Demand is so high for the Knox Gifted Academy in Chandler that the district is recommending converting the entire campus to that program once this year's kindergartners complete sixth grade.
The Chandler Unified School District introduced the Knox Gifted Academy this year on part of the Knox Elementary School campus. More than 200 students have enrolled and there's a waiting list, district officials told the governing board Wednesday night.
With Knox Elementary undergoing a 10-year enrollment decline, school leaders are asking the board to consider a change.
"What we're doing is recommending we continue what we're doing now. We'll basically have two different schools on one campus. Rather than redraw the boundaries for existing families, we're going to allow the students to continue until they graduate. We just won't take on new families," district spokesman Terry Locke said Thursday.
The board heard four different options to redraw existing Knox boundaries on Wednesday. There will be two more meetings before the board votes, likely near the end of January.
Incoming students could be shifted to Andersen, Conley, Sanborn or Shumway elementary schools.
No new kindergartners would be registered at Knox for next year, under the proposal.
"Anyone who moves into the community would be assigned to a new school in the area," Locke said.
Chandler is making several changes to adjust for student decline in the northern reaches of the district, while trying to support popular programs.
In July, the district will open Arizona College Prep-Erie campus at what is now the Erie Elementary School. Those students will be shifted to San Marcos, Hartford Sylvia Encinas or Conley elementary schools next year.
Students from Hamilton Prep, which is now housed in rented space at a church, will move to Arizona College Prep-Erie campus. The new school will have seventh- through 12th grades to begin with, but will transition to ninth- through 12th grades.
This year, the district converted Chandler Junior High School into Arizona College Prep-Oakland campus. The two programs will become one on two different campuses.
The district's actions are similar to what's going on at neighboring Mesa Unified School District. The governing board there voted this year to close Mesa and Brimhall junior high schools due to declining enrollment and budget issues. Three back-to-basics programs in the district now housed on campuses with portable classrooms will be transferred to the Brimhall campus in August 2012.
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Michelle Reese, East Valley Tribune