Voters also to decide SUSD fund override

This is how the Scottsdale Unified board and administration want to divvy up the District  Additional Assistance money. (SUSD)

Denny Brown has a good feeling about Scottsdale Unified School District’s request for a District Additional Assistance override request on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot, though he does hedge that feeling.

“I feel fairly optimistic but I do live in a bubble,” said Brown, co-chair of Yes to Children, the political action committee supporting the request. “I haven’t heard anything from the opposition.”

The only opposition he heard is that SUSD Governing Board candidates Amy Carney, Carine Werner and Andrea Keck.

Keck said there are three reasons she does not support the request, contending it is 70% more than the current District Additional Assistance override while enrollment is down 10% and noting a quarter of it goes to non-academic uses.

She wants a five-year plan put together to gauge what the district is going to need from taxpayers that also identifies alternative funding sources.

“It’s often a knee-jerk reaction: we need money, we’ll go to the taxpayers; we need money, we’ll go to the taxpayers; we need money, we’ll go to the taxpayers,” she said.

Candidates Mary Gaudio and Rob Vaules support the request.

Gaudio said it’s important to keep the schools running in good order with “everything from curriculum to furniture.” It’s also important to show teachers that the community supports the teachers’ mission, she said.

Vaules said, “Some of the most important things it takes to run any public school is not covered by our normal (Maintenance and Operations) budget. My primary point would be that technology – the laptops, the Chromebooks the smart boards, the projectors, software licensing, all those things students, teachers, and administrators need to learn and run a school are not covered by our budget.”

At the same time though, he also supports things like the arts in schools, which are also a beneficiary of district additional assistance override money, he said.

The DAA override request is for $14.5 million or 10% of the revenue control limit (whichever is lower) per year for seven years.

While the district’s capital budget covers major repairs and infrastructure improvements, the DAA money pays for things like laptops and software, curriculum materials, equipment for athletics, performing arts and safety, classroom furniture and playground and shade structures.

The lion’s share of the money, 56%, will go toward technology. Curriculum materials come in a distant second at 17%.

The request comes to a bill of $112.17 annually on a $497,840 home – the median value of a house within the district.

The district’s current DAA override is for $8.5 million or 10% of the revenue control limit.

It was passed in 2016 and doesn’t end until June 2024 but the Governing Board wanted to get a new funding source in place before the current one runs out. Moreover, going for the override now gives the district a second run at it next year in case the measure fails this year.

Yes to Children has raised $59,815 for the campaign, all but $3,158 of which was raised in the third quarter. No activity was reported in the pre-general election report, which was due Oct. 29.

The majority of the donations came from the real estate and development sectors.

The biggest contribution was $25,000 from the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors. Another $10,000 came from St. Louis-based McCarthy Holdings and $9,500 came from Phoenix-based Core Construction.

St. Louis-based McCarthy Holdings gave $5,000. The United Scottsdale Firefighters gave $2,000.

Giving in the $1,500 category were Phoenix-based Universal Piping, Phoenix-based Sun Valley Masonry and Gilbert-based Cactus Pipeline Contractors.

PAC Co-Chair Melinda Gulick gave $1,000 to the cause and Scottsdale-based financial adviser George Jackson gave $500. Also giving at the $500 were Mesa-based Sun Country Floors and the Desert Canyon Elementary School PTO.

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