Roosevelt district poised for takeover after bill signed
Arizona Republic
April 29, 2008


by Betty Reid - Apr. 29, 2008 05:59 PM
The Arizona Republic


Gov. Janet 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 Education.
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.