POLACCA, Ariz. — The Hopi Jr/Sr High School Governing Board voted to give contracts for next school year to seven administrators and 40 of 42 high school teachers.
The board took the action during a special May 1 meeting in the school’s board conference room. The seven administrators who were given contracts included Hopi High Principal James Lobik and Hopi Junior High Principal Lucille Sidney.
The only two high school teachers who were not given contracts for next year are on administrative leave. Their contracts were delayed pending investigations into their cases.
The board also voted to open up new jobs for a human resource specialist, a curriculum specialist and two social behavioral counselors. The board voted to phase out the jobs of assistant superintendent and director of psychological services.
The board, for a second straight meeting, decided by consensus to put off making a decision on whether to approve a proposal by Hopi Junior High Principal Lucille Sidney. This proposal called for hiring three additional junior high teachers to set up a new system of learning for junior high students. The program is a transition program for seventh graders.
Laurel Poleyestewa, a board member, questioned how much money the proposal would cost and where the money would come from.
Lucille Sidney said this learning model would fit with the school’s improvement plan.
“It would mean an expansion of learning time,” she said.
Sidney said this program would mean 150 minutes of learning time for language arts and social studies. She said it would also mean extra access to teachers, especially if remediation was needed. She pointed to the school’s low scores in math and reading.
“To improve, the students need more instructional time,” she said.
Sidney’s plan would also call for more teacher aides in the classrooms.
“The teacher aides would help to reinforce the instructor when the teacher is busy with other students,” she said. “This would also reduce class sizes.”
Sidney said the junior high teachers have expressed an interest in working with this program. Poleyestewa said she would like to see a survey from the junior high teachers on this issue.
Sidney said her research of this program shows schools that have this program have fewer disciplinary problems because the students change classes less often. She said this program also allows more time for students to bond with their teachers.
Hopi High Principal Lobik said he has seen a similar program for ninth graders at other schools and found it meant a smoother transition for those just entering high school.
Sidney estimated that Hopi Junior High will get about $1,170,000 next school year and estimates that this program will cost about $831,000.
Valerie Kooyaquaptewa, a board member, questioned whether the estimates for the program included the funds for employee benefits.
Poleyestewa questioned whether the junior high has the space for two more classrooms. Sidney responded there are at least two additional classrooms available.
Ivan Sidney, president of Hopi Jr/Sr High School Governing Board, said the junior high enrollment has been decreasing.
“Even our staff’s children are attending school in Flagstaff. If the staff doesn’t support our school then something is wrong,” he said.
Lucille Sidney said this program would improve the school academically.
Sandra Dennis, a school board member, said regardless of the program, teachers have to step up and work harder so students can learn.
Lucille Sidney said her job is to hold teachers’ accountable.
Edgar Shupla, a board member, said he sees the need for the transition program since seventh grade has been the biggest challenge for making adequate yearly progress (AYP).
“I agree with the program. I just have concerns about the logistics,” he said.
Alban Naha, interim superintendent for HJSHS, said those entering the seventh grade come in with the lowest test scores.
“This is a dire need,” he said.
Poleyestewa questioned where they would get the additional staff for this program when they cannot fill all of the open positions now.
Ivan Sidney said some teachers have been at the school for several years but the test scores are not improving.
“You cannot tell me that being certified will make a difference. It’s not doing it today. Let’s do something different for a change,” he said.
Lucille Sidney said the administration started interventions in math this school year and that will grow into something else next year. She said since the administration included only Naha and Sidney most of this school year, they didn’t have time for other interventions. She said now that the school has a dean of students, they will have more time to find resources to help the teachers.
“We have to do something to get different results,” she said. “I want teachers to grow in their instruction…We need to give them professional development. We need a school discipline plan.”
Shupla said they need to invest in making the school more likeable, and smaller class sizes would be a move in that direction.
Dennis said she wants to see a budget and finance report on this program before voting on it. Koyaquaptewa said the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) has told the school they are “tagged for fiscal review.”
The board then agreed to put off a decision on this program until the May 10 meeting.
In other business, the school board voted unanimously to approve the junior high end of the school year trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. This trip is for students who are being promoted and has 43 students going.
“I gave up my trip to state to go with them,” said Juwan Nuvayakva. He is also the track and field assistant coach as well as the sponsor for this trip.
The school board voted unanimously to approve the Hopi High School Close Up trip to Washington D.C.
The Hopi Jr/Sr High School Governing Board approved contracts for junior high teachers and several other staff positions.
The board took the action during a special board meeting April 25 in the school’s board room.
Dean of Students Charlene Youvella was the only administrator whose contract was approved. Her contract was taken separately because she is an 11 month employee. The other administrators are 12 month employees.
The board approved contracts for administrative secretaries, junior high teachers on a recommended list, business department employees, security guards and administrative support staff, athletic department staff, technology department staff, food service staff and transportation department staff.
Ivan Sidney said “let the media report that this was done in record time.”
Sidney said the teacher reviews are not meant to be disciplinary, but the board is looking at an improvement plan for the school.