ASBA Connect E-News


Ask the Policy TeamHow can school board members assist administrators helping teens experiencing increased sadness and violence?

A Benefit of ASBA Membership

By Nick Buzan, ASBA Director of Legal and Policy Services 

Nick Buzan

Question: With U.S. teenagers experiencing increased sadness and violence is there anything school board members can do to assist administrators with this issue? 

Answer: Have you heard about the recent 10-year Youth Risk Behavior survey published by the CDC?1  Youth depression is at crisis levels with the ultimate consequence of loss of life being all too common. The statistics in the report are staggering with a popular radio personality I listen to concluding that youth depression and suicide is as big a crisis as any occurring in America today.

Fortunately, there is a way forward to help with at least part of this issue—teach responsible internet use.  I recently attended a speech by Dr. Lisa Strohman2, a clinical psychologist, lawyer, and author, who counsels teens on digital wellness issues, among others.  She posits that the data of teenage depression and suicide shows one alarming correlation—the rise of social media and most notably the use of Tik Tok.  Dr. Strohman has created a wonderful company referred to as the Digital Citizen Academy that provides age-appropriate lessons for K-12 students, educators and families with the goal of enhancing kids’ ability to become responsible digital citizens.  In other words, kids are going to use technology to communicate, it is our responsibility as adults to ensure they are prepared to use it responsibly.    

A board-certified English teacher recently described the practice of placing your child in front of a social media capable phone or tablet as such, “the phone pacifies [the child] with dopamine and the reward of engagement via the casino scroll of TikTok videos, et al.”3  This teacher happens to be my wife and she also happens to be right.  If you have ever sat down at a slot machine entranced by the possibility that seven (7) wolves might appear in a row and you would win fifteen (15) free spins then you know what I am talking about.4  Today’s social media is not your grandmother’s social media, it is highly influential, addictive, and harmful. 

So, what are board members to do?  Well, school district policy, the board’s primary vehicle for change, has reflected federal law including the Children Internet Protection Act since 2001.5  And, ASBA model policy has included Arizona law’s mandates requiring parental notification of responsible internet policies since 2017.6  Arizona law requires that schools have policies regarding the use of technology and the internet while at school.  Schools are required to notify parents “of the adopted policy and the parent’s ability to prohibit the student from the use of technology and the internet while at school in which covered information may be shared with an operator.”7 

Knowing that board policy, IJNDB, covers the requirements to keep teenagers safe from technology addiction while at school, which helps engagement of students overall, is the first step.  The next? Review IJNDB.  Then, ask your Superintendent or other school leaders what is being done under this policy.  Take steps to enforce these policies as is your duty under Arizona statute. 

Of course, overuse or problematic use of the internet is not the only cause of childhood depression.  But it is one area where we all can make a difference in the lives of our young people.  I will see you at the Summer Leadership Institute and feel free to call me out if I am paying attention to my phone and not you. Make sure to save the date 9/6/23 for this year’s law conference, where Dr. Strohman will be presenting on “Digital Distress and Teens.” You do not want to miss it. 


[2] For a list of Dr. Strohman’s recent books:

[3] Angela Buzan, Board Certified High School English Teacher, Foster Mother, and Coconino County Teacher of the Year Award Recipient, 2019.

[4] My last trip to Las Vegas proved this point to me, the hard way.

[5] See IJNDB.

[6] A.R.S. §15-1046.

[7] Id.  This statute, passed in 2017, was primarily focused on data collected by “operators” and prohibits them from selling student data.  Parents may opt their students out of these programs.

ASBA District Spotlight: Williams USD focuses on enhancing students’ learning, CTE and athletics 

Williams High School Forensics class.

Williams Unified School District Supt. Eric Evans focused on how they’re enhancing students’ learning, the role athletics play in bringing together their rural community and schools, and how increased career and technical education engages students and connects them with community members during a recent visit by ASBA Executive Director Dr. Sheila Harrison-Williams, Executive Assistant Kristi Sisk, and Multimedia Communications Manager Jade Frazier.  

Supt. Evans led the group as they visited with students doing hands-on learning activities in a forensics class, saw culinary arts students prepare and deliver cupcakes to teachers, and viewed what students were learning in their agriculture, science, and math classes. 

When asked to describe Willliams Unified in just a handful of words, Supt. Evans said, hard-working, committed, passionate about our community and connected. 

About 700 students in Williams, Park and Valle are served by Williams Elementary-Middle School and Williams High School, and just 10 of 110 Williams Unified employees live outside the community, Supt. Evans said.  

