ASBA Connect E-News


Renae Watson Takes the Helm as ASBA Policy Director 

Renae Watson

Please join ASBA in extending a warm welcome to Renae Watson, who has assumed the role of ASBA’s Policy Director. With her extensive knowledge and unwavering commitment, Renae is poised to make a remarkable impact on our organization.  

 With a career spanning nearly three decades, Renae embarked on her professional journey in 1995 at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), where she assumed the role of Technical Assistant within the Exceptional Student Services (ESS) special needs section for young children. Swiftly ascending the ranks, Renae earned a promotion to Department Manager within a year, orchestrating seamless staff logistics and actively contributing to the recruitment process.  

 In 1996, she embarked on a new chapter as the ESS Dispute Resolution Coordinator, a pivotal role that immersed her in collaborations with legal teams and school districts across Arizona. Her paramount focus centered on adeptly mediating disputes within the realm of K-12 education, fostering time and resource efficiency for all stakeholders involved.  

 In 1999, she embraced a fresh opportunity at the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) as a Technical Editor/Publisher in Policy Services. Armed with her legal acumen and technical prowess, she wielded a transformative influence on ASBA’s Policy Services, forging impactful partnerships with school districts across Arizona.  

 She also serves as a consultant for the New Mexico School Boards Association, wherein she contributed substantively to the development and management of their Policy Services Department, all while extending steadfast support to their member districts.  

 As Renae’s journey approaches the three-decade mark, her devotion to education policy and dispute resolution remains undiminished. Her allegiance to collaborative endeavors with our member districts propels ASBA forward in advancing its mission.

Ask the Board Support Team – What Should Board Members Know About Suicide?

A Benefit of ASBA Membership
By Amy Castellanos, ASBA Board Support Specialist

Amy Castellanos

Question: What should school board members know about suicide? 

Answer: Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has signed a proclamation identifying September as Suicide Prevention Month. In honor of this, we are dedicating this Connect Q & A to understanding how school board members can create a system of support for students who are struggling with suicidality.  

Many people may not realize that suicide is the second leading cause of death for middle and high school-aged students, as reported by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is surpassed only by unintentional injury. 

Suicide is preventable, though. Four out of five teens who attempted to end their lives have given clear warning signs or invitations to those around them to engage. That means that in 80 percent of cases, we have an opportunity to intervene and save a young person’s life. 

There are signs you can watch for and preventative activities that school districts can employee to help identify and get early intervention for students that are struggling with suicidality. Suicidal thoughts are temporary and with early intervention can be treated to help students live a full and happy life.  

Office of Indian Education Kinship Care is Self Care logo

Question: What actions can school board members take to prevent suicide in their schools? 

Answer: A comprehensive approach to suicide prevention is key for students’ health and well-being. Some components of this approach are:  

  • Promote emotional well-being and connectedness among all students. Social support and connection are key protective factors against suicide. Suicide prevention programs promote programs and practices leading to positive and supportive relationships. To achieve this goal, school board members can adopt programs and curriculum that foster healthy relationship skills and ensure that each student on campus has one supportive adult connection.   
  • Identify students who may be at risk for suicide and assist them in getting help. In the State of Arizona all school employees who work with students in grades six through twelve are required to take an approved suicide prevention training every three years. You can find more information about these trainings here.  School board members can ensure their district has a policy to administer this training, and that the school district is partnered with a behavioral health provider that they can refer families to for treatment and early intervention.  
  • Be prepared to respond when a suicide death occurs. Suicide postvention plans are an essential component to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students. These plans assist school districts in supporting students in time of grief and help mitigate the risk of other suicide deaths occurring. School board members can work with a multidisciplinary team to establish and adopt a suicide postvention plan for their district.  

To learn more about the comprehensive approach of suicide prevention for school district leaders please visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and Teen Lifeline


Expand Your Playbook for Success at the ASBA-ASA Annual Conference

Game Plan for success

Take part in an all-new, sports-themed, student-centered ASBA-ASA Annual Conference Dec. 6-8, 2023, at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in North Phoenix.

