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  • Superintendent's Message

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 7/1/2022

    The summer temps are heating up, and so is preparation for the new school year. Teachers are immersed in professional development; administrators are making plans for welcoming back their staff and families, all while our Facilities team is doing routine maintenance, making repairs and upgrades, and overseeing ongoing bond projects.

    The safety and security of our students and staff remains at the forefront as our new Security director conducts site surveys and identifies new opportunities to enhance and expand the measures already in place.  

    Lastly, we are relieved to finally have a state budget in place and are grateful for the increase in education funding. This could mean several million dollars more for SUSD. The increase comes at a critical time and will help all districts offset record inflation and wage compression. However, the allotted increase means nothing without the ability for districts to actually spend the dollars. This requires action, once again, by the state legislature to address the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL). It is imperative that the Governor call a special session this fall so districts can proceed without the potential of mandatory reductions in March if the legislature fails to act.

    This fourth of July, we hope you are able to celebrate with friends and family, and enjoy some safe, fun fireworks. We live in the greatest country in the world, and the Independence Day holiday provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness means. We look forward to seeing everyone back next month!

    Sincerely,

    Scott

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

     

    Read more at The SUSD Source

     

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  • Superintendent's Message

    Posted by Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D. on 6/1/2022

    The 2021-22 school year has come to a close, bringing with it a collective sigh of relief for a well-earned summer break! The year presented more challenges than we initially expected, but I am proud of the way our students and staff persevered to achieve a successful year.

    Celebrating the Class of 2022

    More than 1,800 graduates walked across the stage at our high schools last week, excited to pursue their next opportunities on life’s journey.   Thanks to the Coronado Foundation for the Future, Coronado graduate Robert Flick, and the Scottsdale Charros, the inaugural year of the Coronado Promise Program was able to award 25 scholarships to the Dons’ Class of 2022. SUSD has 11 National Merit Scholars so far, a U.S. Presidential Scholar for Career and Technical Education, and a U.S. Naval Academy Appointee. The Class of 2022 has so much for which to be proud. Make sure to check out more Grad stats in the Academics blog.

    Strategic Plan Update

    For the last 16 months, students, staff, parents, teachers, administrators and community members have collectively engaged in the district’s strategic planning process. This plan lays the foundation for the district’s next 5 years and will keep our efforts concentrated well beyond that with our Vision of engaging all students in world-class, future-focused learning. We are now moving to operationalize our goals and commitments with initiatives and specific, key performance indicators. We look forward to continuing this work in preparation for the next school year. You can read more about the strategic plan here.

    SUSD BUDGET

    Typically, by this time of year, the state has approved a budget and we know how much will be allocated to education. However, here we are, wrapping up the fiscal year with no budget. It is no secret that Arizona ranks 47th in the nation for public school funding. With state revenues at a record high and an unprecedented $5.3 billion budget surplus, there is an opportunity to make a significant investment in public education without increasing taxes.  The combination of the growth in revenue and one-time funds provide elected officials with a chance to increase base level funding, invest in Career and Technical Education (CTE)/workforce development, increase special education funding, and help account for inflation. Superintendents across the state, including me, have signed this letter that was sent to legislators in support of K-12 education funding priorities. We encourage you to participate in the process by making your voice heard. Find your state lawmakers here.

    The SUSD Audit Committee is looking for applicants to help provide a review of the district’s governance, risk management, and internal control practices. More information on the committee and how to apply can be found here.

    You won’t want to miss this month’s Academics blog so you can read about the district’s latest STEM-accredited schools, Laguna and Navajo Elementary schools. These schools provide a comprehensive approach to mathematics, science, and engineering education. Additionally, Anasazi Elementary School is well on its way to becoming the district’s authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) school. We look forward to their upcoming site visit and, ultimately, offering an entire K‒12 IB continuum. While based in the Desert Mountain Learning Community and starting at Anasazi, advancing to Mountainside Middle School, and culminating at Desert Mountain High School, the SUSD IB program is open to all SUSD and non-SUSD families through open enrollment.

