Chandler Edition - October 2020

Back to school Students began the school year in Chandler USD online. In mid-September, the governing board voted to begin bringing elementary students back to campuses. The rest of the student population is expected to return after fall break on Oct. 13.


A nationwide study conducted by Successful Practices Network and the Center for College and Career Readiness shows how students have been aected by school closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a normal school year, students in grades 3-6 typically lose 20% of gains in reading , while students in grades 7-12 lose 36% .


Potential learning loss could total as much as 49% from the start of school closures to the start of the school year.

Some students who were online via Chandler Online Academy for the rst quarter will return to brick-and- mortar campuses. Number of students transitioning from Chandler Online Academy to in person Oct. 13: 4,049 (K-6) 5,071 (7-12)

The achievement gap between low-income and high-income students could increase by as much as 18% if schools do not ensure equal access to learning opportunities.

BACK IN THE CLASSROOM Teachers and school sta have been back at their buildings for quite some time. But reopening the schools to all elementary school children meant teachers needed to get creative with how to space kids out. (Courtesy Heidi Gass)



eighth grade. “Our high schools are still grow- ing; that’s where we know we have growth,” Berry said. “To be honest, there’s not a lot of competition in that area. We have a few charter schools that serve ninth through 12th grade and private schools, but our compre- hensive high schools are denitely what parents seek for their kids. And they come back, even if they are at a dierent type of entity for K-8. So we see a huge jump between eighth and ninth grades of about 500 students.” Berry said she believes the tim- ing of reopening the brick-and-mor- tar schools may be the culprit for the decline in enrollment. As charter schools, private schools and nearby districts began opening, students began leaving. Christine Newburn considered pulling her kids from the district after struggles with online learning. The Chandler mom has three students in CUSD schools—two seniors and one incoming freshman. “I am completely in favor of the kids

students,” Chandler USD Chief Finan- cial Ocer Lana Berry said. “We had 46,960 students approximately last year, and we’re at about 44,710 kids now. So we are denitely seeing that decrease. I’m hoping that once every- body’s back in school that things will change. We did not predict, prior to [COVID-19], that we would decrease. We thought we would grow about 300 kids per year. Then when COVID hap- pened, we thought, ‘OK, we’ll proba- bly grow,’ but it will be a little bit less. But we never would have predicted that we would have lost the number of students that we have right now.” Enrollment concerns For a school district, enrollment is the key to securing funding from the state. Annual funding is based on average daily membership—known as ADM—and for the last several years CUSD has seen an increase in enroll- ment each year. Berry said the majority of students leaving the district are in the elemen- tary school grades—from preschool to


being back in school,” Newburn said. “I think that we have lost six months of learning for the kids, period. Online is not working at all. My biggest concern for my children, and I think other par- ents feel the same, is that [months of virtual learning] is not going to be an accurate representation of what our kids have grasped primarily because they can cheat.” Newburn said because her senior child in sports would lose eligibility and her other senior child requires special education services, it would be too dicult for them to transfer to a charter or private school. “My freshman said that he didn’t want to move schools,” Newburn said. “I tried to talk my kids into going to charter schools because a lot of peo- ple have left the district, but they ulti- mately didn’t want to.” Berry said she is grateful for the state’s enrollment stability grant, which allows districts to be funded at their previous years’ enrollment. Even still, Berry said the district is

the school year online as the number of coronavirus cases remained too high to open schools. Families, teachers, students and district leaders have adjusted to this unprecedented school year. Teach- ers are learning new ways to connect with their students and adapt to the constraints of social distancing. Par- ents are grappling with the decision to send their children back or keep them online or areworrying about what gaps in their educationmight have occurred in the last fewmonths. Meanwhile, district ocials are bracing for decreased student enroll- ment as more parents opted this year to remove their students from the dis- trict and send them to charter schools, private schools or decided to homes- chool their kids. The district has seen annual increases in enrollment for several years, so much so that it built a new elementary school and is in the process of building a new high school. “We are down about 2,200 enrolled

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