Tempe Elementary School District administrators are asking for the school board’s OK to explore making another neighborhood elementary school a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade campus.
Superintendent Arthur Tate met with staff Tuesday morning to advise them of his recommendation to convert Broadmor Elementary School into a K-8 school. He sent letters home with students Tuesday afternoon, and he’ll bring his recommendation to the school board during its meeting tonight.
The district was prompted to look at the proposal by another change under study — whether to enter into an agreement with University Public Schools and Arizona State University to make McKemy Middle School a K-8 charter school.
“We’re hoping between now and the end of May to have transition plans in place for the kids for the year after next,” Tate said. “We know having stability is important to parents.”
Because the district has not begun formally investigating the Broadmor change, Tate said he could not answer questions about any timeline or what would happen to staff at the building. He said the district also will needs to decide whether to make the change overnight or phase it in over several years, as it elected to do with Laird Elementary School, which added sixth-grade classes this year and will continue to add higher grades over the next two years.
Broadmor is the last of six facilities in Tempe to be renovated with proceeds from a $64 million bond issue voters approved in 2005. Tate said that gives the district the opportunity to make changes to the facility to accommodate new students.
In addition to the grade changes, the district also will explore the possibility of bringing an International Baccalaureate program to Broadmor.
That program requires that students take a variety of advanced classes and participate in community service. It also puts them on track for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme offered to high school students in Tempe.
The district was considering placing the program at McKemy, but will instead consider Broadmor, Tate said. Whether the program will be for all grades or just fifth through seventh grade will need to be determined. There currently are no elementary International Baccalaureate programs in the Valley.
A group of parents planning to attend the board meeting hopes the board will table any action regarding making McKemy a charter school. The parents say they are upset about how information has been released and think there are too many unanswered questions to make any decisions, particularly regarding the University Public Schools initiative.
Amy Blodgett has two children in the district, one who would be affected by the Broadmor and McKemy changes. She’s also involved with parent organizations and site council meetings, but said it was last week when she first heard about the proposed changes.
She thinks the change at Broadmor could be great, sparing her daughter from the separate middle-school experience that she said is not always pleasant. But she’s frustrated over the lack of communication from the district about the details of its plans.
“All we really want to know is what are the facts,” she said. “Share your vision with us.”
Tate stressed the district has been examining the University Public Schools option for two years and decisions about it have come before the school board in the past.