Kyrene continues to see challenges in funding and bond sales - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Kyrene continues to see challenges in funding and bond sales

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Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 10:49 am

Decreases in bond sales and legislative cuts could affect Kyrene School District with larger class sizes, program reductions, and reduced compensation for teachers and staff.

During the next legislative session in January, the district would need, at minimum, the statutory limit changed to 10 percent to bond for secondary assessed values.

In the meantime the district is operating on a “run to failure” plan, said Kyrene’s chief financial officer, Jeremy Calles.

“Since we can’t afford to replace all of the items that are scheduled, we will only replace items that stop working,” Calles said in an email.

If the upcoming legislative session makes no changes for how much a school district can bond based on the secondary assessed values, costs for capital items like hot water heaters, foundation repairs, air conditioning units, and electrical panels would come from the Maintenance and Operations budget. That move could then lead to increased classroom sizes and other student-level impacts.

“If the bond legislation doesn’t pass teachers (and all other employees) will have their salary frozen for the fifth time in the past six years,” Calles added.

In 1998, Arizona passed a law that said elementary school districts can only bond for 5 percent of their secondary assessed value, meaning the state would provide the capital funding needed. Calles said full funding was only given once in the past 14 years since the change.

“It’s possible,” said Calles about the bond limits increasing, “but it would take more people coming forward to tell the Legislature that the current situation is unacceptable.”

Recalling an incident earlier this year, Calles said the motor of a skylight at Kyrene Middle School sparked a small fire, setting off sprinklers for two upstairs classrooms. Though no injuries occurred, a total of four classrooms sustained water damage and displaced students to other available spaces for several weeks.

“As the state continues to reduce and restrict our access to capital funds, these events will become more common not just in Kyrene, but across the state,” Calles said.

Arizona’s next legislative session will reconvene on Jan. 14.

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

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