School bond, override elections results show voters’ support for education - AZEdNews
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School bond, override elections results show voters’ support for education

Students In Ms. Vogel's Summer Learning Class At Kyrene De Los Cerritos Elementary School Play A Math Game. Photo By Lisa Irish/ AZEdNews

School bond and override elections results indicate that education remains a priority for Arizona voters despite inflation and economic uncertainty, said Randie Stein, managing director of Stifel Public Finance in Phoenix.

Local funding provided by school bonds, overrides and capital overrides helps schools offer more learning opportunities for students, smaller class sizes, and training for staff as well as improve students’ learning environments, provide books, technology, school buses and add athletic, fine arts and playgroup equipment.

Arizona voters approved of 20 of the 25 maintenance and operation (M&O) override questions on the ballot, nine of 15 class B general obligation school bonds, six of the seven district additional assistance (DAA) overrides, three property acquisition authorizations, two construction authorizations and one request to join West-MEC, a career and technical education district in Maricopa County.

“School district bond and override elections had solid success in Arizona in 2022,” Stein said. “The overall pass rate for these questions was 74%, compared to an overall pass rate of 72% from the beginning of Stifel data collection through the 2021 election.”

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Stifel has been collecting school district M&O override results since 2003 and bond and capital override (DAA) election results since 1999.

“Comparing the 2022 election results to the average over the full period of Stifel data collection, M&O overrides and DAA overrides fared better than the average year, while the bond election pass rate in 2022 was below the pass rate for the average year,” Stein said.

Voters prioritize education during uncertain economy

Arizona voters approved $812 million in school district Class B bond authority for set projects statewide, and they also supported 70 percent of overrides – many of those continued budget increases of up to 15% – for public district schools throughout the state.

School bond, override elections results show voters’ support for education RandieStein-200
Randie Stein

“Education has been identified as a top issue for voters on various political surveys over the past several years and that seems to be manifesting in the community support for school district bonds and overrides in many corners of the state,” Stein said.

“For school districts, seeing that overall bond and override pass rate stay near 75% during this time of high inflation and economic uncertainty is further evidence of voters’ concern for education,” Stein said.

Washington Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Paul Stanton thanked voters in the communities their schools serve for their continued support.

“It is from the heart when I say I am incredibly grateful for the continued support of our Bond and Override. As you may have heard, our community voted in favor of both our Bond and Override, which will allow us to provide and maintain important programs and necessary upgrades at our school campuses. I am honored and cannot thank you and the voters enough for supporting the WESD Family,” Supt. Stanton said.

Two districts in the state successfully passed an M&O override, a DAA override and a bond during the November 2022 election.

“Although it is not unheard of to put three questions on the same ballot, it appears to have only happened five other times in the past 20 years. So a big congratulations to Catalina Foothills Unified School District and Tempe Union High School District,” Stein said.

Tempe Union High School District thanked community members for voting and expressed appreciation that all three of their measures on the ballot were approved by voters.

Catalina Foothills Unified School District also thanked voters for their support.

What rural & urban elections results look like

There was an interesting mix of results between the rural and urban areas of the State for 2022 school district elections, Stein said. 

All school district bond and override elections were successful in Apache and Gila Counties – both rural, Stein said.

In Cochise County, another rural part of the State, both of the override questions passed, but the bond question was not successful, Stein said.

“In Pinal County, all school district questions were rejected by voters.  This includes two in the more urban Casa Grande area and two in more rural parts of Pinal County,” Stein said. 

“Pima County – all urban –  had a 100% pass rate,” Stein said.  

“School district questions in Coconino and Yuma Counties came from the large urban areas of the counties, and all were successful,” Stein said. “In Maricopa County, while overall the bond and override pass rate was 77%, (23 of 30), the seven measures that failed were all toward the periphery of the County – more rural parts of the County, but notably some of the fastest growing areas of the State,” Stein said.

Looking ahead to next year’s elections

Planning for a school district bond or override election takes school district time and effort, as well as resources outside the district, Stein said.

Arizona State law has some very specific requirements relating to calling for school district elections, preparing voter information pamphlets, posting election notices, and more, Stein said.

“Districts that are thinking about future elections are well served by starting the process early and avoiding a last-minute crunch on a very important subject for the district,” Stein said.