    If your student is an athlete, you will want to pay close attention to the Athletics blog that highlights our summer camps and required student athlete training. 

    While our high school seniors head out into the world in pursuit of college and career success, nearly 100 SUSD employees are celebrating the end of their careers with the district and their combined 1,784 years of service and dedication to our students. Congratulations to each and every one of them, and we thank them for their 20+ years, on average, supporting the world-class, future-focused education Scottsdale delivers. They are a critical part of our legacy of success.

    We hope you take some time to relax this summer and explore this edition of The SUSD Source as it continues to grow. You’ll notice that Community Education and Celebrations join us with new blogs.

    As noted in our letter on May 26, the safety of our students and staff is a top priority for the district.  During the course of the summer, we will continue to review and revise our security plans, and will provide you with an update in July with respect to actions we have taken in order to mitigate risks and ensure each of our schools is a safe and welcoming environment for all students and staff.  We have much to be grateful for as we look toward next year, and it all starts with you. Thank you for choosing Scottsdale schools, and we look forward to welcoming you back in August!

    Sincerely,

    Scott

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

     

    Read more at The SUSD Source

     

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  • Letter from the Superintendent

    Posted by Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D. on 5/26/2022

    Dear SUSD Families,

    At a time when families should be celebrating their students’ achievements and all that they are able to achieve by being a part of the Scottsdale school system, we find ourselves again stunned and heartbroken by the horrific violence that has rocked yet another American community and shattered lives.

    The tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas earlier this week is deeply troubling.  The loss of innocent lives at a place where students and staff should be free of the fear of violence undermines the very fabric of community.  While we learn more information each day regarding the shooter and how he was able to access that school location, schools across the nation, including SUSD, are reviewing security and safety protocols to ensure appropriate measures are in place to reduce the risk of a similar situation happening here.

    School Safety – Our Number One Priority

    Please know that the safety of our students and staff is always – always – our top priority.  The placement of school resource officers, school counselors and school social workers on SUSD school campuses is only part of our approach to achieve and maintain safe, supportive schools.

    As threats evolve, so do our campuses.  When you approved the 2016 Bond, you provided the funding to upgrade school security, and create secure, single-entry points of access during the school day through front offices.  These improvements give each school control over who is allowed on campus and have included:

    • Front office/school lobby renovations
    • New door hardware
    • Additional/upgraded fencing
    • Security cameras
    • Automatic alert buttons
    • Intercoms
    • Upgraded alarm systems

    Additionally, Scottsdale Unified School District is a leader in the state when it comes to threat assessments, suicidal ideation assessments and interventions.  During the summer, we will automate the process we use to ensure the ability to communicate critical information to key staff and law enforcement officials in a timely and seamless manner.  The procurement of this online tool was completed several months ago, before this shooting, because we are deeply committed to student and staff safety and well-being.

    Opportunities for improvement
    Well-intentioned people, including parents and volunteers, often seek access to our campus for constructive purposes (e.g. watering a community garden).  However, the more people who have keys to our facilities, the less secure we are overall.  Districts have the unique challenge of maintaining a safe campus while also creating a welcoming learning environment and the opportunity for parents to contribute to it.

    During the pandemic, we significantly restricted the number of visitors and volunteers on our campus, and we heard from many parents about how much they valued the opportunity to be on-site.  This continues to be an area where we must manage expectations in order to ensure that there are no breakdowns in our security protocols.  Sometimes people prop open doors or gates, out of convenience, but each time this happens, our campuses become more vulnerable.  To maintain safe environments, we need everyone working together, in concert.  That begins with all students and staff wearing their ID/badges at all times while on campus and all visitors signing in at the front office.

    Social media monitoring is not something we have the ability to do universally, although the Scottsdale Police Department (SPD), Phoenix Police Department, along with vigilant parents and students, often report concerns based on what they’ve seen there, which we take exceedingly seriously.

