Guest Editorial: “Whatever It Takes”

By Dr. Krista Anderson

Editor’s Note: The following is a statement by Apache Junction Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson, recently presented to the Apache Junction City Council and the AJUSD Governing Board and attending public. We requested permission to print her call for support as our guest editorial this week. Will you accept the challenge?

Dr. Krista Anderson

First of all, I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your meeting tonight to discuss something that is dear to my heart…the children of Apache Junction Unified School District. Specifically, the commitment Apache Junction Unified School District has for educating the children in this community.

The foundation of a strong community is a strong education system. Think about it. Whenever a society has lacked educational structure, crime and poverty are more widespread, people lack skills and knowledge to succeed and change the direction of their lives, and general health suffers. We, at AJUSD, want to strengthen the education system in this community, and we are willing to do “Whatever it Takes” to make it happen. It is said that education is a great equalizer.

Did you know the average salary of an Arizonan with a High school diploma is $28,821; with a Bachelor’s degree, $51,197; and with a Graduate degree, $65, 573?

To paint the picture of the importance of educating the students within Apache Junction, I would like to share some startling data points. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Projection (2016-2026), between now and 2026:

  • 38 percent of all new jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 52 percent of jobs will require some post-high school education. This could include vocational certification such as HVAC, welding, etc.

To further break it down, during the recession, there was an approximate loss of 2.7 million jobs in the manufacturing industry. Since that time, 1.7 million have been recouped. 99% of those jobs went to those individuals with some post high school education. That leaves 1% to high school graduates. This data represents the importance of our school district to graduate students with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to further their education…through college/university, vocational education (EVIT) or even to join the armed forces. Whatever the student chooses, it is our/my commitment that we do our due diligence within our classrooms to educate the kids in order for them to make their dreams a reality.

Understanding, the importance of education is the first step. Looking at our reality is step two.

AJUSD has had academic results that are not trending in the best direction at this time. Our scores are below the state average in every grade level and content area. We acknowledge that the letter grades our schools received this past October are not acceptable: 2 schools received C labels, and 3 schools received a D. We need to do better. You, as members of our community, should expect us to do better. And I promise you, we will do better.

Our schools, administrators, teachers and staff have developed plans to begin improving student learning results. The plans are focused on improving foundational skills that will benefit our students in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics.

As a district, this past year, we developed a three-year strategic plan to help guide our work. The plan is broken down into four areas:

  • Academic Excellence – Develop and implement strong educational programs that ensure academic success for every student.
  • Culture of Continuous Improvement – Identify and deploy programs that empower students, staff and parents to attain high performance throughout the educational system.
  • Community Engagement – Establish systems that enhance internal and external communication and increase participation and support of AJUSD offerings by all stakeholders.
  • Examine and Evaluate Systems – Provide high-quality operational services that are essential to the educational success of students.

This plan and the efforts of our staff will go a long way towards our goal of improved student learning; however, we cannot do it alone. We need the city and community’s help. I am here this evening to publicly ask for your support in educating the children of AJUSD. We want you to be a part of the team.

At the beginning of the school year, we welcomed the staff by challenging them to do “Whatever it Takes” to move our kids forward academically. To further our commitment to do “Whatever it Takes,” we went to every school site and department to ask them to be a part of a unified effort to move the district forward – to be a part of the AJUSD team. As an acknowledgement of being a member of the team, each staff member received a pin. The pin says, “Whatever it Takes,” to represent their commitment to the children in our district. You will see staff members across the district wearing their pins proudly. It is now time for us to ask you to be a part of our district team. Will you be willing to do “Whatever it Takes” to help us build a strong education system in this community?

For more details about the AJUSD Strategic Plan, go to: https://az01901895.schoolwires.net/domain/1776.

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