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Citizen’s Committee Launched to Review Critical Needs for Higley Schools

Community leaders sought to assist the district and governing board in understanding funding needs regarding a continuation of the Maintenance & Operations Override and potential Bond election. 

HIGLEY SCHOOLS | November 16, 2023 – In their ongoing efforts to promote transparency and community engagement, the Higley Unified School District (HUSD) is forming a citizen’s committee of community members, business leaders, parents, students, and education officials to seek their expertise and leadership in understanding the district’s critical school funding issues.   

“With sixteen schools located in Gilbert & Queen Creek, we serve more than 13,500 students in one of the fastest growing communities in the country,” said Interim Superintendent Sherry Richards. “As we face a growing population and classroom and security needs, we are seeking community input on what an election might look like next year to provide needed revenue for school facilities and services.”   

The A-Rated District’s Maintenance and Operations Override which funds teacher compensation, smaller class sizes, elementary special programs, gifted education, special education, and other programs, was most recently passed in 2019 and will phase down after next year if not renewed. The district’s most recent bond was passed the same year and was used to build the classroom expansion at Higley High School as well as a field house at Williams Field High School and upgrades to safety and security across the district. 

“The goal of the citizen’s committee is to have thoughtful dialogue and provide our district and our Governing Board with a recommendation that helps them make an educated decision on what critical needs should be addressed,” said Richards. “Engaging community leaders through a transparent public process will help to ensure that concerns from our citizens and voters are both understood and addressed prior to any possible ballot measure being put to a vote.”  

The citizen’s committee will meet regularly from January to March of 2024 to be briefed on key issues such as population growth, school funding, facility needs, technology, and public opinion research.  They will also tour our school facilities. Committee Members must live within HUSD boundaries, be a parent of an HUSD student, or work for HUSD.  

 “We invite the entire Higley community to participate – parents, students, residents, business leaders, and retirees to ensure we get feedback that represents the broad interests of our entire area,” concluded Richards. “Even if you don’t have kids in our schools, education impacts the quality of life of this community, so we ask everyone to join in and follow along.  We are all in this together.”

The citizen’s committee is made up of 15 community members – with each Governing Board member nominating one member and 10 members being selected by the district administration through an application process. Members reflect a broad representation of the community including business leaders, parents, teachers, community leaders, and education experts.  
 
The following individuals will make up the HUSD’s Citizen’s Committee: 

Marty Bender 
Financial Planner 

Eric Braun 
Town of Gilbert Assistant Public Works Director & HUSD Parent 

Michelle Bugg 
Medical Device Sales & HUSD Parent 

Taylor Francis 
Air Traffic Controller & HUSD Parent 

Robert Furneaux 
Cold Case Detective & HUSD Parent 

Scott Hamilton 
Arizona State University Assistant Director of School Partnerships 

Melissa Johnson 
HUSD Teacher & Parent 

Ozzie Lewis 
Arizona State Hospital Performance Improvement Administrator & HUSD Parent 

Jennifer Nunez 
Oasis Behavioral Health Hospital CEO & HUSD Parent 

Victoria J Payne 
HUSD Teacher 

Kathleen Richards 
Substitute Teacher & HUSD Parent 

Domingos Santos 
Lawyer & HUSD Parent 

Christopher Sexton 
Manager at Intel Corp & HUSD Parent 

Melanie Shaha 
Retiree 

Vanessa Shepherd 
HUSD Property Control Specialist 

 

HUSD’s Citizen’s Committee will meet monthly starting in January, and discuss issues related to school finance and critical funding needs. The goal of the citizen's committee is to have thoughtful, public dialogue and provide the HUSD Governing Board with a recommendation that helps them make an educated decision on critical needs that should be addressed. Meetings will be open to the public and the community is encouraged to follow along and submit questions and comments at citizens.committee@husd.org 

For more information including meeting schedules and full bios for all committee members, click here. 

About the Higley Unified School District 

Higley Unified School District is an A-rated public school district in Arizona that serves students at 16 schools located in Gilbert and Queen Creek, including HUSD's very own Virtual Academy. Recently, 14 of Higley’s 16 schools earned an A-Rating from the Arizona Department of Education. Students succeed on a number of academic markers as teachers prepare learners today to achieve their goals and dreams of tomorrow. Higley schools offer a well-rounded education with academics, music, art, languages, athletics, physical education, technology, and character education. Schools provide a safe and inviting environment for learning. Extra-curricular activities begin at the elementary school level, with dozens of options available at the high schools.