North Scottsdale’s Christopher Verde school district would no longer exist if a Valley lawmaker has her way.
Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, said she intends to add an amendment to a bill making its way through the Legislature that would prevent districts from transporting more than 350 students to a different school district for their education.
That means the approximately 500-student Christopher Verde district, which voters in the Troon and Rio Verde areas created in November to bus students to surrounding districts instead of building their own schools, would be forced to merge with another district.
“This is not a fair solution for those children (being bused),” Gray said. “Just from that area being drawn into (another) school district ... it would give parents a say in their policies.”
Christopher Verde came into being through a law Gray sponsored last year, which required areas with more than 150 students that weren’t part of a school district — a situation that both Troon and Rio Verde were in — to vote to join an existing district or create a new one.
Gray wants to add the amendment to SB1164, which would allow the state’s redistricting commission to look at combining transportation districts with existing districts. That bill has passed the Senate and an amended version has passed the House Education Committee.
Gray would be able to add the amendment if the bill passes the full House and goes back to the Senate for reconciliation.
If a district did cross the 350-student threshold, the amendment would require the county schools superintendent to redraw district boundaries, combining that district with a neighboring school district, Gray said.
There are about 10 districts around the state that, instead of having schools, transport all of their students to neighboring districts for classes, Gray said. But most of these districts are small, with fewer than 50 students. Christopher Verde is the only district that would be affected by such a law.
Christopher Verde governing board president Cassandra Perkins, who supported joining another district before the election, said she hadn’t given any thought to whether she wanted to combine with another district since Christopher Verde was formed.
Instead, she’s been concerned with getting the district running. The two biggest concerns are finding startup funds and trying to form agreements with surrounding districts that would prevent Christopher Verde students from being moved from school to school.
“I don’t want the parents to feel like they’re second rate,” Perkins said. “No one’s saying they are threatening us (with moving students), but it has happened in the past.”
Perkins said she appreciated Gray’s attention to children, but would have to think about the bill more before forming an opinion.
“With legislation, I believe it when I see it,” Perkins said. “I was kind of surprised about that one when I heard.”