TUSD may spend $84.5 million on desegregation plan

2013-05-02T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T08:48:05Z TUSD may spend $84.5 million on desegregation planAlexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Tucson Unified School District may spend as much as $84.5 million on a plan designed to bring its schools into racial balance.

The TUSD Governing Board will look at the proposed budget for the plan, known as the Unitary Status Plan, today during a special study session at 4 p.m.

Most of the expenses will be paid for with $64 million in desegregation funding. The remainder will come from reallocating federal, maintenance and operating funds.

The Unitary Status Plan calls for the district to increase racial and ethnic diversity in its schools, promote integration in magnet schools and programs, improve the diversity of administrators, and reduce disparities in handling student discipline.

The biggest chunk of money - $17.9 million, or 21 percent of the budget - is to promote student achievement, such as academic equity and intervention services offered to ensure all students receive an equitable education.

The category also includes dropout prevention and retention, alternative education, and support services for Mexican-American, African-American, Native American, Asian-Pacific Islander and refugee students.

Other areas with significant investments include magnet-school programs, receiving $8.9 million, and student assignment and transportation, receiving $8.4 million.

The Unitary Status Plan has been broken down into 13 projects, plus the district's obligation to use desegregation funding for English-language learners and Office of Civil Rights matters, which is slated to receive $10.4 million.

The other 10 major funding categories are:

• Unitary Status Plan program and administration: $8.3 million.

• Advanced Learning Experiences: $8.1 million.

• Professional development: $7.3 million.

• Inclusive school environments: $5.8 million.

• Discipline and extracurricular activities: $3.1 million.

• Family engagement: $1.8 million.

• Evidence-based accountability system and monitoring/reporting: $1.5 million.

• Facilities: $1.2 million.

• Personnel, hiring and recruitment: $731,661.

• Technology: $608,719.

More than 700 full-time employees are expected to carry out the plan, at least 19 of whom are new, according to the proposed budget.

There are many differences between the current desegregation budget and next year's proposed budget as a result of the new requirements under the Unitary Status Plan. Some programs lost desegregation funding, while others saw an increase.

For example, district officials say Catalina Magnet High School will remain a magnet, but it's not included in this budget. Mansfeld Middle School, which currently is not a magnet program, has been included.

The Unitary Status Plan was written by a desegregation expert and is a requirement as part of the district's decades-old federal desegregation order.

As a result, the parties to the case and the desegregation expert will continue to have the opportunity to comment on how desegregation dollars will be spent.

Sylvia Campoy, a representative for the Latino plaintiffs, feels the district is headed in the right direction, but she remains critical.

"For so many years, the desegregation budget has been misused," Campoy said. "You've never been able to track the money.

"In looking at what has been presented, there is still a void of information. There have been shifts in funding from last year to what's being proposed without a lot of explanation or specificity," she said.

Some of the Latino plaintiffs' concerns included allocating $2 million of desegregation funding to fine arts - down from the $4.25 million allocated this year, but questionable nonetheless, Campoy said.

"We believe fine arts is good for all children, but how does it fit into the overarching goals of integrating the district and narrowing the disparity in achievement for children who are traditionally underserved?" Campoy said.

She also questioned the amounts that have been allotted to Mexican-American Student Services - $950,000 - and African-American Student Services - $956,000 - when 62 percent of the student population is Hispanic and 5 percent are African-American.

"The objectives are the same, but I'd like to understand why the amounts are so comparable when there is such a significant difference in population," Campoy said.

After today's study session, the budget will be revised before coming back on Tuesday for a vote.

The parties then have until May 17 to submit objections to the final proposed budget.

On StarNet: Find more education and TUSD news and resources at azstarnet.com/education

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

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

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