Higley USD board hears update on high schools’ late start Wednesdays

Higley USD, Higley USD governing board
The Higley USD governing board conducts business Dec. 4. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Higley USD governing board conducts business Dec. 4. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Higley USD’s high schools plan to gather more feedback and refine the district’s pilot program for late start Wednesdays that create some professional development for faculty, officials told the governing board Dec. 4.

The late starts move the first hour back from a 7:25 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. The time has been used for beginning-of-the-year mandatory trainings; staff meetings that include team building, celebrations and a review of upcoming events; site-specific development topics; professional learning community time with department and instructional coaches; timely data conversations and common assessments; and ongoing collaborative curriculum work.

Dawn Foley, the district’s assistant superintendent of K-12 educational services, said the district has found it important that the time allotment is consistent and the time is intentional and targeted in its usage because of the short time involved.

Transportation is unaffected by the schedule, so students who are bused arrive on campus with spare time before their first class. Superintendent Mike Thomason said going into the program, the lack of supervision for that period was a concern to him, but Higley High School Principal Alan Fields and Williams Field High School Principal Steve Tannenbaum said it has not been an issue.

Students have used the time for events, club meetings, peer tutoring, study hall, or attending college and career opportunities provided by counselors, the principals said.

In response to a question from board member Jill Wilson, Fields said tardiness is down slightly on Wednesdays.

According to a survey that received 50 responses, 25 respondents find the time devoted to these meetings is just about right, while 22 found it to be too little. The survey also found 26 of 50 find the meetings very or somewhat productive, with another nine saying it was neither productive nor unproductive.

Foley said the district hopes future refinements address the mixed responses.

Tannenbaum said he appreciated the district letting the high schools try the program.

Sherry Richards, executive director of elementary curriculum, also presented about the elementary schools, which are using a calendar of early releases for site-based professional development. Richards said she is proud principals are being intentional in using the sessions for professional development and not just conducting school business.

Governing board Vice President Amy Kaylor said that as a parent, the differing calendars of early releases among the elementary, middle and high schools is “messy” and needs to be cleaned up. Wilson agreed with her.

Other business

  • In another work-study session, Human Resources Executive Director Mum Martens recommended that administrative salaries for the district range at the 45th to 50th percentile among neighboring and like-sized districts. The salary structure throughout the district will be under review this spring in the wake of an eight-district salary study that HUSD was part of.

  • The consent agenda, which passed on a 5-0 vote, included approval of an intergovernmental agreement between the district and Chandler Gilbert Community College to provide an embedded counselor from CGCC to students in dual enrollment with the community college. Also included was approval of Dec. 23 as the effective date for a new support staff wage schedule.

  • The board approved on 5-0 votes high school and middle school course guides for the coming year.

By 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.


Tacos Tijuana Taqueria
Tacos Tijuana Taqueria coming to Gilbert in late August

The restaurant serves street tacos on homemade tortillas.

COVID-19, business
State's new benchmarks will keep some county businesses closed for now

The Arizona Department of Health Services unveiled public health recommendations Aug. 10 for reopening the state’s paused businesses on a county-by-county basis.

Desert Hand & Physical Therapy opens Gilbert clinic

The practice, first founded in 1997, provides outpatient hand and physical therapy services throughout Phoenix

Here is what you need to know today about coronavirus in Gilbert. (Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19: Gilbert sees 21 new cases; county has increase of 513 cases and 68 deaths Aug. 11

Here is the data you need to know about the coronavirus in Gilbert and the rest of the state.

Higley USD
Higley USD will wait on in-person return until Oct. 12 'or earlier'

A divided Higley USD governing board voted Aug. 8 to resume in-person learning Oct. 12 or earlier at a special Saturday governing board meeting.

Gilbert median home prices June 2020
Fewer homes on market across Gilbert ZIP codes in June

Featured neighborhood: Neely Farms, 85296

Gilbert's Warner and Cooper intersection to be restriped

The painted lines disappeared with the repaving of Cooper Road.

F45 Training to open in SanTan Village Marketplace

The fitness training studio combines elements of high-intensity interval training, circuit training and functional training.

State guidance to schools on reopening for in-person instruction focuses on three health metrics (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
State releases metrics for schools to determine start of in-person instruction

State guidance to schools on reopening for in-person instruction focuses on three health metrics

Barro's Pizza relocates to SanTan Village Marketplace

The family-owned pizza restaurant has more than 40 locations in the Valley.