Gilbert Public Schools board approves boundary changes for coming school year

Despite objections from a large number of community members present, the Gilbert Public Schools governing board on Jan. 23 approved proposed boundary changes on a 5-0 vote.

Board members underscored the need for the changes and reassured the objecting community members that open-enrollment requests for students affected would be honored.

“Please send your child to where you want them to go,” board President Reed Carr said. “Send one child to one school and the other to another school, if that matches their interests.”

The changes are relatively small within the overall district boundaries but have ripples at the high school, junior high and elementary school levels.

Val Vista Lakes objections

While some parents and students expressed support for the changes, particularly in support of Gilbert and Mesquite high schools as they fight declining enrollment, the largest objections came from the Val Vista Lakes community.

Val Vista Lakes community members urged the board members to vote no or to table the proposal. The boundary change called for high school students in the area who attend Highland High School to move to Gilbert high.

The community has been within Highland’s boundaries since that school opened in 1993 as the district’s second high school. In addition to the tradition of being at Highland, Val Vista Lakes community members also worried about changing to a school with a lesser ranking, differences in programming available and losing property value in their homes.

The community members also questioned the reasoning behind the changes and how quickly they have been pushed upon the community.

“We’ve [built the community] at Highland High School from the beginning, and now we’re reaping the benefits,” said Kim Sorensen, who identified herself as a Highland High School graduate from the class of 1996. “It takes time. It’s not fair to take that away from us.

“These other schools can have that. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take hard work.”

Board Clerk Charles Santa Cruz answered some who questioned the motives behind making the changes.

“There is nothing sketchy about this,” he said. “We have a population glut.”

Open-enrollment requests

A frequently expressed concern was that the parents doubted their open-enrollment requests to stay at Highland high would not be honored if too many requests came in. Some parents said that by district policy, they would rank only No. 6 on the priority list for open enrollment.

However, Jason Martin, GPS Elementary Education executive director, who presented the proposal to the board, said the district has been revising its policies to move the affected group higher on the priority list.

Superintendent Shane McCord said the affected group will be No. 2 on that priority list only behind district employees who want their children to attend a school where they work.

McCord further stated the district tries not to turn away any open-enrollment students unless there are specific issues with discipline, attendance or grades that cannot be worked out.

While admitting they cannot account for what future boards may do, board members also tried to reassure parents that they are committed to honoring the open-enrollment requests into the future.

“I am committed to open enrollment,” board member Lori Wood said. “I don’t want people to go a school that they don’t want to go. I don’t think that would be a good experience.”

Carr said there is plenty of room to keep the students where they are at under the state’s open-enrollment law.

Gilbert, Mesquite high schools bolster curriculum

McCord also said Gilbert high is exploring adding the International Baccalaureate program to its curriculum. IB is considered prestigious and rigorous, McCord said.

Additionally, McCord said Mesquite high will be offering the Arizona General Education Curriculum Program, which will help students earn credits that would count at the Maricopa County Community College District schools toward the students getting an associate degree.

“A couple schools recognize their enrollment is not high,” McCord said. “They also recognize they want the very best for their students.”

Carr said those kinds of program differences are important in today’s educational landscape. He also said that while boundaries must be drawn for reasons like transportation and special education needs, the state has created an environment in which it wants schools to compete for students.

“The simple truth of it is, we have to compete,” he said. “We accept that challenge. We are going to compete.

“Because we have to compete, each school is going to offer some unique features. We want you to choose where you want to go.”


12Ks of Christmas
Holidays continue to headline Gilbert events for Dec. 13-15

The weather is nice for holiday events in Gilbert on Dec. 13-15.

Tough Mudder Bootcamp's Gilbert facility offers full-body workout

Tough Mudder Bootcamp combines high intensity interval training with team workouts

Street closures coming Dec. 14 for 12Ks of Christmas run

Val Vista Drive and Greenfield Road between Elliot and Guadalupe roads will be closed for a period the morning of Dec. 14 for the 12Ks of Christmas run at Freestone Park.

Caketini moving its operations online

Caketini owners Cathy and Mike Monoscalco are closing their SanTan Village shop and moving operations online.

Mesa project on Baseline Road approaching wrapup

The city of Mesa is wrapping up miscellaneous items throughout its street improvement project along Baseline Road from 24th Street in Mesa or Burk Street in Gilbert to the Consolidated Canal

Central Pop! offers popcorn treats on Gilbert border

Locally owned Central Pop! sells craft popcorn, marshmallows and crispy rice treats

Gilbert Fire Department, Gilbert Police Department, Bases and Badges,
Gilbert Police, Fire square off in softball for fun and toys

The Gilbert Fire and Police departments met on the softball field at Cactus Yards on Dec. 6 with an ulterior motive—gathering toys and clothing for the departments' holiday drives.

Restorative Counseling Services open in Gilbert

Restorative Counseling Services therapist Natalie Staples works with adults, teens and families

Eternal Spring of Gilbert adds to town's senior living communities

Eternal Spring of Gilbert offers retirement living, assisted living and memory care

Gilbert Municipal Center I, Gilbert Town Council
Town Council approves changes to Municipal Center I plans

The Gilbert Town Council approved changes to the renovation plans for Municipal Center I, home to council chambers and some town offices

Breakfast with Santa, HD South
Holiday events dominate calendar for Dec. 6-10

It's still early in December, but the holidays highlight the calendar in Gilbert with a charity softball game, holiday lights, breakfast with Santa and a holiday festival

University Building, International Trade Seminar
Gilbert to host international trade seminar

The Gilbert Office of Economic Development, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and Gilbert Sister Cities will host an international trade seminar Dec. 10 in hopes of assisting local businesses that may want to do business abroad

Back to top