- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Preliminary election results show school bond and budget override proposals across the state were faring better than they usually do with voters.

In Maricopa County, all nine bond measures passed and 16 of 20 budget overrides were approved. In Yavapai County, traditionally a difficult area for schools to win bond and budget override elections, two bonds and two overrides were easily approved. But Pima County residents weren’t as generous. Only half of bonds and overrides passed in the county, although about 20,000 early and provisional ballots haven’t been counted.

Tim Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association, said voters appear to have been affected by a growing drumbeat of news from schools about low funding levels.

“I just think that obviously the voters recognize that our schools have been starving and have been starved by some public policy decisions, and they’ve listened and decided to vote yes,” Ogle said. “It’s a real vote of confidence for our school districts and for the kind of work that we’re trying to get done.”

School officials across the state were worried that last week’s approval of a $3.5 billion, 10-year deal to settle a school funding lawsuit may affect efforts by local school districts to get their voters to approve property tax increases. But that fear didn’t materialize on Tuesday.

“It appears to have done the opposite,” Ogle said. “It appears to have drawn attention to the needs of our local districts. And certainly we’re disappointed for the few of our friends that didn’t pass. But obviously the general trend was that schools need help, and we need to help them.”

Ogle said last week’s action by the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey, still subject to voter approval, only corrected inflation funding that had been skipped by lawmakers starting in 2008.

“It puts schools back in the neutral position. And clearly now with the strong message from our voters, it’s time for us as a state to pivot and talk about education and the needs for us to be resourced the way the rest of the country is.”

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said the governor believes the bonds and overrides are best made at the local level and that “he was glad to see citizens participate in the process.”

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Bob Christie reported from Phoenix.

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