Dr. Vicki Balentine, superintendent of Amphitheater School District, has been named 2008 All Arizona Superintendent of the Year in districts with more than 5,000 students by the Arizona School Administrators Association.

Balentine is being presented with the award at a Thursday luncheon in Phoenix.

In 30 years of public education in Tucson, Balentine has been a teacher, school principal, drop-out prevention coordinator and assistant superintendent in the Tucson Unified School District, Arizona’s second largest.

Balentine took the reins of Amphi in 2000, following controversy and conflict in the district which included labor disputes, student marches, an environmental lawsuit that halted construction of a high school, and a recall election that ousted three governing board members in 2000, a release said.

“Few would have disputed that the Amphitheater District’s public reputation was in shambles,” wrote Patricia Clymer and Dr. Kent Barrabee, president and member of the current Amphitheater governing board, in their nomination. “The task of repairing Amphitheater’s tarnished image was a substantial, perhaps even daunting one, but Dr. Balentine rose to that challenge. She worked with all segments of the district community to heal deep wounds and rebuild many ‘burned bridges.’”

“I am so proud of Dr. Balentine and of our district,” Clymer said. “This award reflects her hard work and dedication over the years and reinforces what we on the board have thought for some time – she’s the best.”

Balentine has “implemented curriculum alignment throughout the district with an emphasis on teacher collaboration. This comprehensive, substantial effort is designed to ensure equity in curriculum and instruction for students across the district, with inherent accountability that what is being planned aligns with state standards and that what is being planned is actually being taught.”

In 2005, district voters approved a maintenance and operations override for the district, providing an increase in funding for art, music and physical education classes, smaller class sizes, more elective high school courses, and recruitment incentives. In November 2007, voters approved the largest bond election in district history, providing $180 million for capital improvements. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a coveted teacher incentive fund grant of $29 million over five years to the district, creating a substantial pay-for-performance program at designated Title I schools.

“It’s tremendous what she’s been able to do over the course of the last eight years,” said Nancy Young Wright, former Amphi governing board member and now state representative for District 26. “As someone who was there on the frontlines to watch the rebuilding of Amphi, I can tell you -- she certainly deserves the award.”

Jeff Grant, currently vice president of the Amphitheater Governing Board, concurs. “She has earned this recognition, and we’re so proud of her – not just for the award, but for what it symbolizes.”

“I’m very honored, of course, but I feel like my work has been only a small piece of the pie here,” Balentine said. “I’ve been fortunate to have the support of governing board members, past and present, who are devoted to children and who supported my efforts. The staff of the Amphi district, as well, are tremendous, and I have relied heavily upon them, as well as many parents and community members, including Susan Zibrat - Leap Ahead for Amphi Chair, all of whom are committed to making our District the best place it can possibly be for kids. It may sound trite, but it truly has been a team effort.”

Balentine is president of the Arizona State Board of Education, a position that she was elected to in January of 2008 after being appointed as a member in 2005 by Gov. Janet Napolitano. She serves in a number of other capacities, and has been recognized by Inside Tucson Business, American Executive Magazine, the University of Arizona, the YWCA and others.

Balentine is married to John Balentine, a Tucson lawyer. They have two daughters Hallie and Jenna.

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