As a long time Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) parent, I recognize this is a time of change in the district and I am asking the community to rally and not give up. My son, who is graduating this year, started in kindergarten at Horseshoe Trails Elementary School.  I have two other children both at Sonoran Trails Middle School. There have been many changes in the district over the last 13 years – programs, teachers, administrators – many changes. But one of the wonderful things about this district is how well we adapt. This year has shown us how important that is. This last year with the pandemic has been crazy, but CCUSD has handled it well by being open to having students in school since September 7, 2020.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the exemplary quality of education here in CCUSD. There are so many dedicated teachers in this district. CCUSD has the highest percentage of national board-certified teachers in the State of Arizona. Our teachers pride themselves on being the best, and many of them have or had their own children attend school in this district. It is truly a community – a family. This year our amazing teachers came to their classrooms despite their fears because they know the value of an in-person education. My deepest thanks go out to these teachers.

I understand that this year presents financial challenges. This is not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. This year COVID has been a big contributor to these financial challenges. Being open required a huge sum of money in order to operate safely. I believe it was worth it. Many districts were closed for much of this school year, and I think it was costly in terms of students’ mental and emotional health, not to mention their education. I am proud of how CCUSD has handled itself this year.

I am also proud of the achievements of our CCUSD students. As a parent of a Senior, this has been a challenging year, but our students have adapted, which is truly a life skill. Our students are still taking advantage of the many opportunities at Cactus Shadows High School. Some students choose Puma Connection so they can get a college start as a sophomore. Some choose EVIT so they can learn technical skills (like HVAC) or so they can test drive a future college major (aviation, banking, and graphic design). Many students choose Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate , two programs that prepare students for a rigorous college post-secondary experience. Almost 40 percent of our high school students take at least one AP class and approximately 60 percent of them score a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exam which is enough to earn them college credit at many colleges.

We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful district with dedicated, hard-working, and highly qualified teachers. We also have wonderful students who go out into this world and make a difference using everything they have learned in school and in our community. Thank you goes to CCUSD for opening on September 7, 2020 and for staying safely open during this COVID-19 time.  I hope our community will support our district as it navigates these difficult financial times. Our students are a good investment.

Erica Stoutenburgh
CCUSD Parent


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