Patti Coutré MUSD
Patti Coutré, shown here at a 2019 MUSD Governing Board meeting, served on the board for close to a decade. She looks to be ready to rejoin the board in January.

Patti Coutré, a member of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board for nearly a decade, has resigned to take employment with the district.

In a post on her Facebook page, she said COVID-19 forced a change in her employment status.

“Sadly, this pandemic has had an adverse effect on so many families and mine was not immune to this and it was necessary to seek stable full-time employment close to home,” she wrote. “I had always hoped that when my board service had come to an end that I would be able to become an employee of the district.”

“I have been offered a job at Maricopa Unified,” she continued, “and I couldn’t be more thrilled than to have this opportunity to continue to be a part of the MUSD family and still be able to contribute to being a part of our upward trend in providing the best education to our students and serving our community.”

Coutré will be the Facilities & Operations Department administrative assistant.

She said she had submitted a letter of resignation to Superintendent Tracey Lopeman, who accepted it. Wednesday would be her last day as a public official, she said.

Coutré has since been an active volunteer in the community and school district since 2005, the year she and her family moved to Maricopa. A Rancho El Dorado resident, she is a native of the Midwest. She was an office manager and event specialist with Straight to the Plate Catering in Mesa.

Talking with InMaricopa Wednesday morning, she said COVID-19 hit the catering industry very hard.

“And it may be years before they fully recover,” she said. “My employers have been fantastic trying to keep me employed full time, but they just couldn’t continue to do so… A job opened up in my wheelhouse and I applied for it, just like everybody else. I’ll tell you, there’s a huge pool of people out there applying for jobs. It’s not an easy thing to go out and apply and think you’re going to get the job.”

Coutré first ran for a position on the governing board in the November 2008 election, losing out by just 20 votes. But she won election two years later and has been reelected every four years since, including a period as board president. Her current term was scheduled to end in December 2022.

She said she will most miss end-of-year celebrations.

“Graduation was my absolute favorite,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed celebrating their achievements, whether it be graduation or student of the month or a teacher nominated for Teacher of the Year or Blended Learning winning the ASBA award. It’s all about celebrations. The decisions that we made as a board formed their ability to achieve those awards and those recognitions.”

Three of her four children graduated from Maricopa High School, and her fourth is a sophomore. She continues to be involved in the football booster club and expects to stay vocal regarding MUSD decisions and activities.

When she first joined the governing board in 2011, it was in “a little bit of disarray.” She said she was proud of the fact the members were able come together to the point of receiving a School Board of the Year award.

“Our board worked well together and had that respect for one another and understood the entire big picture of the decisions we were making,” Coutre said. “There are other boards out there reaching out to us wanting to learn from us.”

Individually, she loved initiating the effort to bring the MUSD Art Walk to fruition and seeing the district run with it.

As she leaves, the board is not in disarray but was sharply divided over decisions to return students to classrooms and quarreled about an attempted land purchase for a second high school.

Four people are running for three seats on the board. Today, the Pinal County Superintendent’s Office is expected to explain the new situation with an extra seat to fill.

Coutré had advice for whoever fills her seat on the board: “Just make sure you do all of your homework, you do your research, you ask your questions, you share your opinions, stay true to your beliefs and what you feel and believe is right for our district.”

She thanked her family in her early Wednesday morning post.

“Today I am filled with so many mixed emotions but mostly with gratitude,” Coutré wrote on her Facebook page. “I want to thank my family (couldn’t have served all those years without their love and support), friends, community, and all of the past and present board members, superintendents and the staff at MUSD, for your support and respect that you have given me during my tenure.”

“I am so very proud of the years of service and how our district has improved due to a team effort of leadership from all of the MUSD Stakeholders,” she continued. “I am confident that our district will continue to grow and flourish. These are not easy times and I do regret having to end my service before the end of my term. My family is, and always will be, my priority and my decision is purely based on what is best for my family at this time.”

“I couldn’t be more thrilled than to have this opportunity to continue to be a part of the MUSD family and still be able to contribute to being a part of our upward trend in providing the best education to our students and serving our community.

“I will always continue to be an advocate for our district, students and staff, just now wearing a different hat. Thank you Maricopa!”

Bob McGovern contributed to this report.