Forums on magnet plans at 3 TUSD schools begin today

2013-10-01T08:45:00Z 2013-10-03T07:05:26Z Forums on magnet plans at 3 TUSD schools begin todayBy Alexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Three schools facing the threat of losing their magnet status will have the chance for backers and/or critics to help determine their future at community forums starting tonight.

The first forum, scheduled for today at 5:30 p.m., will be held at Pueblo Magnet High School, 3500 S. 12th Ave. That will be followed by a forum at Carrillo K-5 Magnet, 440 S. Main Ave., Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., and another at Davis Bilingual Magnet, 500 W. St. Mary’s Road, on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Pueblo has a communication-arts and college-prep focus, while Davis emphasizes Spanish immersion. Carrillo’s specialty is undefined.

The schools were identified as being ineffective at integrating students or promoting educational quality in a magnet plan designed to help the Tucson Unified School District get out from under a decades-old desegregation order.

While the plan was formulated by the district, the plaintiffs in the desegregation case and a court-appointed special master, TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez opposes the criteria used to identify schools, and as a result, opposes stripping the schools of their magnet status.

Sanchez says the criteria were created by the special master — a national desegregation expert. While he doesn’t agree with the criteria, Sanchez said it is unfair to expect schools to meet criteria that, until recently, did not exist.

Ultimately the TUSD Governing Board will decide whether to adopt the plan that would strip some schools of magnet status and modify others, or come up with a different plan.

Which ever they do, the plan will go before a federal judge, who could follow TUSD’s direction or overrule it and adopt the plan based on the special master’s criteria.

By definition, magnet schools are supposed to attract students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and they should encourage students to choose a school outside their neighborhood to participate in the magnet theme offered.

The student bodies at the three schools identified, however, are 86 percent or more Hispanic.

The primary concern is not necessarily the loss of the word “magnet” in a school’s name, TUSD has said. Rather, it’s the desegregation funding associated with being a magnet school that keeps the programs going, which has been stable, unlike funding provided by the state.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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