ASBA Connect E-News


Ask the Board Services Team – A Benefit of ASBA Membership    

What is a school board retreat?
By Julie Bacon, ASBA Leadership Development Manager

Julie Bacon

Summertime…it’s right around the corner! While the rest of the world thinks school districts shut down during this time, the reality is far from that. It is when some students get a break but almost everyone else who works in education is planning for the coming school year and beyond. And governing boards are no different. It’s often when school board retreats are planned. Here are some questions we often get about board retreats with some answers to help your board make the most of a board retreat.  

Q: What is a board retreat?   

A: ASBA defines a board retreat as a meeting of the board for planning and/or the opportunity to do a deep dive into an issue that requires more study. Additionally, boards often look at, discuss and revamp their own practices and protocols in the name of continuous improvement during board retreats.  

Q: Does a board retreat have to be outside the district?  

A: While it can be outside the district as long as there is no action taken by the board, many governing boards do their retreats at a facility in the district, but typically not while seated at the dais. Retreats are better suited to configurations where board members can see one another easily and that present a less “formal” feel.   

Q: Are board retreats considered public meetings? 

A: Any gathering of the board with a quorum and an agenda with items related to the school district is considered a meeting. Board retreats are open to the public to observe just like any other meeting of the board.  

Q: Do boards have to include a call to the public during a retreat?  

A: That depends on your policy. Look at your policy BEDB that outlines the agenda format for regular and special meetings.   

Q: What kinds of topics are covered at a board retreat?  

A: ASBA has a variety of professional development topics that can be covered during a board retreat. We highly recommend boards develop board operations and communication protocols, and often help boards do that during a study/work session or retreat. Other topics include effective board meetings, board self-evaluation, superintendent evaluation process and tool, and roles and responsibilities.  With ASBA’s assistance, boards can also create custom facilitation that addresses the issues important to a specific board and superintendent team.  

Q: Why do we need an outside facilitator for a retreat? Can’t we just do it on our own?  

A: You can do it on your own but having a facilitator serves a number of important purposes. First, the facilitator plans the content, prepares materials, and provides expert advice on how to make the most of the board’s time together. It also allows the superintendent and board president to fully participate in the retreat — they won’t have to watch the clock, prepare materials, mediate difficult conversations, or record any discussion between board members and the superintendent team. The facilitator does all of that for you. Finally, an impartial, outside facilitator can often help the board navigate in-depth, and sometimes difficult, discussions to ensure each member of the board has the opportunity to fully contribute and the board has a productive and successful board retreat.   

ASBA District Spotlight: Ajo USD focuses on academic growth, CTE & community   

When ASBA’s Jade Frazier visited Ajo Unified School District, Superintendent Dr. Roman Soltero highlighted the district’s focus on providing students with a strong academic foundation, a variety of career and technical education courses to help them envision their future and building strong partnerships within the community.  

Then they visited Ajo High School students in their digital photography, robotics, aerospace flight simulators and electronics classes that make up just part of Ajo Unified’s career and technical education options. 

When asked to how he would describe Ajo Unified School District in just three words, Supt. Soltero said “transformation, relationships and heart.” 

He and the Ajo Unified School District Governing Board have worked hard to meet their goals for the year. 

“One goal is to focus on academic achievement with ongoing progress monitoring of students and providing a good reading and academic foundation,” Supt. Soltero said. 

Another goal is to enhance community outreach, strengthen collaborative partnerships and build a strong school community, Supt. Soltero said. 

Ajo Unified also focuses on school safety, and the district works closely with the local fire department and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office to keep students safe, Dr. Soltero said. 

When asked what makes Ajo Unified unique, Dr. Soltero said, “I really believe we have a proud alumni, but we are also really working on re-building the Red Raider pride of staff, parents, students and board members.” 

This transformation is something that we are willing to grow through and a strong focus on career and technical education classes, Supt. Soltero said. 

Supt. Soltero said he feels extremely supported by ASBA and appreciates the resources the organization provides to help school board members and school districts. 

Two new Ajo Unified Governing Board members attended ASBA’s New Board Member Orientation and ASBA’s BOLTS County meetings. 

“That was a great start to get our board going into a strong, positive direction,” Supt. Soltero said. 

“We want to showcase what Ajo Unified has within the state,” Supt. Soltero said.  

