Gilbert school board approves measure to ask voters for 6.6% budget override (updated) - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Gilbert school board approves measure to ask voters for 6.6% budget override (updated)

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 10:45 am | Updated: 8:16 am, Thu Jul 11, 2013.

Gilbert voters will see a school district budget override request on the November ballot.

With a 4-1 vote, the Gilbert Unified School District governing board Tuesday night approved putting a 6.6 percent budget override request before voters Nov. 5.

Board member Julie Smith cast the dissenting vote.

School districts in Arizona are funded from the state based on enrollment. District can ask voters to approve an override to tax themselves additional money for the school district.

Currently, districts can ask for overrides up to 15 percent to be in place for seven years. Voters must renew the override by the fifth year in order for it not to decrease.

Gilbert has had a 10 percent override in place for several years. Voters turned down renewal of that maintenance and operations budget override in November. The override provided the district $18 million a year.

The loss meant the district had to cut $6 million from its 2013-2014 budget. Without another budget override in place, the district will have to cut $6 million again for both the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years.

If approved by voters, a 6.6 percent budget override will give the district about $11.6 million a year as long as it is in place. According to the election pamphlet created by the district, the override would cost the owner of an average home in Gilbert $109 per year.

The override would keep the district at about its current funding level, as long as there are no cuts from the state or drops in enrollment next year.

“They don’t want to increase the tax rate or tax amount, but maintain the level we’re at now by introducing the 6.6 percent override,” Gilbert’s director of finance Teddy Dumlao told the Tribune prior to the meeting.

During the last few months, the governing board - which includes three new members who took office in January - has discussed the possibility of putting the question before voters again. But votes to put the idea on an agenda have been turned down by a majority several times, with new members Julie Smith and Daryl Colvin joining board president Staci Burk in their votes against the idea.

Burk did call a special meeting earlier this summer to vote on the measure, but then tabled the idea.

The deadline to submit paperwork to the Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools' office - known as the Maricopa County Education Services Agency - to place the issue on the Nov. 5 ballot was Monday night.

Hope Olguin told the Tribune Monday that the school board could submit the election wording to her and then let the office know Wednesday morning whether or not it was moving forward with the election.

Monday morning, the override question was not on the Tuesday agenda for the Gilbert school board. But early Monday evening, an amendment was made to the agenda to place a 6.6 percent budget override resolution item before the board.

During the past several meetings, school community members and parents have urged the board to put a budget override back before voters.

Override renewal requests were turned down across the East Valley in November in Chandler, Higley and Gilbert school districts.

Higley and Chandler have already approved putting the override request back before voters in November. In both cases, the districts went out for their override renewals a year early so neither district had to make cuts based on a loss of budget override funds this year, but would need to next year if voters turn down the requests again.

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