Voters in the Tempe high school district defeated two multi-million-dollar measures, while it was too soon to tell if Apache Junction voters would renew or reject a similar funding question for their schools.
Tempe voters did, however, support more funding for their elementary schools.
The Tempe Union High School District lost renewal of two ballot measures that would have generated more than $44 million in funding throughout the next seven years.
“I’m really just in shock that they did not pass,” said Mary Lou Taylor, who has sat on the district’s governing board since 2002.
She believes the skyrocketing property tax values on homes in the area are, at least partly, to blame.
“The taxes on my own house doubled. It was up $1000,” she said. “I feel like all over the country, people are mad and unhappy with the way politics and things are going.”
According to preliminary election results, 54 percent of voters failed to renew a 10 percent budget override, which school officials estimated would have generated $2.1 million in fiscal years 2008-2009 through 2012-13.
Additionally, 55 percent of voters cast ballots rejecting a capital override that would have allowed the district to exceed its spending by $6 million per year for the next seven years. The money would have funded technology programs, furniture, equipment and vehicles.
Voters did, however, give the school district permission to sell or lease two parcels of land.
Taylor said the results of Tuesday’s election will no doubt impact the school district’s budget.
“It’s going to be tough,” she said.
In May, the Apache Junction Unified School District found itself in a similar situation. Voters there rejected renewal of a budget override, with many residents saying their property taxes were already too high.
Tuesday’s election was the school district’s last chance to change voters’ minds before any budget cuts would set in.
But late Tuesday night, the race was too close to call.
With all precincts reporting, there was a difference of just four votes — 1,260 saying yes, and 1,256 saying no.
Pinal County elections officials were working late into the night to count the slew of early ballots.
The 10 percent override would continue funding for 22 positions, including music teachers, physical education teachers and custodians.
If it fails, school officials said, it would mean a reduction over two years of some $2.6 million that currently supports salaries for staff to reduce class size, librarians, music instruction, athletic programs, counselors, technology support, custodians and classroom aides.
The district said it would have to eliminate some fine arts programs, and initiate fees for participating in school athletic teams.
Meanwhile, voters in the Tempe Elementary School District approved the renewal of a kindergarten-through-third-grade budget override.
The override will bring in more than $2.9 million for the next fiscal year. The money funds 40 additional K-3 teachers, which reduces class sizes. The override also pays for assistance and tutoring for standardized testing and a districtwide summer school program.
According to preliminary results, 54 percent of voters in the school district have voted yes, while 46 percent cast a dissenting vote.