“Sports and athletics are very big and very important in our community,” Supt. Evans said. “A lot of our kids, especially in middle school and high school are very much into sports.”  

“Is this really like Friday Night Lights out here?” Dr. Harrison-Williams asked. 

“It is. We’ll fill those bleachers. That grandstand is filled. Football is big here,” Supt. Evans said. 

“We play in the 1A, 8-man football, and we’ve won a handful of state championships in football the last few years,” Supt. Evans said. “That really helps our young men. That’s one of the blessings we have in this community.”  

Supt. Evans shared that one student shattered a few football 1A student records this year, and will play football at Ripon College on scholarship, while another student who is an offensive lineman will play college football in the Valley next year, and three alumnae earned scholarships to play college softball at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. 

“For such a small community – a couple hundred kids – they’re out there playing ball and playing at the next level,” Supt. Evans said. 

Supt. Evans said he’s working closely with the governing board to bring back things that once were a staple within the schools. 

“For example, the board approved last night re-opening the high school library that has been closed for about 12 years. It’s been about a year and a half to two-year plan,” to give back that space to students with a little Internet café, college field, and credit recovery going on in there with Odyssey, Supt. Evans said. 

Career and technical education programs are a key focus, especially the ones that are so important in a rural community – a lot of the farming, a lot of the agriculture, showing animals, bringing all that back to our schools, including FFA programs, Supt. Evans said. 

Many of Williams Unified’s career and technical education programs are dual enrollment and students can receive college credit through Coconino Community College for their work, Supt. Evans said. 

Williams Unified will continues to focus on providing a safe and orderly learning environment and increasing students’ academic growth, Supt. Evans said. 

One goal for the next year is to become more data driven, look at our students’ demographics and performance data, and then decide what we’re going to do about it, Supt. Evans said, noting the district’s diversity with many White and Hispanic/ Latino students, a growing number of African American students and some Native American students. 

“We’re definitely on the right trajectory, I believe. We have this growth mindset,” Supt. Evans said. “It’s expanding programs, and offerings and opportunities for students, because we’ve seen what it does.” 

While many school districts’ enrollment decreases, Williams Unified’s enrollment is growing. 

“Last year’s Auditor General’s report was that the state’s five-year enrollment trend was trending down 8% percent. Ours was trending up 8%,” Supt. Evans said. “In the new report from the Auditor General this year, our trend is 5%. So, we’ve seen a little dip, but we’re actually growing in size and enrollment.” 

Some of the challenges Williams Unified faces are the increasing cost and availability of housing for teachers new to the district and competition from larger communities in hiring teachers, but Supt. Evans said he thinks recent improvements to the benefits Williams Unified offers employees through ASBAIT will make a difference. 

Another challenge Williams Unified overcame was remaining open for in-person learning during the pandemic.  

“We overcame the pandemic. We were very much in the minority. We were very rare in our approach during the pandemic. We of course had mandates and executive orders that we had to follow, we had to mask up, but we were able to stay open the entire school year minus one week,” Supt. Evans said. 

Williams Unified was not open the first week of school in 2021, but after that, two-thirds of students attended in person classes and one-third of students took classes online. 

Supt. Evans said he appreciates ASBA support for local control.  

“We have to look at what works out best in all the different, little, small pockets of our communities and all of our regions throughout the state and say, ‘You should do what you think is the best for you,’ ” Supt. Evans said. 

“We will continue to do that,” Dr. Harrison-Williams said.  

Supt. Evans said he plans to schedule a policy review with ASBA’s policy team and would appreciate more reminders of upcoming training and events. 

“We exist especially for the smaller districts. We exist for you, because you may not be able to afford to hire world-renowned keynote speakers or bring people into your district, but that’s what we’re here for,” Dr. Harrison-Williams said. 

ASBA is visiting school districts across the state to spotlight the great things happening in their communities. 

ASBA celebrates student scholarship recipients! 

Fred Nimoh (left) is recognized by Chandler Unified School District Supt. Franklin R. Narducci at a Governing Board meeting. Photo courtesy Chandler Unified School District

Fred Nimoh and Chandler Supt. Franklin Narducci

Congratulations to the six Arizona high school seniors awarded $1,250 scholarships through ASBA’s student scholarship programs! Governing board members are encouraged to honor scholarship winners during a school board meeting with a brief script about the student’s accomplishments and certificate provided by ASBA.  

Fred Nimoh, a senior at Camille Casteel High School in Chandler Unified School District, and Arsean Bozo, a senior at Baboquivari High School in Baboquivari Unified School District, are recipients of the Black Alliance Georgie and Calvin Goode Scholarship awarded to seniors of Black or African descent who demonstrate and exceptional record of academic growth and commitment to service to others and plan to further their education at an accredited postsecondary institution.  

