During a presentation to Province residents last week, Tracey Lopeman, the superintendent of the Maricopa Unified School District, had a chance to answer questions from residents about the upcoming election. One of the areas about which there was some confusion was whether the override, which provides an additional 10% to MUSD’s maintenance and operations (M&O) budget, went up by 10% annually.
Lopeman set the record straight, saying, “It’s a continuation – it’s not another override,” she said. “So, it is not 10% on top of the last override. It’s just a continuation of the same override from 2016 that homeowners are already paying.”
Lopeman said the reason the district is going to the public to approve the continuation of the override now is that after the fifth year of the seven-year funding mechanism, by statute the funding is cut by 1/3 each year. So, in 2022-23 the override funds would fall to about $3.5 million, then to $1.75 million the following year before going away completely for the 2024-25 school year.
She said another benefit of the override is the ability for the community to have local control over where and how residents’ tax dollars are spent.
“This is a way to direct how your tax dollars are spent,” she said. “This gives you an understanding and a relationship with the entity that’s making the decisions about how that money is spent.”
Jacob Harmon, the district’s business manager, told the group that the districts around MUSD (Casa Grande, Chandler, Kyrene and Tempe) all have overrides.
“The districts just to the north of us all have 15% overrides, and we have to compete with that,” he said. “The override is local control to get funding for three things only; lower class sizes; the alternative graduation path (RAM Academy); and student technology.”
One resident in attendance said, “If the schools are better, it is benefitting us every time we do anything like go to the grocery store or the pharmacy. It’s a good thing. We’re happy to pay whatever taxes improve the schools. I don’t care what taxes we have to pay, even though we don’t have children in this community. It’s wonderful to have such good schools as we do in this city.”