Brown: Tonalea effort was meant to help serve south Scottsdale

I was PTA President for four years at Hohokam Elementary. That time gave me a firsthand opportunity to see the need of many in south Scottsdale. Now I’ve just finished four years on the Scottsdale school board.

Denny Brown

Denny Brown

I have a unique understanding of the needs of the district and the needs of the individuals.

The board voted to close Tonalea. I attended the community meeting where a gentleman from the audience suggested moving Tonalea to the ECC. A school that had been remodeled just eight years before, what a great idea.
Because of the lack of state funding the old campus infrastructure was in terrible shape.

It was July after the school had closed. A representative from United Food Bank and reps from St. Mary’s Food Bank met district staff and myself to discuss the possibilities for using a portion of this campus to support efforts by our community specialist.

Only three permanent buildings were useable because of air conditioning, plumbing and basic electrical problems. Two portable buildings were also available. No classrooms were presented as useable. There was much excitement about the possibly.

These conversations led to meeting folks from ASU Nutritional Services who followed up with a needs assessment conducted with an ASU grant and U of A extension services, who was willing to support a community garden. The core of the conversation was healthy nutritional education. Because of the kitchen, the idea of cooking classes was discussed.

First Things First, a state agency, became interested in the district.

They were already participating in programs concerning children infant to 5-years-old that were taking place in the district. They suggested getting in touch with First Teeth First, who does dental screening for little humans. They were looking for a space in Scottsdale. First Teeth First also suggested getting in touch with WIC. They were a natural team since parents come in every six months for WIC paperwork and at the same time could get dental screening.

As things progressed, the district was contacted by providers currently involved with the district about renting space. Tutoring, behavioral health, career readiness and other support services were available.
No contracts and no money changed hands. And, I volunteered to make these calls and meet these folks to tour the facility. The city of Scottsdale reached out to the district to see if there were possibilities for enhancing city programs with the help of our engaged parent groups.

Please note the word “enhancing,” not taking over or undermining the great work done by the Paiute Center and Vista del Camino.

In December, the property at 68th and Oak was used to distribute emergency food boxes to SUSD families before winter break and to house Santa.

Santa Bob had 100 families sponsored for gifts. In addition, Santa visited with about 50 students who received a small gift donated by ICM Food and Clothing Bank.

This use was always intended to be temporary. Any rental agreement is approved by the district. Any rent would go to the district. I have not received any money.

I was a volunteer trying to find partners to support our district.

Editor’s note: Mr. Brown is a former member of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board

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