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During the Education Forum a student expressed his concern with what he has been learning in school and what its like to be a Native American teen and not being able to identify with his culture in certain situations.

Education Forum Addresses SRHS Failing Grade

Salt River Schools held their quarterly Community Forum on September 17 at the Salt River Community Building. The forum was led by Salt River Schools Acting Superintendent Cynthia Clary and designed to share important information and news with students’ families and the Community.

The forum included a dinner and a presentation. Education board members Heaven Sepulveda and Patricia Rush, new Salt River High School principal Emily Niu, and other Education staff were present to answer questions from parents and Community members.

For the 2017-18 school year, Salt River High School received an F letter grade (failing school), and the Community is now waiting to see if the school has improved its rating. This was the first year the school has earned that grade. The Community learned that if the school did not improve its grade, then it will lose its public charter status and as a result would be shut down in the year 2020.

The letter grade is determined based on test scores, attendance, growth, student grades, the school’s graduation rate, and whether the students are graduating on time, among other criteria.

Some of the questions asked by parents and Community members included when the Education Department would know the new grade; whether this has been discussed with the students; what happens if the school earns a D but then the following year receives another F grade; where would the youth attend school if it closes; and how would the Community get the school reopened.

“The high school is currently open and encouraging the youth to do their very best,” said Clary. “Our goal is to make sure the children get an education. If [the school] did get shut down, our goal is still to help the youth get educated.”

Currently the high school serves grades 7-12. One option is having the elementary school expand from K-6 to K-8, which will result in Salt River High School serving grades 9-12. The Education Board and staff continue to explore options in case the school does not improve.

Education staff met with the Arizona Department of Education, and they shared some of what they have been working on. “We have had a good meeting recently with the Arizona Department of Education,” said SRHS principal Niu. “We discussed three topics for the school improvement plan: climate and culture of the school; curriculum and making sure our textbooks are at the right state standards and up to date; and instruction and making sure students are engaged in the instruction strategies in the classroom.”

The Education Department said it has been working very hard with the school, instructors, students and families on the situation. “We don’t want to discourage the students to the point where they feel the need to just give up; we do want to make sure they feel encouraged to try their best,” said Clary.

The Education staff thanked everyone for attending and suggested that family and Community members also attend the school board meetings as well. Board meetings are held the first and third Mondays of the month at 5 p.m. in the Education Board Room at 4815 N. Center St., Scottsdale (Center Street and Chaparral Road).