How bonds & overrides provide important funding for AZ schools - AZEdNews
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How bonds & overrides provide important funding for AZ schools


Students Spoke Spanish With Each Other As They Worked On A Group Project During Madison Heights Elementary School’s New Spanish Immersion Summer Camp For Students In First Through Fourth Grade. Photo By Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

Arizona school districts are asking voters in their communities to approve bonds, overrides and other ballot measures in the Nov. 8 general elections to generate funding through local property taxes that schools can use for a set time and purpose.

  • Bonds provide a certain amount of money for set projects.
  • Overrides allow a school district to increase their maintenance and operations budget up to 15 percent.
  • Capital/district additional assistance overrides let a school district raise funds up to 10 percent of their revenue control limit.

In Maricopa County, 10 school districts would like voters to approve bonds in these general elections, 15 school districts seek budget overrides, four ask voters to decide on district additional assistance overrides, two would like voters to determine if they sell property and one seeks voter input on joining West-MEC.

Importance of local funding for schools

Since 2009, local revenue – including school bonds and overrides – has provided much more funding for Arizona public schools than state revenue has.

That contrasts sharply with most states, where state revenue makes up a much more substantial amount of public school funding than local revenue does.

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Infographic by Lisa Irish/ AZEdNews

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For example, 46% of Arizona public school funding in 2017 came from local revenue, compared with 40% from state funding.

That changed for just one year in 2020, when local revenues provided 43.7% of public school funding, just four tenths of a percent less than 44.1% in state revenues, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Public Education Finances: 2020” released in May 2022.

That reversal was short lived.

In 2021, local revenue again provided more funding for Arizona public schools – 42.5% – compared with 39.7%, from state revenue, according to preliminary tables from “U.S. Census Bureau Public Education Finances: 2021” released in August 2022.

Bonds & override approval impacts schools

Voters in some school districts have historically approved bonds and overrides, providing more local funding for student programs, teacher salaries, reduced class sizes and more.

Meanwhile, other school districts where bonds and overrides have been rejected by voters have been unable to generate that additional local funding, which puts them at a disadvantage when compared with neighboring school districts.

This year, Flagstaff Unified School District in Coconino County is asking voters to continue an existing 15% budget override approved by voters in 2018 for seven years.

If voters approve to continue Flagstaff Unified’s existing budget override, then it would maintain all current student programs, current class sizes, art, music and physical education in elementary schools, extracurriculars, provide full-day kindergarten – the state currently funds ½ day,  gifted education, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and STEM programs and ensure compliance with state mandates, according to the information pamphlet.

In Cochise County, Willcox Unified School District asks voters to renew a bond, while Benson Unified School District seeks a continuation of an existing 13% budget override.

On the ballot in Pinal County, Casa Grande Elementary School District No. 4 seeks to continue an existing 10% maintenance and operation budget override (Proposition 471), Casa Grande Union High School District No. 82 asks voters to continue an existing 10% maintenance and operation budget override (Prop 472), Santa Cruz Valley Union High School District No. 840 has a new 15% maintenance and operation budget override (Prop 473) on the ballot, and Stanfield Elementary School District No. 24 has a ballot measure for a new 10% maintenance and operation budget override (Prop 474).

In Pima County, Catalina Foothills School District seeks a continuation of its existing override as well as a district additional assistance override and a $38.5 million bond. Marana Unified School District has a $90 million bond measure on the ballot. Sahuarita Unified School District No. 30 has a continuation of its override on the ballot along with a district additional assistance override. Tanque Verde Unified School District No. 13 asks voters to continue its existing override.

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Infographic by Angelica Miranda/ AZEdNews

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