Board covers ground in three-hour meeting

In other School Board business:

Sports fee

The Board approved a $25 increase in the high school sports participation fee, after discussion about what other districts charge and how the increase might impact families here.

"Other school districts charge a significant amount of money for athletic fees," Breen said. "I know Coach Lopez is especially concerned about kids who can't pay but we've always had an option for kids who can't pay."

The increase puts the fee at $100. About 35 students signed up for a sport and played a sport this year.

"I feel like I can support this," said Wahler. "I also think that there's a legitimate concern that there will be some families that will be affected by this. We need to have established criteria for someone to be allowed to not pay it. People need to know their eligibility."

Parent Ginny Donley said that may not be enough to get all students to play.

"There's some families who don't even want to let people know," she said. "They're too embarrassed."

Crumbo suggested handling it the way waivers are given for SAT payments, tied to free and reduced lunch eligibility.

"I think we could solve that pretty easily," she said.

Coaching stipend

The Board approved a 10-percent increase in coaching salaries, after debate over how much compensation should be tied to performance and longevity.

"I don't think we want to selectively offer some people an increase and tell other people no," Metheny said in recommending the across-the-board hike for coaches and assistants.

"Why not?" countered Lopez. "I'd like you to think about coming up with a process, maybe a coaching range. Then you have the discretion to raise one coach's salary without raising them all."

President Clarinda Vail said that in her experience on the board, support for an increase in the coaching stipend was universal.

"The information that we had until tonight was just that we were having trouble retaining them, all those different kinds of things, because there wasn't an increase in such a long time," she said.

Athletic Director Matt Yost said that he'd been caught by surprise.

"It seems a little weird because me as the AD, I wasn't even brought in on this," he said. "I didn't hear anything about it so I wasn't able to go to my coaching staff and say 'Look, this is what they're looking at doing.'"

Breen recommending moving the vote then looking ahead at how coaches are compensated.

"My recommendation is a 10 percent increase across the board to bring people up to a rate that's more equitable than what they've had," said Breen. "And if people want to argue for a merit system that's tied to an evaluation going forward, then let's start talking about it."

AD/strength coach

Because the meeting was going into its third hour and because of questions with the proposal, the Board tabled action until next month on a bid by Tom Bruno to contract as athletic director and continue as strength conditioning coach next school year.

Bruno provided the Board with a job description for a combined position, evenly divided between 16 hours a week, at a rate of $25 an hour. He also stipulates an additional hourly rate for home and away games, as well as reimbursement for travel and overnight costs.

"This position would afford me the opportunity to really push to get as much use for the weight room as possible," Bruno said.

Board member Bess Foster expressed reservations.

"Although I think having someone as a strength coach is an awesome asset to the district," she said, "I don't know it's something we're always going to have and be able to do. As far as an athletic director, that's something I foresee that we're always going to need. Having these two positions wed, contractually and that kind of thing, I have a hard time with us making the athletic director and the strength coach one in the same. "

Other board members agreed.

"Even if we split this, it's $7,500 and if you're talking about stipends beyond that and home and away games, you're talking more than double the cost of the athletic director position," Wahler said, as he asked that action be tabled until the next meeting. "I have concerns about that."

Teacher training

After hearing justification for the cost, the Board approved reading apprenticeship training for high school English teachers Katie Buttram and Cynthia Granberg. The total cost of the request was $10,940, with registration counting for $8,000 of that.

"This is an expensive training and we talked an awful lot about it before we submitted it to you," said Breen.

Responding to Foster's request to "sell it to me," Crumbo said that adolescent literacy, the goal of reading apprenticeship, was key in bringing up standards.

"In my humble opinion, the elephant in the room preventing rigor in the district is kids can't read our textbooks. That's a fact," she said. "So teachers have to find a way to get the information in their textbooks to them."

At the week-long National Institute on Reading Apprenticeship in Oakland, Calif., this summer, Granberg and Buttram will learn how to train middle and high school teachers in some content areas, like science, social studies and technology, to teach literacy alongside content in the classroom.

"Not every teacher is involved here," Crumbo said. "This isn't what the math teachers need, it's not what our fine arts teachers need."

Only 45 teams are accepted into the training each year, based on competitive application. Crumbo said that when she applied, she hadn't expected to be accepted though the application made what she termed "a pretty good case, with our demographics, with our ELL population in particular, as well as with our gifted population."

The selling point for her, she said, was viewing how trained teachers integrated best practices in the classroom.

"They had video tapes of how they taught these ELL kids in a regular classroom, along with the other kids and everybody was responding. If we can do what I saw on those video tapes, we're going to be transformed," she said.

Foster asked if the registration fee covered both phases of the training, one this summer and one in the winter. Crumbo said that it did. She also noted a light training obligation for next year, assuming low turnover, with only three or four teachers needing to travel for IB training.

Initially, she said, she had planned to look only outside for the funding, but Breen felt the training was important enough for the district to fund.

"I'll continue to try and get outside funding for this," Crumbo said.

"The only thing I would like to make sure of is that there's some type of follow-through with actually scheduling the training that these people are supposed to come back and do," said Foster.

"I swear," said Crumbo. "I'm not putting that money into training and not doing the training."

Policy adoption

The Board accepted a draft policy for determining class valedictorians and salutatorians. The new wording extends the deadline to submit credits toward class ranking from the end of the first semester of the senior year to May 1 of that year. It also gives IB classes the weight of honors and advanced placement courses and establishes a good-behavior requirement.

