Queen Creek school district board updated on override, bonds

The Queen Creek Unified School District may go out for a maintenance and operations override in November 2019, according to a recent presentation made to the governing board.

The M&O override and bond expenditures for fiscal year 2017-18 were the topic of the Oct. 16 study session presentation by Crystal Zachary, QCUSD chief financial officer.

Bonds and overrides are voter-approved initiatives that generate additional tax revenue to fund projects and operations for entities such as local school districts and community colleges.

A M&O override supports expenditures such as teacher salaries, benefits, supplies and general operations; whereas a special override supports specific programs, such as full-day kindergarten, art, music, physical education, etc. A capital override funds physical items, including equipment, furniture, technology, vehicles, etc.

As part of ongoing communication with the governing board and community regarding bond and override financial activity, the district presents an annual summary during the October governing board meeting, Ms. Zachary said in an email.

“The presentation details how bond and override monies are spent for the prior fiscal year and discusses the override timeline. M&O budget overrides are authorized for seven years. As districts approach that last year, administrators commonly plan out possible district needs for election years,” she said.

“In our October 2018 board meeting, this annual presentation provided details on how the current override is being used and discussed the most likely time in which the district may decide to hold an election asking to continue an already existing M&O override.  This planning takes place in anticipation of the need to maintain funding for existing programs authorized by taxpayers using override dollars,” Ms. Zachary said in the email.

A 15 percent override was last approved in November 2015 and the district may go for its next override in November 2019. The 2015 override is funded at 15 percent through fiscal year 2020-21; two-thirds funded (10 percent) in fiscal year 2021-22; and one-third funded (5 percent) for fiscal year 2022-23, according to PowerPoint slides presented by Ms. Zachary.

The budget from the fiscal year 2017-18 M&O override was $5,336,928, with expenditures of $5,349,636 in the following areas, according to Ms. Zachary:

  • Advancement Via Individual Determination program, K-5 reading and math, vocational;
  • Art and music;
  • Security;
  • Reduced class size for kindergarten through eighth grade;
  • Increased salaries; and
  • Athletic, ROTC and gifted programs.

The budget for fiscal year 2018-19 M&O override expenditures is $6,261,040. Expenditures are aligning to the same areas as the 2017-18 budget and will continue to pay the increased level of salaries and benefits as follows, according to the slides:

  • Approximately 65 percent toward increased salaries;
  • Approximately 18 percent toward reduced class sizes; and
  • Approximately 17 percent toward academic resources/staffing.

Capital projects from bonds

For fiscal year 2017-18, the district had three bonds with unspent bond proceeds — from 2010, 2014 and 2017 — with capital projects completed in the last fiscal year, according to the slides.

A bond sale in 2017-18 sold $800,000 in 2010 bond authority and the district spent $692,670 out of that amount on:

  • Technology, furniture and equipment: $588,608, for classroom technology for Faith Mather Sossaman Elementary School, classroom technology upgrades for elementary schools and high school.
  • Technology and equipment – administrative: $104,062, for network switches and support for district-wide support of technology.

Another bond sale in 2017-18 sold $22,535,000 in 2014 bond authority, and the district spent $2,852,302 out of that amount on design and construction of Eastmark High School, including a portion of design (architects, engineering) and construction costs.

A third bond sale in 2017-18 sold $26,530,000 in 2017 bond authority, spending $4,388,687 out of that amount on:

  • Design and construction of Eastmark High School: $3,687,250, for a portion of the architects, engineering and construction costs.
  • Design of elementary school No. 7: $75,514, for a portion of the architects, engineering costs.
  • Design of Queen Creek High School renovations including performing arts center, fieldhouse, security and parking: $274,382, for architects, engineering costs.
  • Design and construction of Queen Creek High School security upgrades: $351,541, for security upgrades and technology.

Initial bonds

A total of $15 million in bonds were approved in 2010 in the following categories and amounts, according to the slides:

  • Technology, furniture, equipment: $6 million
  • Transportation: $1 million
  • Renovation/new construction: $6 million
  • Administrative technology/equipment: $2 million

The 2014 bond categories, as re-purposed in 2017 and totaling $80 million, are:

  • Renovations/construction of middle school, high school and performing arts center: $13,450,000
  • New construction at northern site: $17,500,000
  • Purchase pupil transportation vehicles: $5,500,000
  • Other school site renovations: $5,500,000
  • Purchase furniture, technology and equipment: $1,400,000
  • Construction, acquisition, improvements to new and existing schools: $36,650,000.

The 2017 bond categories, new for fiscal year 2017-18, are:

  • Construction, acquisition, improvements to new and existing schools, including land acquisition, general facility and
  • Technology and security purchases and upgrades for new and existing schools: $6 million.

Editor Richard Dyer can be contacted via e-mail at rdyer@newszap.com or at twitter.com/rhdyer or facebook.com/RichardDyerJournalist

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