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CCUSD seeking voter approval on two bonds

Tara Alatorre~ 10/29/2014

CAVE CREEK – On the upcoming ballot this November, Cave Creek United School District citizens will be asked to decide whether or not to approve two school bonds for the CCUSD aimed at covering the costs necessary for maintaining and updating aging schools in the district.

One of the bonds on the ballot is a repurpose bond, which asks voters to approve the reallocation of bond funds already passed and collected resulting in no tax increase. The second bond is asking for new funds to cover critical projects for CCUSD and would raise property taxes.

The repurpose bond on the upcoming ballot was first approved by voters in 2000, with over $10 million of funds available from the bonds issued.  However, its original purpose was only for building new schools because CCUSD was experiencing double-digit growth then, but the growth halted, as well as state funding in 2008 with the recession, said CCUSD Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick in a phone interview.

Repurposing the bond would allow CCUSD to have access to the $10.2 million available in bond funds for critical repairs in aging schools without raising property taxes. The main priorities would be replacement of failing air conditioning units, replacing and repairing leaking roofs, and installing intercoms, security systems, and fire alarms.

Superintendent Burdick says the newest school in the district is 10 years old, with schools going back to 1982, and CCUSD is experiencing major failures with its infrastructure.

“We have many needs the state is not providing,” said Burdick about the bonds.  “There is $10 million in the state treasury; otherwise, the money will just sit there.”

The second bond on the ballot will ask voters to increase their property taxes $0.12 per $100 of assessed valuation so CCUSD can fund capital improvements for the next six to seven years, including replacing the bus fleet, according to the CCUSD Web site.

CCUSD has not asked for a bond since 2000 and is asking voters to approve approximately $30 million, which would complete a wide range of projects, aimed at increasing energy efficiency in an effort to attain cost savings for all schools in the district.

The new bond will also pay for a new fleet of school buses. The average age of the buses in the district is 15 years old, and, if passed, the new bond would replace all buses older than 15 years with new buses that have air conditioning and under-storage, says Burdick.

None of the bond money being requested by CCUSD will go to salaries for teachers, and Richard Doabek, a Cave Creek citizen, voiced his concern about retaining teachers at a public bond forum held last Tuesday in Cave Creek.

“If I had a choice between painting walls and keeping teachers…well, you get what you pay for,” said Doabek to the CCUSD School Board during the almost empty public meeting.
                   
But, Superintendent Burdick says that if the bonds do not pass, then it could potentially impact school programs in the future.

“If we had a total AC or roof failure, we would have to use money from another pot, and it could impact programs,” said Burdick about what could happen if the bond initiative fails. “We would continue to Band-Aid everything.”