Although the Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board was able to approve a few items Wednesday, most of the meeting was devoted to tabling items, threats by board members and residents as well as personal attacks on each other and staff.
The study session, which was to focus on goals, ended after about 25 minutes. Board member Tim White stated that he did not receive the pertinent information regarding goal setting. The other board members had the information in question.
White noted that he felt board goals were separate from district ones. Tracy Davis, acting as president in Jim Chaston’s absence, explained that she had checked various Web sites and most districts only list district goals, not board goals.
Following a presentation by Superintendent Dr. John Flores to provide some of the missing information on the district’s vision, mission and goal setting, the board adjourned without formulating any goals. During the regular meeting they set meetings on Oct. 3 and 17 at 5 p.m. to work on goal setting.
The board’s 10 political legislative priorities for the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) had to be tabled a second time since only Davis had prepared them.
Michael Muriett, who heads the Before and After School Program, was scheduled to provide a report and update on that program. White wanted the item removed, but was told by Human Resources Director Heidi Fawcett, “It’s just a presentation about where they’re at.”
“I demand that be pulled,” said White, basing his decision on not receiving numbers for the program at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. “If this board allows that to happen, I will write each and everyone of you up.” When the presentation began, he interrupted, “For the record I will be writing the Attorney General on open violation of meeting law.”
Muriett reported that DHS is looking at licensing packets for Santa Cruz and Pima Butte Elementary Schools this week. The old Santa Cruz site is still in compliance. The program is required to have a 1:20 teacher to student ratio as required by Title 9. To accomplish that they need an additional eight instructors, bringing the total number of instructors to 19 for the 353 children enrolled.
White questioned the enrollment numbers, “The numbers are not correct.” He asked to have the exact numbers on reduced tuition DES students since their enrollment is partially compensated.
Muriett responded that those numbers were included with reductions due to multiple siblings, but they would be provided. Each child has a different reduction amount based on the family’s economic situation.
Pay for instructors in the program would be $12.50 per hour at the entry level up to $14.50 per hour. In the past instructors received a flat $18 per hour. “It’s not fair to take these people and give them that kind of pay cut,” stated White. “You don’t give them a pay cut and expect them to do a quality job.”
Muriett explained that it would be possible to grandfather wages for continuing instructors.
Speaking as a parent, Kim Calderone, who was the program’s previous coordinator, explained that under the 21st Century Grant instructors were specialized and the higher rate was paid “to get knowledgeable people coming to teach children.” She did question whether the administrators would also receive pay cuts.
During new position requests the pay cuts and the four site lead positions for the Before and After School Program were tabled. The part-time on site leads would be located at each of the elementary schools. Board member Shannon Amos stated that he wanted to look at the pay scale information in more depth.
Geoff Goddard spoke from the audience regarding the board and district’s lack of action. “We’re going to do something about it if you don’t step up to the plate.” He mentioned lack of support and White recall teams on school campuses. “If you don’t want to help the community and children in a realistic way, we’re going to vote and take you out.”
The board did give its stamp of approval to volunteer high school coaches, the fall sports and co-curricular stipends and the addition of both boys and girls tennis at the high school.
Referencing the resignation request of Administrator of Business Services Mark Busch, White noted that he had read Busch stated he was going to a district where they cared what was good for children. White took offense with that statement, telling Busch he could resign, but without praise or thanks.
Amos turned to White and said, “With all the personal attacks this man has suffered, I believe someone owes him an apology, but that’s not going to happen.” He suggested they go on to the vote for personnel approvals.
Busch’s actual statement, from the press release he prepared regarding his resignation, said, “First, I have accepted a promotion to an Assistant Superintendent level. I will be a part of a team dedicated to doing what is right for children. You only need to read what I hear is being fabricated about my departure to understand the second reason. There are individuals, both outside and within MUSD, who are more focused on destroying the current administration than they are on doing what is right for children.”
Board member Shannon Johns spoke, agreeing with the statement that individuals inside and outside the district were working against it, including some in blogs. White turned to Johns and asked, “What about board members on blogs?” Johns asked if White could prove he was on a blog.
Before another barb was traded, Acting President Davis pounded the gavel, and, once again, called for a point of order.
Photos by Joyce Hollis