    Recent Arcadia High School Situation – “See Something, Say Something”

    Oftentimes, students are the first to become aware of a threat, and that is why we encourage them to take what they see and hear seriously and report any perceived threat or suspicious activity to a school administrator.  It is what we call “See Something, Say Something.”  An illustration of how that and other security protocols work together includes an incident that took place at Arcadia High School just last week.  Two students reported that another student might have brought a gun to school that day.  The principal and School Resource Officer located the student and, as a precaution, placed the campus on lockdown.  The student was brought to the office and was determined to be in possession of a weapon.  The student informed police and administrators that he had the weapon in response to off-campus concerns.  There was no direct threat to students or staff at Arcadia.  Regardless, additional Phoenix Police officers responded and the student was taken into custody.  We are grateful to the students who reported their concern and thankful for the way Arcadia’s staff and security personnel responded to ensure the safety of all on campus.

    Our students and staff regularly practice lockdown drills and review security protocols in order to be prepared.  Those exercises are not and will not be published widely in order to prevent “bad actors” from attempting to circumvent our school security plans and systems.

    We work closely with SPD, including providing opportunities for active shooter training at school locations for law enforcement officials while students are not present.  We have security personnel at our campuses, and School Resource Officers are assigned to middle and high schools in each learning community, covering elementary schools, as needed.  However, we have struggled in the same way law enforcement has to fill all open security positions.  We will continue to work to recruit and retain the best personnel to keep our schools safe.

    Also, we will continue to flag areas for improvement and during the course of this summer, will conduct additional reviews with SPD to make sure that when students return to our schools in August that we have done everything we can to ensure that they return to a safe learning environment.

    You are part of the school safety equation, as well.  Do you have information about a threat or school safety risk?  Notify any SUSD employee or School Resource Officer immediately, or call the Silent Witness Tip Line at 480-WITNESS (948-6377).  You can also Submit a Tip Online.

    For more information on SUSD school safety and Support Services, please visit our website.

    Thank you for your concern on this issue and know that it is ours, as well.

    Scott A. Menzel, PhD
    Superintendent

    Download a copy of this letter in English

    Download a copy of this letter in Spanish

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

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  • Congratulations, SUSD Class of 2022

    Posted by Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D. on 5/25/2022

    Dear SUSD Class of 2022,

    Congratulations on navigating your senior year and bringing it to a successful conclusion today!  You have been on quite a journey and have overcome so many obstacles that for you to be in this position today is a great credit to you, your teachers, your friends and your families.  If ever there was a time when we all needed each other, it has been these past two years. 

    Circumstances being what they were, I had few opportunities during my first year as superintendent to meet and interact with students.  While we were consumed with doing everything possible to keep you safe and your schools open, you were busy showing us that you could handle just about anything thrown at you, extending your in-person learning to include online lessons, projects and presentations, and deftly working around modified school schedules and restricted activities.

    This school year, however, has been a different story, thankfully.  As we emerged from the most difficult parts of the pandemic that overshadowed nearly every aspect of our lives, it has been my great privilege to meet many more of you, SUSD’s amazing students.  I have been so impressed with you and your classmates, those who serve on the district’s Student Advisory Board and in other school leadership positions, and those who spoke so thoughtfully and bravely at this year’s Teen Town Hall events.  That you cared for your school communities and turned challenge upon challenge into brilliant academic, musical, theatrical, and athletic performances created many happy memories and made me proud that SUSD has had the honor of guiding your formal education.

    Indeed, I think we have learned as much from you as you have from us, particularly since the end of your sophomore year.  The perseverance and resilience you have shown have been truly remarkable.  And the perspective you have gained through this unusual collective experience and the ability to translate it into new opportunities for yourselves and others has inspired us all.  You have reminded us why it is that we do what we do:  to give you the best opportunity for success at whatever you choose to do and be.

    Whether you are a Titan, Firebird, Don, Wolf, Sabercat, or attended Scottsdale Online, as you prepare for your next chapter, I am filled with great hope for your future, and I cannot wait to hear where it takes you!

    Congratulations and best wishes,

    Scott A. Menzel, PhD
    Superintendent

     

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

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  • Superintendent's Message

    Posted by Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D. on 5/9/2022

    With the 2021-2022 school year coming to a close in the next few weeks, it is a fitting time to take measure of the more than 1,800 Scottsdale Unified students who comprise our Class of 2022.

