COOLIDGE — Voters will decide on two bond issues come the November election.
Along with the city of Coolidge, which is asking Coolidge residents to decide on $5 million in bonds that would fund the construction of an aquatic center, the Coolidge Unified School District is asking voters to consider a $21 million bond issue.
Governing Board members unanimously approved calling a special bond election at the regularly scheduled June 12 board meeting. President T.J. Shope and board member Lisa Garrett were absent, however.
The bonds are primarily intended to provide funding for capital improvements the school district would require over the next 10 years.
If approved, the district would only sell bonds based on the need for projects in an effort to keep the secondary tax rate under $1.50, said Alyssa Unger, director of business services.
“I think that we should prioritize keeping our tax rate as low as possible and sell only what we need,” she said. “I would recommend that the first sale that we do, which would take place in 2020, would be for $5 million.”
The current secondary tax rate is estimated to be about $1.10.
The district would have the capacity to sell up to $21 million over time as capital projects and repairs came up.
Last year, the district approved a contract for facilities management and engineering firm McKinstry to conduct a facilities condition assessment for all CUSD buildings currently in operation.
Preliminary findings from the FCA reveal a number of capital projects the district will need to address, such as roofing repairs and replacements on a number of schools sites, the replacement of several air-conditioning units and resurfacing of about 20 percent of the district’s parking lots.
Unger noted that although the district would not replace any air-conditioning units prematurely, some of the units at the district have not been replaced since the 1990s. The total cost to replace those units as they break down is estimated at $4 million.
In addition, the assessment found that the athletic track at Coolidge High School requires a full replacement. Replacement of the track alone would cost about $400,000. Likewise, the tennis courts located at the northern end of the high school campus must also be resurfaced before they can be used — a project that comes with a price tag of $100,000.
In the future, school board members may also have to assess the need for security improvements, such as adding “safety storefronts” to schools like Heartland Ranch Elementary has, replacing security and fire alarms, and upgrading the high school’s security cameras to commercial grade.
Other big ticket items the district would likely need to replace within the next 10 years are aging buses, the rigging at the Coolidge Performing Arts Center and the interiors of several wings at the Coolidge Alternative Program.
Once the school district addresses some of the more pressing capital improvement projects, CUSD administrators and staff would then further assess and prioritize other projects and improvements as needed, Unger said.
The last bonds approved for the district passed in the 2008 election.