The Governing Board of the Mesa Public School District will ask voters in November to renew the override of the district’s budget. This extra 10 percent, taken from the local primary property tax, allows the district to make up for budget cuts in state aid, which is the source of two-thirds of the budget.
George Zeigler, chief financial officer for MPS, said he estimates inflation took some $50 million out of the school budget between 1991 and 2007. He recalled when the district first asked for an override of 7 percent in 1995 and promised never to ask for more than was absolutely needed.
“We’re very conscious of the taxpayers,” said Zeigler. “We had certain things we wanted to address and we’ve kept with those same things all these years. I think part of it is public trust and we’ve worked pretty hard to be transparent and maintain the trust.”
The override funding pays for approximately 136 teaching positions, 14 school security positions, various academic programs and employee compensation — staff and faculty pay would drop an estimated 6 to 7 percent without the override.
Mike Hughes, governing board president, said the district is requesting no more than a continuation of what voters have continually approved for the past 20 years.
“If this did not pass, the district would have to reduce its budget over the next few years by over 32 million dollars,” said Hughes. “This would be a devastating impact to the district’s morale. We need it desperately.”
This comes as the Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools struggles with protests over not approving an override for the ballot in November. Mike McClellan, a retired teacher who taught at Mesa’s Dobson High School for 31 years, said while both communities certainly support their educational systems, Mesa is less splintered and more united on the subject.
“Mesa’s had a history of supporting overrides and minimizing extremists,” said McClellan.
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