February 14, 2005
The voting has begun in Mesa, where the state’s largest school district is asking voters to keep a tax that helps fund schools.
The Mesa Unified School District is asking voters on the March 8 special election ballot to reapprove a 10 percent budget override.
The district outlines areas where the money is now spent to cover inflation expenses not paid for by the state funding formula. The money is used for:
• 136 teacher salaries and maintaining class size.
• Security staff salaries.
• 35 percent of classroom supply costs.
• Employee compensation package.
• An additional day of technology training for teachers.
• An additional day of general teacher training.
• Additional or alternative academic programs.
• Student transportation not funded by the state.
Former school board members are leading a drive to convince voters to approve the override, which has 10 statements of support in the county’s election guide. No statements of opposition were filed.
Through the Mesa Citizens for Responsible Public Policy, former board members Tom Rhodes and Suzanne Davis have been talking to groups throughout the city on how the override would affect the district.
"The one thing that is abundantly clear is we’ve got 74,000 kids," Rhodes said. "That number is not going to get any smaller any time soon. But if we have to reduce teachers we’ve got by 136, classroom size is going to get gigantic."
District voters approved an override in 1995, and again in 2000. If the override is not renewed in March, the district will lose one-third of the estimated $31.6 million the tax raises each year until it is gone.
Early voting began Feb. 3. The last day to request an early ballot is Feb. 25.
To vote early in person, visit the Maricopa County Elections Department’s southeast Valley office at 222 E. Javelina Ave., Mesa. Polls are open on election day between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. To find a polling location or request an early ballot, visit http://recorder.maricopa.gov.
Call (602) 506-3535 for information.