• Monthly Board Update

  • Back to School 2021-2022 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 8/3/2021

    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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  • May 2021 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 5/28/2021

    Dear SUSD Families and Staff:

    I want to begin by congratulating all of our students on their amazing accomplishments this year. They remind us not only of the diversity of our student body and the wide range of activities in which they participate, but also of all our wonderful staff who support our students at every step of their journey through our schools, from bus drivers and cafeteria workers, to teachers and school counselors. I also want to thank our staff, parents, and the greater SUSD community for coming together to make this year a success.

    Looking Back

    In May, our board and administration reviewed critical areas of our district’s operations and future projects, including:

    • Reviewing our special education services and the work of SUSD’s Special Education Task Force (“SETF”). In particular, the board focused on areas of improvement, the SETF’s short- and long-term objectives to continuously improve special education, and additional supports needed to ensure that all of our students are receiving the education they deserve.
    • Discussing our partnership with the City of Scottsdale’s Police Department and our Security Resource Officers (“SROs”). The board heard from Chief Walther and SUSD’s SROs about the many ways in which the police help support our students and their families, both inside our schools and outside in our wider community. Attention was placed on the importance of student and staff safety, the changing dynamics of policing in schools, and the ways in which SUSD and our SROs can improve our work together.
    • Approving the Visioning Committee Process for the rebuild/remodel of Pueblo Elementary School and construction projects at Tavan Elementary School. These projects will give current and future students a safe, welcoming environment in which to learn and grow.
    • Creating an SUSD webpage where all current district committees are listed (susd.org/committees). Members of the public can volunteer to serve on committees with open positions and learn more about our various committees’ work at the above link. We also currently need volunteer board members for the SUSD Self-Insurance Trust Board.

    Moving Forward

    In June, the board will discuss our current benchmark academic indicators and the ways in which our district monitors student academic and social emotional growth each year. The board will also approve its tentative expenditure budget for the 2021/22 school year. As a result of additional federal funding, SUSD will be able to deploy new resources and supports into our schools and classrooms, directly helping our students.

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

     

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  • April 2021 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 4/30/2021

    Dear SUSD Families and Staff:

    As we enter the final month of this school year, there are many great things to celebrate and to look forward to. Our students and staff continue to persevere under difficult and volatile circumstances, and I thank them for their hard work and dedication.

    Looking Back

    In April, our board and administration addressed a number of exciting initiatives to support the success of our students and staff, including:

    • Adopting new instructional materials for our 6th through 12th grade English Language Arts, AP Literature, AP Language, and AP Psychology classes. Providing our students with the best in educational materials is integral to ensuring they are equipped with the necessary tools to thrive in an ever-changing world.
    • Recognizing each of our employee associations (the SAA, SEA, and SSPA), restoring an important district tradition dating back to the 1960s. Our shared goal is to develop new employment agreements that strengthen our internal policies and set high levels of expectations for our staff, administration, and board. This will also help rebuild trust between the board and staff, and ensure our students are receiving the best education possible.
    • Continuing lease negotiations with Phoenix Rising FC. Phoenix Rising is interested in leasing the former grounds of Tonalea Elementary School for its youth soccer program. It would also develop a public fitness path and playground and renovate the remaining school building for community use. We will also host a meeting with the surrounding community to gather their feedback and support for this proposal.

    Additionally, our administration continues to consult with the MCDPH regarding our district’s COVID mitigation efforts. Based on those discussions I am hopeful that we will be able to adopt a mask-optional policy for certain summer school courses and all classes in the fall. I want to thank our students, staff, and families for adhering to mask requirements.

    Moving Forward

    In May, the board will consider adopting materials for our IB Theory of Knowledge course that is part of Desert Mountain High School’s International Baccalaureate program and approving the expanded use of FastBridge as an academic and social emotional learning (SEL) screener for 4th and 5th grades and as an SEL screener for 6th  through 12th grades, beginning this summer.

    The board will also receive a public update on special education and our school resource officer partnerships with the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale.

