CUSD changes graduation venues to outdoors - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

CUSD changes graduation venues to outdoors

April 12th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
CUSD changes graduation venues to outdoors

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

High temperatures in Chandler on May 25 the past five years have hovered around 96 degrees – not exactly the weather you want to don a cap and gown in.

But that’s what seniors in Chandler Unified high schools will be doing next month after Arizona State University hiked the rent for staging the ceremonies at Desert Financial Arena on its Tempe campus and the ceremonies were moved to seniors’ school campuses.

Parents and others are fuming.

“When I first got the email about how graduations were being changed from the nice, comfortable, air-conditioned ASU basketball court to being on the field, I was like every other parent, I was upset,” said Jason Olive, a member of the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. “My mother and mother-in-law are going to have to sit out in the heat.

“Unlike most other parents, I was able to pick up a phone and call somebody and ask about it. The reasons the change was made actually make sense.”

Dr. Craig Gilbert, the district’s assistant superintendent of secondary education, said ASU wanted an additional $44,000 to host the ceremonies this year.

“We met with the principals before break, we sat down with all of them,” said Frank Narducci, the district’s superintendent. “We felt the best thing was to bring them back to campuses, that we could control the outcomes of how we run them and how they were able to be organized.”

Gilbert said one factor in moving graduations to high school campuses was ASU’s limit of a total of 10,000 tickets for the district that would have been managed by each school.

The district could exceed that limit, but doing so would cost an additional $1,300.

Those weren’t the only factors. Masks also loomed.

“Mitigation requirements also weighed heavy on the decision,” Gilbert said. “This process starts the prior year regarding scheduling dates, but the contract does not come out until the spring.

“Through all of the conversations with ASU, masks for students and parents were required and any changes may not occur until May. This mitigation is not currently required in CUSD and we did not feel it would be appropriate for our graduations.”

Narducci said they faced restrictions because of litigation, and a limit on the number of tickets they could distribute, in addition to the added costs. He said they found out about these changes from ASU later than they anticipated.

“We do apologize to families that feel they received information late,” Narducci said.

Meanwhile, the Governing Board on March 30 approved funds for work across the district.

First, it plans to upgrade the public address capabilities in all district buildings for a little more than $500,000. Officials want to make the entire system compatible by using the same brand in all buildings.

The board also agreed to spend a little more than $350,000 to remove and replace the asphalt at Chandler Traditional Academy Independence.

Frank Fletcher, the associate superintendent for facilities, said it is long overdue.

“This one definitely needs replacement,” Fletcher said. “There is no asphalt. A lot of rock, there’s a lot of fine particles, you really don’t see any sealer, you see the rock and the asphalt. This one is definitely beyond repair.”

The board also okayed $237,000 to paint the metal canopies at Perry High School. Fletcher said all the metal doors at the school that opened in 2007 are currently peeling.

He said they all need to be sandblasted and painted. In addition, all the door frames and windows need to be done. He said it is too big a project to do internally, so they are recommending hiring an outside company to do it.


Here’s the schedule for Chandler Unified School District high school graduations:

May 25

Perry High School, 7:30 p.m.

May 26

Arizona College Prep High School, 7:30 p.m.

Basha High School, 7:30 p.m.

Hamilton High School, 7:30 p.m.

Casteel High School, 8 p.m.

Chandler High School, 8 p.m.