Some Arizona school buildings are in disrepair.
Other districts are growing and need new schools. Some want to spend more for technology, in a year where technology in education is more important than ever.
But districts need money for those improvements — improvements school leaders claim are more vital than ever, as a pandemic impacts education in unprecedented ways.
More than a dozen school districts in Maricopa County are asking voters to fund bonds and overrides on November’s ballot. The requests total more than $600 million.
What are bonds and overrides?
Bonds and overrides affect local property taxes. School districts do some of the math in estimating the impact on voters’ taxes and provide that in the voter pamphlets, which can be found on the Maricopa County school superintendent’s website.
A bond may be issued by public school districts to pay for longer-term projects, such as building new schools, renovating existing ones or investing in technology and transportation infrastructure. Voters approve the sale of bonds to raise money for these projects.
An override can increase a district’s classroom budget by up to 15% for seven years, though the last two years are used for phasing out the override. This is why school districts typically ask voters to renew existing overrides in their fifth year, to avoid a phase-down.
The two types of overrides districts are asking for this year are:
- Maintenance and operations overrides. These are the most common type of overrides, which are used for operational expenses such as teacher salaries and student programs.
- District additional assistance overrides. These supplement capital funding and typically pay for technology, books and other equipment.
School bonds and overrides on the ballot in Maricopa County
Alhambra Unified School District: Asking for a renewal of the district’s $9.9 million override. The money supports the district’s full-day Kindergarten program, art classes, music classes, physical education, school tutoring programs, band programs and maintenance.
Avondale Elementary School District: Asking for a renewal of a $5.1 million maintenance and operations override to help reduce class sizes, maintain the full-day kindergarten program, ensure elective classes like art and music continue, and continue funding for school nurses.
Balsz Elementary School District: Seeking a renewal of a $2.1 million maintenance and operations override, which supports full-day kindergarten, lower class sizes, special science and technology programming, extracurricular programs, and salaries for staff members.
Second-grader Mohamed Sugow gets one-on-one attention from student teacher Victoria Garrison during class at David Crockett School. The school is in the Balsz School District, which is seeking a $2.1 million override. (Photo: Mark Henle/The Republic)
Buckeye Union High School District: Asking for an $87 million bond so the district can build new classrooms, renovate existing facilities, purchase student laptops and upgrade buses.
Cartwright Elementary School District: Asking voters for a $60 million bond to repair and improve school buildings, update safety and security systems, purchase new technology and furniture, and purchase new buses.
Creighton Elementary School District: Seeking a $2.9 million district additional assistance override to pay for technology replacements, instructional resources like software, furniture and school safety upgrades.
Dysart Unified School District: Asking voters to renew a $22.3 million maintenance and operation override, which would support teacher salaries, classroom resources for reading and math, and funding for music, arts and athletics.
Glendale Union High School District: Seeking approval for a $130 million bond to renovate school buildings, build new facilities, replace vehicles, and supply new furniture.
Laveen Elementary School District: Asking for the renewal of a $6.6 million maintenance and operation override, which would help pay for full day Kindergarten, salaries for staff members, and art, music and physical education programs.
Liberty Elementary School District: Asking for the renewal of a $2.5 million maintenance and operation override, which funds music, arts and physical education programs. The override also helps cover staff salaries and full-day kindergarten.
Liberty Elementary Principal Nancy Bogart and Liberty District Superintendent Andy Rogers dress up as the Queen of Numbers and Zero the Hero (respectively) in September to get Liberty Elementary kids excited about the start of the MAC-Ro program (Math Achievement Club – Rodel). This school is part of Liberty Elementary School District which is asking voters to approve a $2.5 million override (Photo: Courtesy of Liberty Elementary School District)
Palo Verde Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $461,440 budget maintenance and operations override, which will help the district continue full-day kindergarten, physical education, reading programs and help maintain staff salaries.
Peoria Unified School District: Asking voters for an $125 million bond, which would pay for renovations and critical improvements to district school buildings. The bond would also pay for safety improvements, replacement technology, new district transportation and land for a new high school.
The district is also asking voters to renew a $30 million maintenance and operation override, which helps pay for for staff salaries, school nurses, full-day kindergarten, and programs including art, music and physical education.
Riverside Elementary School District: Seeking a $75 million bond to pay for resources to help prevent COVID-19, safety and security upgrades on campuses, resources for students with disabilities, equipment and other improvements.
The district is also asking voters to approve a $790,000 maintenance and operation override, which would cover full-day kindergarten programming, school nurses, competitive salaries for educators, special education programs and more.
Roosevelt Elementary School District: Asking for a $90 million bond to pay for school facilities improvements, technology, maintenance and new transportation.
Saddle Mountain Unified School District: Asking for a renewal of its $1.5 million maintenance and operation override, which helps pay for staff salaries, full-day kindergarten, fine arts and technical education programs, staff development and school maintenance.
Tolleson Elementary School District: Asking voters to renew a $2.6 million maintenance and operation override, which pays for full-day kindergarten, art classes, physical education classes, technology classes and band classes.
Tolleson Union High School District: Seeking approval for the renewal of a $12.4 million maintenance and operation override, which helps pay for extracurricular activities, athletic programs, visual arts programs and teacher salaries.
Wilson Elementary School District: Wilson wants to renew a $992,313 maintenance and operation override, which helps fund teacher salaries, counseling for students, art programs, music programs, and college and career programs.
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.
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