It’s election season, but gone are the days of waiting to cast a ballot in person at your local polling place.
This year, votes for the Kyrene School District’s budget override may be cast only using a mail-in ballot, which has to be postmarked by midnight Thursday, Nov. 2.
Ballots also can be dropped off in person on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at the Tempe Public Library, 3500 S. Rural Road, Tempe, that added location designated to comply with voting legalities that exclude employees at affected institutions from handling election ballots.
By using many outreach efforts—including fliers, social media and special events—“Keep Kyrene Strong” campaign chairs Michelle Hirsch, Dr. Jose Leyba and Christie Ellis say they’re hoping to educate area residents on reasons to vote yes in the upcoming override and bond election.
Traditionally, the Kyrene district receives a good show of support from area residents.
But, as one of the hands-on volunteers on the grassroots campaign, Hirsch says she wants to make sure all bases are covered before the ballots are cast.
“It’s important for voters to mail-in their ballots with yes votes to support these Kyrene School District overrides and bond re-authorization because not only is this critical to continued funding, which supports students, teachers and an excellent school district, but there is no increase in the tax rate that benefits our entire community,” said Hirsch.
“Kyrene’s excellent schools contribute to strong home values, great neighborhoods and our local economy by attracting families and homebuyers, along with businesses and continued economic development.”
Voters will be asked to approve three measures:
- Continuation of the current $12.8 million Maintenance and Operation (M&O) Budget Override;
- District Additional Assistance Capital Override for $6.8 million; and
- Bond reauthorization for a maximum of $116.9 million
If defeated, district officials say, the loss of override funds will result in a decrease of the nearly $12.8 million that currently is used for instructional programs and staffing to reduce class sizes, as well as exploratory choices such as advanced placement courses, coding, music, art and physical education.
An additional $6.8 million from the override will be used for student and school security, technology programs, maintenance, software systems and licensing, and maintenance for school buses and maintenance vehicles.
In addition, say campaign officials, bond funds of up to $116.9 million will be used to address badly needed repairs and maintenance for aging school buildings, which are, on average, 30-years-old.
Currently, Kyrene is an A-rated district with 25 schools serving pre-school, kindergarten to eighth grades at locations in Tempe, West Chandler and Ahwatukee.
“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 dual-language school,” said Hirsch.
Hirsch is a former school-board president and the parent of three grown children, all of whom attended Kyrene schools.
She notes that the district is widely respected for its responsible management of the budget.
“The override measure does not raise homeowners’ property tax rates. Instead, it only extends the override funding that now is in place.
“If approved, owners of a home with an average assessed value of $238,270 would pay an estimated annual cost $152.02 for the M & O Override portion; the DAA/Capital Override cost would be $80.85, and the bond reauthorization would be $87.20, of assessed valuation, which is the amount they currently pay,” said Hirsch.
“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 that ensure a quality public education for its more than 17,000 students.
The Kyrene election will coincide with another override measure being proposed to voters by the Tempe Union High School District, extending the existing 10 percent budget override and resulting in a small tax increase to raise the override to the maximum 15 percent allowed by law.
For more information about the Keep Kyrene Strong Campaign, visit the backers’ page on Facebook at Keep Kyrene Strong or send an email with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org