Today: Jun 04 , 2020

PUSD Board Discusses Difficult Policy Choices

11 February 2010  

The Prescott Unified School Board made some difficult policy decisions during their School board meeting last night.

A big thank you to the PUSD School Board for their nomination, and also to all the other staff and contributors who help make Prescott eNews work. Nothing could happen without the support of our community.

Typically, the Prescott Unified School District starts off their meetings with various presentations. Last night, February 9, 2010, was no different - except for the recipient of the first presentation.

Prescott eNews received the 2009 ASBA Media Award from the Arizona School Board Association last evening. The award was presented by Superintendent Kevin Kapp and Board President Joan Fleming to this reporter.

Kapp noted that Prescott eNews is "burgeoning" and described the site’s coverage as always fair and exact. Fleming said that she was very proud to present this award, stating, "I remember when you first started, Lynne, and you've come a long way, Baby."

There was another presentation to make: Dee Navarro was also awarded the Past Governing Board President plaque. Evidently the School Board had forgotten to give the plaque to her - it was from her 2008 service!

And finally, Jim Cowan, Director of Transportation made a presentation stating that they had an annual inspection by the Department of Public Safety (DPS).  This year DPS found only two very minor violations. Cowan reported that PUSD’s Transportation Department was told that they are the number one district north of Phoenix this year. 

Current Events Summary

A calendar of events was handed out for the rest of February and March, and it was full of meetings – largely related to the search for a new superintendent. On the 17th of February, there will be a meeting with John Gordon regarding Superintendent applicants.

Dee Navarro, Vice-President of the Arizona School Board Association (soon to be President) recently returned from Washington DC where she met with local elected officials to discuss education issues. She was asked to give a presentation at a future PUSD Board meeting.

Kapp also took the time to share the preliminary numbers for the Average Daily Attendance, and for the first time in several years, the district has decreasing enrollment, as they are down about 116 students from the same time last year. Despite the fact that the number of students from outside the District (which bring in additional funds) have increased, Prescott School District is looking at a loss of approximately half a million dollars.

Kapp recommended that the District consider embarking on an advertising program to see if enrollment could be increased.

Dr. Polvani came to deliver an invitation - presented by Dr. Jessie Ellers. The Mt. Institute is extending invitations to a meeting at Prescott High School next Wednesday which begins at 6 pm.


Mountain Institute JTED Governing Board

Community Meeting

Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 6:00 pm

Prescott High School

Multi-Purpose Room

1050 Ruth Street, Prescott

Taylor Robbins, the Student Representative asks about the Advocacy Training. Navarro responding by explaining that a lobbyist came and shared about how a bill goes through, how to communicate with our legislators. Navarro discussed the importance of trying to get people more involved in coalitions so that legislators can help with school needs. She pointed can even sign up on a kiosk down at the Arizona Capitol to register your opinion on various bills. 

7. Study and Voting Session

A. Review and Adoption of Policy Services

Kapp summarized some of the policies being considered, which included: Whether an evaluation of teachers and a preliminary notice of non-qualifying performance could be done by a Principal rather than a superintendent or designee; policies for student expulsion, which is more serious than a suspension. Should expulsions be done by the Board or an advisory committee? There were other policies that weren’t as controversial that were also included.

It was moved by Board Member Steve Campbell that Policy Services Advisories #341-365 be accepted as presented, with a couple of exceptions: 357, GCQA, to be held for further discussion and excepting any regulations. 

This motion carried unanimously. 

One of the policies that was set aside for further consideration was that which called for policies regarding reduction in force; and Kapp agreed with the board for postponing it. He recommended a plan of study before bringing it back to the Board.

B. Sick Leave Policy and Transfer of Days Suspension

Before the discussion regarding sick leave policy suspension and transfer of days began, Mrs. Jan Richards got up to encourage the Board not to suspend the sick leave bank.

The sick leave bank is a way that employees of the school district can donate their sick leave to those who have long term health issues, and are out of their own sick time. Richards made the point that even if the teachers save their sick leave, rather than use it or donate it now, they’ll be paid for it when they retire.

“Our district is a kind district,” Richards said, “…the sick leave bank is a way that we can help one another… Employees who unselfishly donate their days have already determined that helping their fellow employee is more important than holding them for themselves.”

Unfortunately, the SLB (Sick Leave Bank) cost the school district approximately $30K in 2008-2009. If that is added to the Transfer of Days program, the District spends about $80,000 each school year, Campbell noted.

Kapp said that the program was originally adopted in 1992-93, and at the time it seemed like a nice program and a benefit for the employees. But last year the program was suspended because of the current budget situation. The question before the Board was whether or not they wanted to suspend it for one more year. 

As a further concern, Navarro notes that the District will be also facing a potential 10% increase in health insurance next year.

Campbell’s view is that they are going to have to watch everything they do very carefully, and he thinks it ought to be suspended again. 

The Board voted to suspend both policies for the next school year.

At the request of the Yavapai County Superintendent Tim Carter, the Board considered the GovNET lease agreement draft.

The agreement would link all of the school districts in Yavapai County together on a single vendor for the internet. However, according to District Technology Director Bill Caldwell, at $325 per MB, the cost is very expensive. That means the District would pay approximately $468K per year, but it would cut the district office by half a MB. Currently they are paying $72k per year for service that is more robust.

Caldwell said he has another recommendation he’s studying.

Board Member Tina Seely asks what the positives are?

"If we do it right we could do distance learning," Coldwell replied.

Since this was not a voting item, no decision was made.

And finally, the new Purchasing Director, Mrs. Jean Zander, recommended several vendors for purchases of office supplies: Northern Office Products as the first choice, with Staples, Office Max and WalMart to be used as second choices. Think 4Ink is also recommended for certain ink cartridges.

Before voting on the consent agenda, Campbell discussed his appreciation of donations to the District, especially in this economy. 

Campbell also looked at the accounts provided for review, and said he was pleased that there are only 2 items in the negative amount.

Kapp notes that Donna Norris has submitted her letter of retirement, after 30 years, and it is included in the consent agenda.

Consent agenda is approved as presented.

A quick note: Before the Prescott Unified School Board met, they held an Executive session. According to Board President Joan Fleming, it was for the purpose of receiving legal advice from their attorney regarding proposed policies.

No action was immediately taken as a result of that meeting.

Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She will be leaving for new adventures on May 15, 2020.