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COOLIDGE — Masks off! The Coolidge Unified School District Governing Board celebrated the arrival of new Superintendent Dawn Dee Hodge by announcing that effective immediately, masks would no longer be required.

Board members spent the second half of the meeting June 9 with faces fully visible as Hodge laid out her goals for the upcoming school year.

“A lot of students struggled this year,” Hodge said. “We need to start with re-assessing where each kid is, develop strategies to motivate students and re-engage students in their own learning.”

Hodge cited the multiple learning models, and accompanying technology issues, that students had to deal with last year as a reason for both lower grades or disengagement altogether. While Hodge offered a broad overview, she suggested that the district would highlight teaching strategies that focused on targeting multiple subgroups — racial, economic, etc. — to help build, or rebuild, relationships.

The schools will be offering online learning next year, with programming conducted by district teachers, as well as additional counselors and special education teachers at each school site. The district is looking into offering night school and Friday sessions at the Coolidge Alternative Program.

“We found a lot of high school kids found full-time jobs during the pandemic,” Hodge said. “Some of them don’t want to give up those full-time jobs. If there are ways for us to create a flexible schedule, it would be through sessions at CAP.”

During the meeting, Director of Business Services Alyssa Garrett introduced the proposed budget for 2021-22. Garrett said the expectation was for student enrollment to return to pre-COVID levels, which would add over $1 million to the M&O budget.

The district also has ESSER funds — from the third part of the federal relief packages during the pandemic — to use for additional staff or supplies. Garrett said the ESSER funds would cover the district’s night school and virtual programing through 2023.

The board intends to have one more virtual board meeting July 7, before opening the meetings back to the public in August.

The district will also be holding a public forum next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss optimal ways to spend the American Rescue Plan Funds (ESSER III) that the school has received. 


Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at

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