Our schools: Keeping them strong.


Story by Diana Whittle
Photos by Billy Hardiman







Neighbors collaborated
with neighbors during
a reception—staged,
as coincidence would have
it, at the newly opened
Nabers restaurant in west
Chandler—in a show of
support for the Kyrene
School District and its efforts
to gain support for an
upcoming school override
The event gave Kyrene
boosters an excuse to
socialize and, at the same
time, celebrate the launch
of a community based-effort
called “Keep Kyrene Strong.”
The goal of the campaign
is to educate the public
on the issues behind an
upcoming November ballot
measure, at which voters
will be asked to approve
continuation of the current
15 percent Maintenance and
Operation Budget Override,
which continues the existing
limit that was previously
approved by voters in 2010.
If defeated, say Kyrene
officials, the loss would
result in a shortfall of nearly
$12 million, an amount
that currently is used for
instructional programs,
staffing to reduce class sizes,
and for exploratory choices
such as advanced placement
courses, music, art and
physical education.
Currently, Kyrene is
an A-rated district with 25
schools serving kindergarten
to eighth grade at locations
in Tempe, Chandler and
Superintendent David
Schauer stressed, in a recent
message to Kyrene parents,
that the district remains
a high performer due to
dedicated staff and quality
“Kyrene schools provide
families with the educational
choices they are looking for
by offering the traditional
and leadership academies, self-contained gifted and
advanced placement programs along with a duallanguage
From an economic perspective, Kyrene’s chief
financial officer, Jeremy Calles, says the district is
widely respected for its responsible management
of the budget, having earned the highest credit
rating for an Arizona school district by Moody’s and
Standard and Poor’s.
“The override budget measure does not raise
homeowners’ property taxes,” said Calles.
“Instead, it only extends the override that now is
in place. If approved, homeowners still would pay
$72 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, which is the
amount they currently pay.”
“Keep Kyrene Strong” is a coalition of parents,
educators, businesses and community members
organized to support the Kyrene Elementary School
District through passage of bonds and overrides to
help ensure a quality public education for more than
17,000 students in Kyrene schools.
Mitzi Epstein, Jennifer Bowen and Rosalie Hirano
are the co-chairs of the Keep Kyrene Strong grassroots
According to Epstein, it’s important for the
community to understand that the measure
represents a sound investment for taxpayers.
“Research suggests that strong schools equal
higher property values, and strong schools mean a
strong Kyrene community,” she said.
The Kyrene election will coincide with another
override measure approved by the Tempe Union
High School District, which would extend the existing budget override for TUSD, but likewise will not increase taxes or spending.
For more information about the Keep Kyrene
Strong Campaign, visit www.keepkyrenestrong.org.



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