Board OKs raises, debates mission statement

New hires, discussion on graduation speaker also on board agenda

A 4.7 percent raise for school staff became official last week. At their May meeting on Tuesday, May 9, the School Board approved a motion for the increase for all staff, as well as an extra $475 in the base salary for teachers.

The raise goes into effect for the 2006-2007 school year.

The board also approved the hiring of new teachers for high school English, middle school science, middle school social studies, technology and fifth grade math and social studies.

School Superintendent Sheila Breen said that positions still need to be filled for high school social studies and math.

The board also approved the hiring of a special education director to replace Bill Jacobs, who is retiring this year, and a Title 1 Coordinator and PYP aide.

Breen said that part of the interview process for all new hires was a meeting with MYP coordinator Becky Crumbo "to make sure she was comfortable with their ability to do MYP work and to understand where we're going with IB, and these people are all pretty excited."

Breen said that the hiring of Brad Houston as the new technology instructor will give a boost to the program.

"We finally have someone who understands that broad picture of technology. Not only does he see the technical aspects but he understands the business side of technology."

School Board President Clarinda Vail asked if this might mean vocational certification for the school's technology program.

"It would mean a lot of money with regards to the program that we're involved with in CAVIAT," she said.

"We'll be having a committee talking about CAVIAT and funding and certification," said Breen.

CAVIAT is the county's vocational district. Schools receive funding for the number of students they have enrolled in certified vocational programs.

The Board also opted to postpone changes to the school's mission statement, following some discussion.

The change was proposed to fulfill IB requirements. To meet a standard showing commitment to internationalism, the board considered putting "and global citizens" at the end of the existing sentence "Šit is the mission of Grand Canyon Unified School District to help students become respectful, responsible, confident and productive community members."

Vail said that she talked with Crumbo before the meeting in response to citizen queries about local control and was comfortable that the change wasn't a mandate from IB.

Crumbo said that the change was a fairly easy way to meet a requirement that shows that the school is aligned with IB's philosophy of internationalism.

"For the application we have to demonstrate several things, and one of them has to do with MYP philosophy and principles," she said. "We need some kind of a statement on how the school promotes the principle of international education.

It's not asking us to change our mission statement, it's asking us to demonstrate that we do promote the principle."

Vail suggested that the addition would have more meaning if the statement worked outward in stages from individual to global responsibility.

"I'm not comfortable about putting in 'global citizens' without saying something about being Americans," she said.

Board member Bess Foster, however, disagreed with the reasoning behind the change.

"I don't think our mission statement should be in any way affected by having brought IB here or not," she said.

Parent Laura Harner suggested that if the mission statement is being revisited, the community should be involved in the process.

"If we are going to look at the mission statement again, I'd rather see parents and children and school board, and administration and teachers involved, rather than having it created and given to us," she said.

Wahler said he supported taking some time with a mission statement revision.

"I appreciate the workload that we're potentially giving you by not doing it this way," he said to Crumbo. "But I've been playing around for a couple of days with other language too, because throwing those two words in there feels very forced,"

Kelso suggested setting up regular, periodic reviews to revisit the statement and Vail recommended that further discussion be postponed until the June meeting.

"I think we should tread lightly and not be rushed into it," she said.

IB application

The board reviewed a draft of the Primary Years Program Application B. Breen said this version differed from Application A in that it contains elaboration on actions the school is taking to meet IB standards, and it reflects next year's staffing.

She said that the Application B for MYP was similar to the PYP Application B, but the MYP paperwork won't be ready to submit for another two weeks.

The board agreed that they didn't need to review the application before it went in, but Vail said they still were interested in seeing it.

Kelso assured the board that the scope of training reflected in the application didn't constitute a training plan. He said he would present that to the board as soon as it is available.

Graduation

Though she didn't want to see invitations withdrawn, Foster questioned the scheduling of two commencement speakers this year.

"This is the kids' graduation," she said. "It's not for the board or the staff or for anyone else. It's for the kids. That's who should pick the speaker."

Breen noted that there were two speakers at the graduation last year because one student's uncle happened to be a major general involved in exposing prisoner abuses in Iraq. The students chose teacher Robin Ogg as their speaker.

This year, the administration invited Scott Thybony, who is related to another Grand Canyon student. For their speaker, the students chose Judy Walker.

"I thought it was perfectly appropriate for the school to provide a commencement speaker to deliver our message to the students, our congratulations, and our wish for them to have a wonderful life," Breen said.

Crumbo emphasized that, in her long history at Grand Canyon, she sees that the ceremony "is almost a sacred tradition in the community. It wasn't just the kids, it was the community. It was their ceremony and their tradition."

She also noted that part of the tradition was to keep the ceremony under an hour.

ELGA

The school's request for Forest Service land under the Education Land Grant Act is in the final appeals process, Breen reported.

She said that assuming the transfer isn't challenged, the school could take possession of the land in the next month or two.

Vail said that she received assurances from Roxanne George of the Sierra Club that the group's comments addressed concerns but didn't represent opposition to the project.

Kindergarten

Kelso said that based on what they've heard from parents and from Kaibab Learning Center staff, they estimate a kindergarten class of around 28 next year.

Personnel

The board accepted a request from high school English teacher Diane Williams for a one-year leave of absence. They also accepted Marcus Jacobson's resignation.

They approved payroll action for five summer school teachers ­ Jane Halverson, Karen Keil, Kathlin Goodrich, Susanna Miller and Rachel Dane.

Also approved were five substitute teachers ­ Brad Houston, Tom Bruno, Shannon Wood, Marjorie Woodruff and Susanna Miller.

Travel request

The board authorized a trip for Spanish teacher Terry Tobin to the Bilingual Center in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The intensive course will help prepare her to teach high school Spanish next year.

"It's all Spanish for two weeks," she said.

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