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TUSD is making aggressive moves to reopen closed school sites

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

TUSD is making aggressive moves to reopen closed school sites

By Valerie Cavazos. CREATED Aug 12, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- TUSD is making aggressive moves to reopen closed school sites this year. About half of the 11 schools have opened or will soon open their doors.

Currently on the table, the Menlo Park Elementary site on the westside.  The district is considering leasing the site to Prescott College. The deal has been in the works for months, but now there's a delay. The proposal to lease the site was on the TUSD Board's public agenda Tuesday night, but was pulled one day before to give the district more time.
    
Prescott college is moving from its Speedway location -- their lease is running out, but it won't be that easy taking over the Menlo Park Elementary site.

First -- TUSD superintendent H.T. Sanchez wants to hear from the surrounding community. Although the Menlo Park Neighborhood Association president told KGUN9 on Monday that support the Prescott College proposal, Sanchez said, "I haven't seen the letter of support and I haven't had a chance to dialogue with the folks in the neighborhood association."

The Governing Board is also considering the proposal. the college wants to offer college and high school credit classes to TUSD students, but this raised a red flag with board member Mark Stegeman.  

"After we shut down Mexican American studies, Prescott College started teaching courses similar in Tucson to college students but now they want to lease our Menlo Park school at teach these classes as duel enrollment classes," said Sanchez.

AZ Superintendent John Huppenthal told KGUN 9 said that would violate state law.

Would the superintendent consider it?

"The answer is no. If we have it within the district and that's what we're working on and we have the teachers on our side -- and have stayed the course," said Sanchez.

The board and the superintendent are expected to discuss prescott college's proposal in Tuesday night's executive session.

Prescott College will have to wait at least until next month for a decision -- after it's put on the public agenda.

Now here's the status on four more closed schools.
 
TUSD sold Wrightstown Elementary four months ago  -- soon to be in its place --  residential housing.

There's interest in Ft. Lowell/Townsend. By who? The superintendent can't say right now.

Brickta and Schumaker re-opened this year as early learning centers.

Sanchez said the district's 5 year plan includes an aggressive look at what to do with all the properties.

"As opposed to saying oh yeah we have these on the side. as an afterthought. It's part of our core work is evaluating the facilities -- and their potential use and buyers for the properties,"

The non-profit organization Higher Ground is using the Wakefield site. What about the remaining schools?

The superintendent says he's working with the mayor and the zoning commission to take a look at different zoning options to open the field to avoid boarded up schools.

The superintendent says he would never put something in a neighborhood that the community doesn't want.