District seeks to prevent takeover of 3 schools
Arizona Republic
April 7, 2008


by Meghan E. Moravcik

The Glendale Elementary School District governing board is considering spending about $345,000 to try to prevent a state takeover of schools that have been repeatedly labeled "underperforming."
The board met in a study session last week to get an update from Superintendent Sandra Johnson, who has proposed being more proactive in improving Challenger Middle School, Landmark Middle School and Melvin E. Sine School.
Challenger has been labeled "underperforming" by the state for the past two years. Landmark and Sine received the label this year.
The new labels will come out in late August. If Challenger is deemed underperforming again, it will face a visit from a team from the Arizona Department of Education, and the state could take over certain aspects of how the school is run, including replacing the principal and assigning instructional coaches.
If Landmark and Sine are deemed underperforming again in August, they will have to implement an improvement plan.
Rather than wait for this to happen, Johnson believes the district should be proactive and focus on improving the schools as much as possible now.
"I believe it's our responsibility to provide the extra support to these schools and make sure they're improving," Johnson told the board members, adding that waiting until the new labels come out in August likely would be too late to implement changes for next school year.
The proposal involves additional training for teachers, more oversight from the district, improving the discipline plan, identifying students who still need help and providing additional tutoring, and bringing in experienced teachers to serve as coaches and help improve lesson plans.
Johnson said the board could decide to provide this support for all three schools or just focus on Challenger, which has had the underperforming label the longest.
"Personally, I don't see why we wouldn't try to support all three schools right now," board President Steve Johnston said.
The board likely will vote on the issue at its next meeting, on Thursday.