PUSD Superintendent Jason Reynolds

PUSD Superintendent Jason Reynolds participates in an online “Ballot Breakdown.”

On Oct. 7,  Peoria Unified School District officials presented a “Ballot Breakdown” virtual information session.

The district is requesting voters approve a bond and budget override on the Nov. 3 ballot.

PUSD Superintendent Jason Reynolds and Chief Financial Officer Michelle Meyers shared financial information related to ballot initiatives.

On May 28, the PUSD governing board approved a bond election to address the current 13% override and $125 million “critical needs bond.”

PUSD voters first approved a 10% override in 1996 and renewed it in 2001, 2006 and 2012. In 2015, voters approved a 13% override.

Voters narrowly rejected an override request in 2019.

“The maintenance and operation, or ‘MO budget,’ is where most of the day-to-day expenditures take place for the district,” Meyers said.

According to Meyers, the current override provides over $29 million in additional funding for the district’s maintenance and operation’s budget each year for health care professionals, physical education, arts education, music, chorus and assistant principals.

“Typical budgeted expenditures include salaries, employee benefits, supplies, utilities, maintenance, transportation, fuel costs and miscellaneous expenditures that are not of a capital nature.”

Meyers said if passed, funds will be used to provide critical district-wide improvements to instructional and operational buildings at existing schools and acquire land for the future construction of a new high school.

“The committee recommended that the bond also include technology board computer replacements for students and staff in network upgrades, as well as funding for regular and special education, student buses, and a line item to purchase land for the district’s next high school in the northern portion of the district,” Meyers said.

Meyers said the override authorization lasts for seven years and phases out over the last two years if not renewed.

Meyers noted PUSD’s budget, detailed initiative financial analysis and a decade of financial information is posted on the district’s website.

Reynolds commented on the importance of the two ballot initiatives.

“The MO override is people and programs, and the bond is our buildings, our buses, our technology, land, those kinds of things,” Reynolds said. “... If the bond passes and the MO does not, then we’re able to provide a lot of things. But we have less people and programs.

“Those two are connected very closely and are both important to our community.”

If the override fails, Meyers said, “We would be planning to reduce our maintenance and operations budget by $10 million in fiscal year 2022. We then have to reduce our budget again, in fiscal year 2023, another $10 million for a total of $20 million.

“In fiscal year 2024, which would be year eight, the override would be fully phased out and there would be no additional funding, and we would have a $30 million reduction,” Meyers said.