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Mesa Voters To Decide On Public School Budget Increase

Mesa Public Schools is asking voters to approve a budget increase this fall.

“This allows our local voters to support their schools by providing just a little bit more, 15 percent of our budget, so we can do the programs and provide the quality teachers we’ve been providing for years,” said Scott Thompson,  an assistant superintendent in the district.

Mesa Public Schools has relied on a budget override since 1995. Without a new override, the existing 10 percent override will decrease by one-third starting in the 2020-21 school year.

An override election in 2018 failed. Voters did pass a $300 million bond proposal to fund building repairs, school buses and technology upgrades.

The money for the budget increase comes from local property taxes, an estimated $14.76 additional per month per $100,000 of assessed value.

Without the override, Mesa Public Schools faces more a more than $10 million budget deficit.

“We’ve got expenses that have increased and we’re finding it more and more challenging to provide the services the district has always provided,” Thompson said.

For example, Thompson says the district doesn’t receive enough money from the state to give a promised 20 percent teacher pay raise by 2020. The district also has to increase its minimum wage to $12 next year.

A survey of likely voters conducted by HighGround, Inc. found 60 percent of people think school funding in Mesa is too low. 

People identified attracting and retaining quality teachers, preparing students for college and work and school safety as top priorities. 

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Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.