    This group of seniors spent nearly two full school years navigating the worst global pandemic in 102 years, dating back to 1918, some 22 years after our district’s founding.  The first pandemic of the 21st century initially impacted nearly every aspect of student life.  Instead of learning taking place in person, at school, in a classroom, one school year ended and the next began at home, at the kitchen or dining room table or home desk.  Highly anticipated athletic competitions, fine arts performances and various social events were scratched from calendars.  Students were separated from their friends, classmates, teachers and traditional school environments for four-plus months, returning to their campuses in October of 2020 with shortened school days and many restrictions. 

    It has been a difficult journey for all of our students, not just this graduating class – that is not hyperbole.  But it has also been a journey of discovery.  The Class of 2022 particularly has excelled at making lemonade out of lemons, as the saying goes.  Rather than despair, this group of students turned on its ingenuity and resourcefulness to work with the safety measures put in place to protect them, revising learning opportunities and creating new ones – and even better ones, in some instances.  With district-issued technology devices in their hands, they inspired all of us to work with what could have been a limiting experience, to innovate our teaching and learning environments to accommodate and get past the headlines that dominated the daily news.  Instead of missing out, this class of seniors came together, became more inclusive and more attuned to each other. 

    All of this is by way of saying that we need not worry about the Class of 2022.  Yes, it will still face challenges and detours on its road to success in college, career and life, in general – that part does not seem to change, no matter what.  It is, however, the perseverance and resilience of this class that gives me great faith in what lies ahead for them.  While the world has been anything but normal since March 2020, the Class of 2022 managed to push beyond what very well could have been lowered expectations for its accomplishments, to create new landscapes for themselves and play a leading role in ushering in a new era of education that embraces and expands opportunities for all learners.  As Scottsdale Unified continues to celebrate its 125th anniversary, continuing to evolve is a hallmark of the world-class, future-focused learning for which we are known.

    As they don their caps and gowns, I can say with great confidence that this group of seniors can do anything, be anything, achieve anything. Congratulations to Scottsdale Unified School District’s Class of 2022!

    Sincerely,

    Scott A. Menzel, PhD

    Superintendent

     

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

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  • Superintendent's Message

    Posted by Dr. Scott A. Menzel on 5/1/2022

    May 2022

    Dear Scottsdale Unified Families and Friends,

    The home stretch is upon us. With only three weeks remaining in the 2021-2022 school year, it is fitting that we take this time to reflect on it and thank our teachers for successfully ushering our students through its challenges.

    Since 1896, SUSD teachers have been the bedrock of this community. We are thankful for all they share and give of themselves, and this week – Teacher Appreciation Week – we honor their unwavering dedication and support. Teachers have always worn many hats, starting with inspiring a love for learning while creating caring and nurturing learning environments for all students. That has never been truer than now. The pandemic of the past two years brought prominence to teachers’ other roles as nurturers and nurses, counselors and cheerleaders, in addition to being content experts curating the next generation of greatness.

    Please join me in thanking each and every one of our 1,500 teachers for all the ways they make a difference in our world.

    Governing Board Action

    Last month, the SUSD Governing Board voted to approve new elementary school attendance zones in the Coronado Learning Community. This is the culmination of the restructuring plan that begins in August. Tonalea K-8 will become a stand-alone middle school serving students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades.  Yavapai Elementary will re-open, serving students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. We invite you to join Yavapai’s new principal, Dr. David Priniski, and the Yavapai teaching staff as they welcome the community back to the Thunderbirds’ 701 N. Miller Rd. campus Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at 5 p.m. There will be food, family fun, and school tours. We look forward to seeing you there!

    The Board also approved a resolution last month calling for a Special District Additional Assistance Override election on November 8, 2022. If approved, the Override would go into effect July 1, 2023 and could total up to $14.5 million per year over a seven-year period providing for:

    • Curriculum materials and school technology
    • School furniture, fixtures and equipment
    • Fine Arts, Athletics and Library equipment and materials
    • Playground equipment and facilities

    You can learn more facts about the proposed District Additional Assistance Override here.

