• Monthly Board Update

  • September 2022 Board Update

    Posted by Libby Hart-Wells on 9/1/2022

    Welcome back, SUSD students, staff and parents! We hope these first weeks of the school year have you and your students settled into a healthy routine of learning.

    The Board kicked off the school year with its retreat at which we worked collaboratively with district leadership to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) aimed at operationalizing the district Strategic Plan goals. We are grateful for the commitment to common cause shown by our community, staff, parents and students that got us to this point - working together with focus on our collective future. 

    Speaking of working together, you may have read the state legislature authorized and appropriated a K-12 education budget that reflects Arizonans’ long-held priority of increasing investments in our public education system. Much of this budget is restricted to specific items, but where there is discretion, the increased investment is intended to support learning in the classroom. And that is where SUSD’s additional investment is going, starting with recognizing great organizations are made up of excellent people. Stay tuned for actions this month in support of our outstanding employees and students.

    Fiscal responsibility was front and center this past month on the Board’s agenda, starting with the SUSD Self-Insurance Trust. We wish to thank Board Member Lindsay for stepping into the role of Trustee, replacing Board Member Beckman as she gracefully hands off this important work and winds down her service to the Board. Please join me in thanking both for their strength in commitment and support of our district through thick and thin.

    The Board approved the Audit Committee’s recommendation to re-engage the City of Scottsdale for an audit of the district Human Resources department. Like last year, this audit will provide actionable recommendations to improve efficiency and effectiveness of this important administrative function. Thank you to all the Audit Committee members for their work that draws a straight line to the district core values of integrity and trust, and special thanks to Board Member Greenburg for his sustained good efforts in advocating for this oversight.

    The Board also approved receipt of new funding from the State Facilities Oversight Board to reimburse costs for replacing roofs on three of our schools. We owe our district Facilities team a hearty pat on the back for their behind the scenes hard work, including securing this new funding.

    Last but not least, the Board heard summary findings of the district Climate Survey taken last spring. The district core values ‒ with special emphasis on empathy, inclusion and unity ‒ require all of us to take seriously the thoughtful recommendations made. Our students deserve no less.

    In close, I wish to thank my friend and colleague, Board President Cieniawski, for allowing me to guest-write this month’s letter, and thank her for her leadership this year.

    The Governing Board wishes each of you a year of growth and success.

    Thanks for reading,

    Libby Hart-Wells
    Vice President
    Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • August 2022 Board Update

    Posted by Julie Cieniawski on 8/1/2022

    Greetings, Scottsdale Unified Community,

    Our Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board welcomes the ability to continue moving our student-focused work forward in the new school year.  A new school year always brings a sense of optimism into our community. Many stores focus retail efforts on back-to-school shopping, children are excited to meet their new teachers and classmates, and they are eager for a fresh start, as well as a return to a routine filled with assorted learning opportunities, challenges, and adventures.  Staff positions are being filled at a frantic pace, principals are busy welcoming back returning personnel and onboarding new employees, while also opening their doors to invite new and returning families to merge into their school communities.  Teachers are busy molding the four walls of their classroom learning environment into an inviting and comfortable atmosphere where children will not only flourish academically but also personally feel a sense of belonging to a community where mistakes are viewed as a springboard to improvements, creativity is nurtured, and self-worth becomes a starting point for endless possibility. The SUSD Governing Board will continue to focus its work on real, student-focused, local priorities.

    Past work has been meaningful to our current destination and will help us move toward a better future.   Much time and effort has been spent in the development of our new SUSD Strategic Plan. With the extensive partnership between many community stakeholders and district employees, the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board was presented with and approved this guiding proposal this summer. I encourage you all to look at this important, focused commitment.  The Strategic Plan will help us target our work, focus our investments, and adopt policy, practice, and expectations that are future-focused and centered on the well-being of all of our students and the thousands of employees who provide support to them.

    We have many opportunities ahead of us and will continue to seek out solutions to improve our Scottsdale Unified School District.   Please know that each employee, student, and parent/care provider is appreciated and viewed as an integral part of our school district community. Throughout this school year, we welcome your feedback, creativity, and support.

    Thank you for entrusting your children to our Scottsdale Unified School District, where every child is valued and encouraged to pursue their destiny.

