Super Intendent's Corner

Dr. Howard Carlson began his career in the state of Washington where he taught agriculture, science, and math courses at the middle school and high school levels. He earned his B.S. Degree from Washington State University and his Master’s degree from Heritage University. He completed his doctorate at Washington State University in 1997. 

As an administrator, Dr. Carlson has served at the building and central office levels; first becoming a superintendent in 1997. He has served as an assistant superintendent and superintendent in the states of Washington, Minnesota, and now Arizona. Dr. Carlson co-authored a book for new superintendents titled, “So Now You’re the Superintendent,” which was selected by the American Association of School Administrators to be jointly published with Corwin Press.

Dr. Carlson has been recognized as a state and national “Teacher of the Year,” “Administrator of the Year,” and was recently named Wickenburg's “Man of the Year." In 2011, he accepted an appointment by Governor Jan Brewer to serve on the state’s E-Learning Task Force.

Dr. Carlson has four children, all of which are school age and attend WUSD schools. His wife is also a certified teacher, and she currently teaches art and music (including band) at Festival Foothills Elementary School.

Dr. Carlson welcomes your comments and concerns.  You may e-mail him anytime or give him a call at (928) 668-5350.

WUSD Goals for 2014-2015

A couple of months ago, I discussed the 2014-2015 goals with the governing board at their annual retreat. The goals identify items we hope to accomplish this year, and they focus on many of our immediate needs. Our actions as a district are still guided by our strategic plan, which identifies large, overarching activities, but these goals break down what we hope to accomplish by June 2015.

We have identified five goals: attracting & retaining high quality employees, implementing our capital plan, addressing staff transitions, finance reporting, and finally, considering the concept of communication and community outreach.

To address attracting & retaining high quality employees, we plan to explore ways to make permanent the salary bonuses we provided this year using District Sponsored Charter School funds. Although this funding source will sunset at the end of this year, we are hopeful that the Prop. 301 lawsuit might provide some relief in this area. Time will tell, but we will see what we can do as the year progresses.  

Implementation of the Capital Plan is really tough at this stage. We have lost 60% of our capital funding due to permanent state level budget cuts, yet our buildings and buses continue to age. Our hope in pursuing this goal is to find alternative sources of funding to, in part, support these needs. We likely will not be able to keep up with all of the challenges, but it is our hope to at least keep up with emergency issues we face.

Staff transitions are impacting the district in a major way and come in two forms. The first relates to many baby boomers who will be retiring in the next few years. We will lose some of our longest tenured employees, and we will need to plan for this loss of institutional knowledge. Our second challenge in this area relates to the transition teachers are making to implement the Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards. To meet the needs of our students with these new, very rigorous standards, our teachers will require lots of staff development and support.

Over the past couple of years we have “revamped” much of our finance reporting and have begun to produce some great information for both the governing board and the community. One example is the annual WUSD Governing Board Stewardship Report. Another is our financial projection system.  Our plan during the course of this year is to develop a financial “big picture” report which will be available to our governing board on a quarterly basis.

The final area of our goals for this year relates to developing a plan related to communication and community outreach. We want to do more in this area, but with a small staff it can be difficult. At this stage, we are conducting a couple of parent surveys each year (October and March) and hope to design a way to enhance communication in other ways. We believe both the frequency and quality of communication can make a big difference in helping the community better understand its school system.

Clearly, these goals are ambitious and multi-faceted in design. Although there is lots of work to do, we will put in tremendous effort throughout the year to achieve success. At the end of the year, I will attempt to devote another article to how things went and give the community a general update.