Jun 252014

By Naomi Hatch

Members of the Snowflake Unified School District administrative team reported on what they had learned at a recent conference in Tucson at the June 19 governing board meeting.

Superintendent Hollis Merrell noted that David Berliner, who wrote 50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools, was a speaker and said that one of the issues that affects public schools is poverty, stating, “Where poverty exists, test scores and performance go down.”

Berliner examined the myth that the United States isn’t competing with other countries and showed that it is. As an example, he took the scores of Asians in the United States and rated them against Asian countries’ scores and found that the U.S. Asians outperformed the others.

“He shows that poverty is really the issue in the United States, not the lack of teachers’ effort,” said Merrell.

Berliner also pointed out that “we can’t sustain democracy when we’re becoming segregated in social status by school choice,” said Merrell. The choice of schools is bringing back segregation, for instance charter and private schools tend to get the same social group of students.

Berliner talked about the impact schools have on test scores, pointing out the impact is minimal compared to what they bring with them. “He talked a lot about teachers and schools don’t impact work as much as they impact lives,” said Merrell.

Berliner also compared two states, Arizona and Massachusetts, by putting in the demographic data and then told them to choose who had the higher test scores. Arizona performs much worse on tests, and Berliner said he can predict that based on demographics only.

Special Education administrator Cindy Peterson added that the conference provided information about breaking down the job and making it enjoyable. “We do things well, but we forget to have fun along the way,” she said, noting that sometimes it becomes dull and you have to step back. Peterson provided copies of an article titled Do it Well. Make it Fun by Ron Culberson.

Snowflake High School Principal Larry Titus said he agreed, addng, “We push academics so hard we forget to have fun.”

“I can’t say enough about our administrative team and how they’re working and moving forward,” said Merrell.

In other business June 19, the board:

* Heard a report by Peterson on the yearly audit through the Arizona Department of Education. The result of the 2012 Public Education Agency Determination were that the district met all requirements, receiving the 14 possible points for a 100 percent score.

* Approved the district’s 2014-15 liability and worker compensation insurance.

Monte Hancock of Hancock Leavitt Insurance reported there were a couple of minor auto claims and a claim on the greenhouse from wind damage, noting, “They have done a good job for us.”

* Approved an intergovernmental agreement between the district and the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology providing joint technological education courses.

* Approved an agreement between the district and 1 Government Procurement Alliance, which includes SAVE, Mohave Cooperative, TCPN and State Procurement, to assist the district in procuring products, goods and services at competitive prices.

* Approved a contract with Nancy Moses-Cobb of High Desert Therapy Services to provide occupational therapy services for the coming fiscal year.

Hers was the low bid and she has a proven record with the district, said Merrell.

* Approved the annual list of treasurer and assistant treasurers for the district.

* Approved the annual authorization of bank signatures for the district.

* Approved renewal of the contract with First Student to provide transportation.

Merrell said that they will have a new transportation director, who is coming from Maine and plans to be here next month. That position is hired through First Student.

* Authorized Business Manager Mark Ollerton to sign the fiscal year 2014 projected cash balance form because he does the budget.

* Adjourned into executive session to discuss and possibly approve principal performance and compensations, and superintendent performance. The principal performances were tabled, and the board approved the superintendent’s performance and compensation.