Greyhills Academy board meets to discuss challenges

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - On July 16-17 the Greyhills School board held their summer retreat in Las Vegas, Nev. to discuss issues concerning the schools before the school year started. It has been a challenging past year for Greyhills with the reorganization of the staff and resignation of two board members.

In attendance was Regina Hale, the 21st Century program coordinator who reported that the 21st Century grant has been approved but still pending and that Greyhills reached the number 10 position out of 150 schools.

Newly appointed School Board President Michelle Natoni stated that she would like to see collaboration with all staff and wanted to remind everyone they were there for the students. She also would like to see more accountability especially with the creation of new positions.

School board member Lee Johnson, who has been a board member since the separation of the Greyhills schools from the public school system would like to see more people working for Greyhills to recruit more students.

Davida Maestas, Senior Education Specialist for the Department of Dine Education (DODE) wanted to commend Greyhills for 10 percent gains in test scores and that she was pleased with the Saturday school program and after school programs and that the school was reauthorized. She stated that background checks have become a priority for the DODE and that the intent is for the safety of the children

One of the items on the agenda was school board micromanagement. Maestas stated the importance of communication and used an analogy that if parents are not getting along then it reflects on the children to characterize school boards and micromanagement issues. She stated the need to sit down and work with each other school boards, staff and administration. One point she made was that school boards do not run the schools and that school boards need to create a vision that is a shared purpose. The superintendent or CEO runs the school and that communication should be between the school board and CEO. The board hires the CEO to implement policies, hire staff and make recommendations to the school board. In turn the board exercises supervision and speaks through the CEO.

She pointed out that Arizona charter schools make policies and administration carries them out and they are a good model.

School attorney Gehl Tucker spoke about the possibility of incorporation of the school board. The benefit to that option is that individuals on the board cannot be sued, taking the liability away from the individuals on the board, thus eliminating the need for a lawyer.

Another topic of discussion was the hiring of Hopis to the Greyhills staff under the Navajo preference laws. Tucker stated that this needs to be looked at more at the tribal level especially in the schools since a lesser qualified Navajo is more likely to get hired over a very well-qualified non-Navajo, which would in turn affect the quality of a child's education.

He also pointed out that parents do not necessarily have any empowerment to make decisions for the school but can act in an advisory capacity to advise the school boards. Ultimate empowerment would be with the school board itself to make policy.

Parents that were invited gave some of their concerns to the board members by encouraging them to utilize some of the methods and suggestions presented over the weekend to make Greyhills Academy a model school. With the introduction of new board members it is seen as an opportunity to change the course of a school to move forward and make Greyhills Academy a model school for others to follow.

Greyhills is in the process of hiring new staff to fill positions left empty through the reorganization.

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