Breen said the policy would come back to the board after the Arizona School Board Association puts it in the proper format. She said that it will also go into student handbooks.

Insurance update

Klisssa Rueschhoff of Arizona Risk Retention Trust, highlighted details of the district's insurance contract for the coming school year as well as provided some background on the trust.

"Just so you understand what the trust is, a little over 20 years ago, the schools were having trouble getting insurance," she said. "So the state went to the risk manager for the state and said what could we invent?"

The public entity pool that was started with seven districts now serves all but four public school and one community college district. Rueschhoff said it is one of the 10 largest in the United States. It enables small districts like Grand Canyon access to the same kind of coverage larger districts like Phoenix and Gilbert have.

Rueschhoff said that the district's assessed worth is $24,656,985, up about $1.17 million from last year thanks to an increase in property values. Overall, she said, rates went up 2.5 percent and property rates went up 5 percent.

IB

Breen shared with the board a framed plaque officially acknowledging Grand Canyon as an MYP school.

"When we get our PYP one, we'll have it framed to match," she said. "Then Mr. Kelso gets these to hang up by the main school office so people can see and acknowledge how much work went into this. It's just a piece of paper but boy, it represents a lot more than that."

Graduation speaker

Breen reported that the seniors have selected former Park Superintendent Ron Arnberger as this year's graduation speaker.

Resignation

The Board accepted the resignation of former high school English teacher Diane Williams, who took a one-year sabbatical last year.

"The daily commute from Washington State to Arizona would be a hardship to both me and my family," she wrote in her letter of resignation.

"We didn't think she was coming back when she moved to Port Angeles," Breen conceded.

Forest Fees

Breen briefed the board on a recent meeting in Flagstaff with a congressional study committee researching the impact that the loss of Forest Fees would have on rural districts.

This was the last year for a payment under the Rural Schools Self Determination Act, a five-year law that expires this year. The district received about $45,000 this year.

"We gave our input into what would be the impact of losing Forest Fees," she said. "It will affect the quality of our programs if it goes away."

Inspection

Breen presented the results of an inspection by the Arizona School Facilities Board last May. According to the report, the high school met adequacy standards but the elementary school didn't because of the condition of the teacher's parking lot. The district was also told to add ADA parking signs and to keep the roof and gutters cleaned. She said the district will receive building renewal money to fix the problems.

"Good job for those being our only deficiencies," said Vail.

Finance litigation

The Board voted to continue the district's involvement and to keep district funds invested in an intergovernmental effort with 64 other Arizona districts to legally challenge the state school finance system.

Finances

The Board approved payroll vouchers for $99,066.63 and $91,221.42 and spending vouchers for $19,939.56, $70,854.12 and $36,234.37.

In reviewing the vouchers, Foster questioned two expenditures to Alltel, one for $728.80 and one for $746.17.

"Do we know what those numbers are for?" she asked.

Judi Beckerleg said the charges were for two of four data phones and set up costs to replace regular cell phones for Kelso, Breen, Becky Crumbo and Dan Hultin. She said the school will be reimbursed 70 percent of the cost under the federal e-Rate program, which helps eligible schools buy communication and computer technology.

"I wasn't aware when we talked about (the data phones) that they were that much apiece," Foster said.

Travel

The Board approved out-of-state travel requests for a high school trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., and a weeklong basketball camp for 12 girls in Grand Junction, Colo. Foster asked how Coach Lopez chose those girls from the 21 that wanted to go. He said he looked at grades, and at their participation in practice and in fund-raising activities.

ELGA

Breen said that contract specialists are now working on the contract for the transfer of land from the Forest Service to the school district under the Education Land Grant Act.

"Now that they've got two or three people working on it, I'll keep you posted," she said.

River trip

Teacher Kay Bordwell and a group of middle school boys reported to the Board on their recent Grand Canyon Youth river trip.

"I just kind of wanted to update you all on how fabulously these trips are going," she said.

The students talked about the community service and fundraising projects required for the trip, as well as the requirement to research and develop a presentation to give while on the river.

Winston Gallagher talked about the responsibilities they had on the trip, including the bathroom detail.

"Worst one, you didn't want to be on it," he said.

For Grand Canyon students, the trip offered an extra dimension.

"This is their backyard," Bordwell said. "I could see that they really connected a lot of the Canyon and the river with their own lives and it was a wonderful thing to see."

This is the second year for the Grand Canyon Youth river trip, with the outing open to girls last year. Though not enough middle school boys showed interest, Grand Canyon was able to combine with another undersized group from Northland Prep.

Bordwell said she hopes the program will continue.

"I hope that you'll support it in the years to come because I would love to continue to do this," she said.

"I want to say one thing to the boys," said Streit. "I'm really proud of you guys for how you managed this. It's a wonderful opportunity but it's also a lot of hard work, just in preparation to go."

NAHS

Art teacher Amy McBroom and four members of the National Art Honor Society presented a slide show highlighting their trip to Europe over spring break. Along with images of the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Coliseum, Sistine Chapel and the Vatican, the slide show also featured French public toilets and Ben Gomez asleep on the bus. McBroom said the group is planning a trip to Washington, D.C., next year and hopes to alternate between domestic and international trips.

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