Round 4: Mingus Union School Board Q&A -- Jason Finger
Question 1: With or without consolidation, what can be done to ensure there is a well-defined plan between Mingus and the two elementary districts for an aligned K-12 curriculum strategy?
Finger: Consolidation would certainly make aligning K-12 curriculum simpler. However, in the absence of consolidation, aligning K-12 curriculum with both Cottonwood and Clarkdale would require a huge amount of communication and cooperation. It would require agreement on allocation of resources for special areas of emphasis within that curriculum development, which may be challenged by the differing ideas of focus between the districts. It would not only require this of the superintendents involved, but also of each of the governing boards. Regular meetings between all three of these governing boards and administrators on at least a quarterly basis would help with seeing the process through and also provide greater accountability amongst all parties. At present, we have seen the alignment of calendars to be difficult in the present situation, so aligning the K-12 curriculum would require effort and energy not yet seen between these districts.
Question 2: How would you describe the working relationship between Mingus and the two elementary districts? As a member of the Mingus Union School Board, what would you like to see done to strengthen the relationship with those three districts?
Finger: I think Mingus and the elementary districts all share the common belief that they want to see their students succeed and want to offer as many programs as they can to their students. I do not see that there is as much communication between the districts at present.
Each district seems to have focus on what happens with their students on their campuses, but not as much collaboration as should be occurring. It has been another very challenging year for teachers in Arizona, and has taken a tremendous amount of energy from each of these district leaders to navigate those challenges. I think that lines of communication are “open” between the three districts, but I also believe that pushing those open communication lines to be more collaborative partnerships has to happen as a directive from each of the boards. As a member of the Mingus Union School Board, I would push for regular meetings between the three districts to identify common areas of concern, establish a plan for addressing those concerns, and then discussing progress of problems needing revised as the plan progresses.
Question 3: How would you describe the working relationship between Mingus Union and the Valley Academy for Career and Technical Education (VACTE). As a member of the Mingus Union School Board, what would you like to see done to strengthen the relationship and course offerings with VACTE?
Finger: I believe that Mingus Union and VACTE have had some tense relations over financial matters created by previous administrators, but I feel that those things are on the mend.
Both sides have very strong leaders who are working to build trust again and seem to really have student success and opportunities as a priority. I am not familiar with all of the course offerings that VACTE has presently, but I know that what they do offer are exceptional in large part. As a Mingus Union board member, I would like to hear from VACTE what programs that they are seeing a declining interest, and what possible programs seem to be on the rise or even needing strengthened that mirror the needs of our students in our local community.