Bring a school t-shirt to wear one day to show your support for your students and your teams, get ready to celebrate ASBA Awards winners, and bring back strategies to help your students and your community from ASBA keynote speakers and breakout sessions!

ASBA-ASA Annual Conference registration opens Oct. 16, 2023, and ends Nov. 22, 2023. More information is coming soon to

Share Your Success: ASBA Opens Submissions for Breakout Sessions 

Annual Conference Breakout Session

Submit your idea now and share your playbook for success during a breakout session at the ASBA-ASA Annual Conference Dec. 7 and 8, 2023 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in North Phoenix. This year, we’re celebrating educational leaders and the teams who have excelled in achieving academic excellence across our state.  

We’re seeking ASBA member districts to provide 50-minute presentations to inspire and empower your colleagues by sharing your playbook for success in the following areas:  

  • Playbook on Equity:  These breakout sessions will explore innovative approaches to personalizing education and experiences to meet the needs of all students. Highlight your district’s success in addressing opportunity gaps and promoting equal outcomes for students and your educational teams. 
  • Playbook on School Board Governance: These breakout sessions will explore how governance drives educational excellence. Highlight your district’s leadership traits, qualities, strategies and techniques that have led your highly functioning governing board to excel at academic achievement and employee satisfaction. 
  • Playbook on Mental Health, Wellness and School Safety:  These breakout sessions will explore a topic board members from across Arizona have identified as a priority in their school districts. Highlight your district’s success in addressing employee retention, student wellness, school culture, safety and security. 
  • Playbook on Engagement: These breakout sessions will explore programs and practices that work to leverage engagement for students, families, community members and school staff. Highlight your district’s success in empowering students and staff through meaningful engagement in the decision-making process, creating opportunities for family involvement in academic success, or establishing diverse partnerships that provide resources to the school community. 

See presentation requirements and submit your breakout session idea before the Oct. 6, 2023, deadline at

From Excellence in Governance to Promising Programs: Which ASBA Award Suits Your Team’s Success? 

ASBA Awards Booklet

Get ready to share your accomplishments with other school districts around the state by applying for ASBA Awards! ASBA member districts received a postcard-sized brochure in the mail in mid-September highlighting three of ASBA’s prestigious honors and the criteria for each award.  

Get together with your team to complete ASBA Awards online entry forms on the ASBA website at before they close at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2023.  

Your team deserves accolades, recognition and gratitude for their unwavering commitment to your mission. This is your chance to showcase their extraordinary contributions and let their hard work take center stage.   

This year, we are seeking nominations for: 

Lou Ella Kleinz Excellence in Governance Award: ASBA’s highest honor for a full board. This award recognizes an Arizona school board that has demonstrated outstanding education leadership for the year. Apply here.  
All-Arizona School Board Member Award: ASBA’s highest individual board member honor. This award is bestowed on up to five Arizona school board members who exemplify best practices in boardsmanship, understand their roles and follow through on their responsibilities. Apply here.  
Honor Roll Award: This award recognizes retiring board members who were nominated by their boards for outstanding service. Apply here. The Honor Roll Award is the only award that closes Dec. 1, 2023

ASBA Golden Bell Promise Program Award: These awards recognize school initiatives from throughout the state that maximize the promise in each and every student and have shown outstanding student growth and success. Apply here.  

Shape the Future in Vibrant Colors: Showcase Your Students’ Artistic Talents

ASBA Annual Student Artwork Contest

Share your students’ creativity with Arizonans statewide with the ASBA’s First Annual Student Artwork Contest. Art created by pre-K through 12th grade students in ASBA member districts is eligible for the contest. 

The theme for this year’s contest is “Imagination Unleashed.” We encourage students to explore the boundless world of their thoughts, dreams and ideas. From fantastic creatures to futuristic cityscapes, the possibilities are endless. 

Find out more and submit your students’ entries through an online form on ASBA’s website at between Aug. 1, 2023, and Oct. 31, 2023. 