“We are a district that is going in the right direction, embracing everything and establishing relationships and using resources,” Dr. Soltero said.

Serve on the ASBAIT board: Play a critical role in employee health and well-being for school districts  

ASBA is looking for three members to serve as Trustees on the Arizona School Boards Association Insurance Trust (ASBAIT) board. Term appointments are four years in length beginning July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2027. 

Applicants must be from an ASBAIT member district and can be a superintendent, business manager or school board member. Applications will be reviewed by the ASBA Executive Director. Those selected will move forward for virtual interviews on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. Selected candidates will be approved by the ASBA Board of Directors. 

ASBAIT was set up and operates by an “Agreement and Declaration of Trust” in accordance with the laws of the State of Arizona, including, without limitation, Arizona Revised Statutes Section 15-382 as it may be amended from time to time. 

Operational authority of the Trust is by the Board of Trustees. The ASBAIT Board of Trustees is comprised of governing board members, superintendents, and business managers from member districts from across the state. As Trustees end their term of service and seats become available, the ASBA executive director will select, interview and make Trustee recommendations to the Arizona School Boards Association’s (ASBA) board for appointment. Trustees are appointed to serve an initial term of four years, July 1 – June 30, with the possibility of reappointment for additional term(s). Efforts are made to keep a balance between the types of Trustees and the geographic locations for representation to maintain a diverse board to best govern the insurance trust. 

The Trustees meet four to six times per year to conduct the business of the Trust. Their major responsibilities include approving renewal procedures, overall budget, contractors, and independent audit and actuarial reports. The Trustees may also hear and make decisions on Appeals or Exceptions for claim payments to member employees or dependents. 

If you are interested in serving on the ASBAIT Board of Trustees, please email your letter of interest and resume to Kristi Sisk, Executive Assistant to the ASBA Executive Director at by Wednesday, May 10, 2023.   

Creighton seeks input from students for new superintendent    

Creighton School District students took part in a forum as part the search for a new superintendent. Photos courtesy Creighton School District

ASBA’s Executive Search Services team partnered with Creighton School District to host a student forum as part of their superintendent search where students were able to share insights and valuable feedback. 

Engaging with students, families and the community is a key part of a superintendent search and ASBA – your one-stop shop for superintendent searches – is eager to partner with you to facilitate this. From helping your board become search ready, launching a statewide or nationwide search, to assisting you with a smooth transition post-search – we’ve got you covered. 

ASBA is searching for a superintendent for several school districts in Arizona, including Creighton, Naco, Sacaton and Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School Districts, as well as Prescott Unified School District

Click here to find out more about the process, and see recent openings on ASBA’s website.

Meet the Administrative Professionals highlighted on ASBA social media 

Minnie Encinas from Crane School District

ASBA is highlighting Administrative Professionals as we lead up to Administrative Professionals Day on April 26. Please email photos or videos of your Administrative Professionals with a brief sentence or two about why they’re so important to your students, teachers, staff, board, school or district to Anyone can nominate. 

Crane ESD Supt. Superintendent Laurie Doering recognizes the incredible work of Executive Assistant Minnie Encinas. Minnie has been a steadfast presence at the Crane Elementary School District for several years and she has become indispensable. She keeps the Executive Team organized and functioning like a well-oiled machine, and is always a calm, level-headed professional when dealing with challenges. She also heads the district’s sunshine committee which fosters a fun and caring work culture. She is such an integral part of the Crane Team, and we appreciate her every single day. 

Pima County School Superintendent Dustin Williams thanks Executive Assistant Jeanette Velasquez, who is an incredible leader and a true professional. Jeanette facilitates all meetings and needs for the elected Pima County School Superintendent. She helps constituents with all aspects of schools & county government needs. Jeanette has many responsibilities that positively impact hundreds of people. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful person I can count on. 

Florence Unified School District #1 would like to recognize our District Office Receptionist Rose (Ann) Hurst.  Ann comes to us from an administrative background as a claims adjuster before her role with FUSD. She is bilingual which helps the district communicate and assist our families on a more personal level. One of her many strengths is her attention to detail and her ability to see a task through to completion. Her professional manner ensures that every visitor to the District Office is met with a genuine desire to assist them with whatever they need. We would also like to mention that Ann is an exceptional baker and has made many sweet treats for our staff. We are so lucky to have Ann as part of the FUSD family. Happy Administrative Professionals Day! 

