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Schools issue might threaten area home sales

By: Nathan Scherotter

July 7, 2007

In November 2008, voters will get one more chance to vote yes or no on school unification, an idea that has been proposed—and rejected—many times over the past four decades.

The committee responsible for researching and proposing the latest unification plan almost unanimously voted for the 3-1 (turn three districts into one) proposal in a meeting that took place in June.

Mckell Keeney, a member of the committee, says she knows there is no certainty the latest proposal will be approved by voters.

Among the committee’s goals are to create alignment and continuity for grades kindergarten through 12, not just curriculum, and to require accountability for the level at which a student is performing at all levels, including reading, foreign language (if taken), etc., when transitioning to high school.

At present, the K-8 districts can promote eighth graders who are not at grade level for math or reading; the high school district is responsible for bringing them up to grade level.

“Although having a K-12 unified district is no guarantee of alignment and continuity of curriculum,” Keeney said. “It is far more likely to occur than with different districts with separate departments.”

While the positives, according to Keeney, include alignment and accountability, some unmentioned negatives are being discussed, as well.

Among those raising questions is Realtor Jeff Lucas, who says there are questions that remain unanswered, including some that have been pivotal to families deciding to buy homes in the Kyrene Corridor.

“I think the bottom line is that there may be some disparity between test scores in the Tempe and Kyrene school districts,” Lucas said.

“If that is the case, and the homebuyer is looking at test scores for the Tempe-Kyrene system, the average test scores may decline,” he said.

“However, having said that, if the homebuyer is more focused, they can look at the individual schools, which is what they should do.”

A concern remains that, over time, home-sellers in the Kyrene Corridor could lose value in their homes.

“Historically, (quality of the school district) has been very important; in any major area, there are certain school systems that have a buzz to them, and Kyrene is one of them,” Lucas said.

“The hope is that if they do combine districts, test scores will not drop significantly and there will not be that big of an issue.”

Keeney says she recognizes that if the committee were to decide on a plan like the north/south division along Warner Road on the east side of I-10 and along Guadalupe Road west of I-10, there could be problems.

“That (the north/south division) would have had negative effects on the home values of the homes between Elliot and Warner in Tempe,” Keeney said.

“Many people moved into that area specifically to be in Kyrene schools and in Corona del Sol boundaries,” she said.

If there were to be a problem, Lucas says, it likely would take time to feel the impact.

“In the short- to mid-term time periods, I doubt there will be any impact on homebuyers or sellers,” Lucas said.

“It would prove to be a long-term issue if test scores did drop; then I would see it possible for home values to decrease, but that could be as far as 5-7 years out.”



Photo by David Stone


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