Gov. Doug Ducey is heading to Tucson and Southern Arizona as part of his “back to school tour” in which he plans to visit six of the state’s top performing schools.

Chosen for their demonstrated academic excellence, innovative programs and exemplary teachers and school leadership, each school visit will focus on a different topic, ranging from early literacy, special education programs, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, career and technical education, college and career preparedness and postsecondary attainment.

Ducey’s first stop will be Tucson’s Sonoran Science Academy, on Monday, Aug. 21, at 9 a.m., and will focus on the importance of STEM education. He will also visit Safford High School on Monday, Aug. 28.

“I’m looking forward to visiting these schools and seeing firsthand the incredible work taking place in classrooms statewide,” Ducey said in a press release announcing the tour.

Survey: Ariz. teachers want more money

A new survey of teachers in Arizona and nationally found that instructors in the Grand Canyon State have fewer books in the classroom, are more likely to spend their own money on classroom supplies and are far more likely than their peers in other states to name higher salaries as their top funding priority.

The study, which was sponsored by Scholastic and conducted by YouGov via email in 2016, surveyed 4,721 public school educators, including 77 teachers and 24 principals in Arizona.

The poll found that on average, Arizona teachers have 14 percent fewer books per classroom than their peers nationwide — an average of 219 in Arizona classrooms versus an average of 254 nationwide.

It also found that 65 percent of Arizona teachers have used their own money in the past year to purchase books for their classrooms, compared to 56 percent nationally.

Teachers in Arizona, which has some of the lowest teacher pay in the U.S., were also far more likely than their peers to say salary increases were a top priority. Seventy-nine percent of teachers in Arizona said higher salaries was their top funding priority, compared to 47 percent of teachers nationwide.

Additionally, 64 percent of Arizona educators said retaining high-quality teachers is a challenge in their schools, compared to 49 percent nationwide.

Salpointe welcomes new freshmen, faculty

Salpointe Catholic High School welcomed 320 new freshmen this school year, bringing the student population count to 1,200.

To accommodate the increasing size of the student population, Salpointe Catholic welcomed several new faculty and staff members, including two new Carmelite brothers who will be on campus for the next two years.

Brothers Michael Joyce, and Kevin Keller, joined Salpointe Catholic after having recently started their Masters’ studies in Divinity at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and they continue their studies with online classes.

Continental district gets new member

Stephen Oesterle has been appointed to the Continental Elementary School District Governing Board.

Oesterle will replace Sharon Niehaus, who resigned in June. State law requires that the Pima County School Superintendent, Dustin Williams, fill any vacancy on a school district governing board.

Oesterle is an active community member in the Continental Elementary School District. He has served on the Continental School District Educational Foundation board for the past 10 years and currently has children in the district. Upon taking his oath, Mr. Oesterle will serve through December 31, 2018.

Contact reporter Hank Stephenson at hstephenson@tucson.com or 573-4279. On Twitter: @hankdeanlight