Tucson-area school districts garner support to extend budget overrides, trail in bid for new revenue streams

Tucson-area schools appeared to garner support in their bids to extend existing budget overrides, but were trailing in efforts for new revenue streams, according to early Pima County election results Tuesday.

The Vail School District’s call for a new $61.3 million bond to build two new schools to help reduce overcrowding in existing schools was failing with 52 percent voting no, according to early results. 

The funds would also have been used to upgrade existing schools, which the district estimates will be 25 percent over capacity in the next five years. 

“We were really hoping it would pass, but we will regroup and move forward, and continue to provide a top-rated education for kids in Vail,” Vail Superintendent Calvin Baker said Tuesday night. 

Catalina Foothills, Tanque Verde and Sahuarita school districts had voters supporting extensions of overrides, used to cover ongoing expenses. 

Nearly 64 percent of Catalina Foothills voters supported the override extension, which provides $3.6 million per year, according to early results. It is generally used to support programs and staff positions across the district’s schools.

“We are very grateful for our community’s ongoing support. For over 30 years, our voters have agreed to tax themselves to provide these essential local funds for K-12 education,” Catalina Foothills Superintendent Mary Kamerzell said. “Our community is paying it forward, knowing that all of us benefit when our well-educated students graduate as productive citizens.”

According to early results, about 55 percent of Sahuarita School District voters supported the extension of an override that provides $4.4 million per year and funds technical education programs, fine arts classes, sports and 100 full-time positions. 

Tanque Verde School District made a pitch to voters both for an override continuation, which received 54 percent support in early results, and a new $15 million bond to upgrade security measures, replace portable classroom trailers with buildings, replace old technology and make repairs to infrastructure. 

The bond ask had 51 percent of voters opposed in early results Tuesday night. The override funds are used for staff positions like registered nurses, physical education teachers, librarians, and music and art teachers. Similar extension propositions were defeated in 2011 and 2012. 

Both bonds and overrides are ways to supplement school district budgets via increased property taxes, and both are voter-dependent.

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