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Phone: (520) 545-2025
Fax: (520) 545-2121
2238 East Ginter Road, Tucson, AZ, 85706

JUNE 27, 2017 / MODIFIED AUG 14, 2020 11:53 AM

Steve Holmes serves as Superintendent of the Sunnyside Unified School District, the second-largest school district in Southern Arizona with more than 16,000 students and a workforce 2,000 employees strong. Steve is a transformational leader with over 24 years of successful service in public education. He holds a Master’s in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University, where he is a graduate of the Urban Superintendents Program (USP); Steve is also a graduate of the University of Arizona and an alumnus of the Sunnyside District.
A champion for equity, Steve’s work focuses on urban ed reform and bringing about deeper learning practices. coherence and innovation to high poverty districts where an emphasis on low level programs, interventions, and narrow metrics have worked against this type of learning. Mr. Holmes has cultivated partnerships with industry partners to drive more resources to foster innovation and level the playing field by challenging the notion that affluent districts where students are born on third base is tantamount to hitting an academic triple.
Since taking over as the organization’s chief executive, the District has been recognized as a industry leader in open educational resources (OER), formative assessment, and design thinking. Mr. Holmes’ dogmatic approach to ‘the focus’ is heavily influenced by the work of John Hattie (​The Politics of Distraction, 2015)​ as he challenges principals and other school leaders in Sunnyside to balance the academic role vs. societal expectations placed on urban schools.
As a father of two students in Arizona public schools, Mr. Holmes is a staunch supporter of public education and a leading voice in support of English Language Learners. Steve has provided clarity and insight in numerous national and international conversations, including as a guest keynote for the Ministry of Education in Chile, and as a panelist at the National Hispanic Caucus Conference where he spoke on policy implications for English Language Learners and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Mr. Holmes was also a key witness on behalf of the plaintiffs in the landmark case ​Flores v. Arizona.​ Steve is an active member of the community, serving as Co-Chair of the United Way of Southern Arizona ​Cradle to Career Partnership​ and as member of the Tucson Airport Authority.


Performance Goals for the 2020-21 School Year

Opening of Schools
Develop a plan for safely opening schools that is dynamic and flexible

  • Safety protocols based on scientific and medical professional advice
  • Online/Distance Learning plan 
  • Communication plan through various channels with staff and parents
  • Address issues of equity in technology
    • K-3 Devices
    • Gaps in Internet access

Student Achievement
Develop a plan for student achievement that measures progress over the year and address educational gaps created by the pandemic.

  • Use metrics that exists in our current curriculum to ensure continuity across models and utilize diagnostic/unit pre-assessments to identify “just in time” not “just in case” supports for learning gaps
  • Facilitate data conversations (by District and Sites)  on a regular basis so that adjustments can be made in real time to support ongoing learning
  • Leverage curricular partnerships (EL, IM, Springboard) as a foundation to address existing gaps
    • Metrics ELA:
      • K-5 FastBridge (growth metric)
      • 6-12 Embedded Assessments (writing assessments)
        • Rubric focus (growth metric):
          • Purpose, focus and organization 
          • Evidence and elaboration
      • 3-11 Semester 1 Interim (comparison to previous years)
    • Metrics Mathematics (growth metrics)
      • K - 12 Mid/End of Unit Assessments
      • 3 - 12 Semester 1 Interim (comparison to previous years)

Implicit Bias
Develop a district-wide strategy to address Implicit Bias in the organization (what it is, how it is a problem, and how we can fix it). 

  • Explore the research on bias and inequity in schools
  • Collaborate with external organizations with strength in this area to provide support
  • Use the research to develop strategies and practices that aligns with and enhances our coherence framework
  • Create an implementation plan for staff and school leaders that helps mitigate the effect of bias in schools  

Student Discipline Matrix
Revise student disciplinary matrix to ensure greater clarity on law enforcement contact in the areas where there is administrative discretion.

  • Formulate a Committee/Task Force to include students, school leaders, and community members
  • Evaluate current data on law enforcement contact
  • Revise Matrix to reflect current context 
  • Set up a data tracking system for evaluating the impact of the new matrix
  • Explore restorative justice practices as part of the revised matrix/process

District and School Climate
Continue the implementation of customer service satisfaction surveys in all district departments where data is used to improve results over time. Place an emphasis on disaggregating the data by teachers in the district to ensure experiences with central office are not leading to issues of retention. 

Chief Schools Officer will work with leadership teams at each site to develop specific strategies to address climate issues that impact the retention of staff at individual sites (discipline, communication, instructional support).