What you need to know about bond and overrides at stake in Maricopa County election

Mail-in ballots are out for the bond and budget overrides in the Phoenix area so we go over what voters need to know.
Published: Oct. 17, 2023 at 4:58 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Early ballots have hit the mail across Maricopa County. This is an off-year election, which typically doesn’t grab as much attention. But voters will be making big decisions for schools across the Valley on topics like new construction and improving student safety.

There are 23 school districts with bond or budget overrides at stake this fall. Their success or failure will determine whether these schools have the money to meet their needs. For two of the Valley’s largest school districts, student safety is on the life.

Voters in Phoenix will be asked to approve a $475 million bond, and in Mesa, a $500 million bond. Part of the money will be used to beef up school security with more “secure lobby areas, fencing and technology.”

The president of the Arizona Education Association, Marisol Garcia, feels the money is crucial for students. “It allows us to purchase more updated technology, have music classes, have band classes,” she said.

In the past, a majority of these school bonds were easily approved in these low-turnout elections but that has been changing as districts have faced more and more opposite and skeptical voters. Political expert Paul Bentz explains why. “Like all politics, it’s gotten more partisan in school elections over the last few cycles,” he said.

That skepticism is being seen in some neighborhoods where signs have been marked up. “What we see is folks are starting to believe what is being said in cable news and the overall confidence in schools has started to decline,” Bentz said. “They talk about failing schools or you’ll see national news coverage about critical race theory or some sort of other controversial bathroom topics and they apply it locally here.”

Garcia says educators rely on these bonds to provide a safe and beneficial school experience. “The Legislature almost depends on school districts going out and asking the residents or the property owners in their areas to pay more money. It’s almost a way of saying we are not going to carry the state load, so why don’t you, within your school district, add an additional one,” she said. The ballots were sent in the mail and Oct. 31 will be the last day to postmark and mail it back. Election day is Nov. 7.

Not all of these will be increasing taxes for residents. With the ballot in the mail, you should have received a grey pamphlet. It breaks down by district if it will affect your taxes. For example, for some districts, it’s just a continuation of a monthly property tax, meaning taxes would not increase. You can find more info here.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.