The Tucson Unified School District is looking at redrawing its attendance boundaries in an effort to improve school integration.
Options being considered, for the most part, allow students to move from lower performing schools to higher achieving campuses. However, in a few instances, the opposite could occur.
Several of the options include voluntary busing from between schools to achieve racial balance.
The boundary review is required under the district’s decades-old desegregation order, which calls for campuses to be integrated, meaning one racial or ethnic group may not exceed 70 percent of a school’s enrollment.
A TUSD-formed boundary committee developed more than two dozen options, which were eventually narrowed down to these seven:Option 1: Provide transportation for students from certain racially concentrated schools to Howell and Sewell elementary schools. Schools from which students could be bused would have to have high-poverty student populations and low letter grades. The option would allow them to attend higher-performing schools while improving racial balance. The downside would be increased transportation costs, travel distances and the disproportionate travel burden on Hispanic children. The option applies to Lynn/Urquides, Maldonado, Manzo, Miller, Mission View, Tolson and Oyama.
- Option 2: Create a dual language program at Manzo Elementary School and provide transportation to draw in students from across the city, reducing the 86 percent Hispanic racial concentration at Manzo. This could also help improve academics at the school, which currently has a letter grade of C. Drawbacks of this option are Manzo has no room for additional students and it is questionable as to whether there is interest in such a program from non-Hispanic families to help integration. Students may need to travel a long distance and there is a disproportionate travel burden for non-Hispanics.
- Option 3: Create a shared attendance area that would allow students from C-rated Mansfeld Middle School to attend the nearby B-rated Roskruge K-8. The change could reduce racial concentration at Roskruge, but it would impact few students. Both schools are considered to be racially concentrated with 80 percent or more Hispanic students.
- Option 4: Move the high-performing Dodge Traditional Magnet Middle School into the now-closed Fort Lowell-Townsend campus, allowing for growth of the already-integrated school. The two campuses are only about one mile apart, however, the Fort Lowell-Townsend campus may need retrofitting.
- Option 5: Offer programming at Santa Rita and Cholla high schools allowing students to earn associates degrees while in high school. The campuses would also emphasize career and technical education opportunities. Both Cholla and Santa Rita are C-rated. The new programing could attract out-of-district students. It may, however, take three to five years to develop the program, and transportation could be a challenge for those who live far away. It is also unclear what impact the change would have on integration. Cholla is also overutilized. It is not known whether there would be fees associated with the classes or who would cover the cost.
- Option 6: Provide transportation options to serve Cholla, Pueblo, Palo Verde and Santa Rita high schools. This would allow students at Cholla and Pueblo, which are racially concentrated, to attend schools that are integrated — Palo Verde — or neutral — Santa Rita. The voluntary express route would require a long commute and it is unclear what impact the effort would have on integration.
- Option 7: Eliminate a shared attendance zone between Carrillo and Drachman, assigning students who live in the area to Carrillo only, and make Drachman an application-only magnet school.
An advisory and leadership team — which includes representatives from TUSD, the city of Tucson, community members, a demographer and a third-party consultant — has also been involved in the process, along with the desegregation plaintiffs and the special master — a court-appointed desegregation expert.
The options will likely be narrowed down based on community feedback and further research, including what the options mean for transportation, whether there is financial capacity to carry them out and if there is student interest, said TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez.
Adopted options would not go into effect until the 2015-2016 school year to allow for training and other planning.