Chandler, Higley waiting on final results for override and bond elections - East Valley Tribune: Chandler

Chandler, Higley waiting on final results for override and bond elections

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 6:15 pm | Updated: 7:26 pm, Thu Nov 7, 2013.

Education funding measures in the Chandler Unified and Higley Unified School Districts hold slim leads in the latest results from Tuesday's elections, with thousands of ballots still expected to be counted.

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office released a second round of results Thursday morning and then a third round Thursday evening. The override measure in Chandler and Higley's bond package remain too close to call.

"At least we know we're not out," Chandler Superintendent Camille Casteel said Thursday afternoon, before the latest results showed the district's 15 percent maintenance-and-operations override had widened its lead from 64 votes to nearly 2,000 and holds 52.8 percent of the vote. "We're very hopeful things go our way. We had hoped for a bigger turnout but maybe we'll be alright with this turnout."

A county recorder's spokeswoman said the office expects to announce final results on its website at 5 p.m. Friday.

"I have not been getting a lot of sleep thinking about this," Casteel said of the override that would mean $27 million to her district each of the next five years.

In Higley, the district's $70.5 million bond package for possible future need including school construction holds a 111-vote lead, 3,027-2,916, in the latest results. That was a swing from a 72-vote deficit when Tuesday's initial results were released, which at the time left Higley Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell lamenting a loss.

"The failure of the bond means Higley will need to use money now in the maintenance and operations budget to fund critical repairs to buildings," Birdwell said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, only to have the measure's ultimate future cast into doubt less than 24 hours later.

"I'm cautiously optimistic regarding the bond question," Birdwell said in a second statement Thursday afternoon. "This is great news for the students and families of Higley."

Higley's 10 percent override was voted down Tuesday.

"The failure of the maintenance-and-operations budget override still means we will be making $5 million in budget reductions over the next three years and that’s never easy," Birdwell said.

Likewise, a 10 percent override for the Queen Creek Unified School District and a 6.6 percent override for Gilbert Public Schools were voted down soundly for a second time in two years.

"The defeat of the override will present some very difficult financial challenges, and tough decisions will have to be made," said Shane K. McCord, Gilbert assistant superintendent.

"It means we have a lot of work ahead of us and significant changes will have to be made," Gilbert director of finance Teddy Dumlao said of the district's $11.6 million annual loss.

Overrides in the Kyrene (15 percent, $12.2 million/year) and Tempe Union (10 percent, $6.6 million/year) districts passed by large margins.

"I am just elated with the results from (Tuesday) night," Tempe Union Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Baca said. "It demonstrates how the community supports our teachers and our staff and everything they do to ensure our kids succeed."

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