School Board holds November meeting

Discussion includes safety, drug policy

At their November meeting, the Grand Canyon School Board discussed crosswalk safety and drug policy, indicating the need for further involvement with the Park Service on road safety and with parents on drug screening.

The safety discussion stemmed from a letter from a resident reporting unsafe conditions at the crosswalk near Mohave Street, which is not manned in the morning.

School Maintenance Director Andrew Aldaz said that existing crosswalks date back before the completion of more housing at Mohave and before Boulder Street was made one-way in front of the school. The thinking at the time was that students could use a trail from the Mohave units to Pinion Park, where there is a crosswalk with a guard.

Board member Suzette Streit said that with no signage or guard on duty and with visibility reduced by the sun in the morning and evening, "it's an accident waiting to happen."

Board members agreed that a solution had to involve the Park Service. Superintendent Sheila Breen said that she would contact them.

"I'll get a meeting set up with them," she said.

Drug policy

Saying it was for information only, Breen passed out copies of Flagstaff's drug testing policy.

"I do not want you to just take this program and say, 'OK, let's do it,'" she said. "As a board, you need to see what a Cadillac program looks like."

Along with testing, it includes a program to deal with students who test positive. Breen said a program may not be possible here, but it could work out that students who are suspended for a positive test can return early by attending a program in another district.

She said that after the first of the year, the Board needs to get together for a public work session to iron out details such as whether testing would be done randomly or only when signs of drug use are present.

The focus, she said, will be on safety, not law enforcement.

"We will report to parents and parents will be involved in the solution," she said.

Head of School Becky Crumbo noted that the Department of Public Safety, Park Service and Coconino County officials brought a drug dog into the middle school for a sweep. Nothing was found, she said.

Streit said she'd heard rumors that drugs were being passed around school inside cough drop wrappers. Crumbo said she'd gotten one report from a parent whose child said it happened to him on the bus.

She said the school resource officer was aware of the issue and she urged people to report anything they might hear.

New software

Crumbo reported that under the new PowerSchool system, all students in grades six-12 are receiving interim reports, with an explanation going out for those with D or F averages.

She said she got good feedback on the report cards.

Library

Breen said that the school library may be closed briefly for reorganization, based on recommendations from librarian Susan Emetti.

"It's the fallout of having an aide instead of a librarian," she said.

Friday school

Friday school will begin for about 30 students in grades one-five targeted for intervention under Title I.

Crumbo said that class will meet about three Fridays a month from 8-11:30 a.m.

Breen said she didn't think it was likely a bus would go to Valle that day but the district would pick up students from Tusayan.

Focus visits

In middle school, there were seven focus referrals - three for disrespect, and one each for disrupting class, horseplay, cheating and phone violations.

In the high school, there were 11 focus referrals - seven for disrespect, two for disrupting class and two phone violations.

There were three high school suspensions, for theft, having a knife at school, fighting and insubordination.

Holidays

Crumbo reported that on the last school day before Thanksgiving, the elementary school will participate in the annual feast at the Quality Inn, followed by Cuddle Up With a Good Book that afternoon. The middle and high school will get a feast courtesy of the school's culinary arts students. Thanksgiving break starts Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Bonds

Breen reported that the sale of judgment bonds is on hold as they wait to hear if the county is interested in bidding. The bonds are to cover a debt to the county stemming from the Xanterra back-tax settlement that hit the district for over $1 million.

"If they're interested in bidding it will change the way they do it," said Breen.

Preschool

Breen presented information on preschool grants that will be available from both the county and the state, with the application process starting in January.

She said that the goal would be to provide a program through Kaibab Learning Center, rather than establish one at the school.

"If we had preschool here, it would shut KLC down," she said.

The state money covers infrastructure while the county provides services such as training and professional development.

"They will team up with us, they will provide funding for coaching, professional development, teaching best practices and how to write curriculum," she said. "They're not at the level of a certified teacher but they do become better child development providers."

Cyndi Moreno, Wendy Horner and Julie Nash were identified as potential members of a committee to pursue the funding.

Board positions

Breen said that two people submitted applications for appointment to the School Board, and those will be considered by County School Superintendent Cecilia Owen and Board member Chuck Wahler.

The seats are being filled by appointment because only one candidate came forward for three seats. That was Board President Clarinda Vail.

Vouchers

The Board approved payroll vouchers in the amounts of $100,899.25 and $102,936.99. They approved accounts payable vouchers in the amounts of $76,120.49 and $38,287.29.

School Business Manager Lee Metheny pointed out a one-time, larger-than-usual expenditure of $48,005, which was a payment for a new Bobcat and attachments.

Streit questioned whether it was necessary to make such a big purchase during hard financial times.

Breen said that the purchase had been put off two or three years already but the district's 20-year-old Bobcat was becoming less reliable. Aldaz noted that during one snowstorm last year, it broke down and the Park Service had to plow the lot. They received a bill for the service but it was waived.

He said that the existing Bobcat is still good for some work, such as trenching or serving as a backup lawn mower.

Busing

Aldaz said that starting Dec. 1, they will drop to one morning bus to Valle provided they can get letters about the schedule change to parents in time.

Sports

The Board had praise for how school athletic directors organized the A1 North Regional Volleyball Tournament here on Oct. 31-Nov. 1. A former board member, Jon Streit, added his comments as well in a letter to the school.

"It was extremely organized and well-run," he wrote. "We should all be proud of our school and staff and the great showing they made at this regional event."

Personnel

The Board approved travel to Boston, Mass., for Deb Goepfrich to attend PYP Level 2 training on "international mindedness."

They also approved residents Margaret Ullmann and Dianna Wesson as substitute teachers.

Breen reported that the cost so far this year for covering absences and a maternity leave is more than $15,000.

Housekeeping

The Board also dispatched several housekeeping measures without discussion, including:

• Approval of about a dozen policies that adopt language approved by Arizona School Board Association attorneys.

• Approval of the district's annual Declaration of Curricular and Instructional Alignment to the Arizona Academic Standards. The declaration is an annual requirement from the Arizona Department of Education and affirms that the district's curriculum is aligned with state standards.

• Approved the district's 403 (B) plan, which governs payroll deductions for some retirement accounts. Metheny said that if the district wants to continue doing the deductions as a service for the six or seven people enrolled, the Internal Revenue Service requires the plan to be on file.

• Approved changing the name of the Camp Colton Coordinator to the Outdoor Education Retreat Coordinator on the extra-duty pay schedule and changing Camp Colton to Outdoor Education Retreat on the school's extra-curricular fee schedule.

The Board's December meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 15, at 5 p.m.

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