Gowan named Ap­ple Dis­tin­guished School


Gowan Science Academy has been des­ig­nated an Ap­ple Dis­tin­guished School, Crane School District board mem­bers learned Tues­day evening.

The school was no­ti­fied ear­lier in the day of the news, Su­per­in­ten­dent Lau­rie Do­er­ing said dur­ing the board’s meet­ing. She said that Gowan is among 400 schools in 29 coun­tries that have been hon­ored with the des­ig­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Ap­ple web­site. Gowan joins two other Ari­zona school districts and one other state school in be­ing named.

“This recog­ni­tion al­lows our teach­ers lim­it­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to col­lab­o­rate with other Ap­ple Dis­tin­guished Schools across the United States as well as in­ter­na­tion­ally,” said Gowan Prin­ci­pal Jamie Haines. “It ben­e­fits our stu­dents as teach­ers uti­lize best prac­tices in tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion ev­ery day in their class­rooms. We will have an op­por­tu­nity to show­case our teacher’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of best prac­tices that at­tribute to in­cred­i­ble stu­dent suc­cess.”

Ap­pli­ca­tions to be­come Ap­ple Dis­tin­guished Schools are by in­vi­ta­tion only, Ap­ple says on its web­site about the pro­gram. The recog­ni­tion is for two years.

As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Michael Hoff­man gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the district’s A-F letter grades, which were re­leased to the pub­lic on Monday.

“In Crane, we had 60 per­cent of our schools were ei­ther A or B,” he ex­plained. All of Crane’s schools met the state qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the “per­form­ing” grade.

Hoff­man noted that the state did not ag­gre­gate data on a district-wide ba­sis, so districts as a whole will not get grades.

Board Pres­i­dent Dan Farar and Clerk Jim Colby asked Hoff­man how the grades were de­rived, with both ex­press­ing frus­tra­tion at the com­plex­ity of the scores.

“My own per­sonal feel­ing is, I think, it has more to do with the fact that they don’t re­ally want any­body else out­side the test com­mu­nity to re­ally un­der­stand the scores,” said Colby, a long­time board mem­ber.

Chief of Fi­nance and Op­er­a­tions Dale Pon­der gave three pre­sen­ta­tions, one on re­main­ing bond cash, an­other on Results Based Fund­ing and an­other on the Class­room Site Fund Per­for­mance Pay Plan.

A $10 mil­lion bond was ap­proved by vot­ers in Novem­ber 2014, Pon­der said, and projects be­gan late the next spring. Clos­ing costs for the sale of the bonds amounted to $25,000.

As of June 30, the district has a $446,877.55 cash bal­ance that fund­ing projects be­ing wrapped up this week. Those projects were ex­pected to cost $452,717, but will come in un­der the $446K amount, Pon­der ex­plained.

Board mem­ber Brenna Paulin thanked Pon­der for the pru­dent use of the funds.

“I would just like to say con­grat­u­la­tions on get­ting a lot of bang for our buck, I’m im­pressed that you were able (to do that).”

“Yes, thank you. It to­taled nearly about $18 mil­lion,” he said. “So we stretched a $10 mil­lion bond by al­most dou­ble through the state grants as well as Ap­ple.” (The district re­ceived a $5 mil­lion Ap­ple grant in 2014.)

Paulin also ques­tioned if district staff had re­ceived feed­back on the 20172018 Class­room Site plan, which was ap­proved by 83 per­cent of the district’s cer­ti­fied staff. While the plan does in­clude mon­e­tary in­creases for teach­ers meet­ing cer­tain goals, it also in­creases the num­ber of pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment hours re­quired to earn the funds.

Do­er­ing ex­plained that after the vote, the district added more va­ri­ety in the ways teach­ers could ful­fill the re­quire­ments (Twit­ter chats, au­dio train­ing, etc.). Teach­ers were also in­formed that they could ful­fil 30 hours for $800, or do the new 36 hours for $1,000.

School Nu­tri­tion Di­rec­tor Michael Clark and Di­rec­tor of Cur­ricu­lum Abby Pem­ber­ton gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the district’s Stu­dent Well­ness and Smarter Lunch­rooms pro­grams, not­ing that the lunch­room at Ran­cho Viejo and Sal­ida Del Sol were the first to be hon­ored in the Smarter Lunch­room pro­gram.

The board also ap­proved the district’s plan on its Results for Per­for­mance funds, which board mem­bers dis­cussed at length with ad­min­is­tra­tors. Crane’s pro­posal is to pay teach­ers $4,000 of the funds, as the state re­quires the ma­jor­ity of the funds to go to­ward teach­ers.

Crane also met with other districts in the area who ex­pressed con­cern that the state pro­gram will re­sult in teach­ers “fol­low­ing the money, wher­ever the money is at,” Pon­der said.

Colby said the pro­gram lends it­self to cre­at­ing more teacher re­ten­tion prob­lems than ex­ist now.

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