TUSD 5-year plan aims to rally community support

2014-07-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-23T10:25:01Z TUSD 5-year plan aims to rally community supportBy Alexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

With the help of a new five-year strategic plan, the Tucson Unified School District hopes to make improvements that will bring students back and garner enough support from the community to pass an override.

The plan, which was unanimously approved by the TUSD Governing Board on Tuesday night, will guide the district’s work in five areas: curriculum and instruction, diversity, facilities, finance and communication.

“This is the road map for a better TUSD,” said district Superintendent H.T. Sanchez, who proposed that the plan be created shortly after coming on board last year. That road map will lead to the community viewing the TUSD brand as one that is “innovative, educational and results-driven,” leading to a willingness to enroll children, support a bond or override, or advocate on behalf of the district.

The plan notes that to be successful in getting voter approval, TUSD will need to produce “clean reports showing the district has maximized existing resources” to justify calling an election in November 2018.

In addition to approving the strategic plan, the Governing Board approved Sanchez’s goals for the upcoming school year, which align with year one of the plan.

Approximately 400 community members, business leaders, TUSD staff, teachers and students contributed more than 48 hours to the plan’s creation.

Here is a breakdown of what the 64-page document entails in each of the five focus areas:

Curriculum
and Instruction

TUSD has long struggled with academic achievement, especially for minority children. The district intends to design a curriculum that supports academically high standards, integrates college and career-ready skills, incorporates fine and performing arts, and is culturally relevant for the diverse student population.

The plan also addresses the need for purposeful professional development for teachers and administrators.

The district will use student and classroom data to routinely check for understanding of concepts taught, monitor progress of learning, and drive instructional decisions.

Diversity

The district intends to establish courses across all subjects and grades that integrate diversity into the curriculum over five years. Plans are also in place to increase and support foreign-language options for all students.

In terms of staffing, TUSD will work to hire employees reflective of the student population.

Other priorities include ensuring equitable access for all to advanced learning opportunities like honors and AP courses and college prep programs.

Facilities

TUSD is plagued by aging facilities and outdated technology, both of which are priorities in the strategic plan.

The district will try to develop and implement a long-range master facilities plan. Other initiatives include reducing utility consumption, certifying facilities for energy efficiency, and conducting a facilities and preventative maintenance audit to assess spaces, uses, costs and conditions.

The strategic plan calls for every campus to meet or exceed minimum technology standards. Campus technology will be inventoried to determine equipment needed and then a four-year plan to purchase will be developed.

Finance

Cash-strapped TUSD intends to streamline systems to maximize dollars and resources. There are also plans to collaborate with the Legislature to develop strong relationships that promote advocacy for education, and to seek and identify external funding.

Communication

In addition to communicating the major initiatives within the five-year plan, the district will work with stakeholders to launch a unified TUSD brand.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@tucson.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

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