What makes a school district great? Highly engaged and supportive communities are the most important factors in making this happen. The Kyrene School District is an amazing example of public education at its best and is a model for Arizona and the nation. The Kyrene community has always expressed strong support for the schools by voting in favor of every election that has ever been conducted to raise additional revenue. The results from the most recent election to raise the sales tax now shows the entire state what this community has always known: Education must be a top priority because of the impact it has on building a prosperous tomorrow for all.
Kyrene is one of the top districts in Arizona and has been providing a well-rounded, high-quality education in excelling schools for 120 years. Kyrene was once a tiny, rural, one-room schoolhouse that grew into a large, modern, suburban school district in a short period of time.
Kyrene has excellent teachers/staff and a vibrant student population. Many of the current challenges faced by Kyrene are due to the maturation process and cycles that many communities experience. Kyrene’s unique boundaries include portions of Tempe, Chandler and Phoenix and generally the neighborhoods are no longer growing as they once were. Young families with children have matured and, as this happens, there are fewer school-aged children living in the community. This causes enrollment to decline and, since funding is based on per-pupil allocation rates, the budget is impacted. Kyrene has faced budget deficits over the past five years, and recent funding reductions have made this worse.
The recent election (Prop. 100) will help minimize additional budgetary challenges. For example, we will be able to call back the majority of teachers who were subjected to the Reduction in Force process that was implemented in case the election failed. Because of conservative budget strategies, the Kyrene deficit that will be $6 million (instead of the close to $12 million it would have been without the positive election outcome) can be managed through the use of reserves, increased efficiencies and other strategies. Class size ranges will not increase and employee salaries will not be reduced as long as no additional reductions come from the Arizona Legislature.
Education must change to meet the needs of a changing world and the new demands of the 21st century. Kyrene is no exception to this, and we will continue to evolve. We firmly believe that we can turn current challenges into opportunities for the future. We know we need to provide additional learning opportunities and choices for families because of the unique talents and needs our students possess. This district will continue to provide a high-quality education for every student as stated in our mission. As we step into the future, Kyrene has announced plans to launch new innovative academic programs, including a College Bound Dual Language Academy, a Leadership Academy and a College Preparatory Academy. Additional ideas are being researched and considered.
The recent statewide election has shown what we, as a cohesive community, have always known that when we move forward in a positive and unified manner, there are no limits to what we can accomplish. We all need to stay actively engaged and demand the very best educational system for our children. The most recent election and numerous surveys conducted in Arizona indicate strong public support for high-quality education in this state. Let’s develop long-term, non-partisan educational policies and dependable financial support to make that happen for every student.
Dr. David K. Schauer is superintendent of the Kyrene School District. Reach him at email@example.com.