Cave Creek Unified School District No. 93
M&O Override FAQ
Q: What exactly would a successful passing of an override mean to Cave Creek Unified School District?
A successful passing of an Override will be used to:
• Increase teacher and staff salaries to help CCUSD attract and retain qualified staff.
• Invest in Career, Technical and Vocational Education, including Computer Science, Engineering, Coding, and JROTC.
• Support academic programs including Advanced Placement (AP), elementary enrichment programs, gifted/honors, International Baccalaureate (IB), and World Languages.
• Support student and staff safety.
• Maintain class sizes.
• Fund stipends for hard to fill positions and special education teachers.
• Reduce student fees, including athletics.
• Reduce the District’s need to eliminate effective programs and services to students and parents.
Q: How much of this override would be used on administration?
Zero. No override funds will be used for salaries of administrators.
Q: What types of audits are required of the Cave Creek Unified School District?
Arizona school districts are subject to many different types of audits. In the past year, the Cave Creek Unified School District has undergone the following audits and analysis:
- Independent Auditors Heinfeld Meech, CPA
- Annual compliance audit
- Single audit (covers the entire organization’s financial operations)
- Arizona Department of Education
- ADM audit performed by the Audit division
- Grant fiscal monitoring performed by Grants division
- Special Education program monitoring performed ESS Department
- Arizona Auditor General
- Classroom spending report
- School district financial risk analysis
- Public Consulting Group
- Comprehensive compliance review for the Medicaid School Based Claiming program (MIPS)
Q: Why is the District asking voters to approve an override when the State of Arizona increased funding for schools?
An override allows the District to offer competitive salaries to attract and retain highly qualified staff to serve our students. Currently, CCUSD teacher pay ranks in the bottom 15% compared to other Arizona school districts. CCUSD lags behind surrounding school districts competing for teachers and staff. Since all school districts will be receiving the increase in funding, this gap will still exist because almost every school district in Maricopa County has approved M&O override funds to pay their teachers and staff higher wages.
Q: Is the override a tax increase?
Yes. The override would be a $0.21 property tax increase, which would be $122 a year for a homeowner with a limited property value of $582,790 (the limited property value is the home value the county uses to assess the taxable value of a home). However, because the State Equalization Tax was eliminated in 2022 reducing property tax by .4263 = $248.44 or $20.70 per month. Even with the Override property taxes will be lower
Q: How is the current override related to the EVIT partnership voted on in November 2018?
In 2018, the voters of Cave Creek Unified School District approved joining the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT), which is a Career and Technical Education District (CTED). This partnership has allowed students from Cactus Shadows High School the opportunity to attend Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at a state of the art CTE facility in Mesa beginning in 2019.
The CTED is able to pool resources across districts to provide programming in career fields that require specialized equipment, facilities and instructors–resources most districts cannot afford to do on their own. For example, fire science, emergency medical technician (EMT), welding, aviation, automotive technologies, and cosmetology are programs EVIT campuses are able to offer that CCUSD could never offer due to funding and facilities.
- CSHS currently offers five CTE programs on campus that require limited specialized equipment and can be housed in a typical classroom (i.e. business, sports medicine, culinary, and digital communication).
- The override will assist in providing additional CTE programs on Cactus Shadows High School’s campus. These programs could include programs such as JROTC, Engineering, Healthcare, and Information Technology.
- The override will assist in providing experiences for students in elementary and middle school to engage in career exploration activities that are aligned with our high school programs creating unified pathways to future careers. These pathways could include programs such as coding, entrepreneurship, multimedia communication and healthcare.
Q: How do I know the money will be spent as indicated?
Arizona law is very specific in how school districts can spend the money they receive. The expenditures of the override will be presented to the Governing Board monthly and audited annually. A citizen oversight committee will be created to review override expenditures.
Q: What does the Wallethub article tell us about CCUSD?
Wallethub Article Arizona School District Data
Wallethub National School District Data
The Cave Creek Unified School District has the highest income per household in the State with the lowest tax rates. This means that we receive less money to spend per student than other districts. The article explains that there is a greater disparity between CCUSD household income levels and expenditures per pupil than any other Arizona district.
- CCUSD receives lower funding per student than neighboring districts (Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Deer Valley) because local CCUSD voters have not supported a budget override since 2007 to increase per pupil funding.
- Homes in the Cave Creek Unified School District enjoy some of the lowest tax rates in the state.
- The State of Arizona ranks around 48th in the nation in providing per pupil funding for education.
- The CCUSD Governing Board voted 5-0 to place a budget override on the November ballot which would decrease the gap between income levels and expenditures per pupil if passed by voters.
Q: How long is an override in effect?
The District’s M&O budget override election provides funding to the District for seven years. This additional funding would start in the 2023‐2024 school year. Voters will be asked to reauthorize the override by the fifth year or the District will receive reduced funding in year six and a further reduction of funding in year seven. After year seven, the override expires and funding is reduced to zero if not reauthorized.
Q: What is a Maintenance and Operations budget override?
An M&O override seeks voter permission to exceed the “revenue control limit”, which is a spending limit set forth in the Arizona Constitution since 1980. This law allows school districts to ask voters for direct funding to supplement budget allocationsfrom the State Legislature. With approximately 85% of the maintenance and operations budget used for staff salaries and related benefit costs for the District’s employees, community support is necessary to offer competitive wages and maintain the excellent programs and services that CCUSD offers beyond the basic state standard.
Q: Do other school districts have a 15% M&O override in place?
There are 55 districts in Maricopa County, 48 districts currently have an M&O override in place. Out of the seven that do not have an override, six of them have under 760 students. Cave Creek Unified School District is the largest district in Maricopa County without an override – currently serving approximately 4,600 students.
Q: What is the difference between a bond and an M&O override?
Bonds allow the district additional funding to use for capital items, such as new buildings, additions to buildings, land, school buses, and renovations to buildings, furniture, equipment and technology.
An override is used for “people and programs.” They fund operational expenses including salaries, benefits, supplies, purchased services, utilities, and insurance. An override allows a district to exceed its budget limit up to 15%.
Q: What happens if the M&O budget override is not approved?
If an override is not approved, the CCUSD will struggle to retain and attract highly qualified teachers and lose staff to surrounding school districts that can offer more competitive salaries. In addition, the District will have to consider the following:
• Closing a school.
• Redrawing attendance boundaries for our schools, which could include repurposing our schools.
• Reducing transportation options.
• Increasing class sizes.
• Increasing student fees.
• Reductions in operation and maintenance services.
• Reducing, adjusting and potentially eliminating student programs.
Q: Many community members donate up to $400 to a school each year to obtain the Arizona tax credit. Why doesn’t the
District just find new ways to get more people to donate?
By statute, tax credit monies must be used for extracurricular support for students. The District could not legally use it for regular expenditures such as new teachers, salaries, benefits, supplies or utilities. Tax credit funding is important for providing those out of school day opportunities for students, but it doesn’t provide more money for the District to spend. Expenditures of tax credit money in the classroom are prohibited by statute.
Q: What is the District’s history of overrides?
The District last passed an override in 2007, which expired in 2014.
Q: How does Arizona fund schools?
Arizona funds its schools based on the number of students and the miles students are transported. It is formula‐based funding and a school District’s budget limit does not increase or decrease if the assessed property value in the District changes. Arizona provides a specific dollar amount per student for maintenance and operational expenses (salaries, benefits, supplies, services, utilities) and for capital (furniture, equipment, technology, vehicles, textbooks, library books, instructional aids).
- Independent Auditors Heinfeld Meech, CPA