With the school year in full swing, Sedona-Oak Creek School District’s governing board had its plate full at its monthly meeting Tuesday, Oct. 3.
The board started off with approving two intergovernmental agreements: The first was with Yavapai College to allow high school students to take dual-enrollment classes, where they earn college credit while enrolled in a high school course; and the second was the final approval on the IGA with the city for Sedona Police Officer Jackie McQuaid to return to the high school as its school resource officer.
Afterward, the four principals gave updates on each of their schools. Scott Keller, principal of West Sedona School, talked about the makerspace and future plans for it, and gave information about their fundraising carnival Saturday,
Big Park Community School principal Debbie Jones talked about the school’s progress in its International Baccalaureate Program candidacy, and announced some upcoming events: The Tee Up Fore Team Big Park fundraiser Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7, as well as a community reception at the school on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
Jay Litwicki, principal at Sedona Red Rock Junior High School, talked about some positive reinforcement activities they do, including a recent field trip they took to Harkins Sedona 6 to see “The Lego Ninjago Movie.” Litwicki also discussed the work the junior high teachers do as they help their students transition from an elementary environment to high school.
Sedona Red Rock High School principal Darrin Karuzas talked about the clubs and events the high school students are involved in. He also gave a brief presentation about the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission’s Arizona Youth Survey and safety at the high school.
Specific measures the high school is taking to enhance school safety include the return of SRO McQuaid, and the school is in the process of working with Spectrum Healthcare to get a counselor specially trained in dealing with crisis situations to volunteer at the high school a few days a week.
Also at this meeting, the board again discussed Don Groves’ strategic plan proposal. Groves is an education consultant whose business, Schooling Re-Engineered, specializes in improving the quality of a school’s instruction in a variety of ways. He has volunteered to lead the process.
The first part of this strategic plan involves forming a strategic development team comprised of representatives from around the district: Teachers, parents and community members from each school site council, an elementary principal, the finance director, the curriculum director, a board member and a district clerical employee.
Parents of West Sedona School students came to the board meeting to express a concern that each school would not be fairly represented. For example, the proposal lists only one elementary principal, and neither the junior high nor high school principals are on the team in the proposal. One mom who spoke during the call to public also shared that some feel beginning this process could take away focus from the search for a new superintendent.
During its discussion, the board shared some similar concerns with the proposal.
“I’m looking at the makeup of the committee. They’re showing as three schools, and there should be some junior high representation,” board member Karen McClelland said. “We should have representation from all four schools.”
The junior high and high schools share one site council, so while members of that site council will be on the strategic development team, there would be no guarantee that the junior high and high schools would be equally represented.
McClelland also commented that the timeline laid out in the proposal, which had the first strategic development team penciled in for Monday, Oct. 2, would need to be adjusted. Vice President Heather Hermen and President Randy Hawley agreed.
When it came time to vote, the board approved the proposal unanimously, with a caveat that some amendments would need to be made — specifically to the makeup of the strategic development team and to the timeline.
Later in the board meeting, superintendent Dave Lykins proposed nominating McClelland for the Arizona School Boards Association’s All-Arizona School Board Member Award.
“I’m excited to bring this to the board,” Lykins said. McClelland has served on the school board for more than a decade, including as vice president.
The board approved unanimously, and Lykins volunteered to complete the nomination form.
The board also approved hiring Heather Shaw-Burton to take over Lynn Leonard’s duties as finance director/business manager for the district.
Discussion continued on the Sedona-Oak Creek School District’s search for its next superintendent at a governing board work session before its meeting on Tuesday.
Steve Highlen of the Arizona School Boards Association gave a presentation on what a superintendent search typically looks like when handled by the ASBA. He outlined the general process, walking the board through the timeline, expectations and questions to consider.
While no action was taken during the session, the topic of the search came up again during the board’s meeting later that evening.
“I want to make sure that whoever we pick, they do a national search,” Hawley said. “I’m more comfortable, after hearing [Highlen] today, in terms of their outreach going for a national search as opposed to just Arizona.”
With board member Zach Richardson gone and unable to call in, the board decided to wait until its next meeting to take action on the search.
“I really think it’s important for all five board members to be present during the discussion,” Hawley said.
The board will meet again Thursday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m.