County School Superintendents Meet with Governor Ducey

Governor Doug Ducey sat down with School Superintendents and their representatives from counties across Arizona Wednesday to identify solutions to the alarming drop in enrollment and test scores that occurred during the pandemic.

The Governor kicked off the 90-minute meeting by recognizing the tough year and a half schools have endured  and how far they’ve come. “Thank you for your hard work and effort to educate our children,” he told the county superintendents. “We couldn’t have gotten here without you, without your dedication and without your leadership.”

The Governor noted that the severe loss in learning experienced during the pandemic by Arizona’s K-12 students has been confirmed by recent math and reading test scores. He said data also shows that student enrollment in Arizona’s public district and charter schools remains about 21,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

Cochise County Superintendent Jacqui Clay said she works closely with the Sheriff’s Department to locate students when they do not show up to class. Graham County Superintendent Donna McGaughey added that students’ safety and wellbeing is at risk when schools can’t locate them and ensure they are learning and safe. Maricopa County Superintendent Steve Watson said utilizing the available resources, tracking down data and maintaining relationships with local districts is important.

Yuma County Superintendent Thomas Tyree explained that he is concerned about engagement among students and families, and added that utilizing career and technical education (CTE) programs is an opportunity to address this issue and prepare students for success beyond their K-12 education. Pinal County Superintendent Jill Broussard said project-based learning is an effective way to keep students actively involved in a fun manner, while ensuring they get the education they need. Superintendent Watson added that summer programs are a great way to re-engage kids in the joy of learning and get them back on track.

The superintendents noted that many of the students who are no longer enrolled in public school may now be in homeschool or private school. However, many parents may not know they need to file an affidavit, so those children are not accounted for. Governor Ducey and county superintendents are exploring ways to track down this information. 

Superintendent Clay pointed out that many students, especially the older kids, feel defeated after dealing with distance learning and the challenges of the pandemic. La Paz County Superintendent Dru Waggoner added that some community colleges, including in her county, offer credit recovery programs and students can use that as a resource. Gila County Superintendent Roy Sandoval said adult education programs can be a powerful tool in giving students a second chance at getting a fulfilling education, and the Governor firmly agreed. 

As the meeting closed out, Governor Ducey thanked the superintendents for their partnership and assured them the state is committed to putting students on the path to success. He said they’ll continue to work together to “find innovative solutions to help teachers, parents and students… a win-win-win.” 

Governor Ducey has made targeted investments to keep students on track, including $2.4 million for a partnership with the Arizona Graduation Alliance and $5 million for the Elevated Education Teen Victory program. The Governor said during the meeting there is more work to be done.