    Hanover Survey

    In the coming weeks, we will launch the district’s 2021-2022 Climate Survey. The survey is conducted by Hanover Research on our behalf.  It may feel familiar to some of you as we conducted similar surveys pre-pandemic. Stay tuned for more information. We hope to hear from as many middle and high school students, parents, and staff as possible. Your input is important in helping us improve upon ways we serve our students and this community.  Survey participation is voluntary, but the feedback is invaluable as we continue to strive to achieve our vision of world-class, future-focused education.

    Nutrition Services - Changes for the 2022-23 school year

    Unless Congress renews it, the universal free lunch program will end in July. At that point, the district will transition back to the traditional National School Lunch Program and families will be required to fill out the free and reduced lunch application before the first day of school, August 3, 2022. Be sure to check out the Nutrition Services blog to learn more about this, as well as the impact supply chain issues are having on school lunch menus across the district.

    Congratulations!!

    This week, we learned that SUSD has again earned the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting (COE). The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) COE recognizes districts that have met the program’s high standards for financial reporting and transparency. Providing transparency and being good stewards of public funds are the hallmark of district operations. Thank you to our SUSD team that affirms this each day.

    Last week, Cheyenne Traditional School Principal Grace Stombres was awarded the prestigious Exemplary Principal Award from Steve Watson, Maricopa County School Superintendent. We are proud of her commitment to Cheyenne, the community, and our district. Did you know Ms. Stombres is an SUSD alumna herself? She is part of SUSD’s Legacy of Success and continues to build on that legacy by providing a foundation for future generations to distinguish themselves. 

    As we close out the year and reflect on our collective 125 years as a school district serving the students of Scottsdale, it is amazing to see how far we’ve come. From the humble beginnings in the little red schoolhouse to 29 campuses and a K-12 online learning program, the learning environment has evolved, but the heart at the center of all we do remains the same—it has been and always will be about preparing our students to future success.  As we focus our attention on implementation of the strategic plan and tackling the challenges and opportunities ahead, we know we are building on a strong foundation and that success for all is possible through committed and engaged partnerships with students, parents, staff, and the Scottsdale Community!

    As we prepare to bid a fond farewell to the Class of 2022, we could not be more proud. They endured a global pandemic that tested each one of them in unimaginable ways.  This class demonstrated extraordinary resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. In addition to all that was learned academically, the skills developed in navigating these challenges will serve them well as they transition to their next opportunities in life.  Please join me in congratulating the Class of 2022!  We look forward to hearing of future successes as they go out to make their mark on the world.

    Sincerely,

    Scott

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

    Read more at The SUSD Source

     

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  • Superintendent's Message

    Posted by Dr. Scott A. Menzel on 4/1/2022

    Dear Scottsdale Unified Families and Friends,

    Welcome to the inaugural edition of The SUSD Source!  Our new monthly digital publication is intended to keep you up-to-date on the things you want to know about your local school district, from the classroom to the Board room.  With 30 schools, 22,000 students and 3,000 teachers and staff, we have a lot to share!  The Source will evolve over time, but initially, you’ll find sections on Academics, Arts, Athletics, the Governing Board, current Bond projects and recent local news stories in which SUSD students, programs or schools are featured.

    Testing
    While it’s been said that April showers bring May flowers, April also brings the state testing season to most of our students.  Please see our Academics blog for more information on our Arizona testing schedule and be on the lookout for school-specific information from your principals.

    While they are important, state tests are by no means the only measure we take of student learning.  Students (and parents) need not be anxious about them and should be encouraged to see state testing as just one indicator of what they’ve learned.

    Health Services
    Spring also means allergy season has arrived.  Coming on the heels of a two-year pandemic, please do not assume your child is just suffering from allergies.  If your child has symptoms, please take the time to get a COVID test in order to ensure it isn’t anything more than allergies.  SUSD continues to follow CDC protocols.  Regardless of the diagnosis and as always, ill students should not come to school until they have recovered.

