ASBA Connect E-News


Does ASBA speak for your community?

Ask the Policy Team – A benefit of ASBA membership

By Nick Buzan, ASBA Director of Legal & Policy Services

Recently a veteran school board member asked me if The Trust’s new policy services program was a threat to board governance and local control. I was not sure what she meant. I can be a bit thick-headed. My Grandpa usually called me blockhead. So, I asked her to explain. She continued… Will The Trust policy program minimize the school boards’ role in governance?  Will The Trust policy program prevent local school board members from amending their own policies? Does their policy manual usurp the board’s legal duty of creating and amending policies to guide their communities? 

Ok, after the third question I started to see the board member’s point, blockhead notwithstanding. The answer, I realized, is “Yes—an insurance company drafting policies for districts is absolutely a threat to local control.” First, board policy is much more than risk management. Board members are not insurance adjusters—they are policy makers. They are public servants, parents, advocates and community members. Districts as different as Red Mesa USD and Roosevelt ESD have at least one thing in common: board members giving their time to assure the community has a voice in community decisions. Once a board permits the insurance company to draft their playbook, they are no longer the representatives of the community.  Instead of Palm Tree USD you become Insurance Company USD #89, or what have you.

Second, The Trust is way out of its lane in attempting to speak for the 1,100+ community school board members of Arizona. Since 1949, ASBA has organized school board members statewide and fought for their interests and the interests of their students at the legislative, board and court levels. The Trust is a risk management company. They are concerned about loss and liability, not communities. ASBA is committed to local control and excellent school board governance. Everything we do is in service to those ideals. ASBA’s blueprint is open for all to see.  Who fights for local control each year at the legislature? ASBA. Who provides school board members with a voice through its advocacy program? ASBA. Which organization brings generational lawsuits to require the state to fund schools according to the Arizona Constitution? ASBA. Do not get me wrong, insurance has a place in school district health; but board members set policy, not risk managers.

ASBA welcomes two new members to the team

ASBA is excited to introduce members to two new additions to the association. Welcome Ben Adams, ASBA Membership Services Coordinator and Luis Camacho, ASBA Governmental Relations Associate. Both are excited to work with our members across the state and advocate for public schools. Please welcome them to ASBA.

Ben Adams

Luis Camacho

January is School Board Recognition Month

ASBA is recognizing School Board Recognition Month in January. Thank you for your extraordinary service in helping Arizona students thrive. Every school board member has a reason on why they decided to serve their local school district and community.

Follow ASBA on Facebook and Twitter as we post graphics celebrating school board members. ASBA has also gathered and will continue to create resource pages which are located on our website and in our “Resource Bank.”

All ASBA members can access the Resource Bank: Search Resource Bank > Click on the ASBA Resource Bank tab > Type in the password > Click on the Annual Recognition Celebrations tab.

Meet ASBA’s 2023 Executive Committee

ASBA welcomes 2023 Executive Committee members President James Bryce from Solomon ESD, President-Elect Desiree Fowler from Page USD, Treasurer Tadeo De La Hoya from Gadsden ESD, Secretary Monica Timberlake from Quartzsite ESD, and Past-President Monica Trejo from Tempe ESD. “As you can see, our board is very diverse, and that’s important,” President Bryce says. President-Elect Fowler says, “It’s been a true blessing to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice, but more importantly to be a voice at the ASBA level to make sure that our students are well-represented.”

Become an ASBA Advocate!

Sign up for advocacy text notifications

  1. Text JOINASBA to 52886
  2. You will receive a text message with a link to join our advocacy efforts. Click it!
  3. Enter your information, including your home address to link you with your elected officials (ASBA will never share or sell your information)
  4. That’s it! You’ll receive action alerts from ASBA to easily contact your elected officials to support district schools! Be on the lookout for opportunities to practice during the conference.
  5. Share with your friends and family who also want to help district schools! Anyone can join at any time.

