Posted by Dr. Honora Norton
The Rotary Club of Scottsdale recently welcomed Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel as its weekly keynote speaker.  The SUSD Governing Board named Dr. Menzel to his position in February 2020.
When introducing Dr. Menzel, Rotarian John Campbell noted that Dr. Menzel, a fellow Rotarian, had been serving as a superintendent of schools in Michigan for the past 18 years.   Dr. Menzel’s doctoral degree in Educational Leadership comes from Eastern Michigan University; his master’s degree in Philosophy and Social Policy is from The American University.
After sharing his personal and family’s interest in relocating to Arizona, Dr. Menzel told the Rotarians that he went into action immediately, by engaging remotely with SUSD and its Governing Board. Dr. Menzel has completed a wide variety of virtual introductions with 
SUSD leadership team, the Student Advisory Council and has met collaboratively with representatives of key Scottsdale educational, administration, teachers union,community  and parent organizations. Menzel stated that these engaging conversations and virtual work sessions have helped him and the SUSD leadership team formulate decisions needed regarding the 2020-21 school year. He acknowledged the ongoing concerns of the Coronavirus pandemic and the need to ensure health, safety and well-being of students and staff.   
Dr. Menzel stated that Governor Ducey has ordered the Department of Health Services officials to choose data/metrics to rely on when deciding when to reopen schools for in-person classes.  He noted when schools reopen, everyone, including staff and students will be required to wear masks, with some exceptions for students.  Dr. Menzel noted that staff underlying health condition requests are being individually addressed.  Personal protective equipment, retrofitting of classrooms (i.e. use of plexiglass), dining rooms, packaged food 
service needs and other school reopening issues are being addressed.
Dr Menzel stressed the need to create safe learning environments while offering learning model options for in-person and remote learning for the upcoming school year that take into account the unique needs of families.He talked about the need to respect the rights offamilies to make the important decision to choose the learning model that best suits the needs of each student in their family.  Dr. Menzel acknowledged his goal to ensure resources are available so that every student can meet his/her full potential.
Following are a few topics Dr Menzel addressed during the attendee Q&A 
portion of his talk:
Availability of student internet access  - local provider hasprovided, as needed, discounted internet access rates; and, SUSD has setup access hot spots, enhanced learning camps, walk-in learning labs and structured distanced learning processes.
Declining enrollments have impacted school funding and facilities,noting SUSD enrollment had been as high as 26,000 students and is currentlyat 22,500 students.  
Current SUSD challenges – to name a few - need for certifiedteachers, budget impacts, ability to meet student needs while reaching all CDC recommendations, transitioning to live classroom settings, student’s mental health and need to stay connected, helping parents keep their children engaged in learning…
Sports and social activities: Dr Menzel noted the challenge of balancing the value of students staying engaged along with problematic risks of some sports and social school club activities.  The Rotarians shared the Club’s scholarship opportunities available to SUSD and 
supporting social and service opportunities offered through its Rotary International Interact High School Rotary Clubs.  The Rotary Club of Scottsdale mentors several Scottsdale Interact Clubs and supports their community service projects.
In closing, Dr. Menzel recognized that SUSD has a dedicated staff, engaged parents and supportive community; noting that these are the essential ingredients to be a high-performing school district.