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

     

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  • March 2021 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 3/31/2021

    Dear SUSD Families and Staff:

    I hope you are having a great week and are looking forward to the weekend as much as I am. March has been a busy month for our District, and I am continually impressed by our students, staff, and families for all they have done to make this year a success.

    Looking Back

    In March, our board and administration took various actions to support our students and staff, including, but not limited to:

    • Approving the administration’s recommendation to provide a full-day, in-person learning option to all students. The Board reviewed survey results and the CDC’s school re-opening guidelines, as well as consulted the MCDPH’s Director for Disease Control, making for a thorough and robust conversation on this question.                                                                                                        
    • Issuing contracts to staff for the 2021/22 academic year. The Board reviewed staff salaries and agreed to provide a 2.0% raise to teachers and classified staff, a 1.5% raise to principals and other site administrators, and a 1.0% raise for other administration personnel. The Board also approved a signing payment worth up to $1,000 for each full-time staff member in order to retain our talented employees after a very difficult year. Special thanks are owed to the Finance and Facilities Committee for its work on salaries and benefits.                                                                                                                                                                                
    • Finalizing the construction contract with McCarthy Building Companies for construction services at Kiva Elementary School. This school rebuild project will give current and future Kiva students an excellent environment in which to learn, make friends, and grow.

    While the Board – like so many in our community – remains focused on the safety of all staff and students, SUSD continues to follow mitigation strategies outlined by the MCDPH and CDC. Known COVID cases at our schools remain low, making in-person learning a success so far. I want to personally thank our teachers and staff for their hard work and sacrifice in making this both possible and a success. Our community owes you all a debt of gratitude.

    Moving Forward

    In April, the Board will consider adopting new curricula for ELA, AP Psychology, and IB Theory of Knowledge, updating District policies (for example, Policy JICK, concerning bullying on our campuses), extending the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and approving changes to health insurance and benefits plans.

     

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

     

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    For more on the SUSD Governing Board, visit www.susd.org/Board.

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  • February 2021 Board Update

    Posted by Jann-Michael Greenburg on 2/25/2021

    Dear SUSD Families and Staff:

    I hope you had a great week and are looking forward to the weekend as much as I am. Open communication in a district as large and diverse as ours is extremely important to building a thriving organization. To improve communications between the school board and our community and staff, I am starting a tradition of providing recaps of the Board’s work at the end of each month. I hope this is a tradition that is continued and perfected by future Board presidents.

    Looking Back

    Over the past two months, our board and administration have undertaken exciting initiatives important to the district’s long-term success. This includes:

    • Holding our first Strategic Planning Design Team meeting to help guide our strategic planning process. Applications to join the committee were open to all staff and community members, with individuals chosen from all five learning communities. Our shared goal is to turn SUSD into an internationally recognized, high-performing district;    
    • Entering into an agreement with Scottsdale’s City Auditor to conduct internal audits for SUSD, beginning with the Hohokam campus rebuild. What we learn will improve our remaining rebuild projects and lead to cost savings. More generally, internal audits of SUSD projects and operations will increase funds available for our classrooms and improve district transparency, accountability, and efficiency; and                                                                              
    • Developing a Marketing and Communications Committee. Despite being a top district in Arizona, SUSD has experienced a decade of declining enrollment that we will reverse. By showcasing our amazing programs, students, and staff, we are confident we can rebuild enrollment at SUSD.     

    We have also held important discussions on students’ learning gaps and ensuring no child is left behind as a consequence of the pandemic, providing a much-deserved raise to our teachers, hourly staff, and principals, and selling the final $62 million in community-approved bonds.

    Moving Forward

    On March 2, the Board will review the final recommendations from our administration concerning a return to full, in-person learning. The Board will also hear from our newly formed Finance and Facilities Committee on its recommendations concerning staff salaries and benefits.

                                                                           

    Yours very truly,

    Jann-Michael Greenburg

    President | SUSD Governing Board

     

    Download a copy of this update in English

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    For more on the SUSD Governing Board, visit www.susd.org/Board.

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