Mark Yslas Agua Fria Union High School District superintendent

Mark Yslas will start his new job as Agua Fria Union High School District superintendent on July 1. He joins the district from the Alhambra Elementary School District.

The Agua Fria Union High School District’s Governing Board recently confirmed the employment contract for Mark Yslas as its new superintendent.  

Yslas will begin July 1 following the retirement of Dr. Dennis Runyan. Yslas joins the district from the Alhambra Elementary School District, where he has served as superintendent since 2015. A career educator, Yslas brings his expertise in building strong coalitions and partnerships between school, business and government entities as well as a proven ability to implement change and transform organizations like AFUHSD.

“I’m so looking forward to it,” Yslas said. “I really did my homework on the district. It has a good reputation. It has a very solid foundation. There’s a spirit of innovation, and with a growing area, there are so many possibilities, so many things we can do when you put all that together.”

The governing board identified and agreed to key objectives that were of importance when searching for a new superintendent. Among those objectives were:

1. Serve the academic needs of all students and expanded learning opportunities.

2. Commit to effective communication protocols (internal and external).

3. Implement a district strategic plan.

4. Engage with the community with clear and concise communication.

5. Collaborate with governing board.

“Based on his previous experience and responsiveness to our governing board’s goals and objectives, we are pleased to announce that Mark Yslas will be our next superintendent,” said Vickie Landis, board president. “He will have the opportunity to interact with Dr. Runyan in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.”

Runyan has been superintendent for 12 years, previously serving as Millennium High School principal.

“AFUHSD is a growing and engaged community, and I am honored to join this well-respected and well-governed district,” Yslas said. “I look forward to working with the board and our professional staff, as well as our community, to achieve the best results for our district.”

The superintendent’s primary responsibilities include the supervision of administrative staff and school principals as well as oversight and decision making as it relates to educational programs, finances and facilities.

The superintendent also interacts with other stakeholders, including parents, teachers, students, education advocates and the community at large.

“Throughout the search process, top of mind for our board was to ensure that our next superintendent not only focuses on the academic needs of our students but has an eye to the future as our community continues to grow,” Landis said. “Mark is well suited for this position, and we look forward to working him.”

Yslas said he would like to build on what Runyan accomplished. 

“I want to certainly congratulate Superintendent Runyan on his spirit of innovation at Agua Fria,” Yslas said. “When you have that spirit and that energy and everybody’s looking forward to the future and moving forward, there are a lot of neat things we can do for our kids and our community.”

Yslas hails from Hayden, where his father worked in the copper mines for 40 years. His mother was an instructor assistant and beautician. 

“I came to the Valley to come to school,” he said. “I started out playing baseball at South Mountain Community College and did a little bit of time at ASU. I earned my bachelor’s at NAU.

“I like sports. That’s my hobby. I love to watch all kinds of sports. I lost a step in my speed. I’m not the athlete that I once was. I can’t wait to pitch batting practice to the baseball teams and challenge the basketball teams to free-throw contests and work out with the marching band.”