Sunnyside gets Jesus Bustamante as new Governing Board member
Jesus Bustamante will fill the seat left by vacant by Matthew Taylor on the Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board, the county schools superintendent announced Monday.
Bustamante was tapped for the position by Pima County School Superintendent Dustin Williams to fill the shoes of Matthew Taylor, who resigned from the board in late October because he was moving out of the district. Taylor was elected in 2020, and Bustamante will serve out the rest of Taylor’s four-year term, which will end in November 2024.
Taylor was also the clerk of the SUSD board, but Bustamante will not automatically fill that role. Instead, the SUSD Governing Board has to decide the new clerk at an organizational meeting in January.
Bustamante is, however, now eligible to serve on the board after being sworn in on Monday. He could take his seat at a meeting on Tuesday, but SUSD officials aren’t sure whether he will.
After working in SUSD for 22 years, Bustamante retired in 2013. District officials described him as “Sunnyside through and through” and “really ready to try and make a difference in the community.”
“We must work as a team,” Bustamante said in a press release. “We need to work with the students, staff, and community as equals and make the proper decisions. I am ready to get to work.”
The SUSD board has another appointed member in Ted Rodriguez, who was appointed by Williams in October to fill a vacancy left by Lisette Nunez, who was also elected in 2020 like Taylor. Rodriguez’s term will also end in November 2024, but he and Bustamante can run for election for their own four-year terms.
In early June, former Sunnyside Superintendent Steve Holmes left his position at the helm of the school district, located in South Side Tucson, after being hired by Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher as a deputy administrator amid a reshuffle.
The SUSD board voted 5-0 to appoint Jose Gastelum as the new Sunnyside superintendent shortly after Holmes’ departure. Gastelum was previously the chief student services officer.
The Sunnyside district has about 14,000 students, and about 90% of them are Hispanic, according to SUSD 2021-2022 data. About 3% are white, 3% are Native American and 2.5% are Black, according to the district. The district also has a workforce of 2,000 employees.
The two major schools in SUSD are Sunnyside High School and Desert View High School. Both have about 2,000 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.