“I absolutely love Gilbert Public Schools, so much that all three of my children attend at different levels,” Cox told the board after her appointment. “The Campo family has been amazing for the past five years, but I am excited and look forward to moving on to the next level to support all schools within Gilbert Public Schools and cannot thank you enough for trusting in me and giving me this opportunity.”
Cox, whose appointment was unanimous and will start with the 2021-22 school year, replaces Renea Kennedy in the position.
The governing board approved five priorities and two alternative priorities to forward to the Arizona School Boards Association for its legislative agenda.
The association provides training and support to school boards in the state and lobbies the Arizona Legislature on their behalf.
While the language was still being worked out, the board identified these priorities:
- Fully fund all-day kindergarten and include kindergarteners in override calculations
- Ensure local control and flexibility in managing funds and programs when possible, given the Arizona Constitution requirements for a general and uniform public school system
- Support policy that recognizes, respects and promotes teaching as a profession
- Establish financial and academic transparency for all institutions and individuals that accept public funds
- Support local control for student suspensions and open enrollment
- (Alternative) Provide sufficient funding for nurses, librarians, special teachers, etc.
- (Alternative) Fully fund special education and gifted education
A number of students, parents, staff members and community members addressed the board during the public comment period on a broad range of topics, including the teacher layoffs, face masks at graduation and trust in the district.
A number of students spoke in support of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps drill team at Gilbert High School, which they said was being eliminated.
However, district spokesperson Dawn Antestenis said an employee connected to the program has resigned for the next school year, and there appears to be confusion regarding the continuation of the program as a result of that. She said, as with other programs, the continuation of the program will depend upon student interest, and at this time, the district expects the program to continue next school year at Gilbert High School.
A number of people also addressed an incident at Highland High School and safety at the school. In the incident, a video circulated of students re-enacting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In an email, Antestenis said the district does not permit such incidents, and they will be met with consequences.
“It is our belief that as a school district we have a key role to play in promoting inclusion within our society, and it is essential that our schools are a safe place where our children feel heard, supported, and treated equally,” Antestenis said in the email. “Our district policies and procedures are designed to achieve this, and it is our goal to create learning environments where every student and employee is treated with respect. As a district we know and acknowledge that there is still much work to be done. We remain committed to improving as a district, in our schools, and in our classrooms so that every GPS student feels included, respected, and supported in their learning experience.”