549 N. Stapley, Mesa, AZ


1. On the motion of Mrs. Miner, an executive session was held pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03.A.(3) and (4), discussion or consultation for legal advice from the attorney for the Governing Board and District regarding audit report of the Arizona State Retirement System.

The executive session ended at 6:35 p.m. 


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

2.  Review of Governing Board Calendar
The Board briefly reviewed its calendar through November 2017. The Board scheduled a study session for September 5, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. Due to October Break, the Board moved the October 10, 2017, meeting to October 3, 2017, at 5:30 p.m.

3.  Presentation on Enrollment and Staffing
Dr. O’Reilly made a presentation on enrollment and staffing. He reviewed the District’s projected enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year and shared the actual enrollment to date. Enrollment is down by 171 students, 99.3 percent of the number expected, compared to the same date last year. Kindergarten enrollment is slightly higher than projected. Dr. O’Reilly expects enrollment to be slightly lower than projected but enrollment has gone up every day since the first day of school.

4.  Updates from Superintendents
Dr. Cowan informed the Board that they will need to make important financial decisions about an override and bond election. Mr. Thompson and Mr. O’Brien will present a timeline to the Board at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting for a possible election. A capital override was also briefly discussed. This would be a new tax to the community. The Board agreed to an extended study session to discuss District finances and needs.


1.  Minutes
On the motion of Mr. Peterson, the Board unanimously approved the minutes of a regular meeting held on August 8, 2017.

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

3. Consent Agenda
On the motion of Mr. Smith, the Board unanimously approved the consent agenda according to the recommended action for each item. 

4.  Superintendents Report
Dr. Cowan welcomed everyone in attendance, as well as the television and web viewers, to the first televised Board meeting of the 2017-2018 school year. A welcome-back-to-school video produced by the Educational Television Department was shown.

Dr. Cowan reported on the following:

Throughout the summer, educators and staff were busy preparing for students to return. Teachers participated in more than 425 professional learning sessions, which were offered face-to-face, online, and through blended learning. Professional development and team-building opportunities provide educators with new insights and the academic support needed to help students succeed.

Educators also represented Mesa Public Schools at national education assemblies and took students to campuses at locations such as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The Human Resources Department has recruited highly qualified educators and employees.

Among the more than 150 summer campus projects, the Operations Department staff repaved parking lots at Mountain View High School and Poston Junior High School, refreshed exterior paint at Falcon High Hill Elementary School, updated windows at Lowell Elementary School, replaced tennis courts at Skyline High School, remodeled kitchens at Guerrero and Webster elementary schools, and replaced bleachers at Dobson and Westwood high schools.

New and/or transferring principals were introduced via video:

  • Stacey Ball, Webster Elementary School
  • Amy Breitenbucher, Kerr Elementary School
  • Terri Clark-Ringland, Redbird Elementary School
  • Doreen Herrick, Brinton Elementary School
  • James Fisher, Stapley Junior High School
  • Andrea Lang-Sims, Whittier Elementary School
  • Christina Larson, Lehi Elementary School
  • Stephanie Montez, Adams Elementary School
  • Nicholas Parker, Hawthorne Elementary School
  • Michael Rapier, Poston Junior High School
  • Kathy Ray, Porter Elementary School
  • Dr. Jessica Seaman, Stevenson Elementary School
  • Charles Starkey, Lowell Elementary School
  • Nikki Wilfert, Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies
  • Aimee De La Torre, Eagleridge Enrichment Program

Many community organizations share their generosity this time of year to help ensure that students experience a successful start of school.

Boeing collected backpacks and school supplies for students at Adams, Kerr, Lehi, and Stevenson elementary schools.

Keller Elementary School received six new violins form the musical group Ocean Park Standoff and Mix 96.9’s Mathew and Priscilla in the Morning show.

The City of Mesa’s Community Spirit Team, including the Mesa Public Library and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, donated supplies to Roosevelt Elementary School, while Living Word Outreach donated 120 backpacks to the District Families-in-Transition program.

The Class of 2017 provided 214,522 hours of service during their high school careers. Mesa High School athletes visited the Mesa Cemetery for the annual cleanup in honor of Zedo Ishikawa. Athletes sang, “Carry On,” which was inspired by Ishikawa’s last words after a tragic accident in 1932.