Melinda Hunt is absolutely crucial in the everyday operations of the Chandler Unified School District Community Education department. Mel is the go-to for any questions that customers and fellow employees don’t know the answer to. She also handles any customer questions or concerns with the utmost grace and knowledge. Whether you are her coworker or a parent speaking to her, you always leave any conversation you have with her feeling better, more knowledgeable, and more seen than you did before. 

We’ll highlight Administrative Professionals on ASBA social media throughout the month, and draw an Administrative Professional’s name each week in April to receive a gift card. 

Tri-County Convening: Focusing on the Priorities that Unite Us – May 6

All Apache, Navajo and Coconino County governing board members and superintendents are invited

All Apache, Navajo and Coconino County governing board members and superintendents are invited and encouraged to attend this convening to identify our common challenges and priorities as rural and remote districts and begin identifying solutions and strategies we can work together to address. Topics may include teacher recruitment and retention, transportation, increased costs for services that we experience, and student achievement. This event will be facilitated by members of the ASBA staff. A light breakfast and time for networking will also be provided.

When: Saturday, May 6, 2023, from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Where: Flagstaff USD District Administrative Center, Board Room, 3285 East Sparrow Avenue, Flagstaff, AZ  86004 

Conveners: Members of the Arizona School Boards Association Board of Directors: 

  • Desiree Fowler (Page USD), ASBA President-Elect 
  • Arnold Goodluck (Sanders USD), ASBA Apache County Director 
  • Dorothy Denetsosie Gishie (Flagstaff USD, ASBA Coconino County Director  
  • Jarrahlyn Begaye (Cedar USD), ASBA Navajo County Director 

Special Guests (Invited): Arlando Teller, assistant secretary for tribal affairs, U.S. Department of Transportation; Selianna Robles Chang, P-12 Education Policy Advisor to Gov. Katie Hobbs 

Registration is required. The fee is $20/person.  Register by clicking here.

Encourage your teachers to apply now for ASBA Classroom Grant! 

Invite your teachers to apply for ASBA Classroom grants to bring their ideas to life! 

Arizona School Boards Association is giving back to teachers with $500 ASBA Classroom Grants awarded to teachers to enhance students’ learning.  

Applicants will describe how their initiative impacts students’ achievement and reflect the priorities of their district and governing board. 

Grant winners are selected each quarter, and be recognized at a governing board meeting. 

Meet Cochise County Director Yulonda Boutte 

Meet Cochise County Director Yulonda Boutte

Throughout the year Connect will highlight your ASBA Board of Directors and content from the Journal. This week, learn a little more about why Cochise County Director Yulonda Boutte serves her community. 

Take a look at what’s cooking at Summer Leadership Institute! Registration opens Monday, April 24 

Registration opens on the ASBA website Monday, April 24 for Summer Leadership Institute featuring Keynote Speaker Frank Kitchen who will share how to “Build Your Recipe for Leadership Success.” The agenda for the event is live now on the ASBA website so start choosing your breakout sessions now. 

Get ready for New Board Member Orientation, Part 2 at Summer Leadership Institute!  

In-person NBMO Part 2 graphic

Register now New Board Member Orientation, Part 2 at the pre-conference for Summer Leadership Institute on Thursday, June 8 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. where you’ll learn more about good governance, conflict of interest, school finance and budget and working on a team. You will also have an opportunity to network with other new school board members and ask experts questions.  

ASBA Events and Webinars

Upcoming ASBA Webinars

Wednesday Webinars: Students Have Rights?!?!
May 10, 4 pm – 5 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.

Upcoming ASBA Events

Tri-County Convening: Focusing on the Priorities that Unite Us
May 6, 9 am – 12:30 pm

Trauma Sensitive Schools Symposium (Virtual)
June 6, 8 am – 3 pm

In-Person New Board Member Orientation Part Two
June 8, 2023  (Registration opens Monday, April 24)

Summer Leadership Institute
June 8 – 10, 2023 (Registration opens Monday, April 24)

ASBA County Meetings 2023
September 18, 2023 – November 2, 2023

View all ASBA events on the ASBA website.

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