School finance questions receive solid approvals in early results

School finance ballot questions appear headed toward approval after first returns were released Nov. 5. Gilbert Public Schools was the lone district asking for a tax increase. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
School finance ballot questions appear headed toward approval after first returns were released Nov. 5. Gilbert Public Schools was the lone district asking for a tax increase. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

School finance ballot questions appear headed toward approval after first returns were released Nov. 5. Gilbert Public Schools was the lone district asking for a tax increase. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bonds and override measures from the three school districts that serve Gilbert appear headed toward approval in early results reported at 8 p.m. Nov. 5 from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.

Gilbert Public Schools

Gilbert Public Schools was the sole district asking for a tax increase as it asked voters to push its maintenance and operations budget override from 10% to the maximum 15%, the same amount as Chandler USD and Higley USD.

That measure also was the closest in the returns with 55% approving in 28,853 votes counted.

The district asked for the override, which is expected to raise about $10.52 million annually, to support its efforts fund competitive salaries, add social and emotional support personnel and programs for students and reduce class sizes in the areas of highest need.


The district also asked for a $100 million bond, which received 62% approval. The bonds would be managed not to increase residents’ secondary property tax rate, Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Betz said.

The bond question asked for $60.98 million for facility reinvestment; $19.42 million for technology infrastructure and equipment; $10 million for a security camera system and other security components; $5.6 million for venue upgrades and additions for performing arts and athletics; and $4 million for student transportation vehicles and equipment.

Higley USD

Higley USD asked for a continuance of its 15% maintenance and operations override, which received 63% approval from 9,531 votes. The override pays for academic program choice, district arts, smaller class sizes, competitive salaries, classroom resources, elementary specials like physical education or music, all-day kindergarten and school athletics, according to district officials.

Overrides last in full five years and then are phased out over two years without a continuance.

HUSD also asked to reallocate the last $14.62 million of bonds approved in 2013. Some of the detailed uses from that time are no longer needed. Instead, the district would like to spend $12.36 million on facility renovations, construction and maintenance; $1.5 million on transportation and $759,000 on technology.

The returns showed 65% approval of the 9,531 votes cast.

“We’re very excited about that,” Superintendent Mike Thomason said. “We have an incredible community, incredible teachers, and we’re just extremely blessed to have the turnout that we did.”

Chandler USD

Chandler only brought one issue to voters, a $290.25 bond. That includes $225.5 million for construction, acquisition or improvements to schools, the highlights of which are a new elementary school in Gilbert and a new high school near the town.

Voters approved at a 62% rate from 42,312 votes cast.

The bond also would pay $31.75 million to purchase technology and miscellaneous school furnishings, $25 million for air-conditioned buses and $8 million for additions or improvements to administrative facilities.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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