Many support Mesa 4-year high school plan - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Many support Mesa 4-year high school plan

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Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 8:11 pm | Updated: 2:55 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Parents and employees sending comments to the Mesa Unified School District largely support a proposal to create ninth grade through 12th grade high schools.

But some are unhappy that the plan only includes three of the district's six high schools for the 2010-11 school year.

More than a week ago, the administration presented several ideas to the district governing board to consider as changes for next school year. Many are proposed to address budget and declining enrollment issues.

But this one - adding freshmen to the district's high schools that now hold sophomores, juniors and seniors - was proposed to not only save money, but to bring Mesa in alignment with surrounding districts and charter schools.

No other district in the state has Mesa's current 10th- through 12th-grade format, Superintendent Mike Cowan told the governing board.

The district put all eight of the recommendations up on its Web site, which also includes a place for community comment.

Some of the e-mails say:

"I am in favor of a districtwide change to 9-12th grades at each high school campus. This may require changes in boundaries that are currently in place as well as some restrictions to request for boundary changes for some families."

"As a former employee of Mesa Public Schools and a resident of Mesa, I would like to see Mesa Public Schools move to a K-5, 6-8 middle school, and 9-12 high school model. I believe this would make our schools more competitive academically, athletically, and in activities. I left Mesa Public Schools because I was frustrated with the 10-12 high school model."

"The 4 year high school program should have been done way before now. How behind the times is Mesa when all other districts are unified this way."

"I believe the proposal involving moving the freshmen to only three schools grossly handicaps the other three schools. I believe, Mesa High at least, runs the risk of losing many more students, students that want to be in high school as freshmen. I believe that all six high schools should have grades 9-12. In my case, losing the freshmen class for even one year will be a disaster for the next five to six years with our athletic programs. We can handle having extra students on campus. WE are Mesa High. We 'Carry On' and our rich tradition shines through each day."

Of the 142 e-mails that have been sent to the district in the last two months since the Web site was created, most have addressed the issue of grade-level change - about 70 in total. And a majority of the writers are parents.

The responses were presented to the district's board Tuesday night during a study session. While about 60 e-mails came in beforethe public release of the district's recommendations, the rest have come in the last week, said Paul Wright, director of development with the district.

Cowan directed Wright to create a "common questions" section on the Web site to answer some issues that have been addressed by the public. It could be up in the next two weeks.

Governing board members also asked the district to answer questions they're hearing from the public, specifically about some of the proposed changes to the junior highs. Brimhall Junior High, in southeast Mesa, feeds into three high schools. But only one of them - Skyline High School - is proposed to change to a ninth- through 12th-grade format next school year. So about one-third of the ninth-graders at Brimhall would move while the others stay.

The proposal is to move ninth-graders to Skyline, Westwood and Dobson high schools next school year because they have room there now, and to reconfigure Mesa, Mountain View and Red Mountain high schools in the future. The district said it needs more time to figure out how adding ninth-graders to those schools will impact the campuses.  

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