Maricopa Wells Middle School may currently be on a school improvement plan, but, based on the testimonies of 30 or more students at the district’s governing board meeting last night, the school and its students are headed for success.

Curriculum director Krista Roden outlined steps the school in general and staff have taken to improve. “We’ve had lots of professional development this year, aligned to state standards, and with that we established goals.” Roden explained that team planning with Desert Wind Middle School has been extremely valuable, combined with a parent engagement grant, a college night, parent barbeque, cohort (class grouping) changes and a new culture of excellence committee.

Students recently completed Galileo standardized testing. Interim principal Eva Safranek reviewed the results: sixth graders had a decline in math scores but their reading scores increased from 57 to 65 percent; seventh graders had increases in both reading (10 percent) and math (7 percent). However, eighth graders had a slight dip in both math and reading. “We are using the Galileo test results as a tool to improve academic achievement and to assess student learning,”said Safranek.

Students in attendance to personally attested to the success of the Future City project, which includes a written component, a computer model and a physical model. Eight teams went to competition this year, while only three teams entered last year.

The drama classes and the after school drama program are preparing for their April 22-24 production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will include singing and dancing. Journalism students have a school media team and are using student surveys to research how to make the AIMS test more interesting to students so they will take it more seriously.

Students shared how the CAT intervention program has helped them achieve. For example, Ty Sullivan, who moved to Maricopa from Seattle about a month ago, came here with D’s and F’s; he now has B’s and C’s in reading and math. “The CAT program helped me a lot. At first I thought it was dumb, but it’s not.” Many of the students sharing their successes credited their teacher, Treva Jenkins, for helping them achieve and pushing them to greater heights.

Students also outlined the success of PAWS (pairing animals with students). The 20 students in this program meet after school on Mondays and Wednesdays to learn about animals, pet nutrition and grooming, symptoms of illness, career options in animal husbandry, and to experience guest speakers and field trips, including a horse show. They held a Kiss the Pig fundraiser and collected animal toys and pet food for charities.

During a second report to the board, Tad Roberts, coordinator of the M.A.S.H. (Maricopa, Ak-Chin, Stanfield, Hidden Valley) anti-substance abuse coalition, explained that the newly reorganized group is partnering with MUSD, the Stanfield school district and the Ak-Chin Community to prevent underage drinking and drug use among students. The coalition hopes to sponsor a drug and alcohol free graduation party for MHS seniors next year.

Other board approvals
Board member Carrie Vargas moved to approve the establishment of an ad hoc advisory budget committee, consisting of community members, district staff, Lori Glenn as the ex officio board member and Superintendent Jeff Kleck, representing the district. “My recommendation is that the board embarks on this,” said Kleck.

A meeting timeline was determined for the committee, which will review the budget in small groups. A spokesperson from each group will offer their suggestions with the committee coming to consensus and making non-binding recommendations on possible budget cuts to the board. Vargas expressed her hope that members of the community would want to get involved; her motion, seconded by board president Geoff Goddard, passed unanimously.

By a 4-1 vote, with Goddard voting against, the governing board adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of school improvement bonds and certificates of ownership of supplemental interest payments pertaining to school improvement bonds.
Glenn moved to approve with a second from board member Tim White.

Financial adviser Mike Lavallee, of Stone and Youngberg, LLC, explained that secondary assessed valuation is down 31 percent. “This is your last bond sale,” he told the board members, indicating that the district would then be “out of bond capacity for five to 10 years.” Projects that could be bond funded include a playground at Maricopa Wells Middle School, a performing arts center and/or a maintenance facility.

Although board members gave their approval to the resolution, they asked for numbers, specifically how much bond money remains from the last of the district’s seven bond issues. In addition, they asked to know all potential projects that would require funding and the total cost for each. That information will be forthcoming from staff.

The MUSD governing board will hold a joint meeting with the Maricopa City Council on Tuesday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the District Office Administration Building.

Photos by Joyce Hollis

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