Your Tax Dollars at Work

Wendy Qualls
Executive Director of Finance

(623) 535-6000

     LESD Bus     Construction      Verrado Heritage ES

Bonds and Overrides

What are Bonds and Overrides?

Bonds and overrides are voter-approved initiatives that generate additional tax revenue to fund projects and operations for local school districts. Bonds and overrides are tools that a local community can use to provide funds for their local schools above and beyond what the state provides.

Why are Bonds and Overrides Important?

Bonds and overrides provide local funding for schools. Over the past few years, our schools have weathered significant state funding cuts. Meanwhile, Arizona’s teachers and students have been asked to meet higher expectations and do more with less.

What is a bond?

With voter approval, public school districts may issue bonds (which are purchased by investors) to fund projects that have a useful life longer than five years. Examples include building new schools, building improvements (HVAC, roof, and lighting), technology, school buses or equipment, to name a few. Bonds are repaid over a set period of time.

What is an override?

Overrides are used to provide additional funding to support what happens inside school or classrooms (teaching, learning and operations). Overrides are approved for a term of 7 years. Many school districts will ask voters to approve a renewal in year 4 or 5 of an override to maintain a consistent level of funding. If not renewed, the amount decreases by 1/3 in the 6th year and 2/3 in the 7th year. Arizona sets a revenue control limit for all school districts. Voters can “override” the State’s contribution by up to 15%. Communities can enhance their neighborhood schools by choosing increased local control over their district budget. Overrides are an opportunity for local communities to ensure they have strong neighborhood schools.

So how do bonds and overrides come to be?

School governing boards call for an election and a local stakeholder committee is formed. Often these groups are called political action committees (PACs), but they can also be just a group of volunteers who come together to support the election. Schools can provide limited factual information about the bond or override and are not allowed to influence the outcome of the election. The stakeholder committee gets the word out and builds support for the election.

Excerpts from “Expect More Arizona”