In a unanimous decision this week, the Tempe Union High School District will be asking voters to continue its current level of funding from a maintenance and operations override previously approved by voters.

In November, voters will be asked to continue funding from its current 10 percent override.

While board members early on in a meeting at the district office Wednesday were split in their decisions for a 10 or 15 percent override election, the 10 percent option inevitably passed after discussion and a report by the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee.

Residents and parents from Ahwatukee and Tempe joined the board meeting, most hoping to sway the board in opting for the 15 percent override, an increase of 5 percent from current funding, which would have given the district an additional $3.2 million to help reduce class sizes, continue school safety improvements, and provide more tutoring and intervention options among others.

Though a presentation by the district’s chief financial officer, Diane Meulemans, showed that most of Ahwatukee voted against the 15 percent override, some are skeptical the 10 percent will even pass with voters west of Interstate 10.

“I absolutely support the override for 10 percent, I just am worried it won’t even pass,” said board member Moses Sanchez. “When you say ‘10 percent versus 15 percent, what’s the difference?’ that’s not what voters are seeing on the ballot. People change their minds and the terms of budget increase or continuation actually matter.”

The ballot would have named the 10 percent override option as a “budget continuation” and the 15 percent option as a “budget increase,” which some say voters would have assumed to be a tax increase.

If the 10 percent override continuation is not approved by voters in the fall, the current override would continue through the 2013-14 school year and then phase out by 1/3 in the next two school years before being leveled out in the fall of 2016.

Along with Tempe Union, the Kyrene School District will vote on an override election next week during its governing board meeting, likely to approve a 15 percent override election that will be on November ballots.

“It’s clearly evident that we want to make this about our kids, but I think it’s also important that we say really it’s about our community,” TUHSD Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Baca said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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