Roosevelt district poised for takeover after bill signed
April 29, 2008
Betty Reid - Apr.
29, 2008 05:59 PM
The Arizona Republic
Napolitano signed legislation on Tuesday, allowing the state to take over the
beleaguered Roosevelt School District.
It will now be up to the State Board of Education to decide whether Roosevelt
remains locally controlled or be overseen by the state. Arizona's education
chief, Tom Horne, said he plans to ask the board as early as May 19 to consider
the matter, saying the district has failed to educate students.
Roosevelt governing board members were disappointed and said they will show the
state board that student test scores have improved and therefore they should
keep the 12,000-pupil south Phoenix district.
The district has struggled to make the grade on Arizona Learns, the
state's report card. When half of its 21 schools fell below average or failed in
October 2007, three Democratic Arizona lawmakers decided it was time to
intervene and sought the help of their colleagues and the Arizona Department of
Sen. Leah Landrum-Taylor, D-Phoenix, helped craft House Bill 2711.
"I'm ecstatic about the fact that the governor, as usual, is showing her
concerns about the children of this state," Landrum Taylor said.
Napolitano, in her letter to Speaker of the House Jim Weiers, noted the
district's student test scores have improved.
"While Roosevelt qualifies as a candidate for a takeover under House Bill 2711,
the district's own efforts on academic improvement have already resulted in
three years of consecutively higher math and reading AIMS test scores for
Roosevelt's third, fifth and eighth graders," Napolitano wrote.
Napolitano's office received about 235 calls since Friday when the bill landed
on her desk, mostly urging her to veto the bill.
Roosevelt's Governing School Board President Norma Muņoz is disappointed.
"I'm confident that the State Board of Education will allow us to continue our
upward trend," Muņoz said. "And If Mr. Horne was truly concerned about our
community, he wouldn't be trying to (lower) our ELL (Tom Horne said he had been
trying to get this bill passed into law since 2004.
"One of the principal moral issue of our times is schools in poor neighborhoods
that do not educate students, these students need help the most because they get
the least help at home," Horne said. "With this bill, we will be able to assure
that never again, in the state of Arizona will a student go to a school where
(he/she) does not learn."
Horne said he's confident the state board will agree with him and turn over the
district to the state. If approved, Horne said the next step would be to hire a
superintendent before school starts in August.