By a thin margin, voters in the Parker Unified School District approved continuing the budget override approved in 2015. According to figures from the La Paz County Elections Department, the override passed with 1,807 “yes” votes (51.97 percent) to 1,670 “no” votes (48.03 percent). The margin was 137 votes out of 3,477 votes cast.
The district has used budget overrides to pay for such items as summer school, classroom supplies, all-day kindergarten, the alternative school and after-school tutoring.
“Many people don’t realize we wouldn’t have the all-day kindergarten without the budget override,” PUSD Superintendent Brad Sale said.
The override creates a secondary property tax for the district. Sale the tax bill on a $100,000 home would be $135.
The district has no primary property tax because they receive Impact Aid from the federal government due to the presence of the Colorado River Indian Reservation. The PUSD consistently has had the lowest overall tax rates of any school district in La Paz County.
Without Impact Aid, Sale said the primary property tax rate for the schools would be 4.5 percent, or $450 on a $100,000 home.
Parker voters have consistently approved budget overrides for the school district. The last time a proposed override failed was in 2014, and school officials had to make $320,000 in budget cuts. The administration and the school board tried not to have these cuts affect what happens in the classroom.
Among items cut for the 2015-16 fiscal year were summer school and after-school tutoring. Classroom supplies were cut by 10 percent, and junior high athletic activities were cut back. The district also cut back meal expenses for student-athletes traveling out-of-town.
A budget override was approved by voters in 2015, and these items were restored. This is the fifth year of this override, which is why it’s coming before the voters again.
The vote in 2020 was close, but Sale said it was no closer than expected due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Presidential election. He said there is usually a higher voter turnout when there’s a Presidential election.
“I’m happy the voter of our district decided to extend the override,” he said.