    Academics
    We were excited to learn last week that Saguaro High School will become a Cognia-accredited STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) high school ‒ only the third traditional high school in the state of Arizona to receive this designation!  Saguaro teachers and administrators have dedicated themselves over the past two years to qualifying their school for this academic certification.  You can read more about it in the Source’s Academics blog.

    Arts
    In addition to testing, April is also the month that many of our performing and visual arts students put their learning on display in concerts, art shows, and theater productions.  Be sure to check our Arts blog for upcoming dates and times, or check your school’s website calendar and principal communications.

    Governing Board
    Another feature of The SUSD Source is monthly updates from the SUSD Governing Board president.  Read the first installment from President Julie Cieniawski here.  We also encourage you to attend and participate in Board meetings.  An electronic system to sign up to address the Board will be instituted soon.  We appreciate hearing the perspective of our parents and community members!  If you are unable to attend a meeting in person, you are always able to watch them live or later on SUSD’s YouTube channel.  You can also reach us anytime, by phone, by email, or through Let’s Talk.

    Calendar Reminders
    Our final district recess of the school year occurs Friday, April 15.  The final early release day of the school year takes place on the last day of school, Wednesday, May 25.

    Have a great month, SUSD!

    Sincerely,

    Scott A. Menzel, PhD

    Superintendent

     

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

    Read more at The SUSD Source

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  • SUPERINTENDENT’S MESSAGE

    Posted by Dr. Scott A. Menzel on 2/1/2022

    Strong and successful schools are both a product of, and contribute to, outstanding communities.  Scottsdale Unified School District has been providing excellence in education to our community for 125 years.  Throughout our history, there have been moments of explosive growth, along with periods of decline, reflecting the ebb and flow of our area.  During all of the changes, two constants have come to define our district: high-quality teachers and strong community partnerships.

    High-Quality Teachers

    Teaching is a noble profession.  Now, more than ever, we see the importance of providing in-person learning opportunities for our students.  However, in order to ensure our students reach their full potential, we must have teachers who have the proper training and support, not only in the content areas, but who also truly understand that different approaches to learning are required to support our classrooms’ diverse student population.

    Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) is a leader in Arizona, with more than 80 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) working in our district.  These individuals have gone above and beyond to perfect their craft and submit their work to external review.  The past few years have been exceptionally challenging, as our teachers have served on the frontlines, navigating the COVID challenges.  From March 2020, when all schools were ordered closed by the Governor and the district implemented remote-learning opportunities, to the return six months later to in-person learning, with mitigation strategies in place, to the current environment in which the latest virus variant is infecting significantly more people, but with milder symptoms, our teachers have been there for our students.  Their dedication and commitment is heroic. They are deserving of our respect and gratitude.

    Community Partnerships

    While SUSD has many historic partnerships, none has been more impactful over the years than our partnership with the Scottsdale Charros.  Each year, the Charros provide funding for a variety of projects, including recognition of a Teacher of the Year in each school, scholarships for high school seniors, and support for special projects.  On February 2, we will launch the “Coronado Promise Partnership,” with the Charros serving as the lead organization and supported by the Coronado Foundation for the Future, SUSD, the City of Scottsdale, and Scottsdale Community College.  The Coronado Promise is a two-pronged effort to ensure students in the Coronado Learning Community who graduate from Coronado High School are able to enroll in postsecondary learning opportunities with the assurance that they will not have to worry about the cost of tuition and fees for their first two years.  The second part of the Promise is an investment in the pipeline, to ensure students from preschool through high school completion are on track and prepared to succeed in college and post-high school education and career training opportunities.

    We are grateful for the contributions and support of all of our community partners, including, but not limited to, the City of Scottsdale, the SUSD Foundation, and numerous other non-profit organizations, local businesses and philanthropic organizations that recognize the impact of an excelling school system on the entire community.

    Spring is around the corner, which also means it is time for families with young children to start the enrollment process for preschool and kindergarten registration.  For more information, please see www.susd.org/Enroll.