Zach Molina and Shaq Daniels, Red Mountain High School juniors, are spearheading a chapter of DreamCatchers Club. Their goal is to fulfill dreams for patients in hospice care.

Skyline High School marching band members and their families packed 191 food boxes at Feed My Starving Children. Their hard work equaled 41,256 meals, enough to feed 113 children in Nicaragua for a year.

Matt Erickson, Red Mountain High School drama teacher, Ani Erickson, Sousa Elementary School 5th-grade teacher, and Jacquie Duranti Gallo, City of Mesa Parks and Recreation, received the Outstanding Adaptive Program of the Year award from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association. The Red Mountain High School’s adaptive Off-Broadway production of Seussical KIDS partnered high school students with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Stefana Jelacic, Mountain View High School sophomore, became the first woman in Arizona history to be named a freestyle national champion at the U.S. Marine Corps National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, this July. She defeated her Washington State opponent 6-4 to claim the 112-pound Cadet women’s freestyle title. Eight other Mesa Public Schools wrestlers joined Stefana at the competition. 

5.  Staff Recognitions
Dr. James Driscoll, Pomeroy Elementary School principal, received the Dr. LaVern Swain Tarkington Living Legend Award from the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators for his dedication and commitment to education in the African-American community.

Allison McIntosh, Rhodes Junior High School science teacher, was named the 2017 Arizona Outstanding Earth Science Teacher by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. She earned this award for her exceptional work inspiring students to be excited about earth sciences.

6.  Presentations on Pathways to Excellence
Dr. Cowan made a presentation on Pathways to Excellence. Great instruction and leadership improve instruction while incentivizing achievement does not. The incentive program will change but emphasis on instructional improvement will continue. Dr. Cowan stated that the needs of the student come first. Schools will be given flexibility on how to address the District priorities. Pathways recognizes that each school is unique with unique needs for their population. Schools must have the capacity, ability, and flexibility to address the needs of their community.

Pathways to Excellence will focus on:

  1. Student Achievement and Learning – Every teacher designs and delivers great instruction to produce successful learning and achievement for each student.
  2. Social Emotional Learning – Every employee strengthens each student’s skills, attitudes, and behaviors to succeed in school and life.
  3. Value-added Innovative Solutions – Every employee embraces creative thought, inspiring new ideas, models, and processes that result in greater student learning and system performance.

The new paradigm offers:

  1. Greater responsiveness to individual school needs
  2. Flexibility within certain constraints
  3. Opportunities for the development of creative solutions
  4. Targeted accountability

7.  Adoption of 2017-2018 Employee Pay for Performance Plan and Guidelines
Dr. Lesar provided an overview of the employee Pay-for-Performance Plan and Guidelines for the 2017-2018 school year. Per A.R.S. §15-977, the Governing Board must adopt a performance-based compensation system at a public hearing. The guidelines include:

  • Definition of school and department workplaces
  • Qualified earnings
  • Appeal process
  • Funding sources
  • Distribution of performance pay
  • Eligibility (late hires, smartschoolsplus, substitutes)
  • Ineligibility

The Focus of the Pay-for-Performance Plan includes:

  • Unprecedented excellence in education
  • Develop a highly educated and productive community one student at a time
  • Close the achievement gap
  • Align with our Promise and Pathways to Excellence

Dr. Lesar reviewed the school and department goals for both certificated and classified staff. The Board may modify elements of the plan and/or consider additional elements when adopting a performance-based compensation system.

On the motion of Mr. Smith, the Board unanimously approved the adoption of the 2017-2018 Employee Pay-for-Performance Program, including the Pay-for-Performance Plan Guidelines and the Pay-for-Performance Plan, and in doing so, the Governing Board exercises authority granted by the A.R.S. §15-977, Section E, to modify or include additional elements for the District’s performance-based compensation system.

8.  ASRS Audit Appeal
On the motion of Mrs. Sears, the Board unanimously agreed to table this item with no further action to be taken.

9.  Video/Call to the Public
A video on the Call to the Public procedures was not shown.

Joe Geusic, community member, shared his thoughts on the ASRS contribution level.

The meeting adjourned at 8:21 p.m.