549 N. Stapley, Mesa, AZ


1. Pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03.A.(3) & (4), Discussion or Consultation with Attorney of the District to Consider its Position and Instruct its Attorney Regarding Settlement Discussions Conducted in Order to Avoid or Resolve Litigation 
On the motion of Mrs. Sears, the Board unanimously agreed to enter executive session at 5:25 p.m. pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03.A.(3) & (4).


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.

3.  Presentation on Employee Retirement Investment Plans
Dr. Holmes and Ms. Young made a presentation on employee retirement investment plans. The administration consulted with TSA Consulting Group, Inc., specialists in administration of 403(b) and 457(b) plans, regarding concerns about compliance with IRS regulations, plan administration, limited investment product offerings, and low employee participation. Currently, only about six to seven percent of employees participate in an investment plan. The national average for a K-12 school district is 35 percent. The IRS has revised its regulations for both the 403(b) and 457(b) plans. Ms. Young cautioned that the low employee participation in these plans could result in an IRS audit. In the last two years, the District’s current plans have not been reviewed to verify compliance and annual notification to employees has not been made. In the event of an audit, TSA would represent the District and implementing this new plan would be the start of corrective action.

District administration recommends that:

  • Prior Plan documents are amended and restated to bring them into compliance with IRS regulations.
  • New plans are administered by a professional plan administrator with a data collection and management system that ensures compliance with IRS regulations.
  • Changes provide additional investment options for employees.
  • Efforts are made to increase employee participation.

District administration also recommends that TSA serve as its 403(b) and 457(b) plan administrator. TSA would also provide different forms of assistance to employees that the District does not currently provide.

Dr. Holmes advised the Board that with their approval of the consent agenda, they would be approving the 403(b) and 457(b) deferred compensation plans for District employees.

4.  Presentation on AzMERIT
Dr. O’Reilly made a presentation on AzMERIT. AzMERIT is administered in April and provides a point-in-time overall proficiency rating in two to three categories of performance in reading, writing, and math. AzMERIT also measures proficiency levels in Mesa Public Schools compared to the state proficiency levels and compares proficiency levels of similar schools within the District. Dr. O’Reilly also provided a summary and data outlining the gaps between the different ethnicity groups within the District, as well as a comparison of scores from last year to this year.

5.  Updates from Superintendents
Dr. Cowan informed the Board that the Adelante Exito event will be held on Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 6 p.m. to midnight. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, as well as Mrs. Sears and a guest will be in attendance 

Dr. Cowan also informed the Board that the ASBA/ASA Annual Conference will be held on December 13 – 15, 2017.


1.  Minutes
On the motion of Mr. Peterson, the Board unanimously approved the minutes of a regular meeting held August 22, 2017.

On the motion of Mr. Smith, the Board unanimously approved the minutes of a study session held September 5, 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. Peterson, the Board unanimously approved the consent agenda according to the recommended action for each item. 

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

Mesa Public Schools has launched its Mesa United Way campaign. Mesa Public Schools believes in offering time, talents, and financial support to assist neighbors in need. Many families in the community directly benefit from programs sponsored by this organization.

Fall sports are in full swing, including badminton, cheer, pom, cross country, diving, football, golf, swimming, and girls’ volleyball.

This month is the anniversary of the nation’s constitution. As part of constitution week, students will participate in a variety of activities, including flag-raising ceremonies, lessons about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and patriotic assemblies.

Mesa Public Schools is partnering with Inspire Arizona, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that supports high schools in encouraging eligible students to register to vote.

Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies was once again ranked the #1 Arizona Middle School by SchoolDigger.com. Using information and test scores from the Department of Education, the SchoolDigger database profiles more than 136,000 schools across the country. SchoolDigger uses test scores from the Department of Education to determine rankings.

Skyline High School was awarded a $150,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family. The grant funds the Coyote Strong program, which focuses on drug prevention and life skills, and provides students opportunities to get more involved at school and in their community. 

Irving Elementary School celebrated their $50,000 youth wellness grant from Target. Students participated in fitness activities, showed off new equipment and technology, and debuted Irving’s rock-climbing wall.