    Julie Cieniawski
    President
    Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board

     

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • July 2022 Board Update

    Posted by Julie Cieniawski on 7/1/2022

    Dear Scottsdale Community,

    This is an exciting time of the year.  It is the moment for transition from one school year to another.   While “summer vacation” allows us to push the reset button and reflect on our interests and values, it also provides us with the time to mix things up a bit.  Numerous students are engaged in our Scottsdale Unified School District summer learning opportunities. They are doing this to keep their minds engaged, catch-up academically or continue with forward progress, and many are focused on setting the foundation for another successful school year.  Though many are participating in assorted summer camp experiences, holding jobs, taking art classes, learning to swim or rock climb, experimenting with cooking classes, some are diving deep into reading - just for fun - and hanging out with friends. 

    Like many of our students, many school employees are taking a break from the routine of the school year.  With the absence of the bell schedule, many employees take courses and work to sharpen their workplace skills through assorted professional development classes. Some are already busy planning for the new school year, while others are catching up on much-needed self-care, busy with family or experiencing new adventures through travel.  Regardless of how you are spending the summertime, it is our hope, as a governing board, that our students and employees are making time to unplug, engage in new life experiences, and focus on what creates a sense of happiness and rejuvenation.

    Parents/guardians, know that you are valued and viewed as important partners in your child’s success.  Your support is not only appreciated, but it is necessary.  If you or anyone else you have connections with are looking for a way to help, whether it be as a volunteer or signing on as a paid employee, we need you.  The predicted staffing shortage is real, and your assistance is needed.  Please note positions available on our SUSD website, reach out to our HR department or your neighborhood school to learn of these opportunities.  Also, if you haven’t done so yet, enroll your child in school today.  We are better together.

    With the state budget finally approved, we can now get serious detailing our next school year, setting our priorities, and improving the learning environment for all stakeholders. 

    Our school district governing board strongly values student success, and our commitments are evident by the investments we have made to support innovative measures and a focus on student achievement.   And although the most recent release of standardized test scores indicate we are on the right path, we recognize we can and must do better.  We must provide innovative strategies to engage and honor students, their care providers, and all of our employees.  Encouraging all groups to think creatively and act collaboratively will be a key to the success of our community.  We all play a role in keeping the promise of quality public education for all children.  How will you help?

    Thank you for trusting us and supporting us as we support our SUSD family.  

    Enjoy the summer break.

    Julie Cieniawski

    For the SUSD Governing Board

     

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • June 2022 Board Update

    Posted by Julie Cieniawski on 6/1/2022

    Dear Scottsdale UNIFIED School District community,

    As this instructional school year ends, we have much to be thankful for.  Our community continues to rally around best practices to ensure every child receives the most appropriate education opportunities provided by highly qualified, formally trained, professionals.  Although we have heard the echoes of discourse along the way, we have risen above such challenges and we will continue to remain focused on the reason we all exist: our children in our community, district public schools. 

    Thank you to the 92 retiring employees who have dedicated over 1,784 combined years of service to our district and this community. You have invested a good portion of your life with us, and we recognize the sacrifices you have made to your work, other people’s children, and to one another.  Your retirement is our loss, but your service has been our gain, and your impact will be felt and appreciated for generations to come.  At our recent Governing Board meeting, you were reminded that our SUSD family will always welcome you, as employees, volunteers, mentors, or simply ongoing fans of public education in our Scottsdale UNIFIED School District.  We are grateful and feel much obliged to you all.

    Congratulations to all our recent graduates. You will be moving on to jobs, other commitments, or to continue with your education.  You’ve applied necessary, real-world skills just by making it through the past 2 years.  None of this has been easy or normal, and you probably seek consistency.  Don’t confuse that with complacency ‒ the future is yours now.  You have many people on your team to encourage and guide you, so don’t feel pressured to have it figured out. Enjoy the encounters, be flexible, but keep challenging yourself.

    Students and families who show never-ending support of being better, thank you for your commitment to support growth.  Whether you chose in-person, online instruction, or a combination of both, we respect your decisions and honor choice in education.  In SUSD, we honor choice by providing a plethora of excellent educational opportunities and learning options, and we will continue to do this because we understand that one size does not fit all children, or adults, and variety is the key to inspiring future significance.

    Our SUSD leaders have remained nimble in unchartered waters, and our district-elected Governing Board has persevered because your children and our employees are all worth the challenge. 

    As fiduciaries, collectively, we have taken many steps to improve systems and have revised past practices to ensure fiscal accountability and to better direct our focus towards student success.  These measures include putting in place audit systems, creating and nurturing community partnerships, investing in engaging curriculum, providing additional academic and personal support for all of our students, encouraging collaborative processes to solve dilemmas, improving the work experience and enhancing our employee compensation benefit packages, elevating the importance of student voice and input, and will continue to update our facilities.  The Governing Board has been consistent at ensuring our district contracts include measured outcomes with qualified, high expectations laid out in conjunction with specific details well beyond a mere bill of sale.  Our objectives are meant to provide extraordinary, meaningful, and safe education environments at every campus in our community, where every child can pursue an inclusive, world-class, future-focused learning experience.   

