Tempe Union is considering a new use for the building that housed Compadre High School.

Tempe Union is studying the adoption of a trimester calendar for 2023-24 that would shorten summer vacations but add three two-week breaks to a typical school year.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Kevin Mendivil also disclosed that “we are in the very, very infant stages of rebranding, repurposing” the now-empty Compadre High School building. 

Mendivil said Tempe Union, Kyrene and Tempe Elementary school districts have formed a committee to study a move to trimesters in the 2023-24 school year, since the boards for all three systems already have approved a 2022-23 calendar.

Districts work a year ahead on their school calendars to give parents and staff plenty of time to prepare their household routines. Moreover, Tempe Union, Kyrene and Tempe Elementary try to coordinate their schedules since many families in the two elementary districts also have kids in high school.

“There’s a tri-district committee that is working right now with Kyrene and with Tempe Elementary School District so that we work on an alternative school year calendar similar to what Chandler experiences,” Mendivil told the Tempe Union Governing Board last week.

 “Our teachers are involved with that,” he continued. “We have representatives and we’ll be sharing that information at a later time.”

Chandler Unified students began their first day of the 2021-22 school year today, July 21. They will then have a two-week break, or intersession, Sept. 27-Oct. 12. Their winter intercession is Dec. 20-Jan 4 and the spring break is March 14-25.  Chandler Unified’s summer vacation next year will run May 26-July 20.

Tempe Union Governing Board member Sarah James said she is looking forward to the trimester proposal the tri-district committee will develop.

Conceding “I don’t know what ours is going to look like,” Wright said two-week intercessions are “good to refresh for teachers and for students and that shorter summer is also beneficial.”

“I think that this would be very beneficial for everybody,” James said.

Meanwhile, the Governing Board took the first step toward the development of an “innovation academy” by unanimously approving a new position titled “innovation executive director” with an annual salary between $103,000 and $142,000 with a car allowance of $4,500.

The specific requirements and duties of that position were not spelled out in the administration’s request for approval of that position and salaries for a number of other administrators.

That’s likely because the district hasn’t yet developed a program for that new director to administer, according to what Mendivil had to say after board member Armando Montero asked for an explanation of the new position.

“I know there are others (who) have had that shared curiosity,” Mendivil said. “We are at the very, very infant stages of rebranding, repurposing.”

The board earlier this year approved an administration to move the Compadre program to Marcos de Niza High School in order to save more than $1 million in operational expenses.

Mendivil noted that the program’s building, located next to district headquarters on Guadalupe and Hardy roads in Tempe, is “a fairly new facility” with classrooms that are only about seven years old.

 “Our goal is to engage the community, our community partners business partners, university partners in gathering input on what would be the best way to repurpose and rebrand that building,” Mendivil said. “What you see today is the very first step with that process.”

He said those partners also would include those in the district’s Career Technical Education as well as at the East Valley Institute of Technology and Arizona State University.

“A building is just a building but what you put into it and its purpose make all the difference,” Mendivil said, adding:

 “The name ‘innovation academy’ is just like a nameplate. When we get more information from our community and stakeholders, that name could very well change as it should.”

Mendivil said both the new position and whatever is developed for the building “has to be separate from the six comprehensive high school sites.”

“It is not our intention to recreate another seventh high school all over again,” he said. “The intention in repurposing the building is to find innovative ways in which we can meet the needs for our students existing in our district but also to attract new students to our system.”

While stating, “I have a lot of visions” for the program, he added, “that may not matter” depending on where the process finally leads.

“What we need to do is to gather the input of our stakeholders and so the work has to begin soon because time is flying.”

Stating the district may want to use a consultant as well, Mendivil added, “There’s just a lot of promise and opportunity with that building, but we’ve got to get moving on it right away.”

Stating he planned to keep the board and the community updated on the process for repurposing the building, Mendivil also said, “My intention also is to – as we know more in the next four to six weeks – to provide that information to our employees because … I’m sure some wonderful ideas and input as well from our teachers and staff and so we would certainly entertain those as well.” 

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