Golden (education) nugget in Nogales

Southern Arizona has an education gem resting in Santa Cruz County. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Angelina ‘Angel’ Canto has been with Nogales Unified School District (NUSD) for 27 years. “I went in to fill a position for 9 weeks and that 9 weeks turned into 27 years and counting,” Canto said. “I just really enjoy it [Nogales Unified School District].”

At a recent job fair hosted by NUSD, Canto reflected on some of the things that make Nogales Unified a fantastic place to work. “I think being here on the border and really our bicultural, bilingual situation makes us very unique and makes our students very special,” Canto said.  “I think for me the big thing that’s always kept me here and excited about working here is that I love our children and our families. I’ve worked in a bigger city; it’s not the same. It’s very close knit. There is so much teamwork that exists between the administration, the teachers, school staff, and parents. It’s just really the community at large.”

Canto also expressed the compensational benefit of working in the district.  “We really are above in categories due to providing up to 12 years of experience to new hires which would allow one to start on step 13. In addition to these funds, we provide $150 from Indian Gaming funds, $6,200 from Prop 301 funds, and $1,500 annually from the override, which our community passed. We also pay 100% of the employee’s medical and dental coverage (with a very good plan) and $10,000 life insurance for the staff member.”

Currently, Nogales offers starting teachers with a bachelors degree and no experience $33,870, which is above average among the other schools in Pima, Cochise, and Santa Cruz Counties. Those with a masters degree and no experience start at $36,703, which also ranks above the average.

In conjunction with a competitive compensation package, the district recently participated in a project by joining a consortium to improve internet service countywide via The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program. The collaboration resulted in lower monthly internet bills and increased internet speed for multiple schools and libraries in Santa Cruz County.

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) gives an overview of The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program from a handout on their website. USAC explains that E-rate “provides discounts to assist eligible schools and libraries to obtain affordable Internet access and telecommunications services. E-rate funds the following service types: Data Transmission Services and/or Internet Access, Internal Connections, Managed Internal Broadband Services, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. Discounts range from 20-90 percent of the costs of eligible services, depending on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status at the school district level. Eligible schools, school districts, and libraries, may apply individually or as part of a consortium.”

Canto explained that, “by working together with our county school superintendent office, with Mr. Velasquez, now we are not only benefitting, Rio Rico, Santa Cruz Elementary, District 35 is benefitting. Sonora school district is benefitting. Patagonia elementary and high school district, even one of our charters Mexicayotl Academy is benefitting, the libraries here in this county and even one of our Catholic schools.”

At the job fair, the district advertised openings in K-5, secondary math, language arts, and science teachers as well as special education teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

If you interested in all of what Nogales has to offer, be sure to check out their website.

Audra Carver

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