ASBA Connect E-News


New Year, new trainings

Kick off the New Year by making some training resolutions! Now’s a great time to reflect on what has and hasn’t worked for your board and set some board goals for the new year. A new training is perfect to help your newly elected board members prepare for their new role and transition a new team.

ASBA provides individualized training and professional development opportunities throughout the year that enhance the work of Arizona governing boards and encourage continued learning and improvement.

Virtual or in-person trainings are offered when and where you need them.

NEW! Virtual Boundaries: Ethical Considerations for Use of Social Media in School Board Service

Using social media as an elected official can be tricky. During this brand-new training you will learn about the different platforms in the social media space, best practices for leveraging social media, the dos and don’ts of social media usage and analyze examples of social media usage by board members from across the nation. Social media etiquette and protocols around social media usage for governing boards will also be reviewed.

Effective Communication Techniques for the Board 

This training helps your ream identify ways to have productive, efficient and informative board meetings. Agenda Setting, meeting norms and pacing are just a few of the topics covered in this training.

Have a Specific Need? ASBA will work with your team to design a training that meets the specific needs of your board. View all the current trainings available and contact us to schedule one today!

Meet ASBA’s 2021 President, Ann O’Brien!

View video now! A new adventure begins, expect to make a difference

By Ann O’Brien, President, ASBA Board of Directors

After I won my first very contested school board election in 2014 (seven candidates for two seats), many people offered me condolences instead of congratulations. I could NOT begin to understand why the ‘I jumped into the deep end with the sharks’ attitude. I had just been elected by my Deer Valley USD community to advocate for the 33,000+ children in my district, and I wanted to celebrate winning my election. When I finally dared to ask why the condolences, I was told being on a school board was the most vitriolic elected office. Vitriolic…what the heck did that mean. I knew the word did NOT sound good. As I suspected, not only was it not good…it was worse than that! Bitterly scathing and caustic. What had I gotten myself into!?!

Well, I ran and won a second term in 2018, so either I am a glutton for punishment, or all those people really did not know what they were talking about. I believe it is the latter! Being on a school board is certainly not all rainbows, unicorns and glitter. However, it is all about the children. And, there is nothing more wonderful or important than Arizona’s kids!

Congratulations to our school board members elected in November! Welcome to the elite club of Arizona School Board Members! There are 223 school districts in Arizona with approximately 1,000 board members serving nearly one million children. You will join your fellow board members to ensure our kids attend the best schools and receive an education to prepare them for a successful and productive future.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate your School Board Member Adventure.

Keeping your eye on the ball is the first step to being a successful board member. Arizona’s kids need us to be focused on what is best for them. That doesn’t mean to not consider the staff or community. It does mean that decisions are about how we ensure our districts’ students will be given the best education. I learned from another school board member to schedule a school visit the morning after meetings. These visits with your district’s students will remind you why you are a board member especially after a difficult meeting.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Be open minded and willing to learn. Make sure you ask questions before board meetings, during board meetings, and in between board meetings. Find, if you don’t already have them, people you trust to answer your questions. Who do you trust to ask questions about the budget, curriculum, human resources, etc.?

Take advantage of professional development opportunities through the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) or your County Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Office. ASBA has delivered more webinars in 2020 with crucial information than ever to our members. New board member resources can be found on the ASBA website,

If 2020 taught us nothing else, it screamed at us all to be nimble. The rules are different now. Actually, the rules are constantly changing, and probably will continue to for some time. We are literally building the plane while we are flying it. Be nimble, flexible and extend grace!

Enjoy your time on the board! My journey as a board member has taught me so much. More importantly, I have met children, families, community members and other board members who have forever impacted me. This is the proverbial “stop and smell the roses.” Sometimes we do not always see or hear about it, but you are making a difference.

