Magnet schools will keep status for another year

Magnet schools will keep status for another year

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The decision to cut funding at several specialized Tucson schools will be postponed.

Right now, 20 of the 89 schools in the Tucson Unified School District are "magnet" schools.

"Magnet" status means they offer specialized education programs with the goal of attracting a diverse student body from all over the district.

Eight of those schools fail to meet the diversity requirements.

About 40 years ago, a desegregation lawsuit was filed against the district.

As part of the lawsuit, a U.S. District judge appointed a special master to check out the district and make sure each school has racial diversity.

TUSD filed a proposal with the court earlier in November asking that no action take place this school year.

The court decided TUSD will have until 2016-2017 school year to meet the requirements.

"I think it's great to postpone it," said parent Maggie Gedebou.

Maggie Gedebou breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the magnet schools won't be cut just yet.

She lives within in the Marana Unified School District, but chooses to drive her kids all the way across town to the Tucson Unified School District, just so her kids can go to a magnet school.

"Just to provide them the opportunity to be in a diverse community," Gedebou said.

Diversity is one of the main requirements of a magnet school.

No single ethnic group can make up more than 70 percent of the students.

The eight schools that fail to meet the requirements are Bonillas, Ochoa, Robison, Holladay, Safford, Utterback, Cholla and Pueblo.

Stripped of the magnet title, the schools would lose millions in funding.

"I definitely think people were nervous. Here's where we all have to step in together and figure out where do we go from here," said Stephanie Boe of TUSD.

Boe said the work is far from over. This only buys them time.

She said the school district now plans to market in as many ways as possible.

"We're working on commercials and videos for all of our schools because we have 89 total schools. That's a big project, but we're knocking those out a little at a time."

Some parents are concerned that there's not enough time to meet diversity requirements.

"It still sounds like an anecdote if you will, just saying here hurry up and fix this," said parent Dave Goffeney.

The Gedebou family said they are confident that come next year, the magnet statuses will stay.

"I think the school district has a good handle on what they need to do," Gedebou said.

On Dec. 3 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., there will be a Magnet Fair at the Children's Museum in Tucson for parents and students to learn what each magnet program offers.

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