Annual Report 2017-2018

Dr. Gail Pletnick

Message from the Superintendent

The Dysart Unified School District is committed to ensuring all students are career and college ready through student-tailored instruction personalized to enhance academic outcomes. We are proud of the great work done by our students, families, team members, and community.

Focused on providing a personalized learning environment in all our schools, the district works to create a space where students demonstrate educational competency with tailored learning pathways that empower graduates for a rapidly changing world. All Dysart Unified School District students can pursue academic knowledge and life/work skill competencies anywhere (including school, home, community, and virtual environments) at any time (gaining mastery at an individual pace) by utilizing interactive learning, technology, project-based learning, and academic pathways.

This annual report provides a summary of the last year and the opportunities for the year ahead. Currently, Dysart is the public school district of choice for more than 25,000 students and their families. Our focus is to equip students with a strong academic foundation and crucial workforce skills including critical thinking, creativity, communication, and other relevant competencies. We know the district must continue to offer high quality educational programs to produce the educational outcomes that drive economic development, create a competitive workforce, and enhance our community.

The annual report is one of the many ways the district communicates information about specific efforts and accomplishments regarding the Dysart Unified School District. It is our responsibility to keep our community members informed about the district you support. We are Dysart, and together as a community, we prepare the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you for your continued partnership.

Gail Pletnick, Ed. D.


Governing Board

(L-R) Dr. Spencer Bailey, Jay Leonard, Christine A.K. Pritchard, Traci Sawyer Sinkbeil, Jennifer Tanner

The Dysart Unified School District is governed by a five-member governing board elected for four-year terms. The board operates pursuant to Arizona Law and Governing Board Policies. The board adopted the Policy Governance Model, which focuses its work on policy decisions, rather than operational issues. These policies direct the superintendent who acts as chief executive officer. The governing board welcomes the public, including district staff, parents, and community members, to its meetings. Regular meetings are held according to the published meeting schedule beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Dysart Education Center, 15802 North Parkview Place in Surprise, AZ. Meeting agendas are available online 24 hours prior to the meeting. To learn more visit www.dysart.org/governingboard

Governing board selects new district superintendent

Dr. Quinn Kellis

Throughout the first semester of the 2017-2018 school year, the Dysart Governing Board conducted a recruitment process for a new superintendent following the announcement that Dr. Gail Pletnick would retire at the end of the school year. The national search was conducted in coordination with the search firm of McPherson and Jacobson, LLC. Following an extensive process that included community forums, district wide surveys, candidate interviews, and public deliberations, the Governing Board selected Dr. Quinn Kellis to serve as the district superintendent beginning July 1, 2018. Dr. Kellis currently serves as the superintendent of the Madison School District in Phoenix, Arizona and had previously served in the Dysart Unified School District as an assistant superintendent.

About the Dysart Unified School District

The Dysart Unified School District is an exciting, vibrant, and growing community of more than 25,000 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in the Northwest Phoenix Metropolitan area. Arizona’s ninth largest school district, Dysart encompasses 140 square miles, serving parts of El Mirage, Glendale, Surprise, Youngtown, and Maricopa County.

Dysart is dedicated to serving the needs of all children with high quality academic coursework, before-school and after-school programs, and services for the entire community. Home to 19 K-8 schools, four comprehensive high schools, and one alternative program, ensuring students are equipped with the skills necessary to meet the challenges and opportunities in a 21st Century society are at the heart of the district mission and vision.

District schools offer one of the largest selections of academic pathways in the state, allowing students a personalized learning experience while meeting Arizona Academic Standards. Opportunities include full day kindergarten, Career and Technical Education, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, middle level academies, and gifted and special education programs.

Boasting a graduation rate that exceeds both the state and national average, the Dysart Unified School District prepares all students to be ready for college and career through excellence and success.

Dysart received district-wide accreditation through the AdvancED Accreditation Commission in 2017 following initial recognition in 2012. Receiving this distinction highlights Dysart both nationally and internationally and recognizes the districts’ commitment to continuous improvement, academic monitoring, and process accountability.

2016-2017 By the Numbers

Budget Information

The Dysart Unified School District annual budget funds the instructional and co-curricular programs for students, transportation to and from schools, the maintenance of school buildings and grounds, and the nutrition program. In addition, the budget is utilized for special education programs, English Language Learner programs, and other support programs. The budget is also used to pay teachers and support staff, provide employee health and retirement benefits, and support additional training and professional development. A community approved override supports programs such as full-day kindergarten, athletic and extracurricular programs, fine arts programs, and expanded and extended learning opportunities and options. Although Dysart currently does not have a voter-approved bond in place, such funding has helped in the past including the purchasing of buses, renovating and modernizing existing facilities, building needed facilities, and upgrading school resources including technology infrastructure. All budget decisions in the organization are focused on making certain students have the means needed to be career and college ready.

Breakdown of Expenditures by Function: Projected Auditor General Spending Report for 2016-2017

To learn more about district budget information, visit www.dysart.org/budget

K-8 Academic Pathways

The Dysart Unified School District offers a variety of kindergarten through 8th grade academic pathways to meet individual student needs and aspirations. Offering a number of varied pathways, students are able to embrace their interests and enhance academic outcomes.

The Arts Academy

The Arts Academy at West Point Elementary School provides an arts-enriched learning environment merging creative and academic content to enhance student achievement. Academy students are required to take language arts, reading, mathematics, science, and social studies. In addition, students are afforded the opportunity to participate in arts elective courses each year. These courses may include band, orchestra, chorus, theater, dance, and media arts.