The finalists’ artwork will be selected to be displayed at the ASBA-ASA Annual Conference, on the walls of the ASBA office in Phoenix and will be showcased in the ASBA Journal Magazine, ASBA Connect e-newsletter and on ASBA social media. Selected student winners will receive a $100 Visa gift card and a $100 donation to their school’s art department and/or art program.  

Deepen Connections and Insights: Join County Meetings This Fall and Spring

Maricopa County meeting

ASBA County Meetings will now happen in both fall and spring, providing more opportunities to connect, collaborate and thrive together! This shift allows ASBA to engage with members throughout the year, fostering deeper connections, sharing insights and building a stronger community.  

Upcoming county meetings with county director elections this fall include:  

  •  Pima County: Thursday, Sept. 28, at Flowing Wells USD
  •  Navajo/Apache/Coconino Counties: Saturday, Sept. 30, at Winslow USD 
  •  Maricopa County: Monday, Oct. 16, at Tempe UHSD  
  •  Pinal County: Wednesday, Oct. 18, at Casa Grande ESD  
  •  Yuma County: Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Gadsden ESD  
  •  Cochise County: Thursday, Nov. 2 (Location to be determined)  

County Directors serve two-year terms on the ASBA Board of Directors. Elections take place at the ASBA County Meetings. A candidate for County Director must be a seated board member at the time of election and, if elected, throughout their term. In addition, candidates must commit to fulfilling all County Director responsibilities, which are shown below. In addition, you must be present at the County Meeting to run for the position.  

Process for Running for County Director  

  • If you would like your name to appear on the ballot, you must notify ASBA no less than one week prior to the meeting by emailing  
  •  Candidates may also run from the floor as a write-in candidate.   
  •  All candidates will be provided with time at the meeting to give a speech of up to two minutes.   
  •  If no candidates step forward to run, the ASBA Board of Directors will appoint per ASBA bylaws a County Director prior to the start of the term of office.  

Responsibilities/Duties of ASBA County Directors   

  •  Attend orientation program and planning retreat for ASBA Board of Directors (January).
  •  Attend four regular ASBA board meetings per year (quarterly).  
  • Attend any special board meetings called by the leadership
  •  Promote the vision, mission, and goals of ASBA to local county board members.  
  •  Help initiate and set both internal policy and goals for ASBA.  
  •  Serve as a communication link between ASBA and member districts in your county.   
  •  Increase the awareness in your county of the roles of ASBA, the professional organization, and the benefits of ASBA membership.  
  •  Assist with coordination of and preside at the Annual County Meeting.  
  • Attend and participate in as many ASBA sponsored activities annually, as is possible, e.g., ASBA BOLTS, Equity Event, Summer Leadership Institute, Delegate Assembly, Law Conference, Annual Conference. County directors receive complimentary registration to all ASBA events. (Itis our hope that your district will support the work of the County Director by providing the travel and hotel costs.)   

Counties that do not have county director elections will take place in spring 2024. ASBA is finalizing dates and locations for these meetings:  

  •  Gila County  
  •  Yavapai County  
  •  La Paz County  
  •  Mohave County  
  •  Santa Cruz County  

Registration for this member-only event is $40. Register now to secure your spot. We’re looking forward to seeing you there! All details are on the ASBA website: 

ASBA Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month infographic featuring Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, ASBA is highlighting our Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus.

The HNAIC was founded in 1996 by a group of Arizona school board members with a mission of making sure the needs of Hispanic and Native American students were known and addressed at the state level.

Join the Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus, Black Alliance and Rural Alliance today on the ASBA website at

Let us know how your district is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

Follow us on social media to celebrate with us!

Your Voice, Our New Look: Take Part in ASBA Rebranding

A participant in an ASBA rebranding discussion at the Law Conference.

Your feedback is crucial in shaping ASBA’s rebranding initiative. As our valued members, your insights will guide us toward a fresh identity. Your perspectives will shape not only the new face of ASBA but also the experiences, resources and opportunities we offer.  

