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Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

Tempe, Kyrene districts' new school year begins


Four years of high-school math. Pricier lunches. A districtwide sustainability initiative.

All are new in the Tempe Union High School District, where classes begin Monday. Changes also are coming in the Kyrene School District, which also starts Monday, and in the Tempe Elementary School District, where classes begin Tuesday.

slideshow Teachers prepare for classes

In the high-school district, enrollment is projected to drop slightly from last year, according to Superintendent Kenneth Baca. Its average daily membership is projected at 13,500.

The district has difficulty projecting the number because one-fourth of its studentscome from outside its boundaries, Baca said.

Regardless of the number, Tempe Union students will see many changes. The district will increase school-lunch prices by 25 cents per meal to $2.75.

The district is expanding its national school-lunch program to its alternative high school, Compadre Academy, which is among seven high schools in the district.

In addition, Tempe Union is launching a districtwide sustainability initiative that includes living labs, in which students will collect and share dataabout the most sustainable forms of energy, said Greg Wyman, associate superintendent for district operations.

"This is about more than turning off the light when you leave a room," Wyman said, adding that students will study energy conservation on a broad range of topics.

The district plans to get students to research the most energy-efficient ways to landscape, light and use solar energy to reduce its carbon footprint, Wyman said.

Each campus will explore using bottled-water refueling stations to reduce the plastic that is used. Research results will be shared among campuses over networked computers.

"We are looking for tangible solutions, lessons you can incorporate into the classroom," Wyman said.

In Tempe Elementary, which had 11,700 students last school year, the price of school lunches will increase by 15 cents.

Lunches will cost $2 in elementary school and $2.25 in middle school.

Fewer changes are coming to Tempe Elementary than last year, when many students and teachers had to transfer schools. The district closed three schools because of declining enrollment, budget problems and the economic downturn.

That's why the district is opening the new Aspire Academy for academically gifted middle school students at Connolly Middle School. The program has about 100 students enrolled.

"We want to draw our families back to Tempe Elementary," said Superintendent Christine Bausch. "Gifted kids are gifted all day long, and we needed a more self-contained program."

New principals are widespread in the district, at Arredondo (Alison Bruening-Hamati), Broadmor (Barry Fritch), Curry (Sylvia Gonzales), Fees (Kacy Tomason), Frank (Rey Cruz), Hudson (Jeffrey Shores), Laird (Nancy Uxa), Nevitt (Andrew Lebowitz), Rover (Mark Eley), and Ward (Ardie Sturdivant).

Other changes in Tempe Elementary

A 15-cent increase in lunch prices to $2 in elementary and $2.25 in middle schools. Reduced-lunch prices will be 40 cents each.

More single-gender classes at Gililland Middle School. The district is expanding classes by gender in core subjects math, language arts, science and social studies.

In Kyrene School District, with flat enrollment of about 17,700 students, changes are few but significant.

Students will be eligible to participate in intramural sports through a partnership with the YMCA. Last year, sixth-graders were allowed to try out for sports for the first time. The district fielded two teams per school per sport at Kyrene AkimelA-al, Altadeña,Aprende, Centennial, Kyrene Middle School College Preparatory Academy and Kyrene del Pueblo.

Other Kyrene changes

The district's first traditional school, Kyrene Traditional Academy, will serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade on its Sureño campus. The school will emphasize homework four days per week, students must wear uniforms and parents must volunteer their time.

A 25-cent and 15-cent increase in lunch prices to $2.50 for elementary-school students and $2.65 for middle-school students.

New principals are at Kyrene de Estrella (Michael Lamp), Aprende Middle School (Jim Verrill), Kyrene Middle School (Jama Nacke), Kyrene Traditional Academy (Marianne Lescher), Kyrene del Pueblo Middle School (Sheryl Houston), Kyrene del Milenio (Carrie Furedy), Kyrene de la Sierra (Dave Maloney), Kyrene de los Niños College-Bound Dual-Language Academy (Tonja Yalung), Kyrene de los Lagos (Ana Gomez del Castillo), Kyrene de la Mariposa (Spencer Fallgatter), and Kyrene del Norte (Tracey Pastor).

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