Your Dollars at Work: Bonds and Overrides
Higley Unified School District greatly appreciates the community support it receives. Volunteers, partnerships and taxpayer approval of bond and override initiatives are all essential to student learning and creating school communities that address the wide variety of learning needs in our community.Those bond and override approvals fill gaps created by state budget shortfalls that create challenges for schools to provide the education our community desires for its students. Higley is thankful for support from our voters and will strive to use taxpayer money efficiently and effectively in delivering programs and services to students.
School Finance OverviewSchools receive funding from a variety of sources: the state and federal governments, local property taxes, and grants. Some dollars are tied to a specific use.For example, bond dollars cannot be used to pay salaries.
- Maintenance and Operations (M&O) funds are used to run schools and fund employee salaries and benefits, classroom supplies, and transportation.
- Bond dollars are used for projects that have a longer lifespan, such as school buildings, school improvements, technology upgrades and transportation.
- Capital funds can be used for shorter-term items, such as equipping schools, repairs and upgrade existing buildings, transportation and technology.
Maintenance & Operations OverridesHigley Unified School District currently (FY19) operates under a 15 percent M&O override approved by voters in 2015. This provides the district a budget 15 percent over the state Revenue Control Limit for a set amount of time. Per state statute, the override is fully in place for five years: FY17 (2016/17 school year), FY18 (2017/2018), FY19 (2018/19), FY20 (2019/2020) & FY21 (2020/21). At that time, without renewal, the override funds will reduce by 1/3 a year until it is eliminated.
Higley M&O recent historyIn 2013 and 2012, the Higley Unified School District Governing Board called for a 10 percent Maintenance and Operations (M&O) override renewal. Previous overrides were approved in 2003 and 2008. Voters did not approve renewal in 2012 or 2013, resulting in cuts to the district budget in FY15 (2014/2015 school year) and FY16 (2015/2016).The district experienced several reductions with the loss of funding, including:
- Administration reduction
- Accelerated Reader eliminated
- Bus Maintenance Employee eliminated
- Furlough Day for all staff
- Lunch aide eliminations
- Reduced Media Specialists from 10 to 3 and 2 of the 3 were reclassified as aides
- Gifted teacher reduction by 3.5 FTE
- Reduced bus route for H.S.
In 2015, the Higley Unified School District Governing Board called for a 15 percent Maintenance and Operations (M&O) override.Voters approved the measure for funding the following:
Since then, funding has been used to:
- Increase teacher compensation
- Maintain and improve elementary specials such as arts, music and physical education, and district athletics and arts
- Provide staffing to reduce average class sizes
- Support gifted, special education and all day kindergarten
- Provide education resources to classrooms
- Increase in the number of teaching staff (FTEs)
- Maintain all-day kindergarten
- Provide a 3.5% salary increase for all staff (16-17)
- Continue funding salary increase to staff
- Implement Longevity Stipends
- Provide resources for classrooms
- Increase some salary schedules following market analysis
- Sustained Art, Music, Band and PE at the elementary level
- Reinstate additional money for Subs
- Reinstate lunch aides
- Reinstate Bus Route
- Purchase new K-12 English Language Arts curriculum (2017) and new K-12 Math curriculum (2018)
BondsState funds for school improvements and building construction has decreased since 2008. Arizona’s “Students FIRST” legislation passed in 1998 to provide funding for district renovation and maintenance projects, however this state funding was greatly cut. Voters can approve bond dollars to provide specific needs to a district.
Higley Bond HistoryIn 2006, the Higley Unified School District Governing Board called for a $120 million bond measure. Voters approved the measure, but due to declining home values during the Recession, state statute limited the amount of bonds the district could sell. Though the district had voter approval to do so, it was unable to sell and access about $70 million in funding.
In 2013, following passage of a bill that allowed for an increase in bonding capacity, the Higley Unified School District Governing Board called for a $70 million bond measure.Voters approved the measure to provide the following:
Since then, funds have been used to:
- New school construction (including furniture and equipment)
- New buildings for existing school sites
- Land for new schools
- Technology upgrades and improvements
- Maintenance, repair and improvements at existing schools
- Pupil transportation
The last bonds were sold in 2016.
- Build Bridges Elementary
- Build classroom addition at Williams Field High School
- Repair and maintain existing schools (painting, new flooring, fence repairs, etc.)
- Remodel all elementary and high school front offices to increase safety and security
- Purchase new marquees
- Update technology
- Purchase Buses
- Purchase land for new school
Major bond projectsFront office renovations – completed 2015
Bridges Elementary School – completed 2016
Higley High Painting – completed 2016
Williams Field High School classroom addition – completed 2017Purchased new land for future school site - completed 2017Higley High artificial turf field - still in process 2019