Town Council

Forum seeks to bring together Paradise Valley leaders, educators

Kiva Elementary School, 6911 E. McDonald Drive, is one of several schools within the Town of Paradise Valley. Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner created an education forum to hear from the town’s education community.
Kiva Elementary School, 6911 E. McDonald Drive, is one of several schools within the Town of Paradise Valley. Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner created an education forum to hear from the town’s education community.
Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey
Posted

A relationship is blooming between the Town of Paradise Valley and its local education institutions.

Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner formally established a mayor’s forum for Paradise Valley educators after the Town Council rendered its unanimous approval at its Feb. 13 meeting.

The forum will consist of designated representatives from schools within the town and other town staff members Mr. Bien-Willner may select in consultation with Town Manager Jill Keimach or Town Attorney Andrew Miller.

The forum will serve as an advisory to only Mr. Bien-Willner, not the whole Town Council. Its purpose is to “look for ways to enhance safety, cooperation, best practices and sense of community,” but will not be a vehicle to weigh in on “substantive educational issues,” according to a town resolution.

Furthermore, there will be no formal agenda postings nor minutes and Mr. Bien-Willner can choose to suspend or terminate the forum at his discretion. Meetings will happen when Mr. Bien-Willner deems them necessary, at which time the town will notify the public of the time and place.

Mr. Bien-Willner said this type of forum has been on his mind for an extended period of time.

“I think it’s important to have a place for our educators to be able to convene periodically and talk to each other and share with each other, and also share with us, the town, questions that they may have, concerns they may have,” he said during the meeting.

“My intent in doing this, first of all as a resolution format to involve and get the blessing of council, but also to show our emphasis on integrating our schools.”

Mr. Bien-Willner said he doesn’t see this forum as any expansion to the town’s limited government model. Rather, he wanted to create a space where the town could better learn how the town’s schools affect the community.

The town lists six schools within its limits. Those include:

  • Cherokee Elementary School, Scottsdale Unified School District;
  • Desert View Learning Center, a kindergarten through fourth grade school;
  • Jones-Gordon School, a first through 12th grade school for students with average to above average intelligence who often have learning differences, attention issues or anxiety;
  • Kiva Elementary School, SUSD;
  • Montessori Academy, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade private charter school; and
  • Phoenix Country Day School, a pre-kindergarten to 12th grade school.

The town also lists Chaparral and Saguaro high schools as well as Cocopah and Mohave middle schools as schools in the town though they reside in Scottsdale but have boundaries that stretch into the town.

“I welcome the opportunity to support and increase the ongoing dialogue we have between the Town of Paradise Valley and its schools,” Allyson Beckham, president of the SUSD Governing Board, said via email. “This forum is an excellent way to further engage the community and create opportunities to improve outcomes for our kids.”

Many of the Town Council voiced support and praise for Mr. Bien-Willner for his efforts with the forum.

“I like how we have other committees at work like the HOA forum and the house of worship forum and I think there’s been a lot of good done for the community that way and it helps build the community,” Vice Mayor Julie Pace said during the meeting.

“Thank you for doing this and I think we’ll see a lot of positive results and it’s good because our demographics are changing so it continues to add in all spectrums of our community at all ages and in all areas.”

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