A year of memories: Looking back on 2013 - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

A year of memories: Looking back on 2013

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Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2013 9:45 am | Updated: 10:53 pm, Fri May 30, 2014.

The year is almost over, and throughout the year schools across Ahwatukee saw many things that will surely be remembered.

From Kyrene School District (KSD) and Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) getting voters to pass their Maintenance and Operation Override agenda, both school districts taking a stance on the Loop 202 dilemma, Kyrene’s very own teacher became a top five finalist in the 2014 Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence, to Phoenix After School Center (PAC) on the verge of closing its doors due to decrease in enrollment, the year was not dull.

Here’s a look back on some events that occurred during 2013:

Maintenance and Operations Override

Results from the Nov. 5 election showed voters in support of both Kyrene School District and Tempe Union High School District Maintenance and Operations Overrides.

This was a huge victory for TUHSD, considering during the last two elections the district was unable to garner support for the M&O Override.

According to a TUHSD fact sheet, the current M&O Override funds ($6.75 million) support various schooling areas such as basic instructional programs, staffing for smaller class sizes, staff development, athletic and extra-curricular programs, and facilities maintenance programs.

The victory for TUHSD came about by running a more community-based campaign rather than a political agenda, and front men like Dick Foreman, vice chairman of the Yes Support Our Schools Campaign, were able to speak out to voters on the importance of passing the M&O Override.

Yes Support Our Schools Campaign also assured voters that passing the M&O Override will not only benefit schools across the district, but also homeowners who will see their property values increase.

Loop 202

One of the biggest stories across Ahwatukee, the Loop 202 discussion had the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) pitted against community organizations such as Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) favoring on a “no build” stance on the freeway.

Members of PARC voiced their concerns during different school governing board meetings about the affects the Loop 202 will not only have on the community of Ahwatukee, but schools in the KSD and TUHSD.

Some concerns addressed by Connie Squires, secretary, and Dr. Pat Lawlis, president, informed both districts that the extension of the Loop 202 will bring significant air pollution to schools around both districts.

Both districts took a stance of opposition toward the building of the Loop 202.

KSD affirmed in its drafted resolution that the school district governing board wishes to express its position opposing the proposed extension of the Loop 202, west of Interstate 10 (the South Mountain Freeway).

The resolution also affirmed the increase in noise, traffic and impact on air quality will negatively impact the Kyrene community and create new hazards and burdens for Kyrene’s schools in the vicinity of the Loop 202 freeway.

Teacher’s award

Tara Dale, a seventh-grade general science teacher at Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School, also had a memorable year by becoming a top five finalist in the 2014 Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence.

The annual Teacher of the Year banquet is the premier event for the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF), a statewide organization promoting exceptional efforts being made in Arizona’s public schools.

She was awarded for her excellent service and fortitude as an instructor during a luncheon on Nov. 14 at the Arizona Biltmore.

Dale has been teaching general science at Akimel for nearly seven years, and has always had a passion for teaching dating back when she would teach Sunday school at her church.

Dale’s nomination for the prestigious award was no simple task; she was given multiple tasks to complete consisting of writing a 13-page essay that focuses on answering seven different prompts, conducting an hour-long interview and completing 40 speaking engagements across Arizona.

After School program

In 2013, the Phoenix Afterschool Center (PAC), located at Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary School, also witnessed changes by being on the verge of shutting down due to the decrease in enrollment.

According to emails sent out to families back in November, “due to insufficient enrollment during the PAC session one the PAC program at Sierra will not be offered for session three, unless our minimum enrollment of 40 participants is met and maintained during session two.”

The PAC program found some difficulty keeping the required enrollment due to the unavailability of marketing resources through fliers or posters, and solely relying upon word-of-mouth from parents who have their children enrolled in the program.

The cost for a full-year enrollment in the PAC program is $720 per child, compared to the $2,350 for the on-site program offered by the Kyrene School District.

2013 will become a thing in the past, but the memorable stories of the year will surely not be forgotten.

The new year will offer a clean slate for new experiences to be made and memories to be shared.

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

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