HIGHLIGHTS
OF THE GOVERNING BOARD MEETING
OF THE MESA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 4
TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2017
MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CURRICULUM SERVICES CENTER
BUILDING 2
549 N. Stapley, Mesa, AZ

EXECUTIVE SESSION

1. On the motion of Mrs. Miner, the Board unanimously agreed to enter executive session at 5:26 p.m. pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03.A.1, Discussion of the Evaluation of the Superintendent.

The executive session ended at 5:33 p.m.  

STUDY SESSION

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

Mesa High School teachers answered questions regarding their student travel request.

Dr. Lesar advised the Board that the stage and auditorium lighting contract should read “on an as-needed basis throughout the District.”

Mrs. Hovet spoke on the May budget revisions.  

2. Update on Meet and Confer and the 2017/2018 Budget
Dr. Holmes and Mrs. Hovet provided an update on Meet and Confer and the 2017/2018 budget.

Dr. Holmes informed the Board of the need to increase contributions to the Employee Benefit Trust by nine percent. He also gave a summary of proposed plan changes to prescription drugs. He went on to explain that the Trust needed to be stabilized and maintained and is nearing the minimum recommended threshold.

Mrs. Hovet provided an update on the 2017/2018 budget. The inflation rate moved up to 1.31 percent and carryover funds will be between four to five percent. The carryover funds should be considered one-time only monies and not be put into employee base salaries.

Dr. Cowan expressed his desire to provide employees a 1.31 percent raise. He informed the Board that he is working on additional cuts to help make this possible. 

3. Update on iVisions Implementation
This item was not addressed and will be placed on a future meeting agenda.

4. Discussion on Summer Bond Projects
Mrs. Hovet reviewed the latest bond sale of $35 million. The ending bond balance is $28,900,765 and will be the last sale of this bond.

Mr. Miller reviewed the bond projects list. He also explained the School Facilities Board (SFB) funds that have been granted and projects paid for by these funds.  

Mr. Miller, along with Mrs. Caraway, reviewed the athletic remodel at Westwood High School. This remodel will enhance crowd control, safety, lighting, and will also bring the area into ADA compliance.

5. Review of Governing Board Calendar
This item was not addressed. Mrs. Swinehart will call and/or email members with any updates.

6. Updates from Superintendents
Dr. Cowan informed the Board that with their approval of the personnel requests in the regular meeting, they would be hiring the following new administrators. He introduced:

  • Mr. Daniel O’Brien – Chief Financial Officer
  • Mr. Scott Thompson – Assistant Superintendent of Business and Support Services

REGULAR MEETING

1. Minutes
On the motion of Mr. Smith, the Board unanimously approved the minutes of a regular meeting held April 25, 2017. 

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

Dr. Cowan introduced the following new administrators:

  • Mr. Daniel O’Brien – Chief Financial Officer
  • Mr. Scott Thompson – Assistant Superintendent of Business and Support Services

3. Consent Agenda
Dr. Lesar reminded the Board that the stage and auditorium lighting contract should read: “Clearwing System Integration to provide stage equipment, rigging, curtains, lighting, risers and acoustical systems on an as-needed basis throughout the District.”

On the motion of Mrs. Sears, the Board unanimously approved the consent agenda as amended. 

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

The District believes in six core values. The sixth one says “success is expected and celebrated.” From A+ Schools of Excellence and CTE program-of-study completers to FFA banquets and AVID graduations, Mesa Public Schools is taking time to recognize the amazing accomplishments of students and staff.

Robby Meldau, Eisenhower Center for Innovation Principal, was named Principal of the Year by Playworks Arizona for his commitment to a healthy school community. Playworks’, a nonprofit organization, full-time trained coordinators work with students and staff, teaching appropriate play through organized games and activities during recess, providing individual class game time and mentoring junior coaches through a leadership development program.

The Mesa Chamber of Commerce recognized its 2017 Student and Teacher of the Year at the Annual Leadership Awards Dinner. Charlotte Ruth, Skyline High School senior, was named Student of the Year. Charlotte received a $1,000 scholarship and will attend the University of Arizona in the fall. Ryne Zahner was posthumously awarded Teacher of the Year. Ryne was in his fifth year of teaching math at Mesa High School when he passed away in January. He was a charismatic teacher who enjoyed helping young adults pursue their dreams and attain their goals. Several of his students nominated him for the honor, and the Zahner family accepted the award on his behalf.

Paul Chaisson, engineering and industrial technology teacher and department chair at Mountain View High School, was invited by the Navy to learn more about STEM opportunities available to students in the United States Naval Academy on the USS Theodore in San Diego, California. 

Lyric Mullen, Westwood High School senior, participated in educational and cultural activities for two days as part of the English Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition in New York City at the Lincoln Center.  More than 20,000 high school students nationwide participated in the competition at local, regional, and national levels. Lyric qualified for her national spot at regionals hosted by the Southwest Shakespeare Company.

Districtwide, students participated in the Sixth Grade Math Challenge. Teams answered mental math, problem-solving, data-analysis, and algebra questions. The top four schools, Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, and Bush, Highland Arts, and Franklin West elementary schools, continued on to participate in the regional competition at Arizona State University. The four Mesa teams placed in exactly the same order at regionals, with Mesa Academy coming out on top.

