Bill to split up Arizona school districts heads to the Senate

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:32 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A new state bill could split up Arizona’s largest school districts. HB 2546 would require districts, like TUSD, to hold a public vote to determine if a school district should split.

HB 2546 just passed its third reading in the House and now it’s heading to the Senate. If the bill becomes law, some TUSD schools could become part of a new district.

The size of school districts like TUSD have been a concern for many years, but now new legislation is being proposed. HB 2546 would require districts with at least 35,000 students to hold an election about splitting the district. TUSD serves around 47,000 students.

“My first reaction was really disappointed because I don’t think some of our legislatures are really listening to parents when they come in with these initiatives talking about what parents want,” said Dr. Ravi Shah, TUSD Governing Board President.

Dr. Ravi Shah said districts already have the option to make the split happen and it could be brought to a public vote.

He said, ″If there was a really big groundswell of desire for this to happen, there’s a mechanism in place for it to happen. "

Republican Representative Rachel Jones is the primary sponsor of the bill. On the house floor, she said the TUSD governing board isn’t giving parents what they want.

“There are parents in schools, because I represent Tucson, on the eastside of Tucson that are not in agreement with the decisions being made by the five-person board,” Jones said. “What this does is it gives power back to the parents to say ‘yes, we would like to potentially be able to choose if we want to split up the district or not.’”

While details on how this could impact districts like TUSD are still limited, Dr. Shah believes the lawmakers responsible for the legislation don’t have the district’s best interest in mind. He feels like the bill is a distraction from what the district really needs.

“What parents really want is not to split up districts and find new lines and boundaries. They’re looking to have our schools properly funded,” he explained.

Representative Jones refused to do an interview with us or provide a statement, but she said that this is not the final product of the bill and there will be changes if it advances.