Sunnyside budget override fails, and other school election results

2013-11-06T00:00:00Z 2013-11-07T07:47:48Z Sunnyside budget override fails, and other school election resultsBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Sunnyside Unified School District will likely face some hard decisions in the coming months after its budget override failed at the polls Tuesday night.

About 53 percent of voters rejected Proposition 405, while 47 percent voted for the measure, which would have allowed a 12 percent maintenance and operations override.

Sunnyside officials painted a woeful picture if the override didn’t pass, saying the district would lose about $8.9 million from its budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which would result in the loss of many staff positions and programs.

The cuts would include positions ranging from teachers and librarians to dropout prevention specialists and off-duty police officers.

The district could close the Ocotillo Early Learning Center’s regular education programs and stop providing all-day kindergarten, officials said.

This was the third straight year voters rejected an override for the south-side district.

Sunnyside has lost $5.3 million in override money in the past two years after overrides failed in the 2011 and 2012 elections, district officials said. If this year’s override had passed, it would have generated about $9.2 million in its first year.

The school district did not respond to a request for comment.

The failed override appeared to highlight voter dissatisfaction with the district, which has been plagued by disagreements among Governing Board members and criticism of Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo.

There are two opposing recall drives pending against four members of the board, including two members who support Isquierdo and two who oppose his leadership.

The two supporters are board President Louie Gonzales and board member Bobby Garcia.

Board members Buck Crouch and Daniel Hernandez Jr. have criticized Isquierdo and other district officials, accusing some of nepotism and corruption.

Some community leaders have sided with Crouch and Hernandez. Another group of community leaders have criticized the two members for their opposition to the rest of the Governing Board’s decisions.

However, all of the board members, along with other district officials, supported the override and warned the public that voting against it would only hurt students.

People who opposed the override said at board meetings and forums that they couldn’t support the measure because they didn’t trust the district’s leadership.

Other schools

In the other two elections involving schools, voters overwhelmingly approved two overrides for the Catalina Foothills School District, while the Altar Valley School District’s override was rejected.

About 63 percent of Catalina Foothills voters approved Proposition 406, a 10 percent maintenance and operations override. Only 37 percent voted against the measure.

For Proposition 407, which will pay for elementary school programs, 65 percent voted for the override while 35 percent opposed it.

The 10 percent override will help preserve class sizes and programs, while the 3.3 percent measure would primarily pay for elementary school programs.

Voters last approved both measures in 2008, but the overrides would have phased out within the next two fiscal years, district officials said. The overrides have supplemented Catalina Foothills’ budget since the mid-1980s.

In Altar Valley, in the Three Points area southwest of Tucson, the school district’s maintenance and operations override failed, 60 percent to 40 percent.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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