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10 July 17 - Aug. 6, 2010

CUSD from Page 1 More students, less money

Even as school budgets are slashed, enrollment continues to expand. CUSD serves 38,000 students spread over 80 square miles, including 29 elementary, seven junior highs, four high schools and two alternative institutions. And, it remains one of the fastest-growing educational districts in Arizona, with a young student population that keeps enrollment numbers climbing.

“We’re not at build out yet, but we’re getting closer,” says Locke. “We’ll eventually top out at 42,000 students. The pace of growth will depend on the housing market, and we’re starting to see signs that it’s beginning to pick up again in the district. But even during the slowdown, school enrollment continued to grow, as we had hundreds more kindergarteners coming into our schools than we had seniors graduating every year.”

In 2010, CUSD graduated 2,200 seniors but has already enrolled 3,000 kindergarten students for the coming school year.

“We see this trend continuing into the foreseeable future,” notes Locke.

Parent support essential

One of CUSD’s mainstays of support is parental involvement, which has been vital in providing a quality education to the area’s children. Despite the bleak economy, parents continue to donate supplies, solicit contributions and volunteer their time to classrooms throughout the district.

“Parents have always been very generous and supportive of our teachers and schools and contribute in many ways such as tax credits, fundraisers, Chandler Education Foundation grants and scholarships,


classroom volunteerism, and needs as they arise,” notes Frank Narducci, CUSD director of community education. “It’s not required, but appreciated.” He also notes that school budgets allocate money for classroom essentials, but donations of consumable supplies like copy paper, glue sticks, tissue and pencils help keep shelves stocked during this time of dwindling funds.

Before, after care demands rise On the other side of the equation, parents are utilizing school-provided resources at higher levels than in years past. Services like bus transportation and before- and after-school care are in high demand as parents look for ways to save on household expenditures.

“We can see there’s a growing need for affordable childcare based on the growing list of families on the DES waiting list. There are over 7,000 who are looking for assistance.” Frank Narducci, CUSD director of community education

“Due to increasing fuel costs, family expenses and we are assuming the overall economy, more kids are now returning to riding the school bus,” explains Narducci. “We do have parents who still transport their own kids to school. This could be because they live within a boundary that is not eligible for transportation or it’s more convenient for them to self transport.”

Many working parents are likewise seeking help from CUSD programs in providing childcare during

non-school hours. The district offers a variety of options to accommodate students ranging from preschool to junior high age. State subsidies are available for parents meeting fi nancial criteria. “The cost of programs varies according to the need of the parent, and we have many different point breaks,” says Narducci. “We can see there’s a growing need for affordable childcare based on the growing list of families on the DES waiting list. There are over 7,000 who are looking for assistance.”

He also sees a trend in parents working longer hours or for more than one employer, creating an increased demand for care both before and after school is in session.

“There’s a need to provide childcare from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.,” Narducci says. “In this economic recovery, individuals are working more hours or multiple jobs to support their families.”

Extracurriculars no extra cost Thanks to funding secured through the passage of Proposition 100, a voter-sanctioned one-cent increase in state sales tax, students will not have to pay to participate in extracurricular activities like sports programs. Chandler voters approved the measure by 68 percent, slightly above the state average of 64 percent.

“We appreciate the positive support for children and education shown through the passage of Proposition 100,” reports Narducci. “In doing so, CUSD will not adopt a pay-to-play policy for athletic teams.” In addition to offering such programs at no cost, he notes that CUSD works with parents and the

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