    We look forward to continuing our work directed by our vision, mission, values.

    Much obliged for your kindness, dedication, and support.

    Julie Cieniawski
    SUSD Governing Board President

     

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • May 2022 Board Update

    Posted by Julie Cieniawski on 5/1/2022

    Dear Scottsdale Community,

    National Teacher Appreciation Week is upon us and we are blessed to have the best and brightest working right here to deliver the world-class, future-focused learning our community not only deserves but rightfully expects. The last couple years have been especially challenging for our teachers, but they have persevered, and their tireless commitment to supporting students through it all is not lost on us. We, as a Board, seek to better understand the challenges teachers face and learn how to better support them. Please join me in thanking all teachers for all they do!!

    The Spring semester is always a busy one, not only for our students and families, but for us as a Board, too, wrapping up one year while gearing up for the next.

    This last month, the Board reviewed and acted on critical district operations in support of our students.

    • Opportunities exist this summer for students to catch up in challenging content areas and for others to get a jump start on next school year. As you may be aware, there is a national teacher shortage, and while Scottsdale is blessed to have dedicated teachers, recruiting for summer school is not always easy. To honor and incentivize that work, the board approved a $500 signing bonus for instructional personnel who work in the district’s summer school programs. The bonus will be paid for each program worked that is two weeks or longer in duration and will be funded by the Governor’s AZ OnTrack Summer Camp Grant.

    • We wrapped up the restructuring of the Coronado Learning Community by approving new elementary attendance zones. Taking effect for the 2022-2023 school year, the ‘new’ Tonalea Middle School will serve students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades, and the Yavapai campus will re-open in August, welcoming back pre-kindergarten through 5th grade students.

    • We approved a resolution calling for a Special District Additional Assistance (DAA) Override Election on November 8, 2022.

      • With voter approval, state law allows school districts to increase their budgets by an amount not greater than 10% of the Revenue Control Limit for District Additional Assistance purposes. The proposed District Additional Assistance Override is for the lesser of $14.5 million or 10% of the District’s revenue control limit per year for a period of not to exceed seven years.

      • These funds would support:
        • Curriculum materials and school technology
        • School furniture, fixtures and equipment
        • Fine Arts, Athletics, and Library equipment and materials
        • Playground equipment and facilities

      • Voters approved the current DAA Override of $8.5 million in November 2016.

    This month, we look forward to attending high school graduation ceremonies and celebrating the Class of 2022. Graduates, the work we do here is for you. You are our legacy, and we are confident your SUSD foundation will serve you well in all of your post-secondary endeavors. Congratulations!

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • April 2022 Board Update

    Posted by Julie Cieniawski on 4/1/2022

    Dear Scottsdale Community,

    How do we work to assure every student succeeds in our community?  Locally, we set the priority and support students’ rights to be loved, inspired, and intellectually challenged every day, and then focus our efforts on these objectives.  Let’s recognize that student success is dependent upon the initiatives set forth and supported by this Governing Board, caring certified professionals, support staff, and administrators.  Because when we support and respect all of our school employees, we are supporting our students.  Parents play a vital role in supporting their child and their child’s teachers.

    Supporting and ensuring the success of our students is a primary objective for the work of our Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board.  Creating a system that honors, recognizes, and respects the rights and interests of our students must continue to be at the foundation for our work.  To date, we have been busy revising and updating policies; approving updates to curriculum, student learning opportunities, technology, and our facilities; and ensuring the safety and well-being of our students.  

    Our 2022 actions include:

