Superintendent Community Letter March 2017

March 7, 2017

Dear Sahuarita Family:

We are headed to the home stretch of the 2016-17 school year! It is certainly a fast-paced time of year, and yet one of my very favorite periods of the school calendar! There are so many indicators of success to share that I cannot possibly put it all on one page! Nonetheless, I’ll try and give you a snapshot of the excellence and success.

On March 29, we will be hosting a very informative and important presentation regarding the topic of concussions, prevention, and elements of effective treatment. The Sahuarita USD, under the leadership of our own Dr. Sarah Dachtyl, Ph.D., SLP-CCC, is partnering with Pima County Health Department and CACTIS Foundation to host an informative evening with Nick Lowery, former NFL football player, and members of the medical community, to learn more about this topic and how SUSD is implementing an innovative program to individually promote prevention, education, and effective injury management.

On March 7-8, 2017, the Sahuarita community, and specifically Walden Grove HS, hosted a blue ribbon panel of judges for the prestigious Arizona A+ School of Excellence program. The Red Wolves are a finalist for this special award and, if recognized, they would be the fifth SUSD school to earn this coveted distinction.

We recently learned that four of our dedicated educators, Mary Jo Boyter, Kevin Harcourt, Dayna Burke, and Carl Nelson, have been invited by the government of China to teach a two-week seminar this summer, at Shaanxi Normal University in China. All are members of our professional development team and will be lecturing about our teacher training and coaching program.

Desi Millet (trumpet) has made history, becoming the first Walden Grove HS student to earn the distinction of being named to the Arizona All–State Band. Additionally, her fellow Red Wolf classmate, Maggie Herndon (clarinet), was named an alternate.

Recently, Sahuarita Intermediate School presented their first third-grade musical to a full District Auditorium. It was a huge success! Thanks to our supportive community, through extra investment in our override, we are able to offer comprehensive music education across the entire K-12 grade span, at all of our schools.

Our partnership with the Town of Sahuarita continues to grow and positively create great opportunities for the students, and community in general. In February, together, we hosted the third annual SciTech Festival. This has now become a signature event on the Arizona Sci-Tech Festival calendar. It provides an interactive and engaging day of learning about applied math and science, through talking and learning with professionals from higher education, industry, government entities, and local businesses, about the application of academic learning and the exciting careers in STEM-related occupations. Similarly, the third annual Water Festival provided over 500 fourth grade students with hands-on learning experiences about hydrology and water resources related science and math topics. This is another great cooperative effort between the school district and our friends at the University of Arizona.

Finally, I am pleased to share that, on March 2, 2017, we successfully executed the sale of the voter-approved $25,000,000 general obligation bonds, approved by voters in November 2017, and refinancing of about $8,000,000 in bonds from 2006. The new bond program will fund construction of our newest school, a K-8 complex slated to open in 2018, and the replacement of portable structures with permanent classroom buildings. Through the skilled, strategic efforts of our senior cabinet and finance team, along with our partners at Stiefel, the results were outstanding! First, the projected rate from last fall’s voter pamphlet was over 5.0%. In fact, the bond sale was locked at 3.86 percent! Based upon last year’s sample data, this means a home with assessed value of $100,000 was going to pay about $116 more to support the bond. In fact, this year, that same person will pay $86. Additionally, the refunding of the older debt service, with a lower interest rate of 2.11% will save over $200,000 on the overall remaining debt service

In summary, this spring finds us charging full speed ahead, in our relentless quest to deliver on our promise of working as a team to help every student succeed. Through our shared efforts and daily commitment to strong programs, investing in great professional staff, building strong community linkages, and striving to meet the individualized needs of each student, we will continue to make a difference!



Manuel O. Valenzuela, Ed.D.