On Friday, Gov. Janet Napolitano received the School District Redistricting Commission's recommendations for redistricting 76 of Arizona's 277 districts statewide. If accepted, the recommendations will appear on this November's general election ballot. The SDRC has been meeting for over two years, reviewing all current common school districts in the state that are not part of a unified district, and considering combining them into a unified K-12 district. For East Valley schools they proposed two plans: one to combine the three districts into one K-12 district, and one to combine the three districts into two K-12 districts. Each of the three districts sent response letters to the SDRC rejecting both plans, concentrating heavily on foreseen financial difficulties. However, after a heated discussion Nov. 13 the SDRC voted to recommend the Tempe Elementary, Kyrene and Tempe Union school districts unify into one K-12 district. This recommendation, approved by a 6-4 vote with three members absent, is now one of the 76 decisions left in the hands of the governor. Kyrene School District Governing Board president Sue Knudson spoke to the commission Nov. 13 at the state capitol before the decision was made. She stated the districts had given unification thousands of hours of thought and discussion before reaching a conclusion, but felt the commissioners had not taken the time to recognize what was in their letters. The three districts, she said, already work together and in order to be successful, the state would have to provide millions of dollars in additional funding. Commissioner Joseph Thomas agreed with Knudson and asked fellow commissioners for a compelling reason to approve the 3-into-1 recommendation, but received no response from commission chairman Martin Shultz or any commissioner present. The final decision, Shultz said, should be left up to the voters.

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