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Superintendent H.T. Sánchez highlights exemplary work in State of the District address

Tucson Unified Superintendent H.T. Sánchez busted tired myths about the district and highlighted exemplary work in his 2016 State of the District address on Monday at Tucson High Magnet School.

The debunked myths:

"Tucson Unified never does anything good."
"Tucson Unified wastes money and doesn't want to resolve the desegregation case."
"Tucson Unified is doing what it has always done, and is content with the status quo."

To address Myth 1, Dr. Sánchez recognized some of the outstanding work that has been accomplished at Tucson Unified over the past three years. The list included awards for the Five-Year Strategic Plan, Steps to Success, the Infant & Early Learning Centers, the AP Honor Roll, our Blue Ribbon and A+ schools and financial and environmental awards. The superintendent also shared information about previous and future pay raises, the $3.5 million investment in Computers on Wheels and the district's level libraries.

Dr. Sánchez separated Myth 2 into two sections: general financial concerns and desegregation funding oversight. And he busted both of them.

He pointed out that the Chief Financial Officer has appeared at least six times to provide budget updates to the Governing Board and has worked tirelessly to ensure that, during difficult funding issues at the state level, Tucson Unified makes the most of every dollar it gets, and even generates some of its own.

Through a Purchase Card system, Tucson Unified has earned more that $2 million over the past three years. Dr. Sánchez announced that some of this money will be used to reinstate the replacement of band uniforms, starting with the Rincon/University High School band. The four drum majors from RUHS were on hand to celebrate the news.

Dr. Sánchez also talked about efforts to shift more people and more money into classrooms. The district has moved more than 100 jobs into classrooms so far and has budgeted increased classroom and student support for 2016.

Regarding desegregation funding, Dr. Sánchez pointed out the intense scrutiny those funds receive. The levels of oversight include district administrators, the Court-Appointed Special Master (Dr. Willis Hawley), Fisher Plaintiffs, Mendoza Plaintiffs, Department of Justice, a School Budget Operations Expert, the Governing Board and a federal judge.

Dr. Sánchez explained that Tucson Unified must have desegregation funding because of the court-ordered services it is required to provide. But the district tracks each dollar and makes sure they go directly to that effort. He pointed out that last year the district spent $5 million less than the year before, all while lowering its tax rate by 16.7 cents last year.

The final myth that the superintendent busted: Tucson Unified is doing what it has always done, and is content with the status quo. To debunk this myth, Dr. Sánchez discussed Tucson Unified's comprehensive curriculum created by teachers for students, level libraries, improved GATE numbers, Celebration of the Stars, the Leadership Prep Academy, Steps to Success, our Fusion menu to bring tasty, healthful food to our kids, garden-to-cafeteria programs, social media growth, the Infant and Early Learning Centers and the Five-Year Strategic Plan.

Before wrapping up the address, Dr. Sánchez took a look forward at what he sees in Tucson Unified's future:

A strong, vibrant engaged Tucson Unified where Students Love to Learn, Teachers love to Teach and People Love to Work.
A comprehensive curriculum that goes beyond anything the state or federal education departments implement. And it will lead the nation in diversity and high expectations—for every student.
Improved graduation rate.
More students taking AP classes and other advanced learning opportunities.

He also debuted a new video that explains why he needs the community to take part in the development of the Facilities Master Plan. Watch the video and learn how you can be a part of Tucson Unified's future.