Jul 25, 2012 2:10 AM
TUCSON - Most nights, a $17 million dollar budget hole would be the hot item TUSD's agenda.
Instead, Tuesday it was the battle over Mexican American Studies in Tucson's largest school district.
In January, a divided board voted to ban books used in the defunct Mas program from classroom use, but made them available in school libraries.
Board member Mark Stegeman this month proposed allowing the literature to be used in classes that replaced MAS, a move some called election-year opportunism.
Mas supporters used an internet campaign to encourage a large turnout for the final board meeting at district headquarters to make sure that happened.
Without support from the majority of the board, Mark Stegeman's motion was essentially quashed. The books will not be restored.
Before the vote took place, students and community members rallied together. Most everyone in attendance wanted ethnic studies and Mas books reinstated.
Some are questioning the motives of board member Stegeman, who voted to suspend the books, but now in an election year, wants them restored.
Stegeman told board members and the audience, "I believe that suspending the Mas courses at that time was the best decision for the district as a whole, now that the courses have ended I think it's in our best interest to end any appearance of discrimination against a short list of books."
Adelita Grijalva opposed the idea, "I can't support this motion. Unfortunately, I think this is actually worked as part of a campaign strategy."
The board member's original vote to ban the books will stand.
As for balancing the budget, the board is considering school closures and mergers.
Two years ago, nine elementary schools were closed, saving 3.2 million a year.
By law public input is required if any school has the potential for closure.
So far, none have been named.
A series of town halls have been tentatively scheduled starting August 20th at Saguaro, August 22nd at Pueblo and August 25th at Catalina.
Public input is welcome.