Voters asked to decide budget override for Safford schools

Ruth Powell School - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — The Safford Unified School District is asking voters to approve a 10 percent budget override.

If passed, the override would generate about $1.6 million and Superintendent AJ Taylor explained that the funding would be used to continue the services and classes the schools are in danger of losing.

“If it is passes, we would be able to maintain current class sizes, continue funding full-day kindergarten, supplemental programs and elective classes, trying to continue to attract and retain quality staff — that’s staying competitive to recruit teachers and keep the teachers that we have — continue to fund athletics, school resource officers — which we’re in partnership with (the city) on for our school resource officer — and other academic programs (and) expanding our educational opportunities for our students,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the need for an override comes from two causes — increases in the minimum wage and the state underfunding education since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. Taylor said 90 percent of the district’s maintenance and operations budget is spent on salaries.

“We work hard at getting as much money in the classrooms for the kids as we can. And we’re about 10 percent above our peer average for schools of the same size,” Taylor said.

For a $96,000 home, the average annual cost of the override to the homeowner would be $132 or about $11 per month.

The election is Nov. 3 and early voting starts Oct. 7. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 5.