the Kyrene School District will go to
the polls Nov. 8 to decide a budget
override issue, but some may be looking
ahead to a special election in 2006 to
remove Board President Rae Waters.
The Maricopa County Elections Department
has validated enough signatures on
petitions to force a recall election
sometime next year.
Parents angry with Waters’ support of
scheduling changes in the district’s
middle schools, which puts more emphasis
on “core” classes at the expense of
music and fine arts programs, needed
7,230 valid sig-natures to force the
County elections officials validated
7,307 names, 77 more than needed, from
the 9,258 submitted.
Waters, however, says she has no plans
to relinquish her seat on the board.
In a statement issued Nov. 2, Waters
said she will place her name on next
year’s recall ballot.
“I have spent many hours reflecting on
my options, the ramifications of my
decision, and discussing them with my
“My choice is to continue to work for
the children of the Kyrene School
District by placing my name on the
“I will continue to support the
education of our children through my
work as a school board member and my
advocacy efforts at the local, state and
The recall issue will not appear on the
Tuesday, Nov. 8 ballot.
That is the date when Kyrene-area
residents will be asked to approve a
$6.8 million budget override, a $111.3
million bond for capital improvements,
and the sale or lease of two undeveloped
parcels owned by the district.
The recall is not on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Budget problems were primarily
responsible for the scheduling changes
that became effective this school year.
Enrollment in Kyrene schools peaked in
the 1999-2000 school year at 18,614 and
has dropped to 17,470 in the 2004-05
school year, a 6.1 percent decline,
according to budget numbers posted on
Kyrene’s web site, www.kyrene.org.
Enrollment is expected to continue to
decline through 2010, when it dips to
16,521, the web site predicts.
The Nov. 8 election will ask Kyrene
voters for permission to exceed the
state-imposed capital spending limit by
$6.8 million per year for the next seven
years. The extra $6.8 million will be
raised through increased property taxes
that would cost approximately $20 more
per year for owners of a single-family
home valued for tax purposes at $80,000.
School officials say more than 95
percent of the extra money would be
spent upgrading computer equipment in
1,200 classrooms throughout the
Kyrene also is asking its taxpayers to
approve a $111.3 million general
obligation bond to improve school
heating and cooling systems ($87.1
million), communications equipment
($12.5 million), purchase new buses
($8.8 million), and renovate district
offices ($2.9 million).
The bond would be repaid from property
taxes over a period of up to 20 years.
Kyrene estimates the tax burden would be
$66 per year on owners of homes valued
for tax purposes at $300,000.
A third question on the Nov. 8 ballot
seeks voter permission to sell or lease
two undeveloped sites owned by the
district. Both sites are west of
One site is a 28.5-acre parcel at the
northeast corner of Chandler Boulevard
and 50th Street; the other is 10.5 acres
at Chandler Boulevard and 13th Avenue.
“There is no specific plan for that land
right now, no specific proposals the
district is responding to,” said Johnny
Cruz, the Kyrene spokesman. Kyrene
officials simply want flexibility to
sell or lease the land “if an
opportunity presented itself,” Cruz
Meanwhile, Ahwatukee Foothills parents
have created a parent-based organization
that advocates for students in the
Kyrene district and Tempe Union High
The nonprofit Kyrene Parent Network
hopes to tap into local residents’
expertise to work with school officials
and provide a voice for parents in
One of the group’s first efforts is
supporting all three issues on the
Kyrene ballot on Nov. 8.