Education Executive - Summer 2012 - (Page 118)
MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Beyond the ‘Three Rs’
Mesa Public Schools builds on its proud history of education success through a continued dedication to collaboration and technology.
esa Public Schools’ success is well documented. Several of the Mesa, Ariz.based district’s schools recently earned National Blue Ribbon Awards, more than $78.6 million was offered to graduating students in 2012 and the district as a whole is recognized as one of best in the state and the nation by the Center for American Progress, Education Week and Standard and Poor’s, among others. In May, the district was recognized with the “What Parents Want” award from SchoolMatch, a school research and data consulting service.
Like other districts in the state, Mesa Public Schools over the last four years has needed to make $120 million in cuts to staff and programs, but has now stabilized its budget. Through Cowan’s Defining the Future initiative, community members and staff came together to trim the budget and address excess capacity at school buildings, all while preserving excellent instruction and high-level learning. The state’s newly approved budget will not call for further reductions at this time. “We don’t expect funding to bounce back, so we have right-sized the district, gone lean and mean in our budgetary process and are operating with that as our new norm,” he adds.
The district’s surrounding community expects no less than the maintenance of the high standards indicated by these accolades. With 84 schools serving 63,000 students, Mesa Public Schools is Arizona’s largest school district. “We have an incredible amount of support from a community that has a lot of respect and high expectations for public education, and we are committed to exceeding our community’s expectations, one student at a time,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Cowan says. Cowan and many others in the district continue to focus on much more than the traditional “three Rs.” “We’re always looking for new strategies to increase student achievement and reforming K-12 education in Mesa with 4Cs – creativity and innovation, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving and communication,” he adds. Mesa Public Schools does this in part through infusing new technology into the classroom. Laptop and tablet computers, whiteboards and other resources such as Google Docs are common within the district’s schools. The district’s distance learning program, which offers dozens of online programs to local as well as national and international students, is one of the first of its kind in the state. Increasing the presence of technology is one of the objectives of a $200 million bond issue Mesa Public Schools is considering for the November 2012 general election ballot. The referendum would also fund a significant facility renovation program the district would be unable to fund on its own as a result of state budget cuts, Cowan says.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Executive - Summer 2012
Education Executive - Summer 2012
Can't Live Without It
Broadening the Student Experience
Upgrading Facilities on Tight Budgets
Haylor, Freyer & Coon ◆ N.Y.
Anne Arundel Community College ◆ MD
Humber College ◆ Ont.
Grove City College ◆ PA
Broome Community College ◆ N.Y.
Coastal Carolina University ◆ S.C.
Cuyahoga Community College ◆ Ohio
Ottawa University ◆ Kan.
Brazosport College ◆ Texas
Idaho State University ◆ Idaho
Hillsborough Community College ◆ Fla.
Post University ◆ Conn.
Union College ◆ N.Y.
University of New Mexico ◆ N.M.
Naperville School District 203 ◆ Ill.
Santa Barbara Unified School District ◆ Calif.
Acadia Parish School Board ◆ LA
Mounds View Public Schools ◆ Minn.
Central Community School District ◆ LA
Chelmsford Public Schools ◆ Mass.
Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District ◆ Mass.
86elmira City Schools ◆ N.Y.
Glendora Usd ◆ Calif.
Harnett County Schools ◆ N.C.
Holmes County School District ◆ Miss.
Jefferson Parish Public School System ◆ LA
Harlandale Independent School District ◆ Texas
Kyrene School District ◆ Ariz.
Fort Huachuca Accommodation Schools #00 ◆ Ariz.
Kenosha Unified School District ◆ Wis.
Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District ◆ Texas
Maryland School for the Deaf ◆ MD
Mclean County District Unit No. 5 ◆ Ill.
Williamson County Schools ◆ Tenn.
Mesa Public Schools ◆ Ariz.
Palmdale School District ◆ Calif.
Plain Local School District ◆ Ohio
St. Martin Parish Schools ◆ LA
Oak Harbor School District ◆ Wash.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools ◆ MD
Vancouver Island University ◆ B.C.
Brandon School Division ◆ MB
Dalhousie University ◆ N.S.
Peace River School Division ◆ AB
University of Sudbury ◆ Ont.
Sandy Spring Friends School
The Pomfret School ◆ Conn.
Riverside Military Academy ◆ GA
The Thacher School ◆ Calif.
Education Executive - Summer 2012