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Education

Yuma County Voters To Decide On YUHSD Bonds

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Yuma-Yuma county voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide on two bond issues for the Yuma Union High School District.

The bonds seem to be widely supported in the community.

The “tin gym” is one of the buildings that would be replaced if voters approve a $79.5 million dollar bond. One of the two bonds voters are being asked to support in elections Tuesday.

YUHSD Superintendent Toni Badone says the tin gym is impossible to air condition with swamp coolers during Yuma’s warm summer and early fall.

The insulation on the structure is falling apart and there are wires visible along the walls.

"It's just not that it's not pretty. It's simply not efficient," Badone said.

Since the state eliminated building renewal funds and reduced the district’s budget for educational facilities needs by $22 million dollars over the last five years, the local district is requesting bonds to improve schools in the district.

Voters will decide on two questions on the ballot.

First they’ll choose whether or not to approve the sale of a $79.5 million dollar bond that will repair, renovate, maintain and build school buildings.

The bond includes technology network infrastructure improvements, updated intercom and fire alarm safety, and improved access control system; like doors and locks.

All area high schools would get these upgrades.

"This is a project that have to do with safety, security and making sure we have hospitable technology for all of our customers here on our campuses," Badone said.

The second questions asks voters to allow the district to sell two separate properties where Vista High School, an alternative school is currently located. 

"The Vista students would have the advantages of a school resources officer very close by Kofa," she said. We would have the advantages of consolidated custodial grounds. Right now those two services for those two properties are in excess of what we could be spending."

District officials said the bonds are structured in a way so the secondary tax rate will have a net decrease from the current rate.

"If you have a $100,000 house lets say that's the assessed value, not the market value, then your tax bill this year currently will be $62 for the year," she said. "This coming year if the bond passes, it'll go down $56 annually, that's even less. That's probably the lowest secondary tax rate YUHSD has had in the last 30 years."

The bond election informational pamphlet sent to voters contained numerous letters of support by local education and business leaders.

State senator Lynne Pancrazi and state representatives Charlene Fernandez and Lisa Otondo praised the plan as benefiting everyone during a time when state funding is being reduced.

In his letter of support, Hunter Employment President Thomas Kiley says voters must make sure school facilities, equipment and technology are up to date so they can compliment the new career and technical education programs in Yuma county.

Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Julie Engel calls the approval of the two bonds a “wise investment” because it will reduce future costs.

There were no arguments submitted against the two bonds.

But other parts of the state face organized opposition to bond proposals in their communities.

The republican party of Maricopa county is against all 28 school bond initiatives in the county.

In a statement, Maricopa county chairman Tyler Bowyer says it is unacceptable that districts continue to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on bloated administrator salaries, pet projects and necessary infrastructure while simultaneously complain they are strapped for cash.

But Yuma county republican chairman Jonathan lines supports the bonds. Lines sees them as a great way to help support education for Yuma students.

Election day is Tuesday. For more information about voting, call Yuma county election services or visit the Yuma county website.