By Murray Siegel
Each school day morning, school buses transport elementary students who reside in Maricopa to school in Kyrene.
Why should citizens of Maricopa care about these buses? Each bus represents state funds that are provided to the Kyrene district at the expense of Maricopa Unified School District (MUSD). Why do parents place their children on a bus to travel about 20 miles to attend school when MUSD schools are much closer?
Two Maricopa families who send their children to school in the Kyrene district were queried. One family of professionals recognized their son had real ability in mathematics. He had attended an MUSD school in fifth grade, but the parents saw that Kyrene offered a better middle school program. In sixth grade, he would take seventh grade math. In seventh grade, he would be taking pre-algebra, and in eighth grade his math class would be honors-level algebra. The family’s research revealed MUSD had nothing to compare and so their son rides the bus.
When the older child of a second couple was ready for kindergarten, they investigated several school districts and charter schools. What Kyrene had to offer was well-suited for their child, who is now in sixth grade in Kyrene. The couple talked about sending their younger child to kindergarten in Maricopa but discovered Kyrene was initiating a dual language program in kindergarten. The mother reported the decision, “became a no brainer. The benefits of our child being bilingual far outweighed the convenience of having our children closer to home.”
Why does MUSD not match up with Kyrene? The answer starts with the fact that, prior to November 2016, the voters of Maricopa rejected a sequence of ballot initiatives to authorize overrides that would have funded supplemental projects. During that period, Kyrene voters approved overrides that enabled the growth of special programs.
MUSD must take actions to get those children off the Kyrene buses. A plan should be constructed that will both improve the academic offerings in local elementary and middle schools, and, of equal importance, allow the public to learn of these upgrades.
The initial stage should include surveying parents who send their children to Kyrene to discover what it would take to have their children attend MUSD schools. A committee should investigate the programs in Kyrene that are attractive and, working with MUSD teachers, staff and administrators develop a step-by-step plan to make MUSD competitive.
A resource that has not been utilized is the retired educators who reside in Province. There are retired school superintendents, retired principals and scores of retired teachers who have served in schools all over the nation and certainly have ideas that might benefit those seeking to reduce the busing to Kyrene.
Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years teaching experience.
This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.