Message from the Superintendent
Welcome to a new year in the Amphitheather District. The excitement and energy typically felt at the beginning of any given year is definitely magnified this year, and that is certainly what our students – frankly, what we all – need and deserve. The future of every child in the Amphi Community starts right now, and it is so reassuring to see that every teacher, staff member, and parent is unified in making our children’s futures as bright and promising as they possibly can be. After all, the future of our community’s children is our very purpose in Amphitheater, and we are more mindful of that fact this year, than ever before.
In addition to a renewed sense of purpose, I want to share some things we are particularly proud of:
- Imagine Preschools.
Low-cost or free preschool instruction for our very youngest learners is now offered at nearly all of our elementary schools, and at two of our high schools, where the older students learn about early education hands-on. These programs are largely made possible due to generous financial support from Pima County and the Town of Oro Valley. This is a gamechanger for early childhood education in our community!
- Curriculum and Resources
We are continuing to implement our new English Language Arts and Mathematics curricula that were selected after community-wide stakeholder involvement. Our teachers and other educators are leading the rollout of these curricula and other instructional materials and tools which will assure the access of all our students to rigorous, high-level academic content.
Our District now offers more than one computer device per student, providing our students with new tech-learning opportunities both in and outside of the classroom. Many of our classrooms are also being equipped with other devices and technologies that will support and advance the work of teachers and students alike.
- Individualized Learning Opportunities
We are continuing to expand the options that our students and their parents have to enhance learning through programs like our gifted education (REACH), Career and Technical Education, AVID, Dual Enrollment for College Credit, content and grade level acceleration, special education services, expanded course offerings, extracurricular activities, and structured personalized learning.
- Food Service Offerings
We retained a new firm to manage and improve our school breakfast and lunch programs with more cooked-from-scratch items, expanded menu choices, and salad/fruit bars – all with improved quality, taste and nutrition.
I would also like to take this moment to provide some clarity on some very important issues of concern to our community. Events over the past few years have brought these issues to the forefront of public discussion regarding schools, and I want you to have accurate information as these issues relate to our District.
- School Safety Is Our Top Priority
Those of us who work in schools do so because we care deeply about the children entrusted to us, and their safety is absolutely the most important thing to us. This has always been true, and the District has continuously reviewed and revised practices in response to new information and advice from law enforcement. Naturally, tragedies in schools have placed the safety of children at school at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and I want to update you on recent pertinent developments.
Following a thorough review over the past two years, which included consultations with law enforcement, we have recently revised our Emergency Response Plans for every school and will be updating and retraining our staff on the protocols they contain.
In addition, we recently completed safety audits of every campus which were conducted by an independent school safety expert. The results of those audits were very positive. Fortunately, many of our schools already have School Resource Officers, and we hope to expand. This school year, we will also be reinforcing our preparedness through ongoing safety drills of various kinds with our staff and students. These will include the drills we conduct every year as well as potentially some new drills and training opportunities.
- No “Critical Race Theory” in Amphitheater
There has been so much talk about this issue, and unfortunately, there has also been a great deal of misinformation. I want to provide some absolute clarity on the matter for you.
School districts in Arizona are required by law to teach according to our state’s approved academic standards. Arizona’s state standards do not include “CRT”, and Amphitheater does not teach CRT. Our elected Governing Board, in fact, has made clear that such content and philosophy has no place in our schools. Moreover, our Governing Board mandates that our public has the right to review all the curricula which is taught in our schools. Our Governing Board also requires a thorough review process before we even choose our curricula. That process includes a period of at least 60 days for public display of the materials before they are selected.
If you ever have any questions about our curriculum in any content area, please speak with your school principal. They will be happy to share information with you.
- Pandemic conditions
Prior public health agency orders and guidance that directed our District responses to the pandemic are largely gone. For example, the Amphitheater District has no requirement for students, staff or visitors for masks for this year. All public health orders or guidance for the same have been rescinded. Moreover, Arizona state law now prohibits any such requirement in our schools, regardless of such orders. As a public school district, we will follow that law. As always, individuals may still choose to wear masks or other protective measures, and all choices regarding the same will be respected.
Even prior to the pandemic, we have always asked that those who are ill stay home until they are not. That has always been a basic, common sense expectation. As we restore normal operations, we believe that common sense can again be our guide.
The year has just begun, but as we have observed so many times before, it will also be over before we know it. So, I hope we will all join together to use every moment of the remainder of this year to bring success, happiness, and achievement into the lives of our students and, in turn, to our entire community. This is a time of renewal and infinite potential for all of us, and our children are going to lead the way.
Todd A. Jaeger, J.D.