Voters will see two budget overrides on the ballot this November if Scottsdale school leaders follow a request from Superintendent John Baracy.
“Based on what we’ve heard from the community and our children’s needs, we will recommend both the overrides go on the ballot,” Baracy said Wednesday.
The Scottsdale Unified School District governing board will vote Tuesday on whether to put both measures on the ballot.
Using a district example, the capital override and a renewal of a maintenance and operations override would have combined cost to taxpayers of $116 per year, based on a home assessed at $295,960.
Governing board members reached Wednesday stopped short of saying whether both issues would make it to this year’s ballot, noting the board won’t discuss the matter until next week. But they did note they’ve heard nothing but community support for the measures through community forums and other discussions with voters.
Board president Karen Beckvar said voters could probably count on at least seeing the maintenance and override question in November. The $12 million, seven-year override has paid for teacher salaries and student programs since it was originally approved in 1989 and, if it isn’t renewed, will start to sunset next year.
“That would be a $4 million budget cut if it’s not” on the ballot, Beckvar said.
The capital override is a $63.9 million measure spread out over seven years that would pay for items including classroom technology and playground and athletic equipment at all of the district schools.
The measure was based on an $83.2 million proposal voters turned down last year.
Board member Dieter Schaefer said the district listened to the community when it came to the new request, cutting out such items as takehome laptop computers, which raised concerns in the last election.
The district also revised the proposal after a recent series of community meetings, designating $700,000 for library books and other material, Baracy said.
It trimmed the same amount from the district’s communication network to keep the total at $63.9 million.
Schaefer said he supports putting both overrides on the ballot this year as long as the district also commits to cutting administrative expenses.
“I see (the overrides) as an investment. I really don’t see it as an expense,” he said. “Not everyone needs an Apple computer, that’s for sure ... but we need to prepare our kids for the global economy.”
Board clerk Eric Meyer said the district needs to consider new state election rules. Starting this year, school issues can appear only on the November ballot, so waiting on one of them until 2008 could mean too much competition.
“We just don’t have the resources to compete against senatorial races, congressional races, presidential races and governor races,” Meyer said. “We can be successful for two years out of every four years on the overrides because of that.”
The overrides complement each other, Meyer said. “The (maintenance and operations override) provides teacher positions,” he said. “The capital override provides supplies for our teachers. And it’s not frivolous supplies for teachers — it’s stuff that they need.”
Scottsdale Parent Council vice president Jeff Winkler said parents, educators and even some students already seem more informed and supportive of the overrides this time around than they were last year.
“There were criticisms around the edges, maybe, but basically we heard, ‘How can we help?’ from the parent community,” he said. “There wasn’t a big theme of, ‘This is a mistake,’ like there were with the laptops.”
The parent council has already voted to support both overrides being on the November ballot.
The Scottsdale Unified School District governing board will vote Tuesday whether to put two budget overrides on the November ballot. Those overrides are:
Proposed maintenance and operations override renewal Next year’s total: $12 million Pays for: Teacher salaries, elementary school music classes, gifted services, physical education and after school programs Tax impact: 33 cents per $100 of assessed value, or $97.67 in taxes per year on a home assessed at $295,960
Proposed capital override Total: $63.9 million Pays for: Classroom technology, school furniture and equipment, instructional materials, playground improvements, fine arts and athletic equipment, and school maintenance vehicles Tax impact: 21.4 cents per $100 of assessed value, or $63.33 in taxes per year on a home assessed at $295,960
Source: Scottsdale Unified School District