We continue to receive positive feedback from our parents, District residents, and community members on our new middle school design and efforts to reallocate limited resources towards schools to provide resources to address the needs of our struggling learners, within the confines of our existing budget and honoring our commitment to teacher compensation increases.
Previously, I shared the background on the priorities given to me when I became Superintendent last July. Those priorities included increasing enrollment, middle school redesign, addressing our achievement gap, ensuring that teachers had viable curriculum and addressing the variables to recruit and retain teachers, including compensation.
As many of you know, Kyrene and other school districts have been struggling to do more with less funding from the state. While Prop 123 provided us with some relief, any gains we may have made in terms of funding has been severely impacted by the passage of Prop 206, the minimum wage law, which went into effect in January. With no new dollars to spend, we are looking at ways to maximize our existing resources to invest in the supports we provide to our teachers and classrooms and ultimately, to our students.
The changes I announced last week represent a shift of staff from the District Office to instructional support positions in the schools. These changes represent a cost neutral shift of $2.1 million in resources from the District Office back to our schools.
I knew when I came to Kyrene, that it had a reputation of being one of the highest performing Districts in the state. In my short time here, meeting with staff and talking with students, parents, community and business partners, the sense of pride everyone shares in earning that reputation is evident and well deserved. However, we cannot rest on our reputation and there is always room to improve. Improvement is a process, one that is most successful when everyone works together proactively to achieve success. The Japanese embrace continuous improvement, or Kaizen, by subscribing to a philosophy of actively engaging all employees in suggesting and implementing improvements to the desired goal. In terms of next steps, I have asked our school leaders to engage teachers and staff in determining specifically how they will leverage these resources. We will continue to work with those whose individual positions are affected in making them aware of the options available to them, as we value their experience and expertise and want to find the best placement for them on the Kyrene team.
The future of Kyrene is in our hands. I am confident that together, we can figure out what needs to be done to yield the best results for our students. Step by step, action by action, we must be committed to the process of continuous improvement so that our results can be sustained and yes, spectacular!
More information will be shared during a study session before the Governing Board on February 14, on the organizational design and on the findings of the district-wide curriculum audit. I welcome you to attend this meeting to hear further details. In the meantime, I welcome feedback and ideas via the “Let’s Talk!” dialogue, which can be accessed through the Kyrene website at www.kyrene.org
Dr. Jan Vesely