Tempe Diablo Excellence in Education awards

Teachers and employees of the Kyrene School District were recognized on Tuesday night as winners of the recent Tempe Diablo Excellence in Education awards. They also found out that their base salary could be increasing by two percent next year.

Travis Roemhild/AFN

The Kyrene School District Governing Board opened the new school year with a discussion similar to what they ended on last year.

But the issue at hand continues to warrant the district’s attention.

Parts of the overall funding levels are beyond their control — some are left up to the Arizona Legislature and voters — but other factors are heavily dependent on administrators and schools.

Kyrene chief financial officer Jeremy Calles said one way they are pushing to save money across the district was to reduce energy costs. They have built in an incentive plan for individual schools with a goal to reduce district-wide energy costs by 11.5 percent.

“We set that ambitious goal (last year) of reducing by 2.8 million kilowatt hours, completely by behavior change,” Calles said. “We are basing it on a year-over-year percentage reduction... The school who reduces the most will receive an annual prize.”

They are also handing out monthly prizes from several business sponsors in the Valley. Students from the school who reduces the most in August will receive free bowling. Other sponsors include the Phoenix Zoo, Skateland and Airworx.

A bit of good news from the first week is that enrollment appears to be up, Calles said. A preliminary count showed that the first day saw 17,854 students enrolled in 25 district schools, up from 17,693 last year.

The district is watching the Legislature and the upcoming election closely. They hope for a change in bond capacity legislation that will allow them access to funding approved by voters in 2010. Due to a decrease in home values since then, the district has been unable to use any of the $116 million approved by voters. A bill which could have potentially increased bond limit capacity, a number tied to the total assessed property values within the district, died in the Arizona State Senate Rules Committee in May 2012.

Voters will decide in November whether or not to continue a one-cent sales tax that provides funding to public schools. Calles said the value is upward of $10 million for the district.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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