Peoria school budget override too close to call

About 2,000 votes yet to be counted, PUSD officials say

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Families in the Peoria Unified School District are waiting on pins and needles to find out about their funding override, which appears too close to call the morning after the Nov. 5 election.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office unofficially reported the district’s override question going down to a 51% to 49% defeat, with 21,648 votes against the measure and 21,029 votes for – a margin of only 619 or about 1.4% or votes cast.

In a statement sent to district parents, PUSD Superintendent Linda Palles Thompson declared the race too close to call.

“Yesterday, 42,987 registered voters had ballots counted for Peoria Unified’s override election. The current, unofficial results show 21,029 ‘yes’ votes to 21,648 “no” votes,” Ms. Thompson stated. “We anticipate approximately 2,000 votes left to be counted and anticipate another update from the county by the end of the day tomorrow.”

School officials in Peoria, unlike many other Valley school districts, had not sought a new bond; rather they asked voters to approve a continuation of their budget override with a 2% increase.

According to the district’s website, the lost override would cost the schools $26 million per year, resulting in pay cuts for all staff members and layoffs for all health care professionals and assistant principals.

Those won’t be the only cuts should the measure fail once all votes are counted, though.

“In addition, class sizes would increase and the ability to offer programs such as arts, music, physical education and gifted education programs would be threatened. There would be a charge for full-day kindergarten. Fees related to athletic and extracurricular activities would also significantly increase and these programs would be reduced,” district officials stated.

The cuts would also reduce safety at campuses across the district, according to officials.

If approved, the annual property tax rate would be $1.74 per $100 of assessed home value (as reported by the County Tax Assessor, not based on market value, which is typically much higher).

For example, a home near Peoria High School has a listed full cash value of $163,200, but property taxes are assessed based on the lesser limited property value, which is $53,604, according to the tax assessor’s website.

Based on the valuation, that household will pay about $933 per year if the override succeeds – or about $18 per week. If the override fails, that’s how much the homeowner will save.

And for a cost savings equal to a once-weekly pizza dinner for two, dozens and perhaps hundreds of school district employees wait to find out if they will lose their jobs.

Data at the recorder’s website was last updated at 8:01 p.m. Tuesday night.

Elections officials had not returned requests to confirm or updated the results as of press time.

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