July 7, 2016
Dear Kyrene Community,
Last week, as directed by Prop 123, the state of Arizona began to distribute $3.5 billion in funding to school districts throughout the State. Voters approved this proposition in May, which represented a negotiated settlement of a long standing school funding lawsuit. The lawsuit challenged the State’s ability to ignore adjustments for inflation that were directed by a previous ballot initiative (Prop 301). The courts ruled in favor of the districts and Prop 123 represented an agreed upon amount for non-compliance.
Kyrene’s portion of the settlement is $6.6 million, which is comprised of $3.3 million for fiscal year 2015-16, and $3.3 million for fiscal year 2016-17.
The Board has been working closely with the administration in Kyrene since last fall on the 2016-2017 budget, factoring in the anticipated additional revenue generated by the passage of Prop 123 and the use of accumulated reserve funds. We looked at areas hardest hit by the reductions in funding over the past several years, and as a result, the budget we will be considering for approval on July 12 will allow for spending in four areas:
• Restoration of school budgets for site-specific spending and the hiring of essential support personnel
• Increased compensation for staff
• Restoration of reductions in the frequency of middle school electives (specials) and expansion of elective subjects
• Purchase of instructional resources to replace obsolete materials (textbooks, and supporting instructional materials)
These areas of spending are consistent with the goals and objectives outlined in the Kyrene Blueprint and our focus on learning and instructional staff. We were able to make good on a promise to the community to return to a middle school schedule that offers students an opportunity to participate in elective classes (including art, music, physical education) every school day, as opposed to only two times a week. We addressed compensation for staff, advancing a three-year plan to make salaries more competitive with other districts and to improve employee recruitment and retention. We funded the purchase of much-needed instructional resources and an increase in school budgets to allow for the hiring of crossing guards and staff for lunch and recess duty.
As your elected representatives on the Kyrene Governing Board, we take seriously our role as fiscal stewards of your taxpayer dollars in support of learning for all students in Kyrene. We appreciate the trust and support our community has provided to making Kyrene one of the premier districts in Arizona. Together, we can continue to keep Kyrene a great place for kids and the district of choice for our community!