Voters in more than a dozen school districts across the state will decide if they want to continue funding their local school districts with budget overrides in a special election on Nov. 2, 2021.
In the Southwest Valley, both Agua Fria Union High School District and Litchfield Elementary School District have override continuations on the ballot.
If you're a parent with a student enrolled in one of these districts, the result of this election impacts the amount of funding their schools receive. If you own property within district boundaries, this also impacts you since overrides are funded by secondary property taxes.
Read on for more information on overrides, their impact and how eligible voters can cast their ballot this November.
What is a M&O Budget Override? When public school districts want or need more money than they are receiving from the state and federal governments, they can put a maintenance and operations budget override on the local ballot. The override is funded through secondary property taxes, so districts are asking residents to agree to pay more in taxes to provide additional funding toward things like teacher and staff salaries, special programming, advanced placement classes and free full-day kindergarten.
When passed by voters, overrides remain in place for seven years. Districts will often hold elections in the fourth year of an override in order to keep a consistent level of funding.
How do I know if a budget override is on my local ballot? You first need to know what school district you live in. Find out by visiting the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office interactive map. Type in your address in the search bar in the top-right corner to find out your school district. Then, you can click here to be directed to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission website for a list of measures on the ballot.
If I’m not registered to vote, can I cast a ballot in the override election? Not now. The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 2 special election passed on Oct. 4, 2021. In Arizona, you need to register to vote 29 days before an election. If you want to participate in future elections, click here for more information on how to register to vote in Arizona.
If I miss the deadline to mail in my ballot, can I still vote? Yes. You still have the option to drop off your ballot at a ballot drop box until 7 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2021. To find a list of locations, click here to be directed to the Maricopa County Elections Department.
Can I vote in this election if I’m not on the permanent early voting list (PEVL)? Yes. You can vote as long as you are registered, even if you’re not on the PEVL. Every eligible voter should have already received a ballot in the mail. If you have not recived your ballot, or it has been lost or damaged, contact the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office at (602) 506-1511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t have enough time to wait for a new ballot consider voting in person (see below).
Can I vote in person? Yes. While this is a ballot-by-mail jurisdictional election, certain polling sites will allow you to vote in person. To find a list of locations, click here to be directed to the Maricopa County Elections Department. Some locations are open for early in-person voting, while other locations are only open for in-person voting on election day. If you are voting in person, you’ll be required to show proof that you are eligible to vote. Click here to be directed to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission website for a list of acceptable identification when voting in person.
What happens if the override passes? If voters decide to pass the override, Litchfield Elementary School District will continue to receive $9.4 million in annual funding toward special area teachers, instructional coaches, school nurses, student advisors, behavioral coaches and athletic programming. If passed, Agua Fria Union High School District will continue to receive an estimated $8,224,899 in annual funding toward things like teacher pay, fine arts, International Baccalaureate, JROTC, summer school and career and technical programs.
What will the override cost me? If passed, residents of LESD will continue to pay an average of $200 per year, and residents of AFUHSD will pay an average of $104 a year in secondary property taxes.
What happens if the override fails? If the override fails, override funding will decrease by one-third in year six, and by two-thirds in year seven. The funding is fully eliminated over two years. LESD and AFUHSD would each lose between $8 and $9 million in funding annually. Officials have warned that if the override fails positions and programming could be eliminated. The district could vote to have another override measure on the ballot in November 2022.
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