ASBA County Directors represent all of you – get to know them

Get to know your 2023 ASBA County Directors and learn more about their roles:  

Apache: Arnold Goodluck with Sanders USD

Cochise: Yulonda Boutte with Sierra Vista USD

Coconino: Dorothy Denetsosie Gishie with Flagstaff USD

Gila: Jacque Sanders with Globe USD

Graham: Troy Thygerson with Pima USD

Greenlee: Bruce Lunt with Duncan USD

La Paz: Carolyn Freedman with Bicentennial UHSD

Maricopa: Sophia Carrillo Dahl with Creighton ESD and Armando Montero with Tempe UHSD

Mohave: Roger Jacks with Kingman USD

Navajo: Jarrahlyn Begaye with Cedar USD

Pima: Wendy Effing with Flowing Wells USD and John Sparks with Sahuarita USD, Pinal: Steve Johnson, with Florence USD

Santa Cruz: Robert Rojas with Nogales USD

Yavapai: Karen McClelland with Sedona Oak Creek USD

Yuma: Juan Castillo with Somerton ESD

Black Alliance Chair: Berdetta Hodge with Tempe UHSD

HNAIC Chair: Juan Buendia with Baboquivari USD

HNAIC Vice Chair: Nikkie Whaley with Washington ESD

Coconino County Director Denetsosie Gishie says she serves, because “My parents have taught and role-modeled to be involved in your community. This is where my children and grandchildren live. Being involved in the community creates a safe space for them.”

Graham County Director Thygerson says, “I am an education advocate for our entire Graham County whether it is explaining Tax Credits or cheering our quality sports programs. I enjoy seeing all our Graham County Schools succeed.”

Gov. Hobbs shares education priorities in State of the State

ASBA awards winning school programs, board members and school boards  

At the ASBA-ASA Annual Conference, ASBA celebrated 2022 Golden Bell Promise Program Award Winners, including the Veterans Heritage Project at Cave Creek Unified School District’s Cactus Shadows High School, the Growing Educators Achieving Results with Students at Avondale Elementary School District, the Veterinary Assistant Program at Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology, and the Him:dag Way of Life at Baboquivari Unified School District.

Flowing Wells Unified School District’s James Love was honored with the Barbara Robey Lifetime Achievement Award after serving his community as a board member for 22 years as well as for his work to ensure every student feels connected, loved, and has a champion to ensure they have opportunities to succeed.

Tempe Union High School District was presented with the Lou Ella Kleinz Excellence in Governance Award and Glendale Elementary School District’s governing board was named a finalist. Tempe Union Governing Board’s diversity has helped provide perspective based on lived experiences that many students share, fosters a culture that allows staff and students to be recognized and supported in many ways, and has sought out training and brought back programs and ideas to increase students’ success.

Glendale Elementary’s Governing Board members are all in for all kids, ensure students have access to educational resources they need to thrive, and collaborated with the community to repurpose a former school campus into a System of Care Center that provides a home for mental health, social service, health care, substance abuse, vocational, recreational, and juvenile justice service providers to offer resources to create a healthier community.

The ASBA All-Arizona School Board Member awards celebrated Julie Bacon with Paradise Valley School District and Mike DeLaO with Safford Unified School District. Bacon co-created the award-winning Volunteers in Paradise program during her first term on the Governing Board, which trains and partners volunteers with teachers to provide students consistent academic tutoring throughout the school year, was a founding member of Community Legislative Network, and as ASBA President led an equity challenge to help districts understand their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to ensure all students and staff are included in district decisions.

DeLaO has served on the school board for 22 years, was instrumental in helping implement a summer meal program that feeds hundreds of children breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and has served as an ASBA County Director, Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus Vice President, ASBA President and President-Elect.

In addition, Arizona School Administrators honored Tolleson Elementary School District’s Dr. Lupita Hightower as ASA’s State Superintendent of the Year for Arizona, Fort Huachuca’s Mark Goodman as All Arizona Superintendent Award Winner for Small Districts, Dr. Greg Wyman of J.O. Combs Unified School District as All Arizona Superintendent Award Winner for Medium Districts, and Brian Capistran of  Glendale Union High School District as All Arizona Superintendent Award Winner for Large Districts.

ASBA Events and Webinars

Upcoming ASBA Events

Board Operations & Leadership Training Seminar 2023

January 27, 2023 | February 8, 2023 | February 10, 2023

View all ASBA events on the ASBA website.

Upcoming ASBA Webinars

Wednesday Webinars: Budget Basics for Board Members

January 25, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Wednesday Webinars: Understanding Employee Compensation and Benefits

February 22, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Wednesday Webinars: Decision-Making with an Equity Lens

March 22, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Wednesday Webinars: I Don’t Understand: Engagement and the Importance of Home Language

April 26, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Wednesday Webinars: Students Have Rights?!?!

May 10, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

You can find all Wednesday webinars on the ASBA webpage,

Can’t view the webinar live? No problem. Go ahead and register and you will receive the recording automatically by email so you can view it later. There is no cost to register for these webinars.  We encourage advance registration.

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