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Budget issue to be decided Nov. 8; Waters won't resign post
By Doug Snover

November 5, 2005

Voters in 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 election.

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 family.
“My choice is to continue to work for the children of the Kyrene School District by placing my name on the ballot.
“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 federal levels.”

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,

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 district.

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 Interstate 10.

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 said.
Meanwhile, Ahwatukee Foothills parents have created a parent-based organization that advocates for students in the Kyrene district and Tempe Union High School District.

The nonprofit Kyrene Parent Network hopes to tap into local residents’ expertise to work with school officials and provide a voice for parents in education issues.
One of the group’s first efforts is supporting all three issues on the Kyrene ballot on Nov. 8.





































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