On Nov. 5, 2013, Oracle School District voters will be asked to support the continuation of the school district’s override funding. Arizona state law allows voters to approve local increases to their district’s operating budget each year in the form of overrides. These increases may not exceed 15 percent of the limits established by the state legislature. Funds generated in this manner are used for classroom supplies, academic programs, utilities, salaries, and benefits.
This will not be a new tax, the question asks for a renewal of the 15 percent increase in the district’s funding local voters first approved in 2004 to offset losses in state funding. Beginning next year this aid will begin to expire causing the district to lose around $270,000 from its budget and then override assistance dwindles to nothing in 2016/2017. Voters have the opportunity to continue this funding so that the district can maintain the current quality of instruction, implement higher state mandated standards, and continue on our planned path of school improvement.
This override funding is critical to the district. The total Oracle School District budget for 2013/2014 is approximately $5.6 million, including the existing override the voters are being asked to renew. This budget includes capital outlay monies used for purchasing textbooks, instructional aids, computers, other equipment, furniture, and buses. Voters may be surprised to know that $1.6 million or 28.6 percent of our total budget is paid directly to the local high schools our grade 9-12 students attend and is not available for our K-8 students in the Oracle School District. Because of its own fiscal challenges, since 2008 the state has taken $535,000 from the district by withholding increases in base-level funding, reducing the cash balance, withdrawing funding for full-day kindergarten, and reducing our operating budget. The district has already been notified that this school year the state will take back approximately $118,000 of our allocated capital outlay funds to help offset state budget deficiencies.
In Pinal County almost 80 percent of the school districts operate with override assistance from their stakeholders. How much will continuing the override cost the residents in the Oracle School District? Currently, the tax due to the override on each $100,000 full cash value of a residence is approximately $27 per year, or $2.25 per month. Due to variances in property values and student enrollment the amount you will pay may change slightly.
There are numerous benefits provided by the override monies which include: 1) Assistance in providing teacher professional development, 2) Purchase of vital student learning materials, 3) Bringing stability to the teaching and classroom aide staff, 4) Maintaining student-teacher ratios, and 5) Maintaining and promoting physical education. Additionally, healthy schools not only help produce productive citizens, but also help create healthy communities. Healthy communities are of course, good for everyone.
For further questions please do not hesitate to contact Oracle School District Superintendent Dennis Blauser in his office at 520-896-3072, by cell 520-404-0875 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.