Higley USD governing board hears first update after schools reopening

Higley USD
Higley USD reopened to in-person instruction Sept. 8. (Courtesy Higley USD)

Higley USD reopened to in-person instruction Sept. 8. (Courtesy Higley USD)

Schools have been able to offer more online electives than expected, and more than 60 teachers have taken on extra sections to cover needed classes, Higley USD officials told the governing board Sept. 9.

Those developments were part of the district’s latest update on district education during the coronavirus pandemic, the first since district schools reopened Sept. 8.

Board members expressed gratitude to teachers and other employees for all the work they put in to get schools open again.

However, the district also was criticized in public comment. Two parents indicated their daughters had been left without online instructors, one saying the district’s online instruction was in disarray.

Additionally, a fifth-grade teacher from San Tan Elementary School, Amy Ludwig, said she resigned Sept. 9 and blamed the governing board for rushing schools to open, creating unrealistic burdens on teachers.

“I am at a school I love to be at with a team that is so strong, with students that are amazing and parents who are so supportive, and I had to quit my job today because I am unhealthy due to my stress levels due to the decision you made,” Ludwig told the board.

Ludwig, who said she has been working 12-hour days plus over the holiday weekend, said the board could have waited until the quarter’s end to wrap things up and give teachers and families the time needed to transition.

“You gave us one week notice, and you’re sitting here saying, ‘Thank you for all of your hard work,’” she said. “But those words are lost on me.”

School board members are prohibited from responding to public comment on items not on the agenda, but President Amy Kaylor and board member Scott Glover asked Superintendent Mike Thomason to follow up with the speakers on their comments.

The board also approved a change to the district’s calendar, moving some early release dates for parent teacher conferences for elementary and middle school students from September to October. District officials said the change was made to allow teachers the time necessary to build relationships with and collect data for their students.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.