Kyrene announced that next year it will offer a traditional school concept for students and families who want a more structured school experience.

This will be the first time such a concept is being offered within the district. Administrators chose to locate the academy at Kyrene del Sureno Elementary in Chandler, but open enrollment allows kids from anywhere to sign up for the school.

Kyrene administrators had an idea for the Traditional Academy more than five years ago.

It is somewhat geared toward families who have left the district in favor of charter schools, private schools or home-schooling.

"The overall goal within Kyrene is success and how we get there at different schools may look different," said Lorah Neville, executive director for curriculum and learning services. "We're thinking of folks that have left Kyrene and gone to home-schooling or left the district for other reasons."

Neville said this model is proven not only academically but also that it can help bring back students who have left the district.

"We saw a rise in Chandler (where she previously worked) when we offered a traditional school," Neville said. "There is that flavor - the rigor, highly structured environment, which is what some parents look for. The question we have been working on is, ‘How do we deliver this and stay true to standards in Kyrene?'"

Dr. Marianne Lescher will become the principal at the academy in its inaugural year. She has been principal at Kyrene de la Mariposa Elementary in Tempe for the past 12 years.

The site location was chosen partially due to the fact that Sureno has the lowest student population in Kyrene (389).

District officials said the academy will begin enrolling in January and Neville said current Sureno students will have first choice to stay and then it will open to the public.

"This essentially becomes somewhat of a new school and includes a structure of uniforms and structure of materials," Neville said. "Parents who are looking for a smaller setting and more one-on-one working as opposed to groups, this would be ideal."

To find out more, visit the Kyrene website at

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