and prepare two business, role-playing challenges that measure a student’s proficiency, knowledge, and skills in a given career.

The Mountain View 2016 yearbook “La Vista” received the Gold Crown in publishing award from the head of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA). This prestigious award is the highest recognition given by the CSPA for overall excellence. Only 18 Gold Crowns were awarded to yearbooks from across the country as judged for their excellence in design, photography, concept, and writing.

7. Students of the Month
On behalf of the Board and administration, school staff presented Student of the Month awards for February 2017, to the following for their accomplishments:

  • Monique Le Tran – Dobson High School
  • London Roberts – Fremont Junior High School
  • Evelyn Rose Romo – Brinton Elementary School
  • Sydnie Bagozzi – Ishikawa Elementary School
  • Leeanna Rayn Dennison – Sirrine Elementary School
  • Eva Romenska – Washington Elementary School

Each student received a plaque from the District displaying their award certificate and a $25 Amazon gift card provided by the Mesa Foundation for Educational Excellence. 

8. Discussion and Action on Immigration Communication Plans for Parents
Mr. Pickrell, General Counsel, spoke about the District's procedures that are in place if an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent were to come to a school in connection with an ICE investigation or enforcement action. He summarized the legal authority of ICE agents to visit schools and reviewed the procedures for responding to a request from a law enforcement officer to interview a student. Mr. Pickrell also spoke about the 2011 policy adopted by ICE that prohibits ICE enforcement actions at or near schools and other "sensitive areas," except in very limited circumstances. On February 17, 2017, a memo was sent to school administrators explaining the District's procedures in the event of a school visit by an ICE agent. Administrators have confirmed that the information was shared with their staffs, both classified and certificated, so that they can share the information as needed with students and parents.

Dr. Cowan informed the Board and the audience that Mrs. Mann is taking the lead on immigration communication within the District and will organize informational meetings for parents and community members to educate them of their rights to education.

On the motion of Mrs. Sears, the Board unanimously approved the immigration parent communication plans for parents and instructed the administration to proceed with meetings to inform parents and community members on immigration laws and rights. They also directed the administration to review policy relative to the comments offered by those who spoke to the Board.

The following spoke to this item:

  • Reyna Montoya – Community member
  • Angie Montoya – Student
  • Danill Gunitskly – Phoenix Elementary School District Board Member
  • Veronica Salas – Staff member
  • Jacquelyn Delgado – Staff member

9. Discussion and Action on Student Meal Prices
Loretta Zullo, Director of Food and Nutrition, explained that the Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) rule is intended to close the gap between a school district’s average weighted paid lunch price and the federal free lunch reimbursement rate. Per federal regulation, school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program are required to ensure sufficient funds are provided to the nonprofit school food service account for meals served to students not eligible for free or reduced price meals.

On the motion of Mrs. Miner, the Board unanimously approved the school lunch rates for the 2017-2018 school year as follows:

  • Elementary School Lunch – $2.05 Daily
  • Junior High School Lunch – $2.75 Daily
  • High School Lunch – $2.75 Daily

10. Discussion and Action on Employee Health Benefits Contract Award
Dr. Holmes reviewed the proposed contract award for employee health benefits.

On the motion of Mr. Smith, the Board unanimously approved the encumbrance of Employee Benefit Trust Funds, in the amount of $2,120,112, to provide employee health benefits for District employees beginning October 1, 2017. The term contract for employee health benefits is October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2022, this being the first year of a possible five-year contract. This contract is required in order to continue the health benefits for employees for the next term year. 

11. First Hearings
A first hearing was held on the following:

  • Policy IICA – Optional Student Travel
  • Policy IKF – Graduation Requirements
  • Policy IKFB – Commencement Ceremonies

Dr. Lesar briefly reviewed the proposed changes to the above policies. A second hearing and action on these items will take place at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. 

The meeting adjourned at 9:21 p.m.