CUSD may move Erie students to new school SanTan Sun News

CUSD may move Erie students to new school

September 24th, 2020 Editorial Staff
CUSD may move Erie students to new school
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Chandler Unified administrators want to relocate Arizona College Prep-Erie’s 800 students to the district’s new high school campus next school year.

The relocation across town from Erie’s present campus near Dobson Road and Chandler Boulevard to the high school under construction at Gilbert and Ocotillo roads is part of a plan that also includes adjusting the boundaries of two other high schools that would take effect in either 2024 or 2025.

The Erie students would join their peers living within the new high school’s enrollment boundaries, currently Ocotillo, Cooper, Lindsay and Chandler Heights roads. Students living in this region are currently assigned to Perry High.

Moving the Erie students and changing some other boundaries are part of the district’s effort to equalize the population on its high school campuses.

The Governing Board might vote on the plan Oct. 14.

Administrators said that moving Erie students to the new school, which opens next July, would enable more students to take advantage of academic programs that have earned Erie the U.S. Department of Education’s “Blue Ribbon School” designation.

“ACP-Erie can expand and offer its successful program to more students,” administrators wrote about the plan.

The move also would save the district $6 million for a planned expansion of the Erie campus and renovations to Andersen Junior High’s football stadium, which is utilized by ACP-Oakland’s students.

In turn, Oakland students would relocate to Erie’s campus, where they would have greater access to sports facilities.

CUSD would then use Oakland’s old campus as a facility to host expanded offerings for the district’s community education programs.

There are still unanswered questions about the plan – including the school uniform policy currently in force at Erie.

It’s unclear whether students who are within the new school’s boundaries but not in the Erie college preparation program would have to wear uniforms or whether the policy would be dropped.

“This will be a collaborative conversation with the parents in the new boundaries, ACP-Erie parents, students and the principal once the high school boundaries have been approved,” district administrators said in their recommendation. “A series of meetings will be held to gather information from all members of the school community.”

The new high school – CUSD’s seventh – is positioned on the south end of Perry High School’s enrollment boundaries.

CUSD presented a number of options earlier this year for reshuffling school boundaries.

Unlike Chandler’s other high schools, Erie was intended to be a smaller campus that focused on preparing students for college through rigorous coursework and personalized learning.

The school accepts students through an open enrollment process that involves filling out an application.

Attendance at the new high school would be based on both open enrollment applications for the Erie program and the new school’s residential boundaries, according to the proposed plan.

Although the proposed plan involves drawing in hundreds of students from the new school’s surrounding neighborhoods, CUSD insists the new campus can maintain the culture already established for Erie students and staff.

The district plans to have the new school keep Erie’s knight mascot and the school’s “Arizona College Prep” logo.

“ACP-Erie is known throughout Arizona and the United States as an exceptional school and it is important not to lose the reputation that has been established for the benefit of current and future families,” district officials wrote.

CUSD has an alternative boundary plan that would impact the class of 2024 if the Erie students were not relocated. The proposed boundary changes  in the recommended option would not take effect until 2025.

The recommended plan would also redraw some of the boundary lines for Hamilton High – the district’s largest campus, which ended the last school year with more than 4,000 students.

CUSD proposes moving Hamilton’s perimeter of Chandler Boulevard, Alma School, Pecos and McQueen roads to Chandler High’s boundary.

District officials said the move would facilitate transportation because the perimeter is geographically adjacent to Chandler High’s campus.

Chandler High has a new wing that can accommodate a big influx of additional students, the district said, noting the move would prevent Hamilton becoming too overcrowded.   

The district’s plan further proposes moving an area bordered by Val Vista Drive and Ocotillo, Lindsay and Chandler Heights roads out of Perry High’s boundary and over to Basha High.

CUSD hope reshuffling the boundaries will keep enrollment levels at each high school campus between 1,500 and 2,000 students.

At the end of the last school year, none of the district’s schools – with the exception of Erie – had fewer than 2,000 high school students.

Erie’s 800 students still exceed the school building’s capacity of 765 pupils.

If Erie’s students were to remain at their current campus, CUSD would likely have to move more of Perry’s boundaries over to the new school and carve up more of Hamilton’s enrollment area.

CUSD also envisions saving money on the new school’s staffing because Erie’s personnel would be transferred there.

But some of Erie’s families are concerned about losing the school’s culture by moving students to a bigger campus.

According to feedback received by the district, parents have told CUSD they don’t want Erie to change its small learning environment and other parents are worried about Erie’s rigorous standards.

Erie has already composed a year-long plan for how it would slowly integrate students at the new school campus.

The district would begin offering tours of the campus starting in December and January, then start hosting a number of orientation events in the spring. 

Students and parents can submit feedback on the plan by emailing alloway.stacey@cusd80.com.

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