School districts that are affected by proposed redistricting plans will get an extra two months to respond to initial boundary change suggestions. Senate Bill 1164 was passed in the Legislature at the end of June and signed on Monday by Gov. Janet Napolitano. The bill changed the date school districts must formally respond to submitted redistricting plans from July 30 to Sept. 15. "I think the board is thrilled they would push it to September," said Linda Littell, spokeswoman for Tempe Union High School District. "We're working with the other two districts trying to come up with a consensus of opinions on how we're going to respond." The Kyrene, Tempe Elementary and Tempe Union High school district governing boards were sent preliminary plans April 30 to unify the districts. The two plans currently under review are the three-into-one and three-into-two plans. Almost immediately after the plans were submitted by the School District Redistricting Commission a movement started to push the reply date back. Districts, as well as the SDRC, complained that demanding a formal response to the plans during the summer shortchanged voters. Ready for the worst, Tempe Elementary almost approved a response at its June 27 board meeting, but decided to delay action in deference to the new deadline. "I don't wish to wait until the very last minute," said Tempe Elementary board member Karen Arredondo. "I'd rather be at the forefront and be a leading district instead of a following district." All three districts will continue gathering constituent data regarding proposed unification plans. The three school boards and their respective superintendents have been almost unanimously opposed to both submitted plans, deriding a lack of data that supports the idea that unification is good for student achievement. "I've seen no data to show it would help us," Tempe Union Superintendent Steve Adolph said at a June 20 tri-district meeting on unification. "What I notice is that not only will it not help us, it will get in the way of doing a lot of things we need to do." After receiving formal responses to their initial plans, the SDRC will submit a final plan to the governor by the end of this year. That plan will be put to voters on the December 2008 ballot. Jason Ludwig can be reached at (480) 898-7916 or

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