Just under a year as one of Kyrene’s newest positions that aims to connect the school district with business sponsorships, Ted Gonzalez said the key is creating relationships.

After developing the program last year, the district has created a more community-based resource for funding programs and events with businesses.

“People I’ve spoken with are excited that there’s someone able to work with and facilitate these partnerships,” Gonzalez said.

As business development and sponsorship coordinator for the district, Gonzalez started the position last spring and has since helped bring programs like the Kyrene Power Challenge to all 25 schools, including those in Ahwatukee.

The power challenge’s goal for the 2012-13 school year is to save about $350,000 for the district. Sponsors like Peter Piper Pizza, the Phoenix Zoo, and USA’s Skateland, among others, have contributed to the challenge’s prizes.

Since the school year began, students, teachers and staff have cut down power usage in all of the district’s schools by a current total of about 1.5 million kilowatts. Sponsorship donation totals have accumulated to more than $49,000 so far.

“It also helps with getting capital items for schools that they desperately want, but we can’t afford or justify,” said Jeremy Calles, chief financial officer for the district.

Though Kyrene has taken baby steps into this venture of sponsorships for the schools, district officials assure that advertisements won’t be making their way into classrooms.

“We’re not saying that we’re going to have a McDonald’s smart board in the classroom,” said Nancy Dudenhoefer, assistant director of community relations for the district. “We created very specific regulations and guidelines that were approved by the board and it follows the ethical standards of the community.”

While in its first year, the program is aiming to sustain itself and the various programs or events that can benefit students and the community.

Last fall, the district hosted the Kyrene Parent Summit, which offered workshops on financial education for parents and students where restaurants sponsored food.

Without additional costs to the district, the sponsorships make services possible that weren’t previously available.

“It’s a two-fold position, it is about revenue generation, but also about creating an environment where business can be involved in the district and feel part of it,” Dudenhoefer said.

For more information about the district’s sponsorship program, visit kyrene.org/Page/12583.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com. Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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