Current Superintendent of Kyrene School District David Schauer at a Governing Board meeting last year. Schauer announced he would leave the district in August. 

AFN file photo

Changes could be coming to how middle school is implemented in the Kyrene School District next year.

But the decision, when and if it comes, will not necessarily be made just to cut costs in order to balance a coming budget deficit.

The goal, laid out by members of the Kyrene administration and a middle school task force, is to make middle school instruction more efficient, and to increase student achievement.

At the governing board meeting on Tuesday night, the director of curriculum and task force members discussed with board members six models, including the current, that could be implemented as early as the 2012-13 school year.

The five new, potential models would eliminate academic lab and add an additional period of instruction. The amount of class times varied in each model, from 57 to 70 minutes, because of differences in planning time, intervention and enrichment, and exploratory classes.

The middle school task force is made up of 12 teachers, six site administrators, two district administrators and four outside facilitators, which helped spur discussion about new possibilities.

The "charge," or goal, as defined by the presentation made to the governing board, was to "develop three possible middle school schedules that reduce expenditures for middle school by $500,000 to $1,000,000 through a more efficient master schedule while seeking to offer students a wider choice of instructional experiences, both academic and exploratory."

But parent and governing board member Ross Robb wanted a clearer explanation of their goal, because of recent developments in the budgeting process.

"I'm not sure (savings and choice) are the primary goals given the more recent history that (have been presented to this board), it would seem to me that the primary goal is ... student achievement and student performance and student readiness."

Because of recent budget developments, he went on to say, "I think there are some of us that believe, at least at this point in the budget process, this savings isn't absolutely required for the 12-13 school year. I think before we get too deep into what is likely to be a very controversial discussion about middle school changes that we all clearly understand what is the goal ... (this presentation) comes colored with ‘it's all about money,' so I think if it's all about money, we need to say ‘it's all about money.'"

Jeff Peters of Kyrene's educational services said afterward that he agreed with Robb and as they go forward in continuing to develop the potential changes to the middle school model, that they will be on the same page when it comes to the overall goal.

"It's less about financial savings and more about student achievement," Peters said. "While maximizing student achievement we're also looking at efficiency and getting the biggest bang for our buck."

The five potential changes could result in the reduction of the equivalent of between two and 18 full-time employees.

Stay tuned to the AFN as more information develops.

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