Kyrene schools will be winding down the year in a couple of weeks, giving teachers a welcome breather after 10 months of learning to do more with less.
While staff morale seems to have remained remarkably high, even under an existing cloud of diminished funding, principals, teachers and support staff may have to take a deep breath to accommodate yet more changes that likely await them when school resumes on Aug. 8.
Although the proposed changes won’t become final until after the Kyrene Governing Board holds its July meeting, it seems certain that virtually no facet of school operation will escape the funding ax.
In their efforts so far, district planners appear to have built next year’s budget with as little negative effect on the classroom as possible. The goal, say school officials, is to maintain the district’s longtime reputation for quality, at the same time living within highly compressed sources of revenue.
“We’ve managed to bring together some of our district’s best talent to confront what lies ahead,” said Karin Smith, the district’s chief financial and operations officer. That team’s efforts so far seem to have produced positive results.
“We think we’ve done a good job of prioritizing what we know must remain untouched, what can remain with modifications and what might be minimized without jeopardizing our students’ educational future.”
Faced with $5.3 million in funding cutbacks, the governing board on May 10 reviewed and discussed a list of recommended operational modifications that would, if approved, go into effect in August.
Atthe May 10 session, board members discussed in detail the items that had received a high level of support, as well as those with less support and those that would not be recommended in the current budget proposal but could be studied further for a future budget decision.
Among the recommendations:
• Class-size staffing guidelines will be adjusted to include two additional students in grades K-3 and one additional student in grades 4-8. Savings: $1,350,000.
• The scheduling of elementary special classes, including art, music, PE and library programs, will be adjusted, resulting in a change in the frequency and time that students participate in these programs. Savings $666,400-$1,121,120 (depending on which schedule is selected).
• Bus schedules and school start times will be modified so that fewer buses and fewer drivers can get students to school on time. This will result in Kyrene, Pueblo, Akimel A-al and Centennial Middle Schools starting at 9 a.m. The Governing Board asked the staff to examine the potential cost impact of also changing the start times at the neighboring elementary school to lessen the impact on families with students in both elementary and middle school. Savings: $500,000.
• Administrative staff and budgets at the district office will be reduced. Savings: $600,000.
• Prevention and social-service resources will be reduced. Currently Kyrene has two prevention specialists and five social workers who provide services to families throughout the district. Social workers will be reduced to three and prevention specialists will be eliminated. Because this is a proposed reduction that would have a significant impact on students and families, board members voiced concern over this possible reduction. Savings: $220,000.
• Money spent on substitute teachers will be reduced. Schools will be given a limited budget allocation to curb the cost of substitutes. Savings: $500,000.
• The gifted program will adjust how it schedules the students in fourth- and fifth-grade classes. No services will be reduced, rather how students are scheduled. Fourth- and fifth-grade students will still receive the pull-out services. Savings: $250,000
• The number of instructional assistants who provide services to at-risk students will be reduced by 15 percent. Savings: $150,000
• Additional schools will utilize contracted custodial services. Savings: $120,000.
• Schools will be expected to share furniture and equipment when it is not currently being used. This will allow the district to not purchase as much furniture and equipment. Savings: $75,000.
• The temperatures in schools will be adjusted by one degree to reduce utility costs. Savings: $62,000.
• School-supply budgets will be reduced by 5 percent, resulting in fewer resources for consumable supplies used in the classrooms. Savings: $41,000.
• Administrators who work at the district office will provide coverage when the school allocations for substitutes are no longer available. Additionally, a stipend that was previously provided to substitutes will continue to be eliminated. Savings: $40,000.
• Staff who implement components of the capital override will be paid from that funding source. This will result in a Maintenance and Operations savings but not in a personnel reduction.
The budget process for what seems to be a long way away will begin very shortly after the Governing Board approves this year’s budget in July.
The board will be asked to consider an action item at its Tuesday, May 24 meeting to allow for communication and planning with the staff and community.
Because the proposed changes may affect each school differently, parents are being encouraged to attend public Governing Board meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month or submit their comments and suggestions on the Kyrene website at www.kyrene.org/budget