Voters in Glendale and Peoria gave Peoria Unified School District a split decision.
With more than 120,000 ballots cast, 55% approved a PUSD request for a 13% budget override continuation.
But 55% rejected a request for a $125 million PUSD bond.
In a statement posted on the PUSD website, Superintendent Jason Reynolds called the bond loss “disappointing” and said “we’ll begin to strategically prioritize our limited dollars to cover only our most pressing needs for capital funding over the next year.”
The continuation of the 13% maintenance and operations override will allow the district $28 million for “health care professionals, physical education, arts education, music, chorus” and other programs.
The proposed $125 million bond was to allow schools in the district to repair and upgrade their facilities. It would have allowed the district to upgrade and add transportation vehicles, address safety capital projects and purchase land for a new high school.
PUSD has 37,000 students in 42 Glendale and Peoria schools.
While she no longer has children in the school district, Melissa Girmscheid said she supported both measures.
“I am choosing to vote for the override and bond because I want to see the children of our community have the same opportunities and experiences my children had in Peoria,” Girmscheid said.
The override will allow the district to offer smaller class sizes, which Girmscheid believes will be very beneficial for students.
“The key to quality teaching is building relationships with your students, and this is much easier in a classroom of 20 to 25 students than a classroom of 30 to 35 students,” she said. “Teachers need to be able to adjust lessons and activities to their students’ individual needs, but this is unmanageable when they’re adjusting for 35 to 40 students at once.”
Amanda Campbell, who currently has children attending Peoria Traditional School, agreed with Girmscheid.
“I have seen the direct impact that small class sizes can have, and it is nothing but positive. Students receive more individualized learning and receive the help they need to succeed,” Campbell said. “Teachers are given more of an opportunity to invest into each child. The students have more space to properly learn and build relationships in a comfortable environment.”
In addition to providing educational benefits, Girmscheid said the bond and override would be a positive for the entire community, spurring growth by attracting more businesses and families.
“I know that the value of property has been proven to hold a higher value when it is near or within the boundaries of highly rated public schools,” she said.
“As the quality of schools decline, as they will if these ballot items do not pass this year, it could impact this city greatly. Investing in our schools allows quality teachers to be drawn to our district. It makes this city appealing to families with children looking for a quality education,” Campbell said.