Dear Kyrene Community,
As we near the end of April, and the last month of school, this message begins with my appreciation of you, the Kyrene community. The home-school partnership is strong and your commitment to education is valued. Thank you to all our families who have provided care and nourishment to our children, instilling in them a can do attitude and a vision for the future, so that they are ready for school each day. And, thank you to our schools for creating environments of welcome that support student learning outcomes.
Spring season brings activities that close the year and celebrate learning. This is also when the District begins to develop a budget and other plans for the year ahead. Below is more information on steps we are taking to prepare for 2017-18 and beyond.
In order to attract and retain the most talented staff, compensation remains a priority. Working with teacher representatives and the Governing Board, a salary schedule was adopted that aligns to goals set forth by teachers and the Governing Board. While the design offers differentiation for graduate studies, budget constraints restricted the team from creating a model that decompressed salaries on experience as well. The recognition of education credits created an additional demand of $500,000 over and above our budgeted $1.7M allocation for teacher’s compensation. With the blessing of the Governing Board, we will use District reserves to support this priority. We continue to look for a way to compensate teachers for years of experience. These adjustments are designed to address discrepancies in compensation for our hard working teachers.
In addition to changes in the salary schedule for teachers, the District continues to advocate for compensation increases for Educational Support Professionals and Administrators. The 2017-18 salaries are in alignment with Fox Lawson recommendations.
Preparing the budget: Prop 206 and student enrollment Kyrene, along with other public schools, are addressing budget challenges influenced by the approval of Proposition 206 (the minimum wage law). Each year, this law will cost Kyrene between $1.3 and $1.5M. While many state agencies are exempt from this law, public schools are not. This cost was not budgeted for 2016-17 because the law went into effect January 2017. We must also plan for this cost in years forward.
This month, the District’s demographer reported to the Governing Board a projected delay in the anticipated increased enrollment. Last year, our demographer reported a projected recovery in our enrollment numbers in 2019-20. At the Governing Board meeting on April 11, an updated projection was presented, showing a continued decrease in enrollment for the next five or six years. The in-district population will fall to all-time lows. The combination of the unknown impact of the new Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) law along with the enrollment projections, demands that we be strategic in the management of our budget and resources as well as in our student recruitment efforts.
Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee
Over the past four weeks, we have been working with a Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee. In May they will recommend to the Governing Board that M&O Override, Bond, and Capital Override be added to the ballot for this November’s election. The committee recommended to not ask for increases; but rather, maintain the current level of support. This will be an important election for our school district and we will rely on citizens to help advocate for this campaign. This funding is critical to our continued work in Kyrene. Visit the Citizen’s Budget Committee website
to learn additional information about this work.
In our first year together, the Superintendent’s Priorities, developed in conjunction with the Governing Board, are all aimed at increasing enrollment in Kyrene. We are excited about the expansion of our early learning options, the redesign of our middle school program, expansion of KTA to PreK-8 along with the International Baccalaureate Program candidacy at KMS.
Employee assignments to new coordinator positions in the departments of Curriculum & Assessment, Instruction, Information Technology, and Special Education are almost complete. In an effort to address budget shortfalls while providing much needed resources for our schools, we implemented changes in our organization. We have also begun the work of addressing curriculum audit findings
Engaging in Education
Looking forward, budget development must be long-term, focused on schools and student learning. District expenditures must adapt to changing influences and be responsive to the needs of the community. As I am out visiting schools, speaking with parents and meeting with the business community, I am often reminded of why Kyrene continues to be a high performing district.
The Kyrene community is unwavering in its support for public education, and I want to thank you for entrusting us with your confidence in our ability to provide all students with a quality education. That trust is something I value greatly. While we have our work cut out for us, I don’t know of a community more committed to its schools. I am proud to be on Team Kyrene!
Jan Vesely, Ed.D.