Pima Butte Elementary School logo

MARICOPA — A Maricopa school has achieved national acclaim for its dedication to education and high performance by being designated a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

Pima Butte Elementary was chosen as one of 367 schools across the nation that showed overall exemplary academic performance or managed to close achievement gaps among students.

Up to 420 schools are nominated each year, and the school first heard it had been chosen as a finalist in the spring.

“It’s an exciting award to be recognized for because only five schools within the state are even nominated,” Pima Butte Principal Elizabeth Allison said. “The fact that we were nominated is huge, and then the fact that we were designated as a Blue Ribbon School was even more exciting.”

The school was nominated in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category, which puts it among the highest performing schools in the state, according to state assessments and national testing.

“The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content,” Mishell Terry, spokeswoman for Maricopa Unified School District, wrote in a press release.

This is the 38th year of the national recognition, and the program has presented nearly 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools with some schools scooping multiple wins. Normally schools would be awarded during a ceremony, but this year the ceremony will be held virtually Nov. 12 and 13.

Allison credits her team of teachers and staff at Pima Butte as a reason for their success in the last few years.

“A lot of schools struggle with staff retention in general, especially in the state of Arizona,” Allison said. “One thing here at Pima Butte, we have a high retention of our staff. Our staff is dedicated to their students and their community and I think that has really helped us to continue to provide high-quality instruction.”

The principal said this award, along with designation as an A-plus school a couple years ago, shows her how far the school has come.

“Our goal here is to continue to do what we know is best for students, continue to monitor student data, continue to provide quality instruction and just continue to challenge ourselves and always try to continue to improve,” Allison said.


Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at ksawyer@pinalcentral.com.