School district seeks budget override renewal
WUSD officials say renewal will continue to fund school programs and not raise taxes
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Williams Unified School District (WUSD) will hold a special election on Nov. 6 to authorize maintaining the current 10 percent Maintenance and Operations (M&O) budget override. The current budget override has been in effect for over 10 years.
"Every five years you have to renew the override," said WUSD Governing Board President Kristi Fredrickson. "And it does not increase taxes at all, it simply maintains the current rate. I think that's really important for people to understand, that we're not asking for additional money but to continue with the override we currently have."
According to WUSD Business Manager Melissa Ellico, the state of Arizona funds its schools through a formula that uses the district student count (number of students enrolled in the district) multiplied by a funding rate per student. This is the base support for each student.
"There are add-ons to the base support for special needs students or special programming, but the reality is that the add-ons do not fund any special need or program 100 percent. Some add-ons are just dollars per student extra," said Ellico.
While the budget is formula based, the funding for the budget is equally spread over the entire state. The state uses what is called a "qualifying tax rate" as a property tax for every property in the state. So each district budget is funded by its district's property taxes, using the qualifying tax rate.
Ellico went on to say that as most communities wanted to be able to support their educational system at a higher rate, the state made it possible for district voters to authorize additional funds specific to their district. These additional support dollars come in the form of overrides and bonds. The voters approve or deny these measures, and the funding to do so. Overrides and bonds show up on property taxes as a secondary tax rate.
"Our district currently has no bonds. We have a 10 percent Maintenance and Operations budget override. The state allows up to a 15 percent override to the state budget formula," Ellico said. "We use our M&O budget to pay teachers, pay utilities, buy cleaning products, and purchase paper and other supplies, anything that is needed for the operation of the school. The override allows us to have extra funds for these 'regular' educational programs and staff."
The current override was passed in 2007. Overrides are funded 100 percent the first five years, and then phase down for two additional years. The school district is on their last fully funded year, and without re-authorization will have to begin to make drastic cuts to programming due to lack of funding.
"A 2012 re-authorization of the override will maintain the current funding amount for our district. The additional cost to taxpayers will be $0," said Ellico.
According to WUSD officials, if taxpayers do not support and approve the override, the district could lose approximately $372,000 from the current operating budget, potentially eliminating certain educational programs, physical education classes, junior varsity athletics, staff positions, and select after school activities and clubs.
A fact pamphlet has been produced by the school district about the override for the public. They are legally allowed to state the facts of what will happen if the override passes and what will happen if it fails. This pamphlet has not been released yet and a release date has not yet been decided.
The deadline for the public to submit pro and con statements in reference to the current budget override is Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. These statements must be turned in to the County School Superintendent's office.
Click Below to: