Parents support state takeover

By Daniel Scarpinato

New principal ordered for Craycroft school


A state plan to remove the principal of Craycroft Elementary School drew support from a small group of parents Thursday, but others still want more details about the change.
Word came last week that the Arizona Department of Education will be replacing Principal Hans Schot with a state-approved individual who will be charged with pulling the school out of the "failing" category.
About a dozen parents met Thursday night to discuss the possibility of appealing the state's move, but most said they didn't know enough about the plan to proceed.
While some at the meeting supported the state's decision, there was little vocal support for Schot.
Parent-Teacher Organization President Maria Maldonado sees the intervention as unnecessary and wants to give Schot more time to fix the school's problems. A low turnout of parents, which Maldonado attributed to spring break, forced her to put those plans on hold.
Maldonado questioned whether the state is targeting Craycroft in order to make a "success story" out of it.
But fifth-grade teacher Gil Larribas said it was time for a takeover, since teachers were not being supported by the school or district administrations.
"I think the state listened," he said. "Philosophically I did not want the state to take over, but I'm in agreement that we need to start over fresh."
The dramatic move by the state Department of Education is a first since the implementation of the Arizona Learns accountability program in 2002. The labels are based on a combination of AIMS test scores and factors such as academic progress and attendance. Schools are labeled "excelling," "highly performing," "performing," "underperforming" and "failing."
Eleven schools, including Sunnyside Unified School District's Craycroft Elementary, 5455 E. Littletown Road, and Tucson Unified School District's Van Buskirk, 725 E. Fair St., were labeled "failing."
That means they received an "underperforming" label this year for the third time in a row. Only five of the 11 schools will get new principals.
If parents decide to argue the state's decision, time might not be on their side. The state Board of Education is set to approve the move at its Monday meeting, and spokeswoman Amy Rezzonico said anyone is welcome to speak during the call to the audience.
Parent Amy Balderrama is ready for change.
"I don't want to waste the next five years of my daughter's education saying, 'OK, maybe it will get better,' " she said.
Maldonado plans to distribute letters to parents when school resumes with updated information about the changes.
Sunnyside spokeswoman Monique Soria said the district sent letters home with students before the break.
The state board will meet at 9 a.m. Monday in Phoenix at the Arizona Department of Education, 1535 W. Jefferson.
● Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 573-4195 or