Maricopa Unified School District board members continued to talk about capital projects this week, while also considering whether to reduce the fine teachers must pay if they pull out of their contract early.
Board member Scott Bartle called the board’s on-going discussion on spending bond money approved for capital projects “The longest debate in the history of debates” during Wednesday’s regular board meeting.
The capital project list was discussed at length for the third consecutive meeting with new projects totaling $1.125 million. The two projects discussed were the adventure course at $75,000 and updating the artificial turf for the football field at Maricopa High School for $200,000.
Maricopa High School Principal June Celaya supported the adventure course while Director of Business Services Aron Rausch backed the field repair.
Board Vice President Patti Coutre questioned why the adventure course and football field were high on the list while bathrooms at the multi-purpose room were “disgusting.”
“It’s frustrating to me that we have been having the same argument for three years trying to decide where to spend the bond money from 2006. The original plan for the bond money was to build the adventure course (called a ropes course at the time) and upgrade the bathrooms in the CTE building and the gym. Here we are three years later, and we still haven’t gone any further in the discussion.” Maricopa voters approved $56 million in bonds to finance the construction of schools and support facilities in November 2006.
Chestnut said that when the board is considering spending more than $1 million on capital projects “it is a big decision and much discussion is needed.”
No action was taken Wednesday.
The board also discussed the liquidated damages fee for teachers who resign early, breaking their contracts. Human Resources Direction Tom Beckett recommended reducing the fee from $1,000 to $250 for teachers and waiving the fee if the contract is broken prior to July 1.
Several board members questioned this proposal because 13 teachers resigned in the past school year and they said the fee isn’t serving as a strong enough deterrent.
Beckett said reneging on a contract raised the possibility of state censure and had “more teeth” to dissuading teachers from breaking their contracts.
Anderson said, “If a teacher is leaving, they will know well before July 1, they will most likely know in June.”
Bartle responded, “Fees should be imposed after the 15-day period when the teacher receives the contract.”
No action was taken.
In other board business:
• Chestnut honored Santa Rosa Elementary School’s lead custodian Enrique Rosiles as the MUSD staff member of the month.
• Chestnut announced the finalists for the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year to be announced at the annual awards banquet on Jan. 18 at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort and Casino. The finalists are Craig Shorey and Diana Volanti from Desert Wind Middle School and Katherine Persitz from Maricopa High School.
• The board approved updated policies on tobacco on school grounds, reporting child abuse, live animals on school property, administering medicine and public solicitation.
Meetings are broadcast live on Orbitel Channel 18; delayed broadcasts can be viewed the following weekend or on Maricopa Unified’s YouTube Channel.