Lined up in single file, students walk to their classroom at Los Cerritos Elementary School on the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

Thousands of Ahwatukee Foothills students started a new chapter Monday as bells rang and doors opened for the first day of the 2012-13 school year.

All Kyrene elementary and middle school students as well as Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools, and several other small schools started the new school year on Aug. 6.

For someone parents, it was difficult to say goodbye to their kindergartners as they embarked on their first day of elementary school, but teachers were there to see an easy transition.

“I always let the parents know that it’s easier for the kids than it is for them,” said Dena Lock, kindergarten teacher at Kyrene de los Cerritos. “I usually even call the parents before the first day to see if they have any questions.”

But that apprehension fades away the night before, with maybe some nervousness remaining, but it is replaced with excitement for local families.

“My kids couldn’t go to sleep last night, they were excited for the first day,” said Cerritos parent Marcy Theisler, a parent of three whose youngest daughter is a kindergartner this year. “As a parent you go through the first day a couple times, you get stronger mentally and when the day comes you are ready to go.”

Desert Garden Montessori also opened Monday, while students at Horizon Community Learning Center started last Monday, July 30. St. John Bosco Catholic School starts Aug. 21 and Summit School of Ahwatukee begins on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

It was a start to what could be an interesting year for Arizona public education.

Public schools could take a big hit to their already low funding levels. The Quality Education and Jobs Act, which is now scheduled to go on the November ballot after initially being rejected by Secretary of State Ken Bennet despite 290,000 signatures, would continue a one-cent sales tax that was adopted by Arizona two years ago. The tax generated about $900 million for public schools last year and roughly $10 million of that went into Kyrene’s budget, roughly 10 percent.

Arizona is currently ranked 45th in the nation in school funding levels, according to schoolfundingfairness.org.

Whatever happens will be for the voters to decide. But for teachers and parents, the goal is to take the new year day by day.

“I’ve been excited for the first day since I was going to school,” Lock said. “It doesn’t stop when you become a teacher.”

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

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