Kyrene weighs its spending options on results-based funding

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By Diana Whittle

The Kyrene School District is facing a good problem to solve—how to spend nearly $1.2 million in results-based funding.

Members of the Governing Board discussed with staff various ideas on how best to use the money, which was a reward from the Arizona Legislature to individual schools for their high-performance levels on AZMerit tests.

Within the Kyrene District, nine schools earned the funds, based on their students’ scoring in the top 10 percent of all schools statewide. The students were specifically graded on the mathematics and language arts portion of state-wide assessment tool.

Three of the elementary schools selected for the funding are in the Wrangler corridor, including Cielo and Brisas in Chandler, and Mariposa in Tempe.

Assistant Superintendent Laura Toenjes explained that the results-based funding was awarded directly to individual schools, so Governing Board approval was not required.

“But we felt it was right to present our plans to the members of the board so that the spending is transparent, since $1.2 million is a significant amount of money. We want to use the funds in a way that will best impact all the kids in Kyrene,” said Toenjes.

“One of the allowable expenditures is to take the best practices of the nine schools and to implement them district-wide.”

In a show of team spirit, the nine principals of the top-rated schools gathered together and determined that the funds should be used to benefit all schools in the district.

Their proposal is a combination of both learning opportunities for teachers along with curriculum work. This also is in keeping with the allowable expenditures, which can be used for teacher salaries and their professional development.

Board President John King said he appreciated the approach to the use of the funds district-wide and called for a vote by the Governing Board. Though not unanimous, the board did give their approval on moving forward with finalizing a plan to include district-wide professional development pathways and results-based curriculum planning.

Arizona’s results-based education funding program is new this year; and, Kyrene officials are unclear if it will be extended into another school year.

Statewide, the results-based funding program allocated $400 per student to high-performing schools with high percentages of students whose families qualify as low-income based on the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.

For districts with lower percentages of lowincome students, such as Kyrene, $225 was allocated
per student.

In the past, state and federal school-funding formulas have provided funding based on the number of students and not how successfully they are learning, with additional funds focused on underperforming schools.

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