Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/mesa/articles/1204boundary04Z11.html

Stapley students may head to Kino
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 4, 2003
Mel MelÚndez

Almost 200 Stapley Junior High School students will likely be moved to Kino Junior High, despite protests from their parents and a divided school boundary committee that expressed concerns of routing children to a school where they "aren't wanted."

"It concerns me to send students to a school if they're not going to be welcome there," said Lynette Richter, chairwoman of Mesa Unified's Planning and Boundary Design Advisory Committee.

"Frankly, Kino would be getting some great kids," she added, addressing concerns that the move would shift more minorities and less-affluent students from Stapley to Kino.

The 10-member committee voted 6-4 Tuesday to recommend shifting the students over the next three years. At least one committee member, Karen Stapley, whose daughter attends Kino, said she would object to the governing board, which will decide on the changes Dec. 16.

"I'll personally express my concerns to (governing board) President Suzanne Davis," Stapley said, "because my child goes to Kino, and I don't think this school can take all these additional students."

Under the proposal, 192 students would eventually be moved from Stapley to Kino. Rerouted students include those from sections south of Thomas Road, north of McKellips Road, west of Stapley Drive and east of Country Club Drive.

The committee also recommended granting preferred open enrollment status to 21 kids in the area bounded by McDowell on the north, Gilbert Road on the east, Lehi Road on the south and Stapley on the west to avoid splitting up Lehi community students.

Kino parent David Brake said he was disappointed with the board's decision. Brake conducted a PowerPoint presentation comparing the schools' enrollment numbers, demographics, student projections and square footage to build a case against moving the students starting in 2004-05.

"Kino is a school that embraces diversity, which is why my children go there," he said. "So this isn't about ethnicity or socioeconomic bias. This is about a smaller school that will be stretched to the max."

Unlike their junior high school counterparts, the parents of children attending Las Sendas Elementary School were celebrating by the end of the three-hour meeting.

The committee had revised its initial plans to move about 120 kids from the Las Sendas campus off North Red Mountain to Falcon Hill Elementary south of McKellips Road.

Las Sendas students affected by the plans live in sections south of McDowell, north of McKellips, east of Power Road and west of Hawes Road. The board will also consider grandfathering in about 40 students from the triangular patch west of the CAP Canal and east of Power Road.

After parental feedback from last month's boundary change meeting, the committee amended its initial proposal to avoid forcing the students - most from the Estates of Desert Shadows community - to cross the proposed extension of Loop 202 by the canal.

To accommodate the students, a special-education program and classes for English Language Learners will be moved, extended-day kindergarten will be eliminated and no new open enrollment will be granted at Las Sendas.

"We're thrilled that our kids will be allowed to stay," parent Kelly Colonero said. "But the district should've done the freeway research before we experienced all these sleepless nights."