On the November ballot, voters will see an option to continue the Kyrene School District capital override for an additional seven years. While the current override does not expire until the 2012-13 school year, Jeremy Calles, interim chief financial officer for Kyrene, said knowing whether they have secured the extra funding or not, the majority of which is used for technology in the classroom, for the coming years is an intregal part in the budget development process.
"We have to be able to plan ahead with our funding," he said. "If it passes we know we can plan accordingly, and if it fails then it gives us the chance to try again next year."
Voters approved the current $6.8 million override in 2005, which, according to the district's website, costs homeowners approximately $6 per month for the average home value of $225,000.
The district uses the extra funding for a variety of inside and outside the classroom technologies. It has allowed the purchase of laptops, interactive SMART Boards, and software that teachers say increases the efficiency of their grading and reporting by a wide margin.
Third-year science teacher at Akimel A-al Middle School, Kathy Clark Couey, uses a website, testmoz.com, to monitor her students' progress on a daily basis.
She designs a short quiz for her students to take after listening to her daily lessons. The students get on the classroom's laptops, answer the quiz, and the results are returned to her within minutes.
"I can look at the reporting and see what answers the majority of students are getting wrong and that tells me I have to work on clarifying that particular area," Couey said. "I need to know what they know all the time and this allows me to monitor their progress as a group and as individuals."
The key, said Akimel assistant principal Doug Olson, is how the technology complements and enhances the district's curriculum. When a new piece of technology is introduced, such as the SMART Board, teachers are given the basics of how it works, and the district also provides more in-depth training.
"The technology we have in the classroom is a tool for the teachers to implement the curriculum," Olson said. "The beautiful thing about technology is that it allows everyone to go at their own pace and it allows the teachers to adapt to the needs of the individual student."
The extra funding from the override benefits subjects like music in addition to the core subjects. In Dr. Tom van Oostrom's elementary music class, with the benefit of a large projection screen and speakers, he rarely needs to pass out textbooks and, instead, uses the screen to keep the students all on the same page.
"It's great because I can point at exactly where they need to look," he said. "We also have the ability to record and instantly evaluate their performance. We can listen back immediately and follow along on the screen."
If the override passes again, it will continue for another seven years, until the 2019-20 school year.
To find out more, visit www.Kyrene.org and click on the "Nov. 8 election" link.
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