Gold Canyon Elementary lease OK’d; AJ schools leader gets 4 percent performance pay

Gold Canyon Community Church can continue leasing the former Gold Canyon Elementary School building, thanks to a recent decision by the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board. The board also approved giving a 4 percent performance pay increase to the school superintendent.

In September the board hired a real estate broker to market and find a buyer for Gold Canyon Elementary, 5810 S. Alameda Road.

AJUSD was given permission to sell unused buildings at the Nov. 3, 2016, election. Gold Canyon Community Church is using the site at the former school.

The remaining buildings that could be sold are old Four Peaks Elementary School, 1755 N. Idaho Road, now the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley – Superstition Branch; Superstition Mountain Elementary School, 550 S. Ironwood Drive, now with Centerstage Church and the Zao Theatre; and Thunder Mountain Middle School, 3700 E. 16th Ave., now used as the training facility for Superstition Fire and Medical District.

Vice President Dena Kimble made the motion July 24 to direct the district’s attorney to authorize a two- to 10-year lease with Gold Canyon Church.

“$2,550-a-month rent for two years and then after the two years, on year three, it would increase 5 percent each year following,” she said.

Voting to approve the lease were AJUSD Governing Board President Jodi Ehrlich, Vice President Kimble and members Cami Garcia and Christa Rizzi. Board member Mike Weaver was absent.

Performance pay

In other business, the board voted 3-1, with Mrs. Rizzi voting no, to approve 4 percent in performance pay for Dr. Krista Anderson, AJUSD superintendent.

“Based on the performance-pay clause in her contract and the evaluation that was completed, she qualifies for performance pay of not less than 2 percent and no less than 6 percent,” President Ehrlich said.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges and she’s done an amazing job. We have further challenges, of course, that are going to continue to be addressed,” she said.

“I know I’ve said this numerous times, but the development of the mission and the vision and the performance indicators and the plan going forward to monitor those performance indicators are super exciting and are probably what I’m most excited about,” President Ehrlich said.

Apache Junction Unified School District board members Cami Garcia and Christa Rizzi at a recent board meeting. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“I do think Dr. Anderson has done a great job this year,” Mrs. Garcia said.

“I missed the last board meeting. Where did we come up with this 4 percent?” she asked.

“That’s just my motion of what I believed,” Vice President Kimble said.

“My 4 percent is based on the satisfaction of what I’ve seen and the performance of the decisions that have been made, implemented,” she said.

“I mean, it’s a night-and-day difference from where we were to where we are,” she said.

“I’m definitely happy with the performance. There’s no doubt that there’s been a lot of situations that were out of the ordinary,” Mrs. Rizzi said.

“Unfortunately at this point I can’t support the 4 percent. There’s a few different reasons for that, but I do like what you’re doing, I do like the direction that we’re heading, but at this time I can’t support a percentage that high for the performance,” she said.

Dr. Krista Anderson

Dr. Anderson’s contract states that for the 2017-18 fiscal year the district was to pay her an annual base salary of $135,000 minus mandatory and voluntary deductions. Also, no less than 2 percent and no more than 6 percent of the superintendent’s annual base salary for that fiscal year is designated as “performance-based pay,” according to the contract at

The contract also states the performance-based pay amount shall be payable only if and to the extent the superintendent satisfies the criteria for an award of performance pay. It states the superintendent shall have earned her performance based pay if a majority of the board members present and conducting the performance assessment agree the superintendent has earned overall ratings of outstanding or satisfactory) on four performance categories: Education, management, governing board and personnel.

AJUSD serves more than 3,600 students in a 217-square mile area that includes the city of Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Peralta Trail, Queen Valley and the unincorporated areas of the Superstition Mountain foothills. Formed in 1952, the K-12 district has a focus on a “College Readiness For All” curriculum for every student in every grade. For more information call 480-982-1110, or visit or

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at

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