Majority of school proposals rejected by voters

The Arizona Republic
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Ofelia Madrid and Meghan Moravcik

More than half the 22 school districts that were asking voters for additional money were stunned Tuesday by a possible taxpayer backlash after voters rejected budget overrides to keep class sizes low and pay teacher salaries.

A majority of the school districts were asking for the continuation of budget overrides that have been in place for more than 20 years and were expected to keep the tax rate the same. Overrides are considered for approval by voters every seven years.

Earlier this month, some school officials expressed worry about taxpayers' reactions in the wake of homeowners' assessed valuations rising dramatically this year.

Districts such as Alhambra Elementary School District lost both its K-3 override and maintenance and operations budget override. Neither would have increased the secondary tax rate.

Some school districts such as Scottsdale Unified pulled a win for its maintenance and operation budget override that will continue to pay the salaries of 179 teachers.

It was unclear Tuesday night whether the Glendale Elementary School District would get to keep the maintenance-and-operations override it has had in place for more than 20 years. Early ballots that were dropped off Tuesday at polling places still need to be counted. Official results won't be in until Friday, according to county officials.

The override money helps pay for salaries, fund special programs and deal with continuing growth.

"It's a nail-biter," said Kevin Hegarty, deputy superintendent for business services, after most of the results came in.