The award is named for Calvin Goode, who served as a Phoenix city councilman for 22 years and was a member of the Phoenix ESD Governing Board, and his wife Georgie, a public school teacher who also served as member of the governing Boards of Phoenix ESD and Phoenix UHSD. 

“I am deeply honored to be the first-ever recipient of the ASBA Georgie and Calvin Goode Student Scholarship,” Nimoh said. “This scholarship represents not only financial support for my education but also recognition of my hard work and potential as a student.” 

“As a person of color, I understand the systemic barriers that have historically limited access to educational opportunities,” Nimoh said. “Therefore, this scholarship means a great deal to me, as it helps me to overcome some of those barriers and pursue my academic goals. I am committed to utilizing this scholarship to its fullest potential, to not only achieve academic excellence but also to contribute to my community and make a positive impact. Thank you for this incredible honor, and I promise to make the most of this opportunity.” 

Arsean Bozo

Arsean Bozo

Arsean Bozo expressed his appreciation for the scholarship with this quote from Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn,   the more places you’ll go.” 

Valeria Mendez, a senior at San Simon High School in San Simon Unified School District, and Daniel Kisto, a senior at Baboquivari High School in Baboquivari Unified School District, were named recipients of the Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus Panfilo H. Contreras Honorary Scholarship awarded to Hispanic or Native American Indian students with high academic achievement, regular attendance, respectable leadership and citizenship among peers and sustained participation in school/ community activities. 

The scholarship was established to honor former ASBA Executive Director Panfilo H. Contreras, who served the association from 1998 to 2011. 

Valeria Mendez

“As a first-generation student, receiving this scholarship is not just financial aid, but a validation of my hard work, determination, and resilience,” Valeria Mendez said. “It means that my dreams and aspirations are valid and achievable.” 

“This scholarship is not just for me. It is a testament to the perseverance and sacrifices of my entire family and every parent who has faced numerous challenges in order to see their children succeed,” Mendez said. “It is an opportunity to break the cycle of limited opportunities and create a new path filled with endless possibilities. This scholarship is a symbol of hope, a reminder that with hard work and dedication, we can overcome any obstacle and achieve our goals. I am honored to be the recipient of this scholarship, and I hope to inspire other first-generation students to pursue a higher education. This scholarship represents a legacy that I am proud to be a part of.” 

Daniel Kisto

Daniel Kisto expressed his thanks for the scholarship with this quote from the character Rafiki in “The Lion King”, “Ahh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”  

Caylee Crook, a senior at Lake Havasu High School in Lake Havasu Unified School District, and Michael-Anthony Rodriguez, a senior at Santa Cruz Valley Union High School, in Santa Cruz Valley Union High School District, were named recipients of the Jack Peterson Scholarship awarded to students who plan to pursue education as their major course of study at the college/ university level.  

The scholarship was established to honor former ASBA Executive Director Jack Peterson, who served the association from 1991 to 1998. 

Caylee Crook

“Receiving this scholarship truly means a lot to me because it means I am one step closer to reaching my goals,” Caylee Crook said. “With this help I am able to further my education and help the next generation of students.”   

Michael-Anthony Rodriguez

“In my four years as a high school student my educational journey has touched me profoundly. From my teacher, my friends, and my family pushing me to reach my potential. The late sleepless nights of working on homework and projects. The many activities I have joined, molding me into the person I am now,” Michael-Anthony Rodriguez said. 

“As I enter this next chapter in my life, I have come to realize that my next goals are to work in education, make a difference in low income and rural schools, and improve Arizona’s education system,” Rodriguez said. “I will be attending Northern Arizona University and this scholarship will be a tremendous help in my future education aspirations.”  

Meet your 2023 Trauma Sensitive Schools Symposium keynote speaker  

Dr. Tamar Mendelson

It is our pleasure to announce this year’s keynote speaker for the 2023 Virtual Trauma Sensitive Schools Symposium is Tamar Mendelson, Ph.D.! 

Dr. Tamar Mendelson is a Bloomberg Professor of American Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health and Chair of the Adolescent Health steering committee of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.  

She is also trained as a clinical psychologist - we are very grateful to have her as keynote speaker for this year’s Trauma Sensitive Schools Symposium!  

See how SLI sponsor Chartwells serves up happy & healthy     

Summer Leadership Institute keynote sponsor Chartwells aims to make the cafeteria the happiest place in every school. Chartwells serves nutritious, kid-approved food and innovative programs, and is dedicated to serving up happy and healthy to every student, every day. 

