Educational Leadership with a Focus on Building Relationships:
In my time building relationships this year, I have met with hundreds of community members, parents, staff and students and asked them a common question, “What keeps you in WESD?” The most consistent answer I heard over and over again is family; the Washington Family. Numerous staff members share that they attended schools in the District and now work with us; parents attest to the personal relationship their teacher has with their child; students get bright eyed telling me about that special teacher who turned them onto learning and cared about them as a person.
In an effort to share the WESD story, we made it a priority to tell a “good news” story on Facebook and Twitter daily. We have shared about our staff, our students, our community partners and the programs available. This effort helped us grow from 2,000 “likes” to over 5,700 “likes.” Thank you to those of you who have “liked” us and told your friends.
Fiscal Responsibility with a Focus on Capital Needs:
For a long time, WESD focused on energy conservation and being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. The Board asked me to focus on reviewing our capital needs and efficiencies and to search for alternative funding sources.
Since 2009, the District has reduced its kilowatt usage by 70 million and saved over $8.4 million. By installing high efficiency water equipment within the last two years, the District has saved over $200,000. All staff continue to look for other efficiencies.
In an effort to find alternative funds, the teaching staff placed requests for capital items on DonorsChoose.org. We successfully obtained over $250,000 in classroom items including Chromebooks, musical instruments, art equipment, science equipment and other items that benefit students.
By working with the School Facilities Board, we successfully obtained over $150,000 in building renewal grants that we used to repair and replace some of our aging equipment.
Partnership Development with a Focus on Stakeholder Input:
In an effort to connect the community with our schools, we reached out to them to learn what we had in common. We held multiple “CAFÉs” at which each school met with business, faith-based and outreach organizations to begin relationship building. Each member at the table shared his or her vision and we scheduled follow-up meetings to continue the work. “Love Our Schools Day” is a result of these partnerships; where 13 churches, multiple universities and other groups came on a Saturday and worked side-by-side with our staff at most of our schools. Throughout the year, businesses shared their resources to say “thank you” to our schools and have added themselves to our
In an effort to positively impact our families, we have begun conversations with our partners to help our communities. We have had discussions with Grand Canyon University (GCU) on revitalizing our community. We have also talked about ways that we can partner to offer our students Entrepreneurial and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematic) opportunities. With ASU, we have had discussions on ways we could partner with the College of Innovation to provide our students with opportunities to demonstrate the application of their knowledge in maker’s labs. In April, our partnership with Glendale Community College earned us the Innovation of the Year Award for creating diverse opportunities for future teachers to connect educational theory with practical application while under the guidance of mentor teachers in our schools.
The greatest challenge we have today is the teacher crisis. The state of Arizona is struggling to retain and attract teachers. In an April survey, 52 school districts reported 1,700 openings for next school year. WESD is still searching for over 30 teachers. WESD will be using the funds from Proposition 123 to retain and attract staff, as we are competing with 49 other states for our best and brightest.
The other large challenge we have is that WESD has over $100 million in identified, essential capital needs to keep our buildings and systems operating safely and efficiently and unfortunately, we only receive $1.5 million annually from the state.
To stay connected, please call us at 602-347-2600 and/or visit our website at wesdschools.org, “like” us on Facebook at wesdschools, or “follow” us on Instagram and Twitter at wesdschools.
We know you have choices and so we thank you for choosing the Washington Elementary School District