Sahuarita Times: “Props 492 & 493” by Dr. Manual O. Valenzuela, SUSD Superintendent

“On June 22, 2022, the SUSD Governing Board adopted a resolution, calling a special election for the continuation of the local Maintenance and Operations (M&O) and District Additional Assistance (DAA) overrides. The ballot measures for the election this fall are now referred to as Proposition 492 and 493. These long established local investments are intentionally targeted to objectives that define, enrich and enhance the total quality of educational programs and opportunities which we provide. The M&O override supports over 100 highly qualified, skilled, and student-centered professionals to support class size reduction, security monitors, K-12 guidance counselors, K-12 fine arts programs, including general music, band, orchestra, choral music, drama and dance, K-12physical education, instructional paraprofessionals to support individualized instruction, NJROTC leadership development program, Career and Technical Education (CTE),middle and high school interscholastic athletics, and student activity sponsors.

These purposeful investments continue to yield much fruit in the quality of educational programming from grades K-12, well-rounded learning experiences, individualized pathways, and opportunities for postsecondary success. For example, last year, our students earned 1499 college credits through our dual enrollment academic program with Pima Community College, and a major portion was earned in our robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

The value of these credits in Arizona in-State tuition is about $3M dollars! The Class of 2022 broke records by earning a total of $14.5M in postsecondary scholarships! Our student athletes continue to shine across the region and State. For example, in 2021-22,the Sahuarita HS Mustangs wrestling team earned the Arizona State Championship and facilitated scholarship opportunities for our students. The fine arts are a pillar of our educational opportunities. The Walden Grove Dance Team earned its seventh (7th)consecutive Arizona State Dance Championship! In the NJROTC leadership program, our student cadets continue to shine. Two more of our students were admitted to the highly competitive and rigorous United States Service Academies. Furthermore, for example, the marksmanship team earned a State title in the CMP Junior Olympics and qualified for Nationals! The NJROTC program consistently earns Unit Distinction ribbons, making it among the most decorated JROTC units in the State and region of the United States.

All successful organizations must have strong capital investment to provide the people with the tools to achieve success. The K-12 public education arena is no exception. The DAA override targets specific capital needs, including facility improvements and repairs, security, instructional technology, climate controlled school buses, fine arts and athletic equipment, and classroom furniture and equipment. An example of the objective outcomes made possible by this additional local investment is the phased integration of Chromebook devices, thus lowering the device to student ratio, and making these vital learning tools readily available. Each year, for the last several years, we have been purchasing two new, climate controlled school buses to improve the service experience for our students. At this point, the majority of SUSD #30 school buses are climate controlled, and we anticipate continuing with this progress in the years to come. One school bus costs about $175,000. Through these local, targeted investments, our students have the opportunity to begin learning a musical instrument in the fifth grade. Every student who desires to pursue music education in band or orchestra is supported in this effort. The instruments are expensive. For example, a French horn can cost $2,000 or more. And, the school intentionally chooses to purchase some of the instruments for school use and to make sure that every eligible student who desires to participate has that opportunity. Athletics are a vital part of a well rounded, comprehensive education. Some of life’s most important lessons, like teamwork, self-discipline, work ethic, sacrifice and character, are taught on the field of interscholastic competition. These programs are very important to many of our students. Yet, once again, the equipment can be costly. The price of outfitting one football player is close to $1,000, and we strive with intentionality to provide our students with the safest and most appropriate equipment and facilities possible. In a growing community, we have been regularly building new schools and classroom learning spaces. Besides the cost of construction, which continues to increase, there is a significant investment that must be made in providing the needed furniture and equipment, such as tables, chairs, and laboratory benches.

The M&O Override goes back to the 1980s, and the DAA Override has, likewise, been around for several years. These are not new taxes. They have been strongly supported, and a consistent part of the local school budgets. They have allowed us to provide an elevated level of service than might otherwise be possible. Without them, many programs would not be offered, or they would be offered at a reduced level. The dollars are targeted to specific objectives that advance the quality of education provided to students. Students shine in their educational growth and development. They represent our community with excellence across the region, State and beyond! Furthermore, these programs open doors of opportunity that help our students achieve their potential, and provide economic and workforce advantages to the growth and prosperity of our own community. Great schools truly help make great communities! Sahuarita succeeds in large part due to the cohesive spirit that binds us in a shared commitment to making our community the best it can bein education, economic development, workforce opportunities, and overall quality of life. Together, we continue to make a difference!”