The possibility of moving University High School to its own campus is no longer on the table, leaving the award-winning school to continue its partnership with Rincon High for now.
Tucson Unified School District Governing Board member Mark Stegeman once again advocated at a meeting Tuesday for UHS to break away from Rincon High School. But Superintendent H.T. Sanchez recommended no changes until information is received from a districtwide demographic study and efficiency audit, which will look at school use.
“UHS needs to be a part of the big picture,” Sanchez said. “That seems to make the most sense as opposed to operating like an island like it is right now.
“When this idea was put forward, there is a component that was neglected in that work,” Sanchez said, listing issues including:
A need to identify criteria on how to propose a school for closure.
The fact that UHS, when combined with the Rincon population, is considered an integrated school in a district working to get out from under a desegregation order.
A need to consult parents, teachers and community members.
University High Principal Dean Packard said he supports Sanchez’s approach of getting a better understanding of enrollment trends across the district, adding that depending on the prospective, there are positives to UHS having its own site and positives to sharing with Rincon.
Governing Board President Adelita Grijalva did not support Stegeman’s proposal, calling the school-within-a-school a “unique concept.” She did acknowledge issues that drive complaints from those who want UHS to have its own site, including conflicting bell schedules, overcrowded classrooms and facility conditions.
Grijalva recommended that the district actively work to alleviate those issues rather than jump to the conclusion that the only way to remedy them is to separate UHS and Rincon.
The proposal, originally made by Stegeman in December, called for UHS to have exclusive use of an existing TUSD high school site to accommodate more out-of-district students. Stegeman also called for the site to house a new magnet middle school that would emphasize academic achievement, much like UHS.
The board voted then to have the staff make a presentation in November on moving UHS. No presentation was made Tuesday, however, as Sanchez noted the previous vote was originally made under a different board and a different administration.
The board unanimously voted Tuesday night to instead incorporate any UHS planning into the district’s comprehensive strategic plan.
Stegeman said he remains committed to his proposal.