Higley district sets goals after employee survey

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Higley Unified School District’s human resources department has set two “wildly important goals” in the wake of an employee climate survey taken in May.

Human Resources Executive Director Mum Martens told the governing board Aug. 20 that his department’s goals are to make communications efforts clear and to make equity and inclusion efforts encompassing.

Martens said the department wants to limit itself to two goals so that it can stay focused on those efforts and have a realistic chance of achieving them.

The survey had 584 respondents, as shown in Martens’ presentation. It indicated funneling communication up and down the organizational ladder was a prominent challenge. It also showed favoritism as another area of concern.

The remaining challenges identified were in visibility of leadership and expectations; support with community and students; and with resources.

However, the survey also showed the district to be doing well in several areas, some of which were also identified as concerns. The areas receiving high marks included support, community, constructive feedback, resources, curriculum, environment and student success.

The presentation was part of the board’s work-study session.

AzMERIT data

The board also studied early results from AzMERIT, the state’s standardized testing instrument for students in grades 3-11. Achievement, Support and Student Information Director Anju Kuriakose presented the information to the board.

The district showed gains in the reading and writing portion of the test on nearly all levels. The district was 19-24 points ahead of state test averages in reading and writing.

The district lost ground year over year in the math portion for the youngest test-takers, grades 3 and 4. However, the remaining grades gained points, and all grades were 17-31 points ahead of the state average in math.

The district was 27 points ahead of the state average in high school geometry and 31 points ahead in Algebra II.

The district also showed more high-growth students on both portions of the test than low growth students. The growth judgment came from a state calculation comparing each student to a peer group. It is only calculated for grades 4-8.

The percentage of students considered passing was up in most grades in both the reading/writing and math portions.

Summer construction

Maintenance and Grounds Director Ben Bucholz reviewed the summer construction projects for board members.

The projects have been completed or are in process at six schools, in addition to the district office and the Higley Center for the Performing Arts.

Bucholz said the state’s School Facilities Board paid $3.2 million for a weatherization project at San Tan Elementary School and $2.9 million for weatherization at Coronado Elementary. The SFB has awarded the district $12,375,841 for projects since June 30, 2014, Bucholz said.

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Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.
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