Dear Kyrene Community,
Welcome back to the second half of our school year! I am hopeful that you and your families had time during winter break for some rest and relaxation and enjoyment of the spirit of the holidays.
This time of year is steeped in ritual—celebration of a new year, reflection on the year past and focus on what we want to accomplish in the year ahead. For us in Kyrene, we have an ambitious list of things we hope to move forward to advance our mission of providing students with the best education possible. Soon we will begin the important ritual of working with our Governing Board in determining our budget priorities for the 2017-18 school year and beyond.
It is always a challenge for school districts to develop their budgets uncertain of what the legislature might provide in terms of additional funding. Last week, I attended the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance “Breakfast With the Governor” and while It was encouraging to hear Governor Ducey talk at length about the importance of education, it remains to be seen how much relief we can expect from the legislature. The challenges he outlined--addressing the teacher shortage, increasing teacher salaries, providing all-day Kindergarten and the importance of early childhood education—are all too real for those of us on the front lines of education.
At Kyrene, we are doing what we can to meet those challenges. Our teachers continue to go above and beyond, doing the important work in the classroom, and we are in the second year of a three-year plan to try to address compensation and to provide new teachers with a competitive salary. We will continue our commitment to providing free, all-day Kindergarten and will be expanding our early childhood education options. We will continue to do our best to make the dollars stretch as far as possible so that we can continue to uphold the high level of education that our community has come to expect in Kyrene.
In a few weeks, we expect to receive the results of a District-wide audit, that I expect will identify how we can build on our strengths, improve our efficiencies and maximize our limited resources toward the important work of teaching and learning. I have already begun the conversation with my leadership team on our budget priorities and look forward in the coming months to working with the Governing Board to craft a budget that will ensure that we make the best use of the dollars we have available to meet the needs of our teachers, schools and most importantly, our students.
We have taken an important first step, in partnership with our Governing Board, as we begin the expansion of Kyrene Traditional Academy to PreK – 8, prepare our application for an International Baccalaureate program at KMS, implement the redesign of our middle schools and provide greater opportunities for early learning. Yes, these are ambitious goals, but they are critical in the long term, to securing our enrollment base for the future.
Entering into the second half of my first year as your Superintendent, I am energized by each interaction I have with teachers, staff, students and community members. This truly is a great place for teachers to teach and for kids to learn. My New Year’s resolution is a simple one-- stay humble, be fearless and work, work, work to provide quality service for the students, teachers, employees and the community of Kyrene.
Dr. Jan Vesely