Live-in guards in on-site apartments at 14 Kyrene schools and the district’s Ben Furlong Education Center will be looking for new homes over the next two years as officials begin phasing out the units.
The school board earlier this month unanimously approved a plan to start converting the on-site residences into classrooms for preschool programs and replace the live-in guards with different security coverage.
Superintendent Jan Vesely told the board that the 75-year-old on-site program has been rendered outmoded by the fences, cameras and alarms schools have now.
The guards had patrolled campuses at Akimel A-al/Estrella, Altadena/Cerritos, Aprende/Brisas, Centennial/Colina, Kyrene Middle School/Waggoner, Cielo, Esperanza, Lomas, Manitas, Mariposa, Milenio, Monte Vista, Ninos, Norte and Sierra.
The seven other schools that had no apartments were covered by staff working on performance contracts.
“All campuses are equipped with fences, cameras and alarms so the physical presence of the on-site is no longer a necessity,” Vesely said in a presentation to the board.
Instead of having people walking around the campuses, staffers will be assigned to lock down schools after hours and activate alarms before leaving.
Other district staff called “field rangers” will secure buildings when outside groups are using the school for meetings or other activities after class hours.
“The overall need of the district is having someone on-call to respond to phone calls when the alarms go off, not walking around,” Vesely said.
The guards will be evicted in two phases because the district can’t begin building preschool facilities at all the schools at one time.
By April 30, the residences at Brisas/Aprende, Cielo, Milenio, Monte Vista, Norte and Waggoner/Kyrene Middle School will be closed. The others will be closed at the end of April 2018.
The guards will be replaced by three people who will be on-call for emergencies and handle irrigation on the premises at a total cost of $33,000 annually by the time the closings are completed.
In all, the resident-guards had been paying $72,000 annually in rent, though of that amount, $52,000 a year was spent on maintenance, appliances and other typical landlord expenses.
In return for the residences, the guards were responsible to answer emergencies, handle irrigation on the site and walk rounds on campus.
The residents who are staying until 2018 will continue to pay rent.
The board’s action came at the same meeting that it approved implementation of Vesely’s ambitious plan to make Kyrene more attractive to parents through an expanded dual language program at several schools, the conversion of Kyrene Traditional Academy into offering pre-K to eighth grade and the implementation of an International Baccalaureate program at Kyrene Middle School.
Together with expanded early education programs at most schools, Kyrene hopes to improve its competitive edge over public and private charters and neighboring school districts.
Enrollment has dropped by about 200 students, which poses the potential loss of $2 million in annual state funding, which is based on a per-pupil formula.
The district did not lose that money this year, and officials have said it’s unclear whether Kyrene will lose any in the 2017-18 school year.