The new presidents of the Scottsdale Parent Council and Scottsdale Education Association want more parents and teachers involved in the upcoming school year.
Parent council president Val Iverson and teacher union president Sue Kaminskas take on their new roles as new Superintendent John Baracy begins work July 1 in the Scottsdale Unified School District.
Iverson’s parent group will focus on supporting a $217 million bond package to rebuild high schools, which is opposed by a group of northern parents who want a new neighborhood high school.
She also plans to seek Spanishspeaking parents to join the parent council and air their concerns.
"Parent involvement is huge in increasing student achievement," Iverson said. She added that her group would work in a "constructive" way to solve district issues.
Kaminskas will spend the year resolving teacher grievances, including one from a year ago when middle school teachers began working longer hours than elementary and high school teachers.
She wants to focus on improving communication between the district and teachers.
She also wants teachers to be involved at the Legislature, as the parent council is, to watch over decisions made about public schools.
But before school starts, the two women are taking a break. Iverson is spending a month in a New Hampshire cabin until late July. Kaminskas is recovering from a broken foot before she returns to teach first grade at Anasazi Elementary School.
Iverson moved to Scottsdale from Maine two years ago. She has a master’s degree in geography and demographics, and in Maine, she worked for the state in planning housing for the homeless.
Kaminskas came to the district 36 years ago after graduating from Arizona State University.
"I’ve spent my entire career here," Kaminskas said. "As far back as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, to work with kids and help them become the best they can possibly be. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it."