Final Election Results: Maricopa County Voters Weigh In On K-12 Bonds, Overrides

By Ben Giles, Mark Brodie, Steve Goldstein
Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 8:35pm
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2019 - 9:38pm

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School buses
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
School buses.

Voters in dozens of school districts across Maricopa County decided whether those districts can borrow more and spend more on K-12 public schools.

Of the 26 school districts casting votes for bonds and overrides, or in some cases both, the final tally, released late Friday evening, show voters in 21 districts favor boosting funding.

That includes the Mesa Unified School District, the largest school district in Arizona, where voters appear are on track to approve a request to continue an existing override and avoid a fiscal cliff for the school district’s budget.

→ See Which Bond, Override Measures Failed

The final count, though still unofficial, shows 55% of voters approve of the override, while 45% oppose it.

Officials with Mesa Unified faced the prospect of $37 million in budget cuts over the next three years without renewal of their longstanding 10% budget override, in effect since 1995.

Instead, Mesa voters also approved a 5% increase to the override, which will generate roughly $18 million a year for maintenance and operation costs. In total, the override is estimated to add $54 million a year to the district’s budget.

Voters also favored a $290 million bond in the Chandler Unified School District, a $100 million bond and $32 million override for Gilbert Unified School District, and a $21.4 million override in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

Elsewhere, voters in the Peoria Unified School District narrowly rejected a $33.7 million override, by a mere 133 votes. Peoria Unified officials had told voters those dollars would help fund school safety measures, various extracurricular activities and full-day kindergarten.

Though decided by dozens of votes, there’s nothing in state law to trigger an automatic recount of a school bond or override election, according to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.

In the West Valley, Dysart Unified School District voters rejected requests for increased borrowing and spending. Final results reveal that voters rejected a $152.5 million bond, 49% to 51%, and a $22.4 million override, 44% to 56%.

But results in the Buckeye Elementary School District, Deer Valley Unified School District and Gilbert Unified School district showed voters approving various bonds and overrides. That’s a good sign for Dawn Penich Thacker of Save Our Schools Arizona, a grassroots advocacy organization for traditional K-12 public schools.

Penich Thacker told KJZZ before the election that SOS Arizona was keeping a close eye on some West Valley districts as an indicator for voters’ willingness to boost school funding — a request that could be made of voters statewide in 2020. Several education advocacy groups, including SOS Arizona, are considering ways to craft a ballot initiative that would boost education funding, some by more than $1 billion.

Breaking Down The Basics Of School Bonds And Overrides

Unofficial Results For Bond, Override Measures

Results from the Maricopa County Recorder's Office as of 6:47 p.m. on Friday.

Agua Fria Union High School District — PASS
Bond: Yes: 55%, No: 45%

Avondale Elementary School District — PASS
District Additional Assistance Override: Yes: 57%, No: 43%

Buckeye Elementary School District — PASS
Bond: Yes: 55%, No: 45%

Chandler Unified School District — PASS
Bond: Yes: 63%, No: 37%

Deer Valley Unified School District — PASSPASS
Bond: Yes: 59%, No: 41%
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 52%, No: 48%

Dysart Unified School District — FAIL, FAIL
Bond: Yes: 49%, No: 51%
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 44%, No: 56%

Fowler Elementary School District — PASS
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 61%, No: 39%

Gilbert Unified School District — PASS, PASS
Bond: Yes: 62%, No: 38%
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 55%, No: 45%

Higley Unified School District — PASS, PASS
Bond/Repurposing: Yes: 64%, No: 36%
Maintenance and Operations Override Yes: 66%, No: 34%

Liberty Elementary School District — PASS, FAIL
Bond: Yes: 53%, No: 47%
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 46%, No: 54%

Littleton Elementary School District — PASS
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 57%, No: 43%

Madison Elementary School District — PASS, PASS
Bond: Yes: 64%, No: 36%
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 60%, No: 40%

Mesa Unified School District — PASS
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 55%, No: 45%

Murphy Elementary School District — PASS, PASS
District Additional Assistance: Yes: 60%, No: 40%
Site Sale, Lease or Exchange: Yes: 66%, No: 34%

Nadaburg Unified School District — PASS
Bond: Yes: 52%, No: 48%

Paloma Elementary School District — PASS
School Construction: Yes: 100%, No: 0%

Palo Verde Elementary School District — FAIL
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 45%, No: 55%

Paradise Valley Unified School District — PASS, PASS
Bond: Yes: 63%, No: 37%
District Additional Assistance: Yes: 56%, No: 44%

Pendergast Elementary School District — PASS
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 52%, No: 48%

Peoria Unified School District — FAIL
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 50%, No: 50%

Phoenix Elementary School District — PASS
District Additional Assistance Override: Yes: 74%, No: 26%

Queen Creek Unified School District — PASS
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 54%, No: 46%

Saddle Mountain Unified School District — PASS, FAIL
Bond: Yes: 54%, No: 46%
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 48%, No: 52%

Scottsdale Unified School District — PASS
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 62%, No: 38%

Tempe Elementary School District — PASS, PASS
District Additional Assistance Override: Yes: 68%, No: 32%
Maintenance and Operations Override: Yes: 67%, No: 33%

Tolleson Union High School District — PASS, PASS
Bond: Yes: 61%, No: 39%
Site Sale, Lease or Exchange: Yes: 70%, No: 30%

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