    • Approval of New Strategic Plan Goals and Commitments
    • Facility improvements: approval of school intercom and clock system upgrades; Kiva Elementary School playground shade structure replacement and installation; emergency repairs at Desert Mountain High School resulting from a recent water main break; Saguaro High School roof replacement project; approval of a multi-year contract for structured cabling; purchase of network equipment and licenses for the Pueblo Elementary School rebuild; facility improvements at Navajo Elementary
    • Restructuring of the Coronado Learning Community education complex, name change approval to create Tonalea Middle School from Tonalea K-8
    • Approval of a 5-year Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Scottsdale for School Resource Officers (“SROs”) for SUSD schools
    • Approval of 2022-2023 employee salary schedules and benefits, contract forms and benefits for all employee groups, Certified staff class coverage compensation request, Certified and Special Service Providers Performance Pay (301) Plan
    • Revisions to the High School Planning Guide for the 2022-2023 school year and Adoption of the Latin Honor System
    • Policy Updates*
      • Removal of Policy BDF – Advisory Committees
      • Revisions to Policy BEDBA – Agenda Preparation and Dissemination, Policy BA – School Board Operational Goals, Policy BBA – Board Powers and Responsibilities, Policy BBAA – Board Member Authority and Responsibilities, Policy BDA – Board Organizational Meeting, Policy BDE – Board Committees, Policy BEDB – Agenda, Policy BEDD – Rules of Order, Policy BEDH – Public Participation at Board Meetings, Policy IHAMD – Instruction and Training in Suicide Prevention, Approval and Adoption of Policy BCC – Requests for Information *These updates can be viewed on our district website.

    We welcome suggestions that would enhance the learning process for our students and look forward to nurturing this evolving partnership with you.

    Stay well and be kind,


    Julie Cieniawski
    President
    SUSD Governing Board

     

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • October 2021 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 11/5/2021

    Dear SUSD Families and Staff:

    I hope you all had an enjoyable Halloween weekend and are looking forward to the upcoming holidays. As this is the last board update until December, I want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.

    Looking Back

    In October, our board remained focused on its work providing advice and oversight on key district matters. This included:

    • Reviewing student academic performance on standardized exams taken during the 2020/21 school year, including AZ Merit II (for English language arts and math in grades 3 through 8, and 10), Arizona Science (grades 5, 8, and 11), and the ACT (grade 10). Student performance was commendable, given the learning disruptions caused by COVID-19, and SUSD was a top-performing district among our peer districts in most tested areas. That said, there is room for improvement. The board and administration are fully committed to improved academic performance on key standardized exams. As part of this work, the administration is developing meaningful key performance indicators and a data dashboard that will assist teachers in quickly identifying students’ individual support needs.
    • Meeting with the City of Scottsdale’s auditors to review SUSD’s first internal audit. The Audit Committee reviewed the report before the final report was brought to the full board for discussion. The audit identified ways that SUSD can improve its construction contracts and projects. The administration has already implemented a number of the recommendations in our current construction projects, and our auditors will conduct a follow-up on their recommendations once the Hohokam rebuild project is complete.
    • Approving the board’s new goals for the 2021/22 school year. The board desires to expand its committee structure beyond auditing. Suggested committees include nomination, compensation, policy, and risk committees. These committees would meet in public and follow OML guidelines. The board also wants to refocus its work on improving stakeholder communication.

    Moving Forward

    In November, the board will review and vote on a number of district policy updates to comply with new Arizona and federal laws. The board will also conduct its informal, quarterly review of the superintendent’s performance since July 1, 2021.

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

     

    Download a copy of this update in English

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  • September 2021 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 10/6/2021

    Dear SUSD Families and Staff:

    I hope you are having a great week. I want to thank each of you for making the first two months of our first “normal” school year since March 2020 a great success.

    Looking Back

    During the past two months, our board and administration have focused on our students’ academic outcomes, bond projects, and fiscal responsibility. This includes:

    • Reviewing the administration’s draft key performance indicators. Key performance indicators enable our board and administration to track academic performance year over year and determine whether SUSD is making appropriate strides in educating our students. Proposals include increasing (a) the number of students meeting the ACT’s college readiness benchmarks from 43% to 48%, (b) English Language Learner proficiency on state math and English language arts tests from 5% to 15%, and (c) the number of 8th grade students testing at or above grade level in math from 51% to 61% this school year.
    • Agreeing to build out Navajo Elementary School’s D wing. Navajo is a true “phoenix” story: rising from the ashes of a devastating fire in 2018, Navajo was largely rebuilt and has since seen a significant increase in enrollment. The board agreed to finish Navajo’s D wing to accommodate the school’s growing student body.
    • Forming an internal audit committee comprised of subject-matter experts from our community. Before scheduling future internal audits, the committee’s first task when it meets in October will be to review the City of Scottsdale’s internal audit of the Hohokam bond project.