    Our SUSD students are at the center of all we do as a district.  Our vision is to engage all learners in world-class, future-focused learning.  This can only be accomplished through partnering with our parents and the community.  Together, we can and will continue to relentlessly pursue excellence in education.

     

    Sincerely,

    Scott A. Menzel, PhD

    Superintendent

     

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

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  • Superintendent's Message

    Posted by Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D. on 11/3/2021

    How we treat each other matters.  We are at a moment in history of elevated tensions, not the least of which is the result of a pandemic that has now impacted three separate school years.  People are angry, frustrated, and tired.  From masks, to vaccines, to quarantines, the restrictions and strategies designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have lingered beyond what some are willing to accept. At the same time, our ability to meet the needs of our students while also minimizing the potential of COVID spread on our campuses has required us to continue following at times unpopular public health guidance.  School boards, both locally and nationally, have been the targets of passionate people staking out one side or the other regarding masks mandates, virus mitigation strategies, and concerns about curriculum.

    Sadly, amidst all the noise, something has been lost that is essential to the future of our community.  It seems as though people have forgotten how to listen to each other and to understand different perspectives.  Social media has created a megaphone for anyone with a strongly held opinion, and increasingly, it seems people are willing to believe what they read in a few short characters rather than taking the time to gather and evaluate more information and engage in constructive dialogue.  False narratives spread like wildfire, leaving behind a charred landscape that will take significant time to recover.  The idea that a person is either liberal or conservative, republican or democrat, for or against public education results in creating an “us vs. them” mentality, leaving very little room for constructive dialogue and debate regarding shared interests and concerns.  Most of us don’t fall neatly into one box or the other.  Our perspectives exist on a broad continuum, which is why engaging in active listening and constructive dialogue is vitally important.

    Scottsdale Unified School District continues to work on finalizing a strategic plan designed to ensure each one of our students is engaged in world-class, future-focused learning.  We are a diverse district of more than 21,000 students from all walks of life.  Each student deserves access to high-quality learning opportunities and the support necessary to be successful to move through the system and into the world.  Wouldn’t it be something if all of the energy and passion displayed behind the support of or opposition to masks could be re-focused to ensuring we have the strategies, support, and resources necessary to ensure high-level outcomes for all of our students?  A vibrant and thriving community requires a strong public education system.  It is important to listen to diverse perspectives and create a constructive environment that models for our students the way adults can wrestle with significant challenges and work toward common goals for the greater good. 

    In the coming weeks we will celebrate two significant holidays.  On November 11, we celebrate our veterans.  The freedoms we enjoy are protected and preserved by those who have been willing to sacrifice theirs.  To those who have served, thank you.  The Thanksgiving holiday provides us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our many blessings.  I am grateful for the tireless effort of the Scottsdale Unified staff, who have endured through this pandemic, navigating the uncertainties with grace and diplomacy.  I am grateful for our students who have shown tremendous resilience.  I am grateful for our community that continues to support Scottsdale Unified School District as it has throughout our 125 years educating the next generation of leaders. 

    Sincerely,

    Scott A. Menzel, PhD

    Superintendent

     

    For more on the superintendent's office, visit www.susd.org/superintendent.

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  • Important Letter to SUSD Parents and Guardians

    Posted by Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D. on 9/16/2021

    Dear Scottsdale Unified School District Parents and Guardians,

    We have learned this week of an alarming, new “challenge” that students are being encouraged to participate in through the TikTok social media platform.  The challenge, called “Devious Lick,” involves stealing or damaging school property, then posting a video or photo evidence of it on social media.  SUSD has already been the victim of this disrespectful, costly and possibly criminal activity.

    We work very hard to provide our students and staff with safe and clean learning spaces and facilities.  Damage to and theft of school property will not be tolerated.  Any student who intentionally causes damage to school campuses will, at a minimum, face disciplinary action, per the SUSD Student Code of Conduct.  Restitution may be required and prosecution may be pursued.

    We ask you to please have a frank conversation with your students about the real-life consequences of engaging in seemingly glorious social media activities, the importance of respect for property and the value of school pride.

    Thank you.

    Scottsdale Unified School District

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