Chandler Chamber : State of the Schools Luncheon

I have been slow in getting down content I have been collecting. I am trying to change that but I just hate writing. Recently I attended the Chandler Chamber : State of the Schools luncheon (April 22nd). It was a panel discussion including…

Dr. David Schauer – Kyrene School District Superintendent
Barbara Border – Deputy Superintendent of AZ Dept of Education
Dr. Camille Casteel – Chandler School District Superintendent
Dr. Keith Hjelmstad – ASU Vice President
Dr. Linda Lujan – Chandler-Gilbert Community College President
Debra Thompson – Maricopa Community College Vice Chancellor

Below are questions and answer summary of the event from my view point.
Budget
Chandler – Has a if we can’t sustain we won’t add it mentality. Managing operations better as well as buses. Governing energy usage and trash collection. $14m short with Prop 100. $29m short without Prop 100.
ASU – Extensive reorganization to eliminate administrative overhead. Staff furloughs. Sustainability. Using federal stimulus monies. No on prop 100 means $48m more in cuts.
Maricopa – Not a lot of state funding so not very impacted yet. Allowing alternative payment options. Keeping prices low. Triple a bond rating one of only two higher ed groups in nation. Growing 11-25% without any additional funding. Doing more with less, working smarter not harder. Changing process and not core activities. Mostly admin services affected. Property valuations will hurt them in years to come.
Kyrene – Have strong reserves and have been doing prepayments. $6m with prop 100, $12m without it. Refuse to cut PE/Art, etc. Salary reduction and larger classes instead. Can manage the $6m.
State – Blah. Blah. Blah.

What have you implemented to improve?
ASU – Changing everything.
Maricopa – Blah. Blah. Blah. 21st Century Maricopa Initiative.
Kyrene – Family resource center (food, clothing, medical attention), Poverty rate went from 9% to 20%. Professional learning communities. Collective responsibility at grade level. Collaborative approaches. Response to intervention (provide custom additional support)
State – Put bioscience and engineering first. Integrating academics CTE. Arizona skill standards commission (75 Areas)
Chandler – Staff development programming. Invest in their people.

What can schools do better to prepare students for the workforce?
Kyrene – Engagement of students needs better. Stop telling kids what to do and instead get them involved in a self organized learning approach.
Chandler – Agrees with Kyrene. Focus more on STEM.
Maricopa – Blah. Blah. Blah. Listen to students feedback more.
ASU – The pipeline is weak. STEM focus, need to be better at preparing for industry. Start listening and adjust don’t be same dumb university.
State – Get students more well rounded. Creativity and innovation mentioned but no strategy currently. CTE blah. blah. blah. EVIT joint tech and Chandler satellite programs.

How can business community be involved?
Maricopa – Weigh in with legislature. Financial support.
Kyrene – Be education friendly.
ASU – Go back to school….
Chandler – Ask the tough questions. Talk to your local district. Volunteer. Mentor. Serve.
State – Thank the Southeast Valley for standing up for education. Sit on committees.

My quick assessment is that Arizona State University and the State of Arizona seemed the most prone to the drone responses of their leadership and had the least value and little clue about the state of things.  They marked everything that is wrong with education today.  That said, I thought that Dr. Hjelmstad was better than most speaking on behalf of ASU.  The community colleges are under the least pressure financially and understand their place to serve students transitioning to a four year university or to enter the workforce.  While they had canned responses more often than not, they seemed competent.  Dr. Castille seemed a bit conservative and too focused on the STEM and CTE initiatives, but appears prudent with their money and understands the need for change.  Dr. Schauer was understated in his responses but it is clear that he is the only one that sees a radical need for change in the current way we education children.  Oddly, he currently faces the smallest budget deficit.  Coincidence?

3 Comments

  1. Reading about districts working on conserving energy reminds me of my district, Florence USD, paying a contractor to come in and tell us how to conserve energy. Maybe it is just me, but wouldn’t it be better to cut the middle man and just start doing things to see if they work? I think our district is in a “better” situation than most. For instance, we are not laying off one teacher, aide, administrator, etc. We are not replacing many that are leaving on their own, but no cuts, we most likely will be taking a pay cut, but business is business. And, who am I to say that an aide is any less important than I am to students? So, props to G9 for thinking about the whole district and all the workers it takes to make it successful. We are in the numbers of 3.something million to the bad if today’s vote doesn’t pass, and 1.something mill if it does. We are smaller, but we can work with those numbers for this upcoming year. So, the economy sucks, each district is in their own predicaments, and we will find out how bad later tonight. Now, just need to keep our heads down and keep pushing forward no matter what, because the kids need us.

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