Most school funding bonds and overrides appear headed for victory

In a reversal from last year, the majority of school bond and override proposals in Arizona appear headed for victory in preliminary results of Tuesday’s municipal elections. There are still a few races too close to call.

“Votes from the Dysart override currently indicate the override was approved by a 50.02 percent to 49.98 percent vote,” said Zachery Fountain, Dysart Unified School District Communications and Public Relations Director, “however, there are provisional votes that will be counted in the coming days.”

In addition, Deer Valley Unified School District is too close to call. But preliminary results show 24 out of 28 school districts measures are passing.

“I think it might just be the nature of what’s been going on the past year with education,” said Elizabeth Bartholomew, legislative analyst communications manager for the Maricopa County Recorder’s office.

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Election results

Voter turnout on Tuesday was 22 percent, a 7-percent increase this year. Bartholomew said the higher turnout is because of the heavy focus on education reforms and funding discussions, including “Governor Ducey’s special session” last week. There were three types of education measures on the ballots this year: budget overrides, budget increases and special education bonds.

“I do think this shows that voters are looking at education as something they want to invest in,” said Charles Tack, spokesman for Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, “and of course there are a lot of things they will be considering when they go to vote.”

The budget increase question in Cave Creek Unified School District appeared headed for defeat with 56.31 percent voting no and 43.69 percent voting yes. The Deer Valley district budget increase was slightly losing with 50.98 percent no to 49.02 yes.

As of Wednesday, preliminary results show: nine Maricopa County school districts approved bonds, six Maricopa County school districts approved budget overrides, nine Maricopa County school districts voted yes on budget increases, and four have voted no.

“With respect to funding I think that the message is there,” said Tack, “the voters speak with their votes and we’ve seen a lot of success with these override measures.” The Arizona Department of Education is hoping that those dollars make it into Arizona classrooms as soon as possible.

The elections come one week after the state legislature passed a $3.5 billion school-funding bill that was immediately signed by Gov. Ducey. His plan calls for using state land trust funds over the next 10 years to boost education funding, and must be approved by voters in a May special election.

(Video by Erin Johnson/Cronkite News)