In the recent election, 23 districts in metro Phoenix sought billions in cash for capital projects and to bolster their operating budgets, mainly allocated for teacher salaries and class sizes. However, there was a larger and more organized campaign against school bonds and overrides this year, with some questioning the effective use of the funds. Although more measures appear to be failing than in 2022, this is not necessarily out of line with historical results, suggesting that the wider message about public schools from the results is unclear due to low voter turnout and the specific nature of these elections.
Election Turnout, Bonds and Overrides: A Closer Look
The recent election might have left many wondering about the turnout and the results of bonds and budget override proposals. These issues usually attract low turnout, especially when they dominate the ballot. The results may not reflect the majority of voters’ opinions due to this low turnout.
School Bonds and Overrides Election Patterns
For instance, during this election, 23 districts in metro Phoenix sought billions in cash for projects and operating budgets. However, a significant chunk of these measures, between a quarter and a third, fail each election cycle despite public opinion polls indicating support.
Organized Opposition Emerges
This year, organized opposition to school bonds and overrides was noticeably larger. Some questioned schools’ spending effectiveness while others connected the questions to low scores and contentious issues like transgender student policies. The Arizona Republican Party even urged voters to reject all school bonds and overrides.
Understanding the Results
Despite the vocal opposition, the failure rate of measures is not far from historical results. The measures failing this year were typically in conservative areas with strong “no” campaigns. However, only a few districts saw turnout above 25%, and they appear to have approved their measures. With such low turnout and the specific nature of these elections, it’s difficult to extrapolate a wider message about public schools from the results.
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