State decides to take over 11 'failing' schools
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 29, 2005
Pat Kossan


The state received permission Monday to take over the daily operations of Arizona's first 11 "failing" schools, including kicking out five principals, mentoring those allowed to stay, replacing teachers and even combining campuses.

The Arizona State Board of Education unanimously approved the intervention plans, which are scheduled to be in place by July 1 and last two to five years.

The state ranked the schools as "failing" in October because of lagging standardized student test scores

Members of the board asked few questions and lauded state officials for working with each school community, including parents and teachers, to develop distinct plans.

"They understood this took a whole community to change a culture of what they're willing to accept for their children," said Joanne Hilde, state Board of Education vice president.

Coconino County School Superintendent Cecilia Owen is a new member of the state Board of Education and is worried that rural schools, which struggle to hire and keep principals and teachers, would be able to sustain improvements after the state's intervention.

Owen said improving schools is only a piece of developing economic stability in many remote communities that suffer from poverty and lack of jobs.

"This is a short-term plan and it's better than no plan," Owen said.

State Board of Education President Matthew Diethelm said the plans were only a kick-start for the schools.

"The state can't fix them, they've got to fix themselves," Diethelm said.

"We're doing what we can to get them going."

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