Local education funding results

Elections officials have tabulated all of the ballots and voters across Arizona approved the majority of the nearly $1 billion in additional funding for Arizona school districts through local bonds and overrides.

Across Arizona, 39 school districts asked local voters to approve 11 bonds and 31 overrides in the general election. Final results show 32 passed and 10 failed, providing nearly $650 million to 30 school districts.

The bond and override funds generate additional tax revenue for school districts to pay for projects ranging from new campuses to teacher salaries. Arizona’s school districts are funded by a mix of federal, state and local funding. State law allows school districts to ask local voters to increase taxes to pay for specific projects and programs. Public charter schools cannot access this source of funding.

“Taxpayers should expect to see higher property taxes because rising K-12 budgets mean higher costs for overrides, which are calculated on a percentage of budget. Interestingly, several bonds barely passed this year while several others failed to pass, particularly in districts with more conservative voters like Peoria, Humboldt, and Tanque Verde,” said Sean McCarthy, Arizona Tax Research Association Senior Research Analyst. “There remains haves and have nots in bonds and overrides with many of the largest districts easily passing every question, while southern Arizona traditionally has struggled to pass… any voter approved spending.”

Of the 15 districts where a majority of the schools are rated ‘A’ or ‘B,’ final results show 10 measures passed and seven failed. Both Mesa Unified and Tanque Verde Unified had two questions on the ballot. Final results show voters were split, approving Mesa’s bond, but rejecting an override increase, while Tanque Verde voters supported a Maintenance & Operations override but rejected the sale of bonds.

Across the state, voters rejected over 40 percent of the bond measures, but approved nearly all of the overrides.

“We are thankful that the voters of our district approved the continuation of the Maintenance and Operation budget override.  The wide margin that it passed showed our residents support the programs that we offer from these additional funds,” said Tanque Verde school board member Carlos Ruiz. “The close defeat of the bond was a disappointment.  We took a calculated risk asking residents to support two items and it didn’t work out.  However, the capital needs did not disappear. The board along with Superintendent Hagerman will be looking at how to deal with the immediate capital needs that must be addressed, especially aging buses and campus safety.”

PASSING –

  • Benson Unified (Bond)
  • Catalina Foothills Unified (M&O Override)
  • Glendale Union (M&O Override)
  • Grand Canyon Unified (M&O Override)
  • Mesa Unified (Bond)
  • Osborn Elementary (M&O Override)
  • St. David Unified School District (M&O Override)
  • Tanque Verde Unified (M&O Override)
  • Vail Unified (Bond)
  • Washington Elementary (M&O Override)

FAILING –

  • Bonita Elementary School District (M&O Override)
  • Humboldt Unified (Bond)
  • Mesa Unified (M&O Override)
  • Nadaburg Unified (Bond)
  • Peoria Unified (Bond)
  • Santa Cruz Valley (M&O Override)
  • Tanque Verde Unified (Bond)

On the flip side, voters in nearly all of the nine school districts that have no schools rated ‘A’ or ‘B’ approved additional funding.

In Roosevelt Elementary School District in south Phoenix, school board member Lawrence Robinson said a targeted campaign that highlighted the investments in school improvement is what swayed voters to say ‘yes’ to their District Additional Assistance Override.

“What was different in my approach is that I offered voters an honest look at what’s working to improve our schools and asked them to increase their investment in those areas while choosing to target and remove wasteful spending and ineffective projects from our budget,” he said. “This approach makes sense and has garnered a diverse majority of voters to vote yes on investing in the best future for our kids.”

PASSING –

  • Casa Grande Union (M&O Override)
  • Eloy Elementary (M&O Override)
  • Gila Bend Unified (Bond)
  • Holbrook Unified (M&O Override)
  • Roosevelt Elementary (District Additional Assistance Override)
  • Union Elementary (M&O Override)
  • Wilson Elementary (District Additional Assistance Override)

FAILED –

  • Buckeye Elementary (Bond)
  • Altar Valley Elementary (M&O Override)

Find the full list on bond and override results here.

Megan Gilbertson

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