The Sahuarita Unified School District will receive $880,000 over three years through a national institute to help high school students succeed in advanced placement classes.

The National Math and Science Initiative announced its expansion of its college readiness program Monday at a kick-off celebration at Sahuarita High School.

Freeport-McMoRan Foundation is supporting the initiative with a $500,000 grant, and other community businesses are contributing $380,000 to the Dallas-based group to bring the program to the high school students.

It will focus on AP courses in math, science and English.

“About a dozen teachers will go to Dallas this summer for training and to receive instructional support,” said Sahuarita Superintendent Manuel Valenzuela.

He said staff from the nonprofit organization will also travel to the high school regularly to coach staff and support students. Tutoring for students will focus on helping them understand content as well as learning studying strategies.

“We have expanded AP courses to about a dozen, and we will work to recruit more students to enroll into the courses.

“Each exam is $89, and we will provide subsidies for students to pay for the tests,” Valenzuela said.

The courses are open to sophomores on up, and the initiative will also include working with middle school teachers, and eventually elementary teachers to help build student success, said Valenzuela.

“What is exciting is that it will give us an opportunity to work with our entire community to implement high-quality programs that will open doors of opportunity for our students,” Valenzuela said. “Our goal is not only to prepare them for college, but allow them to go to college with the skills and readiness to achieve.”

The college readiness program is operating in more than 560 schools in 23 states, and Sahuarita High School is the first school in Arizona to take part in the program, organizers said.

In 2007, the initiative was formed by top leaders in business, education and science to transform education, and improve student performance nationwide, said organizers.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at or 573-4104. Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at or 573-4104.