This is our second year at senita and I am very impressed with student safety. Adults wear yellow vests are seen outside at all times during drop off and dismissal. Great education, great secretaries and great teachers!
We have had our children at Senita Valley for four years and we love it! In our experience, the teachers are so engaged and proactive in the kids' education and we can't say enough positive things about them. The principle is completely engaged and is seen daily on campus, personally making sure everything is running smoothly and making herself available for parent and student interaction. She has high standards, and it shows in her choice of teachers and in our kids' learning. The kids are learning much more than to take tests; they are learning to think critically and creatively. Character is a big focus at SVE and we feel that the staff there is partnering with us in raising caring, intelligent, and responsible kids. We have a total of four children that will be going through SVE, and we are so thankful for this awesome school!!
The philosophy of teaching, overall, in the Vail School District tends towards teaching to the test. Vail students definitely know how to test as they are drilled in it daily. Ratings (regardless of their meaning or lack thereof) are of more importance than actual learning. The latest in technology in the classroom (smart boards in every class) more important than knowing whether these technologies actually have any real and lasting impact on learning. Open enrollment has led to overcrowding in the classrooms as the District vies for students (and their accompanying tuition paid by their home school districts). Yes, our children had some wonderful, dedicated and highly motivated teachers at this school. However, several have left and more have indicated frustration with leadership and the trend toward teaching from a script. As is possible with any school, there are also teachers on staff who would be better suited to employment that did not involve interaction with children. We withdrew from the district and have not looked back.
Here is a review from a Dad of three in the Vail schools.... Senita Valley is a great school. The teachers are outstanding. The students are in a great learning enviroment. Year in and year out, I am amazed that with the limited budget, they get a great education, have nice friends, and come home and still have a positive attitudes. A school isn't daycare. We as parents have to get involved. And Vail has all the outlets for us to just that. Power School, lots of activities for us as parents to get involved in, easy access to the teachers and lots of letters coming home to keep us up to date. If you are reading this, it's because you are thinking of having your children to attend here. Take a tour, it's a great school. But then so is all of the Vail schools. Just look at the rankings and reviews. I'm not going to say Senita is the best. I will say Vail is the best. Thank you Calvin Baker for being an outstanding leader!
Connie Erikson, the Principal is horrible when it comes to physical assaults on other children on campus. School policy was not followed- up on and nothing happened to the other student who assaulted another, per school policy. This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Her lousy reputation preceeds her with TPD regarding the lack of conern, rather action in these cases, which have been many. Along these lines are the opinions of other teachers aware of her lackluster leadership when these negative incidents occur. It was quoted from another teacher that "...she tends to sweep these things under the rug to improve her outcomes and funding she receives for this school."
There's an excellent kindergarten intervention program here. No special ed involved, but they take kids who are struggling the most with pre-reading skills at the beginning of kindergarten and give them extra help. Basically, they get all day kindergarten. At the end of the year, they generally come out ahead of those who didn't get into the program. They don't do non-readers at Senita Valley--not even in Kinder and 1st grade. The principal is excellent, and so is the intervention teacher. In fact, with 4 children that either are going or that have gone to this school, I have had only one mediocre teacher, and she was gone half way through the first year. There is one other teacher that tends to overwhelm her students with the quantity of homework, but a note to her was sufficient to tone it down a little.
Vail School District lost a lot of funding, because 51% of the district voters refused to renew a budget override last year that has been in existence (through renewals) for more than a decade. And this after massive budget cuts from the state. As a result, all Vail schools have lost significant funding, meaning larger classrooms and huge cuts in Art, PE, and Music. Many schools have cut Art and Music from the curriculum. Teachers and parents stepped up to the plate with lots of volunteer work, and lots of after school programs. The PTA has been doing tons of fundraisers. But it's still hard on the schools, which means it's hard on the kids. We have high hopes for a 2nd (smaller) override election this year. This school, and the district, are excellent. But there's only so much a school can do without money. They have done what they can, in fact, Vail has pioneered the Beyond Textbooks program, which saved boatloads of money on textbooks while making the information to be taught far more up to date and much closer to state standards. They now sell the program to other districts. Though not listed, Rincon Vista Middle School is right next to SVE. It's a 10 too.
Senita Valley is no longer a K-8 school. The school has been divided into Senita Valley Elementary and Rincon Vista Middle. We have had children in both schools and have been very pleased. The schools are smaller and feel safe. The teachers have time to give personal attention to each student and care about their success. Our middle schooler has enjoyed all of the clubs and other activities available at the school. We have especially enjoyed the principals at the Rincon Vista. They are warm, caring, and effective.
Fantastic school! The staff is absolutely wonderful and the education your children receive in the vail district is phenomenal. Trust me, you will miss it dearly if you ever have to move. I had 2 children go there for 2 years. The first year they were open and the following year. Beware of an awful parking lot but that's mainly due to refusal of opening more gates from the community by the mesquite ranch HOA. But it's worth the headache for the education and care your children will get while attending Senita Valley,