February 19, 2005
The Kyrene Elementary School District already has among the highest test scores in the East Valley, but district officials hope a plan to cut electives and focus on core subjects will boost them even higher — while saving money.
The K-8 Programming Study Committee of parents, teachers and administrators approved recommendations this week that the school board will discuss in a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday study session at the Ben Furlong Education Center, 8700 S. Kyrene Road, Tempe.
The board could vote at a March 8 meeting on whether to adopt the plans or turn them down.
David Schauer, assistant superintendent of instructional services, said while saving money is an issue, a key to the proposal is running schools in a way that emphasizes learning core subjects through problemsolving, rather than through memorization.
But some parents and teachers are concerned that programs and teaching positions are on the chopping block before the district has even estimated its deficit for this year.
"They have not outlined other options they could save money," said Sue Dale, whose children take band courses that would be every other day under the proposal. "You cannot gain mastery in band on an every-other-day (schedule)."
The committee overwhelmingly supported a plan to change the middle school format from six core subjects and one elective to five core subjects and two alternating electives. Middle schools would break into teams of 120 students shared among a team of teachers, rather than the current 180-student teams.
Language arts classes would be cut from 90 minutes to 68 minutes, but many other classes, including math and science, would jump from 45 minutes to 68 minutes. As much as $765,000 would be saved in this plan, which could mean about 17 fewer teaching positions.
An additional $350,000 could be saved by cutting a second teacher inservice day.