MUSD invests heavily in professional development

Robert Downey [file]

The Maricopa Unified School District believes in the professional development of its staff and is proving it with a healthy investment in its employees.

The district Wednesday revealed that it spent more than $1.5 million on programs in the 2021-22 school year designed to improve the performance of its certified, classified, and administrative staff.

MUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services Sheryl Rednor broke down how that funding, which went to six areas, was allocated:

  • Phonetics, linguistics, literacy, and writing skills engagement) – $322,000
  • Teaching concepts – $65,000
  • Professional learning – $865,000
  • Professional development in areas including mentors and materials for site trainers) – $280,000
  • English learners – $5,200
  • Technology, social and emotional support and the arts – $12,000
  • Total investment $1,549,200

Rednor explained that the funding came from multiple sources, showing a broad commitment to the subject.

“Both state and district funding were intentionally dedicated to professional development,” Rednor said. “This commitment has a direct impact on teaching and learning and the return on investment for our students is 10-fold,” she said.

She added that 100 percent of teachers in the district participate in the program, stating that MUSD offers 467 hours of professional development instruction to teachers and staff.

The members of the governing board fully supported the program.

“As a board member I’m super excited about our investment in our staff because it’s not just our certified staff, but our classified staff as well that get professional development,” said Torri Anderson. “As a staff member, I know it can be overwhelming… As a board member just as it’s important to invest in scholars, the students in the classroom. This is a bigger microscope, and as a district, we also need to invest in our own classroom, which is our staff. We’ve invested so much money in curriculum, I want to see that curriculum taught in the classroom.”

In response to a question by Vice President Ben Owens, Rednor told the board the programs are evaluated using exit surveys of teachers, as well as observation of classrooms to ensure new curricula are being properly implemented, as well as student achievement.

MUSD Superintendent Dr. Tracey Lopeman added another evaluation criteria.

“Another measure would be stability in our teachers,” she said. “We want to give them a range of pedagogy (teaching methods) and methodology so they can be effective with a range of students, so they can feel effective, feel accomplished, and have lots of tools to draw on and know they’re in a district that invests heavily in their continued development and support.”

Board member Anne Marie Knorr said she has seen the results up close with her own children.

“I have specifically seen the work that is being done in phonics in the K-3, K-5 area,” she said. “I see it in my own home. I think that’s a great addition and a great thing to focus on. Also not just buying new curricula but investing in training the teachers on how best to put it to use it the classroom.”

Board President Robert Downey valued the priority in both effort and funding the district staff and governing board are putting in this area.

“There is over $300,000 in discretionary funding that Dr. Lopeman and the board has approved to put into professional development, so we’re all investing above and beyond in development, because that directly impacts the classroom.”