Beckman: The students of Scottsdale Schools deserve our support in November

It is back-to-school time and for my family this means high school. Saguaro is the final leg of our Scottsdale Unified School District journey.

My twin daughters began their love of learning at Kiva Elementary, experienced those awkward middle school years at Mohave, and now wear black and gold as Saguaro Sabercats.

From day No. 1, we were “all in.”

Patty Beckman

Even while my husband and I both worked full-time, we were determined that our daughters would have the same tremendous public school experience that we had as children. Just like many other families, we have helped in the classroom, joined committees, and worked on the PTO. I am proud to serve as the president of the SUSD Governing Board. Our dedication to our children, and this district, knows no bounds.

We knew that a district public school would offer the best, well-rounded educational experience for our daughters. However, Arizona continues to lag nationally in public school funding, and is dependent on resources such as M&O overrides to provide what used to be standard components to education, such as athletics and arts. Previously, when the voters of this community failed to pass the override, my art-loving students hung up their violins and put choir aside as SUSD was forced to cut all arts programs in the elementary schools.

Additional consequences of failure to pass the override included crowded classrooms and a half-day Wednesday schedule to address lack of funding for teachers and support staff. The burden of this impacted parents who struggled to juggle work hours to accommodate their students. Children learn best when they are in school. This loss of M&O funds negatively affected our entire community. Thankfully, in 2014, the SUSD community took notice and responded by passing the override. In Scottsdale, we pride ourselves on our high standards for living, learning and culture.

For 124 years the Scottsdale Unified School District has been known as the “Gold Standard.” Each day, students like mine are able to choose from competitive programs such as: dual language immersion, advanced placement classes (AP), STEM, dual enrollment, honors, career and technical education (CTE), exceptional arts and award-winning athletics. Is it any wonder that SUSD has been considered a “destination district,” attracting families and businesses who contribute to our robust economy?

I believe in the leadership of current SUSD superintendent, Dr. John Kriekard, a recipient of the All Arizona Superintendent of the Year Award, as well as the Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award. Dr. Kriekard has spent over 40 years dedicated to educational excellence – 23 of those years have been in SUSD. He cares deeply about this district and its students. We could not ask for a better leader at the helm, one who has earned the respect and confidence of this community.

— Patty Beckman, Scottsdale Schools governing board president

I am pleased with the district’s direction with regard to financial transparency and accountability. SUSD has recently received a positive outlook from the financial lending and credit rating agencies, is in the process of acquiring an additional auditor, is collaborating closely with the community to rebuild many of our elementary schools, is upgrading security on all campuses, and is dedicated to directing as many funds as possible, to the classroom.

I am very proud that SUSD continues to attract and retain the most talented educators and staff. The district is third in the state for the number of National Board Certified teachers and has budgeted an average teacher salary of $55,971. Our students will continue to be successful in a district that respects and values it’s educators.

Although I am a 25-year finance professional, as well as, the Scottsdale Unified School District’s 2019 Governing Board president, I write this today as the mother of two SUSD students, my most important role.

Over a decade ago, my husband and I made the decision to entrust our children’s future to SUSD. As we navigate these last 4 years as public school parents, we are grateful for all this district has provided us, our students and our community.

This November the voters of Scottsdale will be asked to believe in the value of SUSD and approve a continuation of their current tax rate. Failure of the M&O Override to pass will result in an automatic funding cut of $6.5 million per year. The ripple effect of that will touch not only our students, but those who have come to appreciate the excellence that is the community we love. My family will be confidently voting “Yes” as we have for over 20 years.

Editor’s note: Ms. Beckman is the president of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board president

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