Ralph Varela


Pinal County has seen big changes over the past few years, and as one of the fastest growing areas of the state, we’re bound to see many more in the years to come. That includes an influx of families and students to our area, as well as new businesses.

These businesses will need a pipeline of qualified workers, and schools is where we get those. It goes without saying that today’s students are tomorrow’s workers and leaders. It is important to ask ourselves what kind of workers, and jobs, we want in our communities.

Beyond teaching the critical skills of reading, math and more, educators help students to develop life skills. Whether it’s time management, problem-solving or teamwork, these are all traits that will help put our students on a path to long-term success.

This November, Pinal County voters will weigh in on bonds or overrides for seven area school districts. The funds sought will cover everything from new schools to buses to math curriculum. The resources will aid our most valuable asset — our future.

  • Apache Junction Unified School District is seeking a bond issue and an additional assistance override. Priorities for the funds include technology updates, campus security upgrades and new curriculum.
  • Coolidge Unified School District has a bond issue on the ballot to pursue renovated sports facilities, safety upgrades and new buses.
  • Florence Unified School District’s override will fund a school resource officer as well as emotional support counselors. Other priorities include maintaining small class sizes.
  • Maricopa Unified School District’s bond measure is slated to accommodate growing enrollment by providing dollars for a new high school, in addition to security upgrades at existing campuses and new buses.
  • Oracle School District has both a bond issue and maintenance and operations override up for a vote. The district is hoping to use the funds for new buses, security upgrades, updating kitchen equipment and more.
  • Ray Unified School District is hoping to have a maintenance and operations override passed in order to continue offering preschool and full-day kindergarten. The funds would also contribute to maintaining small class sizes and employing music and PE teachers.
  • Santa Cruz Valley Union High School is seeking to continue a 15% budget override that funds many of the elective programs offered.

Passage of the bonds and overrides won’t necessarily mean an increase in taxes, since some are a continuation of previously passed measures. To learn more about how the funds will be used, check your local school district website or the voter informational packets that were mailed to all homes within each district’s boundaries.

These investments by our community will assist youths to grow into the leaders we need for the future. It even helps with economic growth in the near term, since companies that want to relocate here will put a premium on the quality of our schools. A vote for our schools is a vote for our future.


Ralph Varela served as a Casa Grande City Council member for 13 years. He has chaired Casa Grande Elementary School District override efforts in the past. CEO of Pinal Hispanic Council, Varela is active with many other community activities in the region.

Liz Salazar is Expect More Arizona’s community engagement manager for central Arizona. Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to ensure every child receives an excellent education. For more election resources, visit ExpectMoreArizona.org/vote.