Plan would turn Imes into traditional school
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 21, 2005
Parents in the
heart of Glendale are fighting proposed changes at Isaac E. Imes Elementary
School that call for turning the second-oldest school in the Glendale Elementary
School District into a traditional school.
Glendale school board members will study the proposal Tuesday. It would convert
Imes into a back-to-basics school where kids wear uniforms and parent
participation is mandatory.
Traditional schools around the Valley, including in the Alhambra and Washington
districts, are popular among parents and boost student test scores. But Imes
parents, many Spanish-speaking, say it is not the right fit for them.
Glendale board members are
restructuring the district in preparation for a new school, set to open in
August. Glendale Superintendent Perry Hill said a traditional school could
attract new parents to the district, where enrollment has flat-lined and forced
budget cuts. Enrollment drives budgets because districts are paid per pupil.
A study shows that as many as 2,700 children who live in Glendale's boundaries
attend school elsewhere, which means Glendale is losing about $8 million a year,
Hill wants to reclaim those students and pump up the budget. Otherwise, the
school board faces making drastic program cuts, he said.
Traditional schools follow a back-to-basics philosophy with an emphasis on
reading, writing, math, discipline and homework. Teachers follow a lecture-style
approach and there is less cooperative learning and hands-on activities, Hill
At Imes, 6625 N. 56th Ave., enrollment has been declining for years. Built for
900 children, there are 536 students now, and about half of them are bused in
from other areas of the district. Parents of Imes students like the
dual-language program, where all children learn in English and Spanish. If Imes
switched to a traditional school, teachers would need to reapply for jobs, there
would be no busing and there would be no guarantee that the dual-language
program would stay intact.
One former Imes student says the dual-language program made her fluent in
Spanish and English.
"All my teachers did an incredible job, and now I'm on honor roll and studying
French," said Yadira Siordia, 16, a sophomore at Apollo High School. "You take
this away from them, and you take their future away."
To many parents, the proposal feels like a blow to the community. They have
history together. Many teachers were once Imes students. And generations of
families have attended the school. They feel they are being pushed aside to
bring in new parents.