MUSD override goes down in defeat

By Tom Gibbons

November 7, 2012 - 12:11 am

The Silent Majority handily rejected the Maricopa Unified School District’s latest override measure.

The measure — which faced little voiced opposition and had no organizations lining up against it — lost by about a 3-2 margin Tuesday.

With all 12 precincts reporting, “No” votes outpolled “Yes” 5,215, or 59.6 percent, to 3,541, or 40.4 percent.

 This is the fifth time since 2009 voters have turned down an MUSD funding measure.

 “Thanks in large part to the leadership of Maricopa Cares Chairman Clint Augustyn and his team of volunteers, there was a lot of forward progress made this year,’’ said Scott Bartle, president of MUSD school board. “Unfortunately, the end result was the same, and the district’s voters said they don’t want to increase the budget for Maricopa’s public schools. MUSD’s dedicated staff will continue to work within its allotted budget – as it does every year – and will work tirelessly to ensure all our students achieve their potential in school, career and life.’’

This year’s measure would have raised taxes for a shorter time and for specific, stated purposes. 

The measure would have been a two-year, 5-percent property-tax override to generate $1.35 million for the school district. 

That rate translates to an additional $57.70 a year on a home assessed at $100,000.

To reduce class size, $650,000 would go to hire more teachers. The blended-learning program would get $250,000 to expand, and $150,000 would go to add technology for classroom-use.

Another $150,000 would have gone to improve teacher retention through partial reinstatement of the teacher salary schedule, and $150,000 would have been used to improve retention of classified staff, which includes teacher aides, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, through a 2-percent cost-of-living adjustment, the first since 2008.

The district’s operating budget has shrunk since 2009, when it was $40 million, to $31.6 million budget passed for the 2012-2013 school year.

Although little opposition was voiced before the election, it was bubbling under the surface. 

“I keep hoping MUSD will look deep into their problems and realize the majority of the people don't believe money will fix the problems,” Laura Siefker Armstrong posted on InMaricopa.com’s Facebook page Tuesday night. 

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