What makes a school district great

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What makes a school district great? Highly engaged and supportive communities are the most important factors.

The Kyrene School District is an amazing example of both. This community has always known: Education must be a top priority because of the impact it has on building a prosperous tomorrow for all.

The Past—Kyrene is one of the top districts in Arizona and has been providing a well-rounded, high-quality education in excelling schools for 120 years. Kyrene was once a tiny, rural one-room schoolhouse which grew into a large, modern, suburban school district in a short period of time.

The Present—Kyrene has excellent teachers and staff, as well as a vibrant student population. Many of the challenges faced by Kyrene are due to the maturation process and cycles that many communities experience.

Kyrene’s unique boundaries include portions of Tempe, Chandler and Phoenix, and generally the neighborhoods are not growing as they once were. Young families with children have matured and, as this happens, there are fewer school-aged children living in the community. This causes enrollment to decline and, because funding is based on per-pupil allocation rates, the budget is impacted.

Kyrene has faced budget deficits over the past five years, and recent state funding reductions have made this worse.

The Future—Education must change to meet the needs of a changing world and the new demands of the 21st Century.

Kyrene is no exception to this, and we will continue to evolve.  We firmly believe that we can turn current challenges into opportunities for the future.

We know we need to provide additional learning opportunities and choices for families because of the unique talents and needs our students possess. This district will continue to provide a high-quality education for every student as stated in our mission.

As we step into the future, Kyrene has announced plans to launch new innovative academic programs, including a College Bound Dual Language Academy, a Leadership Academy and a College Preparatory Academy.

Additional ideas are being researched and considered.

We all need to stay actively engaged and demand the very best educational system for our children. Numerous surveys conducted in Arizona indicate strong public support for high quality education in this state.

Let’s develop long-term, non-partisan educational policies and dependable financial support to make that happen for every student.

-Dr. David Schauer

Dr. David Schauer is superintendent of the Kyrene School District. For more information about the issues discussed in this commentary, visit www.kyrene.org  and click on Kyrene budget/current updates.

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