Maintenance and operations (M&O) override funding is available to school districts across Arizona. Liberty Elementary School District (LESD) is no exception.
LESD has had its override in place since 1983, and it provides approximately $2.1 million in additional funding yearly. This type of funding, which is technically considered Maintenance and Operations (M&O) funding, assists in the operation of school districts across Arizona. Last November voters narrowly rejected the District’s bid to renew the override. If a continuation of the override is not approved by voters, LESD will have to eliminate those additional funds by approximately $700,000 per in 2022-23 and approximately $1,600,000 in 2023-24 as the existing override is phased down as required by Arizona law. The full budget override would be funded by an estimated $0.71 tax rate per one hundred dollars of net assessed valuation used for secondary property tax purposes, which is approximately equal to the current tax rate levied for the existing override.
The request for a district to seek an M&O override doesn’t mean that the district isn’t living within its means, or hasn’t been a good steward of the public’s money. Rather, it allows voters to approve additional funding for the District’s M&O budget, above what the state funding formula provides. It is just another way voters help determine the educational and spending priorities for their neighborhood schools.
Override funding helps LESD maintain staff salaries and ensure Liberty can continue to attract and retain highly qualified and dedicated employees for which we are known. The override also provides funding for additional teachers to keep class sizes lower. In addition, art, music and physical education classes are funded entirely through the override. Those classes promote critical thinking, creativity and student health. The average LESD homeowner pays less than $12 monthly for the override — or less than an Amazon Prime membership.
Audits performed by the Arizona Auditor General's office show that when it comes to school funding, LESD spends more money in the classroom than in peer districts and the state and that its administrative costs are among the lowest of all peer districts, all while receiving fewer dollars per-student than average Arizona school districts. On top of that, LESD students surpass their state peers in math, science and English language arts.
“We did our homework, and over many years we have taken steps to make sure that we spend these funds wisely,” said LESD Superintendent Dr. Lori Shough. “We have been very good and careful stewards of the public’s money, and we will continue to be.”
A special election has been called by, and will be held in, Liberty Elementary School District No. 25 of Maricopa County, Arizona (the “District”), on November 2, 2021 (“Election Day”). The purpose of the election is to permit the qualified electors of the District to vote on authorizing the District to adopt a General Maintenance and Operation Budget that includes an amount of up to 10% in excess of the revenue control limit for the fiscal year 2022/2023 and for six subsequent years (subject to certain reductions provided by statute in years six and seven).
Request for arguments "for" or "against" the Special Budget Override Election