Public understanding of issues key to Kyrene election’s success

By Diana Whittle

Members of the Kyrene Governing Board believe it will require a community effort to educate residents on the need for a Yes vote in the upcoming override election on Nov. 5.

Although a unanimous decision of the board authorized the special election, several board members expressed their concern about public perception, particularly since an override measure failed last November.

“I think this override election will take a good marketing effort to explain the need to residents,” said John King, board member, during the June 11 session.

Kyrene Governing Board President Beth Brizel agreed, adding:

“Kyrene parents usually understand our budgetary needs, but it’s important that the whole community realizes that a vote for the override (also) helps to preserve real estate values.”

A positive public vote also provides the Kyrene School District with the ability to maintain its Revenue Control Limit override at a 15 percent level, which continues the existing limit that was previously approved by voters in 2010.

The Kyrene election will coincide with another override measure approved for the ballot by the Tempe Union High School District. A current board member for Tempe, Sandy Lowe, spoke during the Kyrene board meeting to lend her support to the election. She also mentioned that Dr. Kenneth Baca, superintendent of the Tempe Union district, which includes Corona and Marcos de Niza high schools, submitted a letter of support for the Kyrene override election.

Budget overrides for Arizona school districts must be renewed every five years. If not renewed by public vote, overrides begin a two-year phase-down, with complete elimination after the seventh year. The existing override for Kyrene is scheduled to begin its phase-down in 2015-16 unless reauthorized by voters this year.

The successful passage of the requested override, amounting to approximately $12.2 million, allows continuation of current programs, such as art, music and physical education and library. Without the passage of the override, programs would be changed, reduced or eliminated, said Kyrene Superintendent Dr. David Schauer.

Schauer explained that passage of this override does not raise homeowners’ property taxes. Instead, it simply extends the override that now is in place. If approved, homeowners would continue to pay $72 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, which is the amount of the current add-on.

In addition to the Tempe Union High School district, several other Valley school districts, including Chandler and Gilbert, are considering override elections this fall.

Each year, the Arizona Auditor General’s Office prepares a report comparing school district funding across the state.

For a complete copy of this report, visit: www.azauditor.gov/Reports/School_Districts/Statewide/2013_March/AZ_School_District_Spending_FY2012.pdf.

According to statistics provided by the Kyrene school administration,  district spending is 32 percent less for administration than similar districts.  In addition, Kyrene invests 60.2 percent of its funding in the classroom.

For more information about Kyrene’s budget or the election on Nov. 5, visit the district’s website at www.kyrene.org.

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