Finally, I and the 2021 ASBA Board of Directors are here for you. We have decades of board service amongst us and will gladly answer your questions or listen when you need an understanding ear. You can find our contact information on the ASBA website,

While we are excited to welcome our new members, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to those whose service ended in December. Thank you for all the time, energy, and heart you dedicated to your students, staff, and their families especially in a most difficult year. I wish you all the best in your future adventures!

ASBA issues statement on Gov. Ducey’s State of the State 

Arizona’s school boards and educators have risen to the challenge of providing an education to the students in their charge despite the enormous difficulties presented by COVID-19. School boards in particular have endured months of public tension over whether, how and when to resume in-person instruction. These decisions are gut-wrenching for board members and they play out with each new spike in COVID cases.

The implication by Gov. Ducey in his State of the State Address today that schools have not been open and are not educating children during this pandemic, and the implicit assumption of bad faith on the part of public schools it entails is frankly hurtful and disrespectful to the public servants who have been working to overcome the very real obstacles that exist to provide a quality education to all students even in the best of times.

Governor Ducey is correct to acknowledge that an achievement gap exists, and that it often falls “squarely on economic and racial lines.” He is correct that access to high-speed Internet compounds those difficulties. This was true before COVID, and educators do worry that it is getting worse. ASBA has made correcting these inequities a central tenet of its work and we are glad the governor recognizes its importance. ASBA welcomes any additional resources that the governor is proposing to help address them.

Arizona’s district public schools, even in the midst of the pandemic, educate the vast majority of Arizona’s students. District public schools are the core of the public education system. Without them, no other options are tenable. Discussions about funding district schools are not about “funding empty seats,” they are about preserving the system for the post-pandemic future. Time and again, the voters have proven that they value high quality public district schools. This crisis should not be used to undermine them by instituting policies they have soundly rejected at the ballot box.

The challenges of funding distance learning are an opportunity to engage in a sincere dialogue about how to fund students who may, even after the pandemic, benefit from a combination of in-person and distance learning.

Getting students back in school is a shared goal. However, doing so will require strong leadership and coordination between branches of government. Schools are centers of community, meaning that what is in the community is carried into the school, and vice versa. Especially infectious disease. Even after school staff are vaccinated, partnership and close coordination between the state, counties and school districts will be required to make sure that we can maintain a safe environment for students and do our part to keep the community safe.

Jan. 21 Rural Alliance meeting: Learn about the project to bring internet to every Arizona student

Mark your calendar and plan to join the ASBA Rural Alliance on Thursday, Jan. 21 from 5-6 p.m. for a Zoom meeting focused on solutions to and advocacy on the digital divide, including a presentation on the Final Mile Project, a partnership between the Arizona Rural Schools Association (ARSA) and the Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC).

The mission of the project is to deliver dependable internet to every student in Arizona.  Presenters will be Wes Brownfield, ARSA executive director, and Dick Foreman, ABEC executive director. Chris Kotterman, ASBA director of governmental relations, will provide insights and information as well. A template and tips for advocacy on this topic will also be provided at the meeting. The meeting is open to all ASBA members.

All members of the Rural Alliance will automatically receive a link to the meeting.

Not yet a member? Join the Rural Alliance today.

Just want to attend the meeting? Click here to register.

New two-year mentorship program created for newly elected board members

ASBA has created a two-year program that will provide an opportunity for newly elected and appointed board members to connect with one another through a number of different activities. “Journey 2021-2022” will include new members only Lunch and Learn webinars, stories from school board service videos delivered to their email inbox and “Let’s Connect” events at specific conferences sponsored by ASBA throughout the year.

View the 2021-22 events and lunch and learn webinars.

HNAIC membership is now free! What are you waiting for?

Are you ready to get more involved in leading for increased equity and opportunity? Take part in state-level dialogue and action improving the academic achievement of the students you serve. Membership in the Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus is open to all school board members interested in doing more to meet and address the specific educational needs of students of color in their communities.