Cambridge Academy

The Cambridge Academy is an advanced academic program at Marley Park Elementary School enabling motivated students to prepare for success in future academic pursuits while obtaining a comprehensive view of the world. An internationally recognized program sponsored by Cambridge University in England, the academy offers a rigorous and relevant curriculum, preparing students to take a series of comprehensive examinations at the end of their 8th grade year.

Code to the Future

Dysart Elementary, Kingswood Elementary, and Surprise Elementary schools provide instruction focused on computer coding and computational thinking using a design based in personalized learning. Students learn coding using hands-on experiences in an age-appropriate environment as they master Arizona State Standards. Students also engage in a problem solving process that involves designing solutions that capitalize on the power of computers.

Global International Academy

The Global International Academy at Luke Elementary School is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with an opportunity to learn locally and grow globally. Students learn world languages while also developing communication and leadership skills to work with diverse audiences. Students also learn the language of coding and how computer science can be used to solve problems around the globe.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

Canyon Ridge School is dedicated to the integration of science, mathematics, and computer science using technology throughout daily instruction and interaction. Students gather and apply knowledge from multiple disciplines supported by the use of technology. Students also engage in coding and computer science learning experiences to develop and apply computational thinking.

Innovation Academy

The Innovation Academy at Western Peaks Elementary School provides a personalized learning environment for students in grades 5-8. Utilizing digital learning tools and relevant, project-based instructional approaches, the academy personalizes education for students by addressing the distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations. In this personalized learning environment the learners move from a “one-style-fits-all” approach to student-centered learning.

High School Academic Pathways

Advanced Placement (AP)

Advanced Placement (AP) are college-level courses and examinations governed by the College Entrance Examination Board. Students who attain acceptable scores on the exams may qualify for college credits, advanced placement, or exemption from certain courses.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)

AVID, an international four-year program, is offered at Dysart High School for students who are capable of completing the most rigorous curriculum. The electives provide academic instruction and support to prepare students for eligibility and success at a college or university.

Cambridge International

The Cambridge program, offered at Willow Canyon and Dysart High School encourages student-centered learning and hands-on application of skills. By passing the Cambridge Board Examinations, students are eligible for the Grand Canyon Diploma, which allows early entry into college courses.

Dual Enrollment

Dual Enrollment opportunities are available to students in all four Dysart high schools. Students have the ability to take courses in which they may receive credit in high school as well as earning college credit.


Honors courses are designed to provide a more challenging course of study that fosters higher academic performance. Criteria for placement includes proven academic performance, placement assessment, study habits, work ethic, and literacy skills.

International Baccalaureate Program

International Baccalaureate (IB), offered at Willow Canyon High School, challenges academically talented students to reach high levels of achievement in a broad range of subjects and allows two different participation tracks: IB diploma and IB certificate.

Career & Technical Education

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs prepare students to enter the workforce with the academic and vocational skills needed to compete successfully in the job market. Students achieve academic excellence through authentic, hands-on, career-focused learning. Graduates have the skills necessary for successful entry into post-secondary, career, and life opportunities. District programs include:

  • Architecture
  • Automotive Technology
  • Computer Animation
  • Culinary Arts
  • Digital Communications
  • Digital Photography
  • Education Professions
  • Engineering
  • Film and Television
  • Fire Science
  • Graphic/Web Design
  • Health Careers
  • Information Technology
  • Internships
  • Law, Public Safety, and Security
  • Sales and Marketing


Additional programs are also available to students via the Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) - a public school district dedicated to providing students innovative career and technical education programs that will prepare them to enter the workforce and pursue continuing education. Information regarding West-MEC programing is available at www.west-mec.org

Strategic Plan

The Dysart Governing Board worked collaboratively with district stakeholders to develop a vision, mission, and strategic plan that guides the work of the district in support of student success. The mission of the Dysart Unified School District is to create a safe, diversified, and engaging learning environment where every student attains academic excellence and is empowered to achieve lifelong success. Through relevant and challenging curriculum, expanded learning opportunities, and collaborative partnerships, Dysart students will be:

  • Effective communicators.
  • Critical and creative thinkers.
  • Informed problem solvers and decision makers.
  • Responsible leaders.
  • Productive citizens.

The vision of the Dysart Unified School District is: Power in the preparation…Excellence in the journey…Success for a lifetime…

The Dysart Unified School District utilizes the strategic plan revision process every three years to ensure continuity in planning that reflects the learning needs of students and provides a clear road map to achieve outcomes. The strategic plan represents a contract with stakeholders to provide vital educational services and obtain the results the Dysart community identifies as critical to the growth of students.

Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, community stakeholders were involved in the district’s revision process through surveys, focus groups, action teams, the 3R Summit, and the Profile of a Graduate Task Force in formulating the adopted strategic plan. In March of 2017, the Dysart Unified School District approved the 2017-2020 strategic plan.

Goal A: Academics

Each Dysart student, through personalized learning, will develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions as defined by Dysart’s Profile of a Graduate that ensures 21st Century success.

Goal B: Culture and Leadership

We Are Dysart – a culture of shared leadership advancing student success with open communication, innovation, ownership, and empowerment.

Goal C: Safety

Through consistent processes, ensure digital safety of students and staff as Dysart effectively utilizes technology to transform the learning and business environment.

Goal D: Resources

Identify and maximize available resources to support the strategic plan.

Learn more at www.dysart.org/strategicplan

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