    Special Thanks

    I want to thank four incredible SUSD community members who demonstrated heroism, quick thinking, and compassion this past month. First, Mountainside Middle School Security Officer Vincent Salus saw a student signaling that he was choking. Officer Salus jumped into action, performed the Heimlich maneuver, and saved the child’s life. Last week, Cocopah Middle School students Johnny Ward, Luca Montemore, and Jacob McDonald helped save one of our school bus drivers who had a medical emergency while transporting students to school. The students contacted 9-1-1 and relayed medical instructions to the driver until paramedics arrived. They also communicated what could have been a final message of love to the driver’s mother. Thank you. Your decisive actions prevented tragedies, and the world is a better place because of you.

     

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

    Julie Cieniawski

    Vice President | SUSD Governing Board

     

    Download a copy of this update in English

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  • Back to School 2021-2022 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 9/3/2021

    Welcome Back

    Dear SUSD Students, Families, and Staff:

    On behalf of the Governing Board and Scottsdale Unified School District, we are happy to welcome each of you to the 2021-2022 academic year as we celebrate the district’s 125th anniversary.

    We recognize that for many of you, this school year is a continuation of your journey through our academic community. But for others, this year marks the start of a new adventure in our district. We ask our community to join us in giving a warm welcome to the 2,071 students and 231 employees who have chosen to make Scottsdale Unified School District their new academic and professional home. To our new students, families, and staff, we hope your time in our district is both memorable and fulfilling, and that you find as much happiness here as we did, and do, as students, parents of students, and members of staff.

    In addition, our district continues to focus on ways to improve academic opportunities and course accessibility. This year, our district will be expanding Pre-Advanced Placement (or “Pre-AP”) offerings through the district at both middle and high schools. The Pre-AP coursework provides engaging, rigorous opportunities typically found in an Advanced Placement class. Pre-AP emphasizes and prioritizes the content and skills that matter most for later high school coursework and college and career readiness. SUSD is also expanding self-contained gifted opportunities to Tavan Elementary School and increasing preschool programs at several sites, including adding three-year-old students at Yavapai Elementary and Navajo Middle schools.

    As we reflect on our district’s longstanding commitment to excellence in education and support for our community, it is important that we remember that our district’s vision is to provide world-class, future-focused learning for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, special needs, race or ethnicity, religious or political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, immigration status, or any other basis. In the truest sense, Scottsdale Unified School District is a miniature version of our nation as a whole, and it is that unique level of diversity that makes public schools – free to all, accepting of all, supportive of all – one our nation’s finest innovations.

    Our promise to each of you is this: where our district excels, we will continue to maintain high standards; where our district falls short, we remain committed to improving and strengthening our services. We will continue to honor and support our invaluable community partnerships as we create a better education for today, tomorrow, and the next 125 years as a unified school district and community.

     

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

    Julie Cieniawski

    Vice President | SUSD Governing Board

     

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  • June 2021 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 6/30/2021

    Dear SUSD Families and Staff:

    I hope you are all enjoying your summers. Although the 2020/21 school year ended in May, the school board continues to work through summer break in order to plan and prepare for the upcoming school year.

    Looking Back

    In June, our board and administration addressed a number of issues concerning our students and staff, including:

    • Reviewing our existing academic benchmark indicators. Although our students outperformed both the state and national averages for all exams reviewed, roughly 16% of 8th grade students are performing three or more grade levels below where they should be. Further, AzM2 results show that only 60% and 66% of 3rd grade students tested as “proficient” in English Language Arts and Math, respectively, with results varying across our demographics. It is important to note that: (1) these figures do not take into account the enormous and commendable growth students and staff achieved during this very difficult year; and (2) test results are not the only aspect of our children’s education that matter. However, these results do form a starting point for improving academic achievement.
    • Adopting new audit policies. The board made significant revisions to its prior audit policies, paving the way for the creation of an audit committee and the formation of an internal audit team in the future that is in line with industry standards and best practices. Internal auditing is a critical component of ensuring that SUSD is following the law, using taxpayer resources efficiently, and improving transparency and accountability to its stakeholders.
    • Approving the Strategic Planning Design Team’s recommended Vision, Mission, and Value statements for SUSD. The team is comprised of 40 staff and community members, with individuals chosen from all five learning communities. SUSD’s new vision is to “engage all students in world-class, future-focused learning.” Phase 2 of the strategic planning process begins in August and will establish SUSD’s measurable strategic goals.

    In addition, SUSD is looking for parent and community volunteers for its supplemental book list and materials committees, as well as for its Self-Insurance Trust Board. If you or someone you know might be interested in applying, please visit https://www.susd.org/Committees for more information.

    Moving Forward

    The board next meets in August. The board will discuss a number of important issues, including establishing interim key performance indicators for the 2021/22 school year, significant policy revisions, and potentially joining litigation against vaping companies.

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

     

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