The Gilbert Unified School District governing board again voted Tuesday against discussing a future budget override ballot issue.
Voters in Gilbert turned down a request to renew a maintenance and operations budget override in November 2012 that gave the district an additional 10 percent in funding, or about $18 million a year. With that vote, the district will have to cut about $6 million from its budget each of the next three school years unless the matter goes before voters again and is passed.
There have been several discussions by the Gilbert board over the past few months about the district’s budget and whether or not an override is necessary or could even be approved.
Districts in the state are receive funding based on enrollment. But they are able to ask voters to tax themselves – in the form of a maintenance and budget override – to give districts additional money. Districts can currently ask for up to 15 percent more funding through an override. But it must be renewed by voters in order for it to be maintained at 100 percent. Otherwise, it drops by one-third over three years.
Gilbert school board members vote to have action items put on future agendas. The budget override item was brought to the board again by Lily Tram.
“I think the district needs to address the 10 percent because of the budget issues that are coming up. In 2015, we’re going to deal with another $6 million that we are going to lose. What are we going to wait for? The impact of this to hit the district?” she said. “Having the funding would hopefully help us decrease our class sizes and put money back where the students have been increased on their charges over the past few years.”
The board turned down the request to discuss the budget override in a future meeting with a 2-3 vote, with new board members Julie Smith and Daryl Colvin and board president Staci Burk voting against the measure. Tram and Jill Humpherys wanted the issue on a future agenda.
“I do not believe we should place a 10 percent override on the ballot,” Burk said before the vote. “If we were to have a discussion, I think we should have a discussion on a different amount.”
Burk has floated the idea of an 8 percent override.
Last month, Burk called a special meeting that included a vote to place the override on the ballot, but then tabled the matter. She said she didn’t think enough notice was given to the community regarding the meeting. In addition, she said the board had more time than she previously understood to get the issue on the ballot through the Maricopa County Education Service Agency, which runs school elections.
Board members can try again to put the issue on a future agenda or Burk can bring it up on an agenda because she previously asked for the matter to be removed.
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