DVUSD relentlessly pursues greatness
By Superintendent Curtis Finch
Deer Valley Unified School District
Muhammad Ali, Steffi Graf, Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, Annika Sorenstam, Johnny Unitas and Deer Valley Unified School District. What do the above have in common? The relentless pursuit of greatness.
Each of these legends had help along the way, made calculated decisions and were dedicated to their craft. The “Good to Great” (G2G) series of business books has organizational principles that DVUSD uses in its own pursuit of greatness. The work by Stanford Professor Jim Collins and his research team is a chronological march through the Great Recession of 2008 and the rise and fall of similar companies.
The premise of the books is to look back at several comparative 100-year-old companies like Walmart and Kmart, or Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and discern the influential traits of those who stayed “good” and those who became “great.”
The seven principles discovered were eventually expounded upon in a G2G “Social Sectors” supplementary book—schools, hospitals, foundations, etc. are not businesses, but share some of the same characteristics. Three additional books in the series include “Built to Last,” “Great by Choice” and “How the Mighty Fall.”
A key concept in the “Social Sectors” edition is the importance of collecting a “body of evidence” to make good decisions and evaluate progress. In the business world, profit and stock price are indicators of success, but not in the social sectors. DVUSD’s best data comes from comparing ourselves to similar Arizona public school institutions such as Paradise Valley, Gilbert, Chandler, Peoria, Scottsdale, Dysart and Cave Creek.
Here are seven interesting data points in relation to our peers that help us monitor our march toward greatness. Of the peer group, DVUSD has the lowest student-teacher ratio; above-average dollars spent in the classroom; the second-most A-rated schools (65%); the highest percentage of A and B schools (95% – tied); the highest percentage of A-plus School Of Excellence Awards (41%); among the lowest administrative costs per student; and above the average of students-per-administrator. These data points indicate we are on the right path, but there is always work to do. As the G2G series so eloquently says, “good is the enemy of great.”
In the last four months, two awards have also come to DVUSD from outside sources. KTAR’s annual rating of the “Best Public School District” has ranked DVUSD as the No. 2 district in Arizona, while forbes.com just bestowed upon DVUSD a Top 50 “America’s Best Employers by State” Award. DVUSD is the only school district in Arizona on the list. These two recent awards demonstrate DVUSD’s hard work and progress.
Our staff is committed to moving from “good to great” the old-fashioned way with collaboration and hard work. DVUSD is striving to be the greatest school district in all of AZ and with our community’s help and the dedication of our 4,000 #Extraordinary employees; we will get there together.