August 22, 2004
Small school size and diversity.
Those are among the attributes Shirley Miles plans to market as she tries to boost dwindling enrollment this year at Tempe High School.
Miles, who took over as Tempe Union High School District superintendent six weeks ago, is also putting together a study committee to look at enrollment issues and other concerns at Tempe High.
The committee will meet weekly for two months beginning Sept. 7. Students, parents, teachers and the public may participate 6 to 9 p.m. at the school library, 1730 S. Mill Ave.
Declining enrollment has affected the district’s only modified year-round school, causing teachers who did not get full contracts to quit this year and funding to drop. The school had 1,600 students last year, but this year registered only abut 1,250.
Test scores are lower at the school than at the district’s five other main campuses — in some cases prompting parents of Tempe High students to send their children to other schools.
"There are a number of issues I would like to look at," Miles said. "No. 1 goal is to increase student achievement. Unfortunately, over the last probably more than five years, the student achievement has kind of flat-lined."
Miles said she hopes to work with Arizona State University to create more programs that could entice students at more crowded schools to transfer to Tempe High.
Miles comes from an urban Denver school district where she said she boosted enrollment in one high school from 800 to 2,000 students through marketing.
Among options the task force will discuss is whether to return the nearly 100-year-old school to a traditional calendar to boost enrollment or academic progress.
"Sometimes, as sad as it is to say, we turn students away because when they come to us in August, school has started and they’ve missed too much," said board member Michelle Helm. "I have mixed feelings. I always thought it was the way of the future."
School board president Zita Johnson said the board wants public input before making any decisions about the calendar or adding special programs. For more information, call (480) 839-0292.
"We want to figure out how we do the best to serve students relative to their achievement," Johnson said.