Chartwells sponsors SLI keynote speaker Frank Kitchen who will share how to “Build Your Recipe for Leadership Success.” 

In addition, there is a new registration process for Summer Leadership Institute. Attendees must register for the conference before booking a hotel room. For more information, please see the ASBA website. 

Submit your suggestions by 5/24 to help shape ASBA’s political priorities  

All ASBA district member boards are strongly encouraged to exercise their ASBA membership rights and participate in shaping ASBA’s 2024 political priorities by submitting their suggestions by May 24, 2023

In order to meet the timeline to develop next year’s ASBA Political Agenda, we must start planning now. It is our pleasure as your GR staff to facilitate this important process, and we look forward to hearing your proposals. 

As you know, your input to the Legislative Committee is critical. This year we ask that you take a moment to review the current  2023 ASBA Political Agenda  and reaffirm your top five priorities. You may submit additional priorities you would like the Legislative Committee to consider by  clicking here to submit the form online. 

Once submitted, these proposals are by staff and provided to the ASBA Legislative Committee at their June 2 meeting for consideration. The Committee will then create a draft document that will be circulated to all governing boards and superintendents in June. Members will be reminded to review the draft agenda and select delegates in August. This draft agenda will be the basis for discussion and final approval at the official Delegate Assembly on Saturday, Sept. 9, following the Law Conference. 

As a reminder, you should schedule this item on an upcoming Board agenda for discussion. Please remember, only one submission per District and it must reflect the collective will of the Board. These proposals are due by the close of business on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. 

This document is a policy document. It is referred to as the “political agenda” within the ASBA bylaws, however you will note that the content is 100% focused on education policy issues within Arizona, and is used by the association to pursue public policy goals that support district schools across the state.  

The 2023 Delegate Assembly will determine the positions of the Arizona School Boards Association for any future Special Sessions of the current legislature and for the Second Regular Session of the Fifty-Sixth Legislature.  In addition to submitting proposals, your board can help craft ASBA’s advocacy stances by registering your district’s delegate. 

Your delegate will represent your district at the Delegate Assembly, a critical meeting where the views of your district can be represented and discussed. The Delegate Assembly will be held on Saturday, September 9 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn. Delegate registration will open on the same date as registration for the ASBA Law Conference. 

Thank you for your active participation in ASBA. If you have any questions, please call Chris Kotterman, ASBA Director of Governmental Relations directly at 602-254-1100 or 800-238-4701. You can also reach him by email at

Once again, all proposals are due by May 24, 2023. 

Meet Coconino County Director Dorothy Denetsosie Gishie 

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

Looking for a board resolution for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month? We’ve got you covered  

School board members, are you looking for educational resources for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month? Then look at ASBA’s Resources page

There you can find board resolutions, information on the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as well as influential and historic figures, and books to better understand the month, as well as social media graphics and government relations materials. 

Also included are resources for educators such as classroom lesson plans, learning activities, a teacher guide, units of study, identity-based curriculum modules and key news articles.  

Seeking a superintendent or interim? ASBA Executive Search is here to help 

In the past fiscal year, ASBA Executive Search helped governing boards in 11 Arizona school districts find their new leader. Whether you’re a small, rural district or a district in downtown Phoenix, ASBA can assist you in finding the best candidates.  

ASBA Executive Search is your one-stop-shop for superintendent searches. From helping your board become search ready, to launching a statewide or nationwide search, to assisting you with a smooth transition post-search – we’ve got you covered. ASBA offers a wide range of search services, from comprehensive searches to fill a current or future superintendent position, to assisting governing boards seek an interim superintendent when necessary.  

ASBA Executive Search is currently searching for a superintendent for Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District and Littlefield Unified School District, and has assisted in searches this past year for Creighton, Naco, Sacaton, Quartzsite, Roosevelt, Tonto Basin and Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School Districts and Ray, Ganado and Prescott Unified School Districts.  

ASBA Events and Webinars

Upcoming ASBA Events

Trauma Sensitive Schools Symposium (Virtual) 
June 6, 2023 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Registration open) 

Summer Leadership Institute  
June 8 – 10, 2023 (Registration open) 

In-Person New Board Member Orientation Part Two 
June 8, 2023  (Registration open) 

Tri-County Convening: Focusing on the Priorities that Unite Us 
(This event will be held in conjunction with ASBA Summer Leadership Institute on Saturday, June 10) 
June 10, 2023  9 a.m.- 10 a.m. 

ASBA County meetings 2023 
Sept. 18, 2023 – Nov. 2, 2023  

View all ASBA events on the ASBA website.

Sign Up for ASBA Connect E-News