Adelita Grijalva: TUSD in 2014- a look toward the future

2014-02-09T00:00:00Z Adelita Grijalva: TUSD in 2014- a look toward the futureBy Adelita Grijalva Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Arizona ranks near the very bottom in per-pupil funding. Limited state support for public education coupled with diminishing federal support has placed our education system in a critical crossroad.

Our children’s educations cannot be driven by new education fads, the chase for funding, lawsuits or personalized political agendas. Children deserve the total sum of education to be greater than its parts, and the citizens and taxpayers deserve a well-thought-out, integrated education plan. For this reason, TUSD will begin the critical work of creating a five-year Strategic Plan that will bring together parents, students, teachers, administrators, employee groups, elected officials from throughout Tucson, and community and business leaders for an unprecedented daylong training to work together and set a plan for placing TUSD where it needs to be to serve this community.

As Tucson’s largest and longest serving school district in Tucson, we have an obligation to provide the highest quality of education in Tucson. Although the challenges and criticisms we have faced over the years can appear overwhelming, we stand committed to the students and families that we serve who expect and deserve the very best educational experiences for their children.

I am confident that the recent changes brought forth by the hiring of our new superintendent, Dr. H.T. Sanchez, the addition of many new key central office leadership positions, and the election of two new board members, will result in a better TUSD. We have begun an aggressive marketing campaign (Ask Me) to showcase all of the wonderful programs in TUSD and to re-introduce our district to parents and students who are looking for great schools to enroll in.

I am proud to announce that TUSD is not planning to reduce ANY teaching positions in the upcoming school year. On the contrary, we are hiring hard-to-fill positions for next year. This is a drasticchange from past practice where we have waited until late in the year to advertise and hire. We have set our class size average to 27 students per teacher and are hoping that other funds can be used to reduce that teacher-to-student ratio even more. TUSD will reopen two previously closed schools as child-care and preschool facilities for children from birth to age 5 for TUSD employees.

There will be challenges ahead. We have commissioned two external audits (curriculum and efficiency) to identify areas of strength and weakness with the ultimate goal of directing more funding to schools. Although the results of audits will be used to dedicate more funds to classrooms, the reallocation of these dollars will mean reductions or eliminations elsewhere in the district’s budget.

As a district with over 80 percent of the budget dedicated to salaries, any budgetary changes made will have an impact.

As a mother of a first-grader and a preschooler, I choose TUSD for my children and value a quality public education for all of our children.

I stand steadfast in my commitment to providing support for the development of a quality curriculum that addresses the critical thinking necessary for our children to be globally competitive and the training necessary for our staff to delivery instruction at the highest level. I am optimistic that together we can lobby for increased funding and create greater efficiencies to direct as much funding as possible to our schools.

I ask the Tucson community to join me in supporting the positive momentum of TUSD and to be part of the solution for our future.

Adelita Grijalva is president of the board of Tucson Unified School District. Contact her at adelita_g@yahoo.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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