Gilbert board to decide on budget override - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Gilbert board to decide on budget override

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Posted: Saturday, June 2, 2012 6:04 am

Gilbert schools may lose elementary art classes, see bigger class sizes and experience cuts to programs if current budget levels are not maintained, district leaders told the governing board.

The Gilbert Unified School District governing board is expected to decide Tuesday whether or not to put a maintenance and operations budget override on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The district has had an override in place for years, the last renewal coming in 2007. The maintenance and operations budget pays for teachers and staff salaries, benefits and instruction for students, all non-facilities costs in a district.

In Arizona, public school districts receive funding based on the number of students enrolled. Districts can receive more funding if voters in a community approve an override, which is funded through taxes.

An override is in place for seven years, with full funding for the first five years of the override. It is then phased down by one-third in the last years.

If voters agree to renew it, full funding — $17.6 million a year for Gilbert — stays in place.

The board heard recommendations Thursday night on what could be cut if the override is not placed on the ballot or if it fails.

“What we know for sure, with that kind of massive amount of money at stake that we will have to increase class sizes and cut teachers. And we’re going to have to cut programs and it’s going to seriously impact the quality of education in Gilbert,” board president E.J. Anderson told the Tribune on Friday.

Other East Valley school districts are also making ballot decisions. The Mesa Unified School District governing board will decide Tuesday night whether or not to put a bond question on the ballot. Bonds can provide funds for building repairs and construction, as well as technology.

Early last month, the Chandler Unified School District governing board decided to put a 15 percent maintenance and operations budget override renewal on the Nov. 6 ballot. The district actually has one more year before a renewal vote is required, but decided to do it this year since there will likely be larger voter turnout due to the presidential race.

In the last few years, because of state education cuts, Arizona lawmakers increased the override amount voters can approve to 15 percent, rather than just a 10 percent override.

The Tempe Elementary School District governing board approved a resolution last week to put a capital override issue on the Nov. 6 ballot. The district currently has a $5.1 million annual capital override in place, which is set to expire in June 2013.

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