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Upcoming override election crucial to KSD budget

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Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 12:00 am

The Kyrene School District can no longer count on funding from the state of Arizona to keep its facilities and educational offerings in top condition, so the district and its governing board have called for a special March 9 override election.

The ballot question will request voter authorization to continue to exceed the Maintenance and Operations budget by 15 percent to keep existing programs and operations at their current levels.

The average continuing cost to an owner of a home with a full cash value of $292,410, which is the 2008-09 average for the district, would be approximately $126.55 per year.

Today’s economic climate may have soured voters to the idea of tax expenses of any kind, but in the override election KSD is seeking to maintain tax levels, not increase them, district officials said.

“This is a continuation, not a new override,” said Rae Waters, a governing board member and state representative. “There is a set period of time, and then the overrides decrease and phase out. The districts have to go back to voters to renew the override.”

The proposed override consists of a 10 percent maintenance and operations override and a 5 percent K-3 override that were both approved by voters in 2007. The estimated level of override funding with voter approval for 2010-11 is $12.4 million.

“If the override does not pass we would have to start cutting more, which would result in larger class sizes and more cuts to teachers’ salaries,” Waters said. “This really is vital to the quality of education in KSD. I can’t emphasize enough that this is not a new tax. It’s just a renewal that would keep things stable in the district.”

KSD Governing Board member Michelle Hirsch hopes that the KSD community supports schools as it has in the past.

“Our Kyrene community of voters has always been supportive of passing overrides because education is a high priority to them,” she said. “Unless a miracle happens, the state Legislature will not be able to provide us with additional funding. If we weren’t able to get the override passed there would have to be cuts or reductions in what we’re providing now because there is only so much money.”

Hirsch has seen the effects of failed overrides.

“In other school districts that don’t have override funding their overall quality of education and facilities suffer,” she said. “There are reasons that Kyrene is a high-achieving district, and our community support is a huge factor.”

For more information on the override election, visit www.kyrene.org and click on the “M&O override election” tab.

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