NewsGetting Back to School


Voters to weigh in on more than $600 million in school district bonds and overrides in November

Voting in Arizona
Posted at 9:45 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 01:33:55-04

The candidates are not the only ones relying on the November election, dozens of school districts across the state are also hoping to get your vote.

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Half of those districts, or 18, are in Maricopa County and the amount of money on the line tops $600 million. It is funding that schools in Arizona now have to rely on and it is a tougher ask during a pandemic.

"You have a lot of people who are out of work, because of COVID-19, you have people facing a lot of financial challenges that they normally would not be facing," said Chuck Essigs with the Arizona Association of School Business Officials. "I don't know of a district who would have said well, this is the year, it's a hard message to get out."

That is because bonds and overrides rely on your property taxes to help districts fill budget gaps that are left behind when state and federal funding fall short.

Bonds fund capital expenses like school buses, technology, facility upgrades or new school construction.

The most common type of override, sometimes listed as a "budget increase" on the ballot, allows a district to exceed its state-funded maintenance and operations budget by up to 15%. They are approved for seven years and phase out in the last two. Most districts will seek a renewal in years four or five to maintain a consistent level of funding.

This year, all of the overrides on the ballot are continuations of current overrides already in place.

That money supports people and programs, things like teacher salaries, counselors, school nurses, workforce prep, and all-day kindergarten.

The Maricopa County Superintendent's Office lists every bond or override on the ballot and all of the details on its website.