Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera
MUSD Superintendent Tracey Lopeman

While most Valley schools seeking bonds, overrides and budget increases succeeded in Tuesday’s election, Maricopa Unified School District was not among them.

MUSD’s request for a capital-improvement bond was defeated 58%-42% according to the unofficial totals. It lost in 11 of the 12 reporting precincts.

“Prop 437 failed because the MUSD, an organization [whose] purpose is to educate, underestimated the intelligence of the voter, by presenting the taxpayer a financially irresponsible and uneducated proposition,” said Alan Marchione, one of the proposition’s most vocal opponents.

In a prepared statement, MUSD Superintendent Tracey Lopeman thanked all who exercised their right to vote and expressed appreciation for the 42% who supported the district’s cause.

The proposition was aimed to fund a comprehensive second high school for the district, something the state Legislature has proclaimed to be necessary. The school is 600 students over-capacity and using mobile classrooms to deal with the overflow.

“The City of Maricopa is exploding with growth, and, as a result, Maricopa Unified School District’s enrollment continues to rise,” Lopeman said. “Knowing that the state of Arizona does not provide adequate funding for districts to build new facilities or maintain existing facilities, districts throughout the state must rely on local community support to help provide funding to build much needed facilities, add safety upgrades, purchase school buses, and address lifecycle projects.”

Chandler Unified received approval for a bond with 62% of the vote. Deer Valley Unified voters approved a bond by 59% and an override by 51%. Gilbert Unified voters approved a bond (62%) and a budget increase (55%). Tempe Elementary District voters passed an override and a budget increase. Paradise Valley voters approved a bond and a budget increase. Scottsdale Unified voters approved the continuation of that district’s override.

Lopeman said the local vote did not change the needs at MUSD.

“Because the bond did not pass, we will continue to creatively manage overcrowding at the high school and will proceed with a scaled version of the plan to build a second high school using funds granted by the School Facilities Board,” she said.

That is a reference to more than $22 million the state Legislature approved to start another high school in MUSD. That deal also offers up to 40 acres of land if necessary.

“Maricopa Unified School District has an important role in educating the workforce for a city that is on the rise,” Lopeman said. “Our students deserve the support of the community and we will continue to seek the resources necessary to provide a first-class education.”

MUSD board members did not respond to requests for comment.

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