Cox, Valley Metro, and the Los Altos Ranch Market are hosting Cox Connect2Compete events for prequalified families from Longfellow, Lowell, and Lindbergh elementary schools. More than 100 families who qualify for Cox’s discounted internet service will receive a free computer from Valley Metro. Ranch Market is serving a complimentary dinner to families and giving away 50 gift cards for over six months of internet service.

5.  Recognitions
Mesa Public Schools partners with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to implement healthy policies and practices supporting student performance, attendance, and behavior. This year, 30 District schools have earned a spot on America’s Healthiest Schools list, giving Mesa Public Schools the most awardees of any district in the country. The 2017 designees are: Adams, Brinton, Bush, Edison, Eisenhower, Emerson, Entz, Falcon Hill, Guerrero, Hawthorne, Highland Arts, Ishikawa, Keller, Kerr, Lehi, Lincoln, Lindbergh, Longfellow, Madison, O’Connor, Patterson, Porter, Red Mountain Ranch, Redbird, Sousa, Stevenson, Washington, Whitman, Whittier, and Wilson elementary schools. These schools join the 2016 awardees who are in their second year of recognition: Crismon, Field, Hermosa Vista, Holmes, Irving, Jefferson, Johnson, Mendoza, Pomeroy, Robson, Roosevelt, Salk, Sirrine, Taft, and Webster elementary schools, along with Summit Academy.

Franklin East and Zaharis elementary schools have joined the Alliance awardees as 2017 Let’s Move Active Schools for their outstanding efforts to create a healthy school environment.

6.  School and Department Spotlights
The Spotlight Recognitions is a new format designed to give the community a more comprehensive look at District schools, programs, and departments and recognize some incredible individuals. At schools, we’re celebrating outstanding students, volunteers extraordinaire, employees and educators who make a difference, and customer service champions.

This evening’s Spotlight Recognitions include Eisenhower Center for Innovation and the Purchasing Department.

Robby Meldau, Eisenhower Center for Innovation principal, announced the following awardees:

  • Outstanding Student – Andre Johnson, 6th grade
  • Volunteer Extraordinaire – Cindy Dillinger
  • Educator Who Makes a Difference – Tori Griffith, ELD kindergarten teacher
  • Customer Service Champion – Mandy Ochoa, secretary to the principal

The Purchasing Department spotlight includes purchasing, materiel distribution center, property management, mail center, textbook depository, and used surplus.

Michelle Hamilton, Director of Purchasing, announced the following awardees:

  • Employee Who Makes a Difference – Gary Barkman, procurement supervisor
  • Customer Service Champion – Gini Pittsenbarger, procurement specialist supervisor

Spotlight recipients receive a certificate of appreciation, and an Amazon gift card for personal use from the Mesa Public Schools Foundation. In addition, the Volunteer Extraordinaire receives a candy-filled tumbler and the Outstanding Student is recognized with an official portrait, which will be displayed in the Governing Board room and at his school.

7.  Proclamation
Mrs. Miner read a proclamation in recognition of September 17, 2017, as Citizenship Day, and September 17- 23, 2017, as Constitution Week.

On the motion of Mr. Smith, the Board unanimously adopted the proclamation. 

8.  Presentation on Falcon Hill Project Based Learning
Dr. Lisa McCray-Cannon made a presentation on Project Based Learning (PBL). PBL is fully embedded at Falcon Hill Elementary School. It has forced teachers and staff to rethink the educator’s role. Teachers are responsible for guiding students while the students take ownership for their own learning. The teacher provides the environment; incorporates the standards; develops models; nurtures curiosity and flexibility; and assesses success skills. Students are collaborators, self-managers, conductors of research, decision-makers, problem-solvers, peer- and self-evaluators, and innovators. PBL gives students the opportunity to own their learning and to learn 21st century skills. Students are connecting learning to themselves and the community as well as things they can improve in their community. It gives the student the power to learn, power to excel, and the power to define their own future.

9.  First Hearings
A first hearing was held on proposed changes to Governing Board Policy AD – Educational Philosophy and Governing Board Policy AE – Educational Goals and Objectives. Dr. Lesar reviewed the proposed changes for each policy.

A second hearing and action on these policies will take place at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.

The meting adjourned at 8:24 p.m.