Many programs that once received desegregation funds in TUSD will no longer see that money under a new plan set to kick in next school year.
New requirements under the Unitary Status Plan, which is designed to bring the district's schools into racial balance, will move away from some programming in order to reallocate it to other efforts in the fall.
Schools hardest hit by the change are those that are not considered magnets. Magnet programs focus on a specific academic area - a particular career or a specialized-learning environment - and are designed to attract students of diverse backgrounds.
Several years ago, the Tucson Unified School District adopted a model encouraging non-magnet schools to come up with their own focus that would attract students from across the city, such as arts, environmental or global studies. That allowed schools that traditionally had not received desegregation dollars in the past to receive them.
Those programs will no longer get desegregation funds, although some have been successful enough they may continue without desegregation funds.
With the adoption of the new plan earlier this year, the district is having to go in an entirely different direction, TUSD Desegregation Director Sam Brown told the Governing Board on Thursday during a special study session for the budget.
"So we're going from site-based decisions where they crafted and created plans that would work for their students … and we're going top down," Board Member Kristel Foster said, voicing concerns the district is giving up programs that have "become a part of our culture and community" for a "new vision."
Brown acknowledged that while it clearly is a change, schools were notified in advance this was coming, adding the Unitary Status Plan allows for more consistency across the district.
"There is naturally some tension between the things we've been doing for 34 years - some that work and some that don't," Brown said. "It is a very dynamic fundamental shift. The way we've addressed it is to start with leadership and figure out what are those things that we hold dear and value to move forward with."
In addition to promoting integration through magnet schools and programs, the Unitary Status Plan calls for the district to increase racial and ethnic diversity in its schools, improve the diversity of administrators, and to reduce disparities in handling student discipline.
The proposed budget for the plan comes with a price tag of $83.3 million, the majority of which will be covered by $64.3 million in desegregation funds. The remaining $19 million will come from other existing district resources like federal money and the maintenance and operations fund.
The total budget is approximately $1 million less than the district originally made public in documents earlier this week, due to an error in the document.
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