Join us in this collaborative effort at county meetings and please participate in the member survey at that is available now until Nov. 2, 2023, to redefine our association and create a future that resonates with all of us. Your voice matters and together we’re building a stronger ASBA.  

Crafting the Future of ASBA: Step Up to Serve on the Executive Committee   

Tadeo De La Hoya

If you’ve thought about serving on the ASBA Board of Directors Executive Committee, now is the time to find out more on the ASBA website at and view a video by ASBA Past-President Monica Trejo.

View Executive Committee position descriptions for president-elect, treasurer and secretary to decide which one you’d like to be a candidate for. Then complete the online application form, which will open on Oct. 9, 2023, and close at 5 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2023.

The officer application consists of:

  • Basic information about the applicant’s board service.
  • A snapshot of the individual’s recent involvement with ASBA.
  • Narrative questions designed to demonstrate the assets the individual will bring to the ASBA Board of Directors if elected.

Applications will be reviewed by the ASBA Nominating Committee, which is comprised of a diverse group of currently serving board members from throughout the state. No interviews are required. The committee will put forth a slate of all eligible candidates for each position. All ASBA members will receive an ASBA Officer Voting Guide in November featuring all candidates for each position with information provided by each candidate in their application.  

Elections of officers will take place on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, during the ASBA Annual Membership Meeting during the ASBA-ASA Annual Conference at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix. Every ASBA member district is eligible to send a delegate to cast its vote.  

If you have questions about the application or nominating process, please contact ASBA Chief of Staff Kristi Sisk at or 602-254-1100.    

Championing Education: Karen McClelland’s Dedication to Every Student  

Yavapai County Director Karen McClelland

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

ASBA’s Distinct Approach: Transparent Superintendent Searches That Prioritize Communities  

Clark Tenney and Andy Fraher

ASBA Executive Search has helped governing boards in 12 Arizona school districts find their new leader in this past fiscal year, including Prescott Unified School District. 

“I was very impressed with ASBA’s Executive Search process from start to finish. They were very thorough and professional and accommodating of the wishes and needs of our community and our Governing Board,” said Prescott USD Supt. Clark Tenney.  

“In an environment where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a solid pool of qualified candidates for Arizona school district Superintendent positions, ASBA’s experience and expertise really shone through.”  

Unlike other search firms, ASBA encourages the board to identify who they should interview, facilitates support including pre- and post-search sessions for the whole board, and offers a reasonable pricing model, based on ADM that provides members with exceptional value and attentive service. 

“The ASBA Executive Search made our process so much more smooth. Our consultant handled all the details, from managing the application process to organizing interviews and coordinating public forums,” said Prescott USD Governing Board President Andy Fraher. “Everything was put together in an extremely professional, and easy to understand way for the board members to utilize. Insights into how to operate a search were very welcomed and we ended up getting a strong candidate to fill our superintendent position.” 

Whether you’re a small, rural district or a district in downtown Phoenix, ASBA can help you find the best candidates. In addition, ASBA is familiar with Arizona politics and issues that affect education, participates in a national network of school board association searchers, has knowledge of governing board meeting notices, offers comparative salary and benefit survey information gathered annually by ASBA from Arizona superintendents and provides an ASBA public relations plan to introduce a new superintendent to the community. 

Find out more at If you have questions, please contact ASBA Chief of Staff Kristi Sisk at or (602) 254-1100. 

ASBA Events and Webinars

Upcoming ASBA Events

ASBA County Meetings 2023 
Sept. 18, 2023 – Spring 2024  (Register July 7, 2023 – 1 week before the meeting)

Apply to become an Executive Officer Candidate
Oct. 9, 2023 – Nov. 2, 2023

ASBA-ASA 66th Annual Conference 
Dec. 6, 2023 – Dec. 8, 2023 (Register Oct. 16, 2023 – Nov. 22, 2023)

ASBA Annual Membership Meeting at ASBA-ASA Annual Conference
Dec. 7, 2023

View all ASBA events on the ASBA website.

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