Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/1216wvisaac16.html
Isaac schools empowered by strategies of new chief
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 16, 2003
WEST PHOENIX - The Isaac Elementary School District has competent workers but
poor communication, says Kent Scribner, the district's new superintendent.
To remedy that, Scribner created three advisory committees: one for parents, one
for support staff and one for teachers.
Each committee hashed out a short list of concerns from its particular group
and, based in part on the commmittees' findings, Scribner recently released his
100-day report with three basic initiatives for Isaac: increase student
achievement, improve customer service and integrate parents and community.
"Traditionally, this district has been run from the top down," said Scribner,
who took over the superintendent's job from Paul Hanley on July 1.
By giving a voice to three groups in the community, Scribner hopes to run the
district more democratically. The committees have met several times.
"We want financial stability and input into decisionmaking," said Michelle
Covarrubias, a reading coach and member of the teacher advisory committee. "We'd
like to ensure respect for teachers."
The committee of support staff, which includes custodians, secretaries,
cafeteria workers and others, are particularly concerned with financial
"We want year-round pay," said Pearl Howard, who runs a "responsible thinking"
classroom where children are sent to be disciplined.
The year-round district runs nine weeks on and then three weeks off, with a
six-week vacation in the summer.
Teachers are paid year-round, Howard said Support staff would like that kind of
High on the list of parent priorities are enhancing school safety, lowering
class size and helping all parents become more responsible for their children's
actions at school, said JoAnn Valdez, parent coordinator at Esperanza Elementary
Members of all three committees said they were happy that the superintendent
sought their input.
"I've been in the district 13 years," Valdez said, "and this is the first time
parents have had an opportunity to voice their concerns. It's also the first
time I ever got a call from my superintendent."
Scribner, who is bilingual, said the school community is "still healing" from
the incident at PT Coe Elementary last year when teachers balked at the
principal's request to keep Spanish out of the playground, cafeteria and
hallways. The 9,000-student district is 95 percent Hispanic.
In February, Scribner hopes to present a new organizational structure for Isaac
that will discourage a top-down approach and emphasize parents and students
working directly with district staff.
"People look at our kids, urban language/minority kids, and don't want to see
them," Scribner said. "They want to build a wall around many neighborhoods in
urban Phoenix. But I want these kids to be academically and socially
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or (602) 444-6919.