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Sunnyside names Jose Gastelum as school district sup't, replacing Steve Holmes

Sunnyside names Jose Gastelum as school district sup't, replacing Steve Holmes

Sunnyside Unified School District named Jose Gastelum, their chief student services officer, as the new superintendent of the South Side district. Gastelum steps in as a replacement for Steve Holmes, who was tapped to be a deputy Pima County administrator.

The SUSD Governing Board voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to hire Gastelum as superintendent for the 22-23 school year and draft a contract to sign him long-term. Gastelum steps into the role on July 1 though Holmes' last day with SUSD will be July 15.

Contract terms, including Gatelum's salary, will be negotiated, so his new rate of pay is not yet determined. The base salary for Holmes was $150,000.

“This is a special community that is close to my heart,” Gastelum said. “As a proud K–12 product of the Sunnyside District, I couldn’t be more honored to serve in this capacity.”

Steve Holmes served as SUSD superintendent for seven years before taking his new job, as County Administrator Lesher brought him in to fill her former position after she replaced Chuck Huckelberry, who resigned after a serious bike injury.

Holmes’ hiring followed a leadership restructuring by Lesher that will see him heading departments alongside two other deputy administrators. He will start his role with Pima County on July 18.

District officials did not respond to Tucson Sentinel questions about whether any other candidates were considered for the superintendent post.

Gastelum started off as a Spanish teacher at Sunnyside High School in 1997 and has continued to work for the district for 25 years. He was a principal for seven years at Desert View High School then worked as the SUSD director of secondary schools for three years.

Like his predecessor, Gastelum attended K-12 at SUSD.

“Jose brings extensive experience in teaching, leadership development, and is a well-respected administrator,” Consuelo Hernandez, the SUSD Board president, said in a news release. “He has deep roots in the community, he has demonstrated his commitment to student success, and his core values align with our district's mission and vision.”

“Mr. Gastelum brings a vast amount of experience and knowledge to the position,” Matthew Taylor, a member of the SUSD Board, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday morning.”I’m proud and confident that we will be in excellent hands.”

Gastelum will be joined at the district’s helm with long-time SUSD Chief Information Officer Javier Baca, whom the board appointed as deputy superintendent.

Bennito L. Kelty is’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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