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TUSD chief approved as new head of Colorado district

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Elizabeth Celania-Fagen

TUSD chief approved as new head of Colorado district

Former TUSD Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen was unanimously approved as the new head of Douglas County (Colo.) School District on Tuesday night.

“Her obvious impact, her energy, her attention to accountability – that was completely evident throughout the entire system," board member Cliff Stahl told Education News Colorado.

Fagen resigned from TUSD on March 19 after two years on the job to take the Douglas County post, reported.

“We found her to be very bright, very talented,” Billie Stanton, managing editor of the Montrose (Colo.) Daily Press, and former opinion page editor of the now-defunct Tucson Citizen, told Education News. “But I think one bit of research she didn’t do before she came was how viciously the legislature treats school funding in Arizona. All Arizona schools are horribly under-funded, and Tucson is a tough district to be in. I can see how Douglas County would be very appealing to her.”

DCSD is the third largest school district in Colorado with more than 54,000 students. It operates on a year-round calendar, alternating nine weeks of school with three week breaks, instead of traditional summer vacations.

TUSD has an enrollment of 56,000, with 10,000 staff in over 100 schools.

Education News contrasted the two districts:

Douglas County is an affluent area and its schools are among the highest-performing in the state. Tucson Unified School District, by contrast, serves a high-poverty, high-minority population, with all the attendant challenges.

And although Colorado school districts are facing enormous budgetary problems – and Douglas County is no exception – Arizona’s funding of its schools makes Colorado look flush by comparison.  Per pupil funding in the TUSD is just $3,300 per student – less than half the funding ratio in Douglas County.

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