Peterson: Where the Scottsdale override dollars will go

In Scottsdale Unified School District, we have much to be thankful for and celebrate!

Dr. P Headshot 2012

Dr. David Peterson

First and foremost, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to those who campaigned, supported and voted in favor of our maintenance and operations override.

Our nation was built upon the foundation of public education and this legacy continues because of your support of our students and teachers in SUSD.

With voter approval to continue the override, it is estimated that the total amount of override funds for fiscal year 2015-16 will be $18 million, $11 million of which is new funding.

With your continued support, we will be able to keep dollars in the classroom and maintain free full-day Kindergarten.

We believe that a strong Kindergarten program provides children with the educational foundation and building blocks to prepare them for lifelong successes, including college and career goals.

We will continue to create a positive school culture that promotes engagement and learning for all students and staff.

Student teacher staffing ratios will also be reduced by three students in all grade levels.

“Specials” in our elementary schools will also be restored, providing students with opportunities to deepen their understanding of Music, the Arts and Physical Education.

Additionally, full day Wednesdays will also be restored at our elementary schools.

Valuable planning and prep time for teachers will be realized.

SUSD will also restore assistant principal positions at five elementary schools and two high schools.

Additionally, we will hire a new principal at Desert Canyon because Desert Canyon Elementary and Middle has been sharing one principal for the past two years.

These positions are crucial in assuring instruction is aligned to standards, partnerships with parents and our community are strengthened, and a nurturing culture is maintained.

The override funds will also be used to provide competitive teacher compensation.

We recognize our teachers work tirelessly to open students’ minds to ideas, knowledge and dreams. They are what makes SUSD great!

Our students are achieving great academic success despite the many obstacles they face.

This occurs because of the positive relationships fostered by teachers and site leaders.

We are also looking forward to January when the Arizona Legislature will re-convene and work toward appropriating the $316 million in voter-approved inflation funding owed to Arizona public schools.

We estimate that could be $5 million for SUSD next year; however, this issue continues to be argued in the court and those dollars can’t be spent until they are first received.

We appreciate the continued support of public education from our community.

The district’s budget committee is meeting to set the spending plan for the 2015-16 school year.

We want to show our community that we truly are spending the dollars where we said we would spend them.

SUSD is truly fortunate to have outstanding students, teachers and support staff as well as specialized programs that make us stand out across Arizona and the nation.

SUSD earned the highest rating as an “A” district with a score of 144 from the Arizona Department of Education.

That is our highest score ever, and we are one of only nine public school districts to receive an “A” four years in a row.

SUSD’s educational opportunities have been unmatched for 118 years.

SUSD provides rigorous academics, gifted programs, STEM programs, the International Baccalaureate program, technology-rich classrooms, a variety of elective courses and exceptional extracurricula opportunities that lead to success from pre-kindergarten to high school graduation and beyond.

Our unique opportunities allow every student to experience new things, expand their mind and standout in a competitive global marketplace.

A strong public education system in Scottsdale is the backbone of our community and we thank you for supporting it.

Editor’s note: Dr. Peterson is the superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District

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