The Arizona Republic
Mar. 17, 2007

Author: Lisa Nicita, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

The Florence Unified School District is in the midst of big changes as several administrators and teachers look for jobs elsewhere, the governing board discusses reinstituting middle schools and frustrated parents deal with overcrowding and fight redistricting.

Parents and teachers have expressed concern about the direction the district is heading. Governing board President Amy Fuller addressed some of the concerns in an e-mail interview with the Gilbert Republic.

Is there any explanation you or the board is able to give for the dismissal of the three Santan-area principals?

The school board examines different criteria to make such difficult decisions. For example, we take under consideration whether administrators follow policy -- federal, state and district, including board policy. We pay attention to how they meet the academic, social and other needs of our children, including mandates such as No Child Left Behind, ELL (English language learners), special-ed curriculum standards, etc. We take a look at the interventions placed for our children to obtain academic achievement and how they would become successful citizens in our country.

What can you say to concerned parents who are worried about the direction the districted is headed?

The FUSD governing board would first like to acknowledge our deepest appreciation to our dedicated teaching and support staff. ... We admire and respect you highly.

We have made some decisions viewed by some as controversial. However, I can assure you we are dedicated to provide the best education possible to each child in our district. ... We will strive to become Florence Unified School District No. 1 in every sense of the word. Therefore, you are observing and will continue to observe significant changes as we embrace that vision.

What is the board's plan?

For years, the district has been satisfied to be satisfactory. The current board strongly believes that "satisfactory" is unsatisfactory. We aim for excellence. This vision of excellence starts at the top with our administrators. Accordingly, the board endeavors to retain administrators who embrace this vision.

How are plans coming on the possibility of reconfiguring into middle school(s)?

It is a possibility we need to fully explore and we will do so in the next few weeks with parental and community input.