Arizona Republic
August 17, 2007

The (Phoenix, AZ)

Author: Georgann Yara, Special for The Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

The Tempe Elementary School District joined its sister districts Wednesday in opposing two plans offered by the state School District Redistricting Commission.

After an hourlong study session, board members favored the status quo over combining with the Tempe Union and Kyrene school districts to make one large district, or whittling the three districts into two using Guadalupe Road as the dividing line.

Tempe Elementary board members have drafted their response to the commission and will vote on an official revised version Sept. 5.

School districts must submit their responses to the commission by Sept. 15.

Superintendent Arthur Tate and board members believe that the current configuration would best serve Tempe Elementary's diverse student body, 25 percent of whom are English language learners and 65 percent of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch, said spokeswoman Monica Allread.

"Research supports that students that face these challenges achieve better in smaller school districts," she said.

The three school districts that serve Tempe stand unified in opposition against the two proposals, which have been criticized for resulting in a district or districts that are too large, the uncertainty of what would happen to specialized programs and potential expenses that the districts cannot afford.

Tempe Union board members are expected to vote on their official response next week. Board President Zita Johnson said that although some board members supported the philosophy of unification in a study session last week, they did not agree with short timeline given to restructure and the lack of financial support for either plan.

Johnson said that these obstacles would be a detriment and a disruption to student achievement.

After much research and analysis, Kyrene board members approved their response to the commission on Tuesday.

It requests that no plan be forwarded to Gov. Janet Napolitano. Board President Sue Knudson said neither proposal was possible without taking funding away from classrooms and programs.

"In the end, we just couldn't support either plan," she said.
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Tempe Republic
Page: 4