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Arizona school districts allowed to increase debt loads for construction projects

Arizona school districts are now able to increase their debt load for construction projects under a measure approved by state lawmakers. It gives districts authority to sell more bonds to build schools or remodel classrooms.

Lawmakers cut state funding for school construction projects during the recession. That is when Arizona home values plummeted, which was another financial hit to districts that rely on property taxes for funding. Now under the new law, districts have the authority to nearly double the amount of bonds issue, or money they borrow, after voters approve building projects. 

“The biggest benefactors of this change would be districts that have a lot of residential property which has really gone down in value so it’s a good thing for school districts," said Chuck Essigs with the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

Essigs said growing districts like Higley that was unable to get a bond issue approved a few years ago will benefit under the change. He said the law is retroactive, meaning districts that had bonds approved during the recession can finally get work started on projects that had been postponed.