Gov Brewer signs SB1263 – Gilbert Public Schools Can Now Dive Into Debt

Hold onto your wallets folks, the AZ legislature just blew the doors off the treasury for Arizona public school districts.  What does signing SB1263 do?  Here’s a few things:

* Classroom Site Fund — sets the amount at $120 per weighted student count and continues the existing supplanting provision for another year
* Continues to allow districts to use the funding formula for full-day kindergarten in the override calculation for FY2012
* Changes the performance pay provisions for superintendents to only salary (was salary and benefits) and amount is now up to 20% (was at least 20%)
* Authorizes districts to have an election to change the list of capital projects and extend the time period to issue bonds from 6 to 10 years
* Increases the bonding capacity for bonds approved prior to April 15, 2011 from 5% to 10% for elementary/high school districts and from 10% to 20% for unified districts
* Allows warrants from the county treasurer to be processed through an electronic payment system
* Allows school districts to maintain and store public records in either an electronic or paper format

Two of the major items were removed from the original bill by the Legislature. One is the provision that allowed districts to exceed the 4% budget balance carry forward limitation in FY2012 and FY2013. The second is the provision that allowed districts to expend unrestricted capital outlay for any capital or operational purpose in FY2012 and FY2013.

School districts not only have seen an increase in their debt ceiling, they are able to extend the time period to issue bonds from 6 to 10 years.  With Gilbert Public Schools current debt service at nearly $300 Million for a overall student body of just over $38,000.  That means Gilbert district citizens are already on the hook for $7,800+ per student.  If this doesn’t sound like a lot of money, just wait.  Calculate the debt service on that principle and you have another $75M on top of that.

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