Sunnyside apparently won't put budget override on ballot

2014-06-26T00:00:00Z Sunnyside apparently won't put budget override on ballotBy Veronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Sunnyside Unified School District board decided Wednesday night against voting to put a budget override on the Nov. 4 ballot to prevent further spending cuts.

There was no “second” to a motion to send an override to voters, which apparently kills the measure for this year since Friday is the district’s deadline to make ballot decisions.

It would have been the fourth override attempt in as many years.

Voters have rejected an override for the south-side district for three consecutive years resulting in a loss of more than $7.8 million in override money, causing the district to make staffing and program cuts, increase class sizes and close schools. The district has also had to transfer capital outlay funds to its maintenance and operations fund and use temporary funds from a federal program and money from its food service program.

If the board had decided to try again in November, and if voters had supported the proposed 10 percent maintenance and operations override, it would have generated more than $7.7 million for the district.

Such an override would have imposed a secondary property tax rate of $1.85 per $100 of assessed valuation, according to Hector Encinas, the district’s chief financial officer. The average homeowner would have seen an increase of $133.20 per year, according to estimates.

SUSD administrators recommended that the governing board approve the override election but only if it unanimously agreed to it. The override would have been part of the Nov. 4 general election.

IN OTHER ACTION

Also Wednesday night, the Governing Board approved the transfer of Lorraine Villegas-Rodriguez, a human resources employee, into another department. She was facing dismissal after she was accused of giving someone outside the district a document containing information that was publicly available.

Villegas-Rodriguez will work as an administrative secretary in the district’s health services department. She has been on paid leave since late February after district officials accused her of giving a copy of a job description pertaining to a position filled by then-board member Louie Gonzales’ daughter to a TV reporter.

Villegas-Rodriguez says she was wrongfully accused. District officials recommended her dismissal. She filed an appeal against the termination and has been working on a settlement agreement with the district.

The board also approved the transfer of Michelle Morita, Gonzales’ daughter, from her secretary position in human resources to a secretary position in the district’s professional development office.

Morita’s hiring in the HR department raised questions about her qualifications and the ethics of having the daughter of a board member being targeted in a recall election work in an office with access to sensitive and confidential information.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4224.

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