The Higley USD governing board will hold a special meeting Dec. 2 to consider the parameters under which it could return to remote learning if necessary because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That announcement came from Associate Superintendent Dawn Foley during the superintendent’s report at the Nov. 18 governing board meeting.

Foley read a statement seeking to assure employees and the Higley USD community that they were closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in case the district needs to take action. Foley noted the district updates its own dashboard with active and resolved confirmed cases on each campus on a daily basis.

“HUSD is being diligent to follow every case with fidelity, track and account for each unique situation and is following all our communication protocols,” Foley said.

Foley said cases on HUSD campuses are not rising like on the state dashboards.

“We attribute that to the mitigation strategies we have implemented on our campuses,” she said. “These mitigation strategies do work, and we need to stay vigilant with them. We have seen that increased sanitation along with wearing a face covering are effective ways to minimize the spread.”

She said as officials follow up on the district cases, almost all have come from affected individuals’ off-campus activities, such as parties, sleepovers or attendance at events where preventive measures were not followed.

Foley noted the district has had students and employees come to campus when they were not feeling well or were awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

Foley said if the district has a site where the percentage of positivity continues to rise, it will consider alternatives, including returning to remote learning at that site.

Foley asked the community’s help in keeping schools stay open by staying home if they have symptoms, are awaiting test results or receive a positive test result.

She also noted not every rumor on social media about cases on campus is true, and the district follows up on all situations brought to its attention.

The Dec. 2 meeting will be to approve specific protocols to return and to communicate for a return to remote learning if needed at any specific campus.

Other business

  • Acting Chief Financial Officer Jeff Gadd presented an initial projection for the fiscal year 2021-22 school maintenance and operations budget. Under the projection, the district could see that budget increase from $90.42 million this fiscal year to $95.56 million next. Gadd said the projection is conservative, showing no growth in average daily membership—roughly weighted enrollment and a key figure in the state’s education finance formulas—and only 1% inflation.

  • Secondary Education Executive Director David Loutzenheiser presented changes to the high school, middle school and Higley Virtual Academy course guides, including new and revised courses and some fee changes. The course guides will need approval in December from the board so they are ready for families to use in registration starting in January, Loutzenheiser said.

  • The board unanimously passed an increase to facility rental fees, mostly on the tier for nonprofit youth clubs. The increases range from $5-$35. Nonprofit adult clubs and for-profit organizations also would see an increase in a custodial fee and a fee to open and close facilities.

  • The board also unanimously passed an increase in the district’s preschool tuition rates anywhere from 6.67% to 9.33%, depending on the level of service. Under the plan, district staff members would continue to get a 20% discount and have their registration fees waived.

  • The board unanimously approved an expenditure of $41,000 to Orcutt Winslow, an architecture, planning and interior design firm, for a facility condition index study for the district’s facilities. The study would be used in making revisions to the comprehensive facilities plan for the district.

  • Support Services Assistant Superintendent Michael Fowler presented to the board an update on the new media centers constructed at the district’s high schools.