The City of Mesa, along with community volunteers, celebrated Arbor Day with Mesa Public Schools. Vice Mayor David Luna and a team of volunteers discussed Arbor Day with third graders at 12 schools. Students learned about the importance of planting trees, taking care of our planet, and were delighted by a reading from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. 

5. Student and Staff Recognitions
Since 1983, the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) has honored A+ Schools of Excellence to recognize remarkable public schools. Schools submit applications that document demographic information, current programs and practices, parent and community involvement, the school’s leadership, and commitment to excellence, equity, service, and high achievement. To earn an A+ award, schools must show high achievement or significant improvement. Top schools identify and meet the academic and non-academic needs of their students. A panel that includes award-winning principals, teachers, and community leaders selects A+ Schools of Excellence after conducting site visits throughout the state. Award winning schools receive $500 and an A+ School of Excellence banner from the foundation and flags from the District. Schools hold their A+ title for three and a half years.

This year, four new District schools were added to the list of A+ Schools of Excellence:

  1. Crismon Elementary School
  2. Jefferson Elementary School
  3. Pomeroy Elementary School
  4. Stapley Junior High School

Sarah Rae, KinderU Preschool Plus program manager at Jordan Center for Early Education, received the Program Line Staff of the Year award from the Arizona Community Education Association for her work in supporting children and families. In addition to her classroom work, she manages instructional assistants, plans student curriculum, and engages with parents.

Mesa Public Schools is committed to ensuring all students have access to the most effective instructional and behavioral practices and interventions. Several District schools were recognized at a recent PBISAz achievement conference for their successful implementation of schoolwide PBIS programs and for improving student results.

Adams and Stevenson elementary schools, Taylor Junior High School, Superstition and Mesa high schools received Merit Awards. Rhodes Junior High School and East Valley Academy earned Bronze Awards. Kino Junior High School and Riverview High School received silver award, and SHARP School received a Gold Award.

Sylvie Kasztan, Skyline High School teacher, and her students recently competed in the Verizon/ASU Entrepreneurial Showcase. The Skyline teams placed first and third. The program promotes entrepreneurship through project-based learning.  

Several Career and Technical Education students received first place in their state competitions:

  • Olivia Martinez, Dobson High School senior, earned a gold medal in creative lecture at the Educators Rising State Competition.

District students who take their CTE courses at the EVIT campus include:

  • Makena Joy Walker, Mountain View High School junior, received first place in early childhood display at the Educators Rising State Competition.
  • Jacob Smigel, Dobson High School senior, captured gold in welding at the SkillsUSA competition.
  • Kaitlyn Glasford, Skyline High School senior, received gold in emergency medical technician at the HOSA Future Health Professionals competition.
  • David Alvardo Vargas, Westwood High School senior, earned gold in dental science at the HOSA Future Health Professionals competition.

Two juniors from Mesa High School received the gold-level Barbara James Award for volunteer hours at the HOSA Future Health Professionals competition.

  • Javier Esparaza Benitez Jr. volunteered a total of 276 hours in local hospitals.
  • Adriana Lizbeth Benitez Vega volunteered 275 hours in local hospitals.

6. Presentation on Special Education Site Leaders
Dr. Jan Cawthorne, Executive Director of Special Education, and Mrs. Melanie Kelley, Secondary and Success Schools Director, made a presentation on special education site leaders. Site leaders are identified by principals and serve as a bridge between the school site and District. They provide student, parent, and teacher support as well as provide legal compliance support. Site leaders are considered the special education “expert” on campus. They receive ongoing training and are on campus to strengthen the system and supports for students and teachers. They provide customer service for parents and students with a solution oriented process and promote staff retention. Dr. Cawthorne hopes to continue the use of site leaders at the high schools. Special Education is also considering expanding site leaders to choice and success schools, junior high, and elementary schools using Medicare monies to fund these positions.

7. ASBA 2018 Political Agenda
The Board recommended the following top five priorities for the Arizona School Boards Association’s 2018 Political Agenda:

  1. Eliminate the change to current year funding and implement poverty-weight funding to help schools addressing significant student needs.
  2. Increase education funding to better compensate teachers and education employees.
  3. Protect desegregation funding from any cuts or modifications
  4. Restore building renewal funding and ensure facilities are adequately maintained.
  5. Change “override/budget increase” language to “locally control funding” to better reflect what voters are being asked to support.

The Board also included the following items for consideration:

  1. Establish financial transparency, expansion limitations, and academic accountability for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs).
  2. Restore funding for all-day kindergarten.
  3. Uphold, preserve, and strengthen local control to reinforce the connection between the community and its elected governing board members.
  4. Fully restore ninth grade CTE funding.

On the motion of Mr. Peterson, the Board unanimously approved their recommendations for the Arizona School Boards Association Legislative Committee 2018 Political Agenda.

8. ASBA ESA
After brief discussion and on the motion of Mrs. Miner, the Board unanimously approved the Arizona School Boards Educational Savings Account (ESA) resolution.

The meeting adjourned at 8:26 p.m.