The Tucson Unified School District board discussed in more detail Monday night the need to close more schools and consider other cost-saving measures.
Though the board took no action, many members said the solution to the looming $17 million budget shortfall for the 2013-2014 school year likely will not come from one action alone, but rather a combination.
Options include salary cuts across the district, cutting more than 300 teachers, increasing class sizes and reducing programs.
The action recommended by TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone involves closing schools and building newer, larger ones - an expense that TUSD would ask taxpayers to cover through a bond election.
One supporter of the closure option is Principal Andrew Kent, whose school, Fort Lowell Elementary, was closed in 2010 to save money.
Kent, now the principal of Marshall Elementary, urged the board to look "far into the future" and seriously consider options including consolidation and reconfiguration of schools.
TUSD parent Betts Putnam Hidalgo, however, asked that the board delay any action until public forums are conducted. "You need us; act like it and have public forums," she said.
Pedicone acknowledged that even the discussion of possible closures is extremely sensitive. He said he hoped residents would be more receptive to the idea if it were presented in a way in which they perceive they are getting something back.
"Building new schools to provide a facility that meets standards for quality schools would be more attractive than simply saying 'we're going to close your school and move students to another school where they might fit,' " he said.
The Governing Board will be asked on July 10 to approve guiding principles to be used to evaluate the options, as well as a schedule:
• July-August: Conduct focus groups for guiding principles and criteria.
• August-September: Town halls to explore options.
• October: Options go to Governing Board, followed by meetings in any affected neighborhoods.
• November: Public hearings.
• December: Governing Board decision on school consolidations and option for a bond election in November 2013 to fund the newer, larger schools if the board so chooses.
In other business, the board:
• Unanimously selected Clarice Clash to lead TUSD's largest high school, Tucson High Magnet School.
• Appointed Maria Figueroa as new director of TUSD's Mexican American Student Services department. Figueroa, who has been serving as principal of Tolson Elementary School, beat out five other applicants for the job.
Read more about both appointments in Wednesday's Star and on StarNet.
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at email@example.com or 573-4175.