Effective immediately, no annual membership fee will be charged to new or returning members. However, individuals who wish to be part of the caucus will need to complete a membership form annually. The form is available here.

We have seen with the pandemic, there are many issues that we must discuss if we are to address the systemic challenges that we encounter as we try to move our school district’s goals forward. Until we confront these systemic challenges, it will be difficult to address the needs of our students.

Fortunately, many districts are making great strides in addressing some of these challenges, and one of my goals is to make sure their successes are shared. Please let us know via of any innovative practices that your districts have implemented that have improved the outcomes of our students.

There is a lot of work to be done, and it will be beneficial if we have assistance from school board members from throughout the state.  If you would like to join the caucus as a region director, please reach out to us at The regions are as follows:

  • Region I – Maricopa County
  • Region II – Pima County
  • Region III – Apache, Coconino, Navajo, and Yavapai Counties
  • Region IV – La Paz, Mohave, and Yuma Counties
  • Region V – Gila and Pinal Counties
  • Region VI – Cochise, Greenlee, Graham and Santa Cruz Counties

The expectation of regional directors is to be actively involved with the caucus, attend all its regular meetings, and attend monthly meetings of the caucus executive committee (officers and regional directors).

How can storytelling help you advocate for public schools? View the latest #WednesdayWebinar

View the latest webinar recording on storytelling. Register and receive the recording and presentation immediately.

Stories are a powerful advocacy tool. They can change people’s hearts and minds. In this webinar learn from school district communication experts on why stories matter, how to illustrate value, build trust with your audience using stories and why great stories stay with us. Walk away with examples of successful story ideas, strategies to collect positive stories around your school district community and how to deliver your stories for advocacy efforts.

Just released! Superintendent salary survey results

ASBA conducts an annual salary survey designed to study district compensation and benefits for certified and administrative personnel as well as superintendents that serve students across the state.

Each year, this information is designed to meet ASBA members’ need for important information to assist in determining comparable compensation for school employees across the state. The survey has been streamlined and re-focused to better capture salary environments outside of the traditional salary schedule of credits and seniority.

View the Fiscal Year 2021 salary survey results which were released to all members January 6, 2021. To view the salary surveys, visit the ASBA website. Results are available to ASBA members only. For questions, please contact Katie Link at or call 602-254-1100.

New superintendent search in Bowie USD plus other districts

Follow ASBA search services on Twitter and LinkedIn!

ASBA is excited to conduct superintendent searches for member districts. Currently we have openings available for: Baboquivari USD, St. John USD, Buckeye UHSD and Bowie USD. Check for search opening, announcements, articles, and other resources by following  Twitter and LinkedIn accounts especially created for search services.

 More information on these two positions will be available on ASBA website under Executive Search. For questions or additional information, please contact Katie Link at

AZEdNews Breaking News: Video: Gov. says students should be in classroom in State of the State

Gov. Doug Ducey said students need to be back in the classroom, broadband access should be expanded, there may be more tax cuts this year and details of his proposed budget will be…READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Upcoming ASBA Events

January 20, 1:00 pm – 2:00 p.m.: ADE ESSER II Webinar. Congress has approved a new round of federal relief funding, with a significant new allocation for Arizona’s schools. ADE representatives will provide preliminary information regarding this new round of funding, timelines and processes for disbursement, and take questions from attendees.

January 20, 2021, 4-5 p.m.: Wednesday Webinars: How to Create and Use an Equity Lens to Shape District Decisions

Plus more! 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 this webinar.  We encourage advance registration.

Register Now: Virtual Board Operations & Leadership Training Seminar

January 29, 2021 & February 12, 2021

BOLTS professional development seminars are provided in Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson which focus on leadership topics for school boards and super­intendents. An administrative assistant track is also provided. Register now.

AZEDNews Featured Articles

COVID-19 vaccinations start for teachers, child care providers and more

Why distance learning hurts schools’ budgets

Teachers: Enhance math instruction at virtual conference

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