Mary Beth Faller’s AZCentral statement compilation of Scottsdale Unified School District governing board candidates provided some additional insight on the upcoming SUSD board election.
One question I’d like to have heard answered:
Why we are going to build NEW buildings for the relocation of the SUSD administrative offices, when we are going to close schools and leave the buildings empty or sell off these taxpayer assets?
In my humble opinion, the district offices should be relocated (from Phoenix) to vacant space already in the inventory. In fact, they should be co-located with the poorest performing school in the district.
Scottsdale candidates weigh in on closing schools
Mary Beth Faller, The Republic | azcentral.com 9:54 a.m. MST October 27, 2014
The Scottsdale Unified School District has too much space.
Eleven of the 15 elementary schools are at two-thirds or less of their enrollment capacity, according to a district report released last spring.
And enrollment has continued to erode, down about 4 percent in August compared with the same time last year.
Four candidates are running for two open seats on the governing board: Kim Hartmann, a businss executive and longtime school volunteer; Pam Kirby, a former financial analyst and current board member; Laddie Guy Shane, a student at Arizona State University; and Francesca Thomas, a longtime school volunteer and former president of the Scottsdale Parent Council.
Here is what they said about the school space issue, in remarks sent to the Scottsdale Republic and during a recent forum:
Hartmann said every dollar should be scrutinized and spent on the classroom, and the district should aggressively market its successes, including its “A” grade from the state Department of Education. She also said principals and teachers should be empowered to develop a curriculum that serves the needs of the neighborhood.
“We will need to look at our facilities very creatively,” she said.
“We’re doing some great things, but we may need some tough love. The average bus to take a group of students to an activity is about $225 and we charge $75.”
Kirby advocates a two-pronged approach: Principals and teachers at each school should be able to meet the needs of their communities and the district must consider consolidating schools.
“While nobody wants to close a school, we must act responsibly with taxpayer dollars, directing savings to the classroom to fund the investment required to deliver the enrollment-building strategies,” Kirby said.
Laddie Guy Shane
Shane said consolidation is a “much-needed reality” and the district has survived previous school closings.
He also would consider redrawing boundaries to be more efficient.
“We cannot maintain what we have right now,” he said.
“It is the people at the schools that create the optimal educational environment, not the buildings.”
Thomas said school consolidation should only happen after community input.
“I can tell you that no parent under the sun will say, ‘Please close my school,’ ” she said.
“We have to have the conversation with the people who own the space. If the best choice is to close a school or consolidate schools, we have to be able to explain that with enough time and enough facts and enough context for the stakeholders to understand that.”