The Fountain Hills Unified School District Governing Board met last Wednesday, March 8, for an executive session and a business meeting. The executive session was for discussions on employee salary and benefits negotiations, and the Board approved eight action items related to meet and confer staff agreements.
After informational reports from each Board member, the Board honored Falcons of the month. The students honored from each school were Jillian Henry, Jordan Ruiz and JP Cahill, and the staff who received honors were Talia Houseal, Chris Peterson, Austin Keating and Valerie Fernandez.
The Board then heard reports from Student Government and middle school administrators. The high school STUGO is planning prom and fundraising opportunities through the Fountain Hills Coalition’s Falcon Promise Pledge to avoid vaping, drinking and other drugs.
The middle school principal, Dr. Kimberly Weeldreyer, and Dean of Students, Valerie Reichler, were both new to their positions this year. They delivered a presentation on their goals and progress, like building a PBIS store and bringing Red Ribbon Week back, and the Board was satisfied with their ongoing work.
After public comments and a 5-0 decision to authorize Superintendent Dr. Cain Jagodzinski to move forward with replacing the high school field, the Board moved on to more action items. Many items, such as policy advisories, new course proposals and details about the before and after school programs, had been discussed before. The Board quickly approved these items upon second readings.
Jagodzinski clarified that even though all 11 new course proposals at the high school were approved, they may not get implemented right away. With the move to a trimester schedule, there will be several logistical matters to work out before they can be taught.
The high school football team needs a new head coach, but the Board did approve the team trip to the Cal Lutheran Football Camp in Thousand Oaks, California this July. Jagodzinski believes the school will hire a new coach by the time of the trip, but the language was changed so the team can still attend with assistant coaches and district staff attending as chaperones.
The Board approved the name “Club Falcon” for before and after school programs. They also approved the pricing at $5 daily for before-school care, and $10 daily for after-school care.
The Board approved the new salary schedule for certified staff and administration. They also approved the issuance of new contracts to go out to certified staff so they can sign and return for next year. The vote to approve the school and work calendars for 2023-2024 passed 4-1. Board member Dana Saar voted against the calendars because he wants a balanced yearlong school calendar instead.
“For 30 years, I’ve voted against this,” Saar said. “I’ll vote against this tonight.”
That wasn’t the only point of disagreement in the meeting. The Board approved the Fountain Hills Coalition’s CATCH My Breath program 3-2, and they approved the job description of a childcare specialist 4-1.
Board members Madicyn Reid and Libby Settle voted against teaching the CATCH My Breath E-Cigarette prevention program in Fountain Hills classes. The Coalition will acquire the curriculum to teach the program from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, and “for that reason, my vote will be different,” Settle said.
Settle and Reid each said they opposed the anti-tobacco program because the Coalition would have to share anonymous data with the county. The county asks for survey data before and after the program to determine how successful it was in getting children to understand E-cigarettes are addictive and unhealthy.
This was the second Board discussion on CATCH My Breath. After the first discussion, the district changed the language to make surveys on an opt-in form, but that was still not enough to convince Reid or Settle.
“I do still have a little bit of concern with the surveying of students,” Reid said. “I know that it’s anonymous, I’m just one of those people that shy away from data collection.”
The childcare specialist position was discussed and tabled at the Feb. 22 work study session. The language of the position was changed from supporting “with specific responsibility for implementing programs for the personal and emotional growth of the referred students,” to “with specific responsibility of supporting teachers in the personal and emotional growth of the referred students.”
The childcare specialist position is in line with the Arizona early learning social emotional standard per state law, and the change in language means they can only assist teachers in personal and emotional growth. Reid had concerns over “personal and emotional,”
and voted against the position description.
The Board will meet next for a work study session on Wednesday, March 22, at 5 p.m. All meetings are held in the FHUSD Learning Center and are livestreamed and recorded on the FHUSD YouTube channel. To find old meetings, click on the “Live” section on the FHUSD YouTube home page.