Scottsdale school board approves traditional philosophy, rebuild at Pima

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board is expected to vote on changes concerning Pima Elementary School at its March 21 meeting. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

In pursuit of offering a multitude of choices to its students, the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board has approved the implementation a new traditional school within the district’s southern boundaries.

Pima Elementary School, 8330 E. Osborn Road, a kindergarten through fifth grade school, has been approved to re-open as a traditional school in the 2018-19 school year, after it undergoes campus renovations.

Dr. Steve Nance, a former principal of Pima Elementary School for 10 years, and now a member of Scottsdale Unified School District’s administration, recommended the governing board vote to implement the choice teaching model.

Specifics about the traditional school model, and what it would look like were presented at a March 16 study session at the Mohave District Annex, 8500 E. Jackrabbit Road.

The governing board voted 5-0, at a regular governing board meeting March 21, to begin the changes and renovations.

The conversation of a traditional school within the southern portion of SUSD comes after a Nov. 8, 2016 bond election that kicked-off a staggered re-model process of eight elementary schools in coming years.

(Graphic made by Melissa Fittro)

During February governing board meetings, Hohokam Traditional School was approved to be the second remodel school and to operate as a regular K-6 grade school, and Pima Elementary School was outlined as a potential option to offer students a traditional education.

“As you consider the rebuild of Pima Elementary School, there’s been some discussion on a traditional program in the south part of the district,” said SUSD Assistant Superintendent of Education Services Dr. Steve Nance.

“I know Pima is probably as close to a traditional school without being an official traditional school as any school in the district. So the jump to traditional instruction and traditional curriculum will not be a huge leap.”

The traditional model focuses on teacher-led instruction, accelerated Saxton math curriculum, Spalding phonics and minimal disruptions.

Pima Elementary School has historically operated in a traditional manner, and many of the teachers have been trained in Spalding phonics and Saxton math curriculum, according to Dr. Nance.

The recommendation for the governing board is to:

  • Re-open in August 2018 as a K-5 traditional school;
  • Keep Pima boundaries the same, with open enrollment;
  • Designate a sister school for students who want non-traditional;
  • Use the 2017-18 school year for teacher training and staff development centered around traditional school philosophy and practices.

“The goal of Saxton math is to have every student in the school working a year ahead,” Dr. Nance said. “When you see traditional schools that have been around for a while, that is pretty close to happening.”

The students wouldn’t be a year-ahead until the program has been implemented for three to four years, Dr. Nance said, but it is attainable.

The cost to implement the traditional model would include $62,000 for the Saxton programing; and $30,000 for Spalding. Additionally, yearly teacher training would be required.

Dr. Nance says he believes Pima Elementary does not need to offer sixth, seventh and eighth grade because the community is happy with its middle school choice at Mohave Middle School.

“They are very happy with their middle school options at this point,” he said. “That desire to change from K-5, I did not see that.”

Pima Elementary Principal, Amy Uchacz agreed with Dr. Nance’s position.

“I think our families are really happy with our middle school option,” she said.

Additionally, the teachers at Pima Elementary already are participating in traditional-like practices in the classroom.

“Our teachers are already meeting in professional learning communities,” Ms. Uchacz said.

“They’re mapping out instruction so they’re in-synced with one another. They do common formative assessments together, which basically dictates their instruction.”

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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