Chandler school board approves budget override for November ballot - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Chandler school board approves budget override for November ballot

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Posted: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 2:33 pm | Updated: 11:19 am, Thu May 10, 2012.

The Chandler Unified School District governing board voted 5-0 Wednesday night to put a budget override renewal on the November ballot.

With the unanimous decision, the district will ask voters to approve a 15 percent maintenance and operations budget override on Nov. 6.

Arizona taxpayers can vote to tax themselves to give additional funds to local school districts. The Chandler district now has a maintenance and operations budget override in place that gives it 10 percent — or about $18 million a year — above money allotted by the state.

“That goes to keeping class sizes as low as we can,” board president Annette Auxier said Thursday.

The additional 5 percent will mean another $9 million a year, she said. But for the first year, if the override is approved, the district will only use 14 percent. The district would use the full 15 percent for the subsequent years the override is in place.

“We knew we need to continue with the override we’ve had in place for several years,” Auxier said of the decision. “We’re not to renew it until the following year, but we know there’s a bigger turnout in the presidential election. We felt it was prudent to go forward a year early. That way if we had a problem, we could go for it again the following year. But we know we won’t. We have a supportive community.”

Voters approved the current budget override in 2008 by about a 2-to-1 margin. The district has had a 10 percent override in place since 1989.

In the last few years, because of education cuts by the state, Arizona lawmakers increased the override amount voters can approve to 15 percent, rather than just a 10 percent override. The Chandler district has seen state funding cut by $36 million over the last five years, though it has been able to use some contingency funds during that time to address budget issues.

A citizen advisory budget committee recommended the governing board put a 15 percent override on the ballot. The group hopes some of the funds can be used to give a permanent salary increase to staff, who have had salaries frozen for four years. According to the district, the 5 percent increase would cost the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 an additional $53 a year.

The maintenance and operations budget pays for teachers and staff salaries, benefits and instruction for students, all non-facilities costs in a district.

Other East Valley school districts are also considering ballot measures for the fall.

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.

Mesa Unified School District’s community facilities committee recommended this week that the board put a $285 million bond question on the Nov. 6 ballot to address facilities repairs, renovations and replacements.

The Gilbert Unified School District governing board started discussions last week about also placing a maintenance and operations budget override renewal on the ballot.

Maricopa County school districts have until early June to let the county know if they will have an issue on the ballot.

Overrides are in place for seven years, with full funding for the first five years. Without renewal, the override drops by one-third in year six and seven until it is phased out.

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