Scott Phelps (District 7)
Scott Phelps was the coordinator of the Science, Engineering and Technology Academy and a teacher at John Muir High School in Pasadena, California. For 14 years, he taught 9-12th graders in chemistry, physics, planetary science (astronomy), physical science, and math, and he has extensive experience in developing hands-on science curricula and project-based integrated curricula. He used that experience as a member of the founding staff of Learning Works Charter School in Pasadena, teaching science labs. In addition, he has taught for 22 years part-time in astronomy, physics, and math at Citrus College, Mt San Antonio College (Mt. SAC), Chaffey College, Cal Poly Pomona, and the University of La Verne. He has also taught statistics, research methods, data analysis, assessment, and evaluation courses at Cal State L.A.'s College of Education, supervised teaching credential candidates for Cal State Northridge, and coached student teachers in science at Mt. St. Mary's College and in math at Claremont Graduate University. He was also a consultant from 2004-2016 on the external evaluations of federal and state grants awarded to school districts for school reform, math and science teacher training, and curriculum improvement.
Mr. Phelps co-developed an integrated Chemistry-Physics course that was implemented for all students at John Muir High School and recognized by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and the National Science Teachers Association. He also co-developed an eight-week unit on electric circuits which is part of the Caltech Pre-college Science Initiative's (CAPSI) 7-10th grade curriculum, coordinated CAPSI’s annual summer inquiry institute for high school science teachers, and supported the development of the newer PUSD biology lab curriculum under a grant obtained by CAPSI director and Caltech professor Dr. Jerome Pine.
Mr. Phelps has been honored with several awards, including the AAPT Innovative Teaching Award in 1997, the Michael Jordan Fundamental Award in 1998, the Pasadena Rotary Teacher of Excellence in 2001, and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching’s Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award in 2007. His students have attracted similar recognition, garnering such awards as the California Institute of Technology Signature Award, Bausch and Lomb Science Awards, Bank of America Science Awards, and John Muir Service Awards. Scott has an M.S. in Geophysics from California Institute of Technology, a B.S. in Geophysics from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and single-subject California teaching credentials in both physical science and mathematics.
Mr. Phelps is currently teaching astronomy and mathematics at the University of La Verne and Mt. San Antonio College and tutoring math and science in the region. He has served as an elected member of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Trustees since 2005 and is currently in his 4th term of service. He has serves currently as president for the second time, as vice-president twice, chaired the district’s 2009-2010 strategic plan outreach committee and the board’s policy, finance, and facilities committees at various times. Some highlights of his tenure on the board:
- He worked hard in support of Measure CC, the parcel tax for PUSD that garnered 54% approval in 2010.
- He helped remove Jackson Elementary and Norma Coombs Elementary from a school closure list in 2010.
- He has long supported Blair, including the construction of a new middle school, and more recently the modernization of its high school building and the renovation of its track and infield.
- He supported increased funding for dedicated elementary science teachers at PUSD's STEM elementary schools that continues today.
- He has supported and voted for increased funding for the International Baccalaureate programs at Willard and Blair that continue today.
- He wrote Resolution 2239 supporting Governor Brown's Local Control Funding Formula that the Board adopted in April 2013 and Superintendent Gundry delivered to the governor.
- He pushed an effort to increase PCC offerings at John Muir HS and wrote the board's Resolution 2266 in support which the board adopted in December of 2013. He has followed up and advocated for the restoration of the dual enrollment program when he learned that it was suspended in the fall of 2017.
- As president in 2014-2015, Scott drafted an updated evaluation instrument that the board still uses to evaluate the superintendent.
- In 2015, Scott supported PUSD staff leadership's successful efforts to save San Rafael Elementary from closure via geologic trenching that proved there were no active faults at the school.
- When California was revising its school accountability system in 2016, Scott wrote to inform the public of the history of the issue and made recommendations for a better way.
- He has supported the innovative PUSD Math Academy developed by Jason and Sandy Roberts.
- Scott spoke to a large rally at Caltech's March for Science in April 2017 about the value of science and all the ways Caltech has helped PUSD.
- In the Spring of 2017, in an effort to tell the story of inspiring PUSD staffers, Scott helped recruit interviewees for the PUSD Story Project under the direction of Beth Leyden, PUSD's Director of Telecommunications. Director Leyden and her team have created a trailer - Project Trailer - and edited five of the PUSD stories: John Muir HS-Cynthia Lake, Muir HS-Roland Bynum, Blair HS-Christine McLaughlin, Assistant Superintendent-Julie Reynoso, Executive Secretary-Zoila Arellano.
- Scott wrote a critical analysis of advocates' attempts to manage PUSD and the general public and city government's lack of support for PUSD.
- He wrote Resolution 2411 to prohibit the use of PUSD funds to pay for travel by employees to states with discriminatory laws, patterned after California's AB 1887, that the board adopted in July 2017.
- He wrote Resolution 2414 calling for reductions in the PUSD budget to address the district's fiscal crisis that was adopted by the board in August of 2017. He wrote to the public about the situation and its causes. As finance committee chair, he helped follow through on the resolution and made sure a Fiscal Stabilization Plan was passed by the board in February of 2018 to meet the county's requirements for district fiscal health and that the board's budget policy was tightened up to help avoid future fiscal crises.
- He wrote an op-ed piece defending PUSD against overly-zealous critics of its facilities modernization bond programs.
- He has supported all efforts to better market PUSD, including a local resident's report on how to improve in that area.
- He has supported greater fiscal transparency in district operations by pushing for the posting on PUSD's website of the total compensation of all employees. He oversaw the organization of the data by staff and it has been posted (scroll down to the bottom of the page). He is always advocating with the staff and board to develop a simplified, transparent PUSD budget for the public.
- To support efforts to limit layoffs of teachers during the fiscal crisis, he wrote an op-ed piece urging the PUSD teachers' union to accept the supplementary retirement incentive without strings attached for raises: PUSD is far out of the woods when it comes to fiscal stability - Pasadena Weekly
- To update the public after PUSD's March 15 budget was approved, he wrote: PUSD's Latest Budget-An Updated Reality Check - Pasadena Now
- In an attempt to simplify part of the budget he wrote: Pasadena Unified Salaries, Total Compensation and Health Cost - Pasadena Now
- To help explain the scale of PUSD’s Special Education budget challenges, he wrote a guest opinion
- With the help of Muir staff, Scott wrote articles highlighting one special effort by a Muir teacher and a generous annual giving of scholarships to Muir seniors by alumnae and community groups.
- Scott wrote about the challenges of addressing PUSD’s declining enrollment and the goal of greater integration.
- Using PUSD staff’s work, Scott wrote about the fine colleges attended by PUSD graduates.
Scott lives in Northwest Pasadena with his wife Lisa and their two children, Aidan and Ariel. Both attended PUSD high schools, McKinley and, before that, Cleveland Elementary, their neighborhood school. Lisa has volunteered at the various schools over the years and they both continue to love going to plays, festivals, fundraisers, and other events at PUSD schools.