By Teri Carnicelli
Some residents in North Central Phoenix will be asked to vote on Nov. 4 in bond elections for the Madison Elementary School District and the Glendale Union High School District. However, both school districts say that their residents’ taxes will not go up.
Bonds are a debt instrument, approved by the voters, which are issued by a school district. Bonds are entirely funded by the levy of taxes on the secondary assessed value of property located within the district. They allow school districts to fund capital projects and pay back the debt over time using tax dollars.
Bonds can only be used to fund particular capital projects such as new school and facility construction, instructional technology, school and athletic renovations, preventative maintenance and repairs, and student transportation vehicles. A school district cannot utilize designated bond funds for purposes other than those defined in the voter pamphlet and may not be used for Maintenance & Operations expenses such as employee positions and salaries, benefits, utilities, and instructional supplies.
State funding for school improvements and building construction has decreased since 2008.
Madison School District
The Madison District will ask its voters if they will authorize the school district to issue and sell $95 million principal amount of school improvement bonds for projects that have been researched, developed, and prioritized by a volunteer citizens’ committee.
The district believes there will be little to no increase to voters’ secondary property taxes, as an existing tax will be phased out at the end of the year and would be replaced by the bond initiative tax, if passed.
On Nov. 3, 2009, Madison residents voted in favor of a district bond program, providing Madison with a five-year, $30 million bond sale. Madison estimates that the average annual secondary tax rate for bonds will not increase over the current rate of $1.21 per $100 of secondary assessed value (assessed at 10 percent of full cash value) for the duration of the bonds, should this new bond election pass.
State funding for school construction is not available and is not expected to become available anytime soon,” said Superintendent Quinn Kellis. “With no estimated tax increase, the continuation of the Madison bond funding will allow older schools to be rebuilt, older buses to be replaced, fine arts facilities to be constructed, and other physical improvements to be implemented for every school in the district.”
If the new bonds are approved, the district would have the authorization to issue and sell bonds for 10 years.
Glendale Union High School District
The Glendale Union High School District currently is in the fifth year of a budget override. By state statute, every five years, a special election can be held to approve the continuation of a maintenance and operation (M & O) budget override. This continuation will not increase taxes, district officials say.
The GUHSD Governing Board authorized a Citizens Committee of more than 90 people to review the district’s M & O budget with the two-fold goal of making recommendations on whether or not to call for the election, and recommending program cuts or reductions if the override funding is not available next year. After numerous citizens and community meetings, the recommendation was to call for a special election to renew the override funding, which will not be an increase in taxes.
Should the election fail, the committee recommended reductions in the amount of $7.6 million.
In addition to recommending the elimination of educational and extracurricular programs and services, the committee discussed alternative ways to generate revenue to compensate for the shortfall if the override fails. The committee examined such possibilities as charging fees for participation in clubs and athletics, increasing event ticket prices, and increasing student parking prices. However, the committee also realized that revenue generated from these sources is not significant enough nor are these funds sustainable to offset the need for an override.
After the committee presented their findings to the GUHSD Governing Board, board members unanimously called for a special election for the renewal of the Maintenance & Operation Override.