MARICOPA — The Maricopa Unified School District board on Wednesday approved sending to voters a $68 million bond issue for the capital needs of the district, despite an on-going disagreement on the amount.
The board members settled on a median number amid a debate between $75 million and $65 million. In a 3-2 vote, the members decided to put on the ballot bonds that would support a new high school and repairs to district schools.
The bond election will take place on Nov. 5.
Vice President Ben Owens first offered a motion to go for $68 million despite his earlier stance on supporting $75 million during the prior week’s meeting. He had spoken to voters and told the other members that most of them would support $75 million. However, with the divide on the amount among the members, he suggested $68 million.
“I would like to encourage the fellow members to meet in the middle,” board member Torri Anderson said.
Total needs of the district have been listed at $140 million, including the new high school and other various capital needs.
The new high school is a top priority on the list, followed by repairs to roofing that Superintendent Tracey Lopeman described as “immediate.” The roof needs are set to be $10 million.
When asked what the district would be able to accomplish with the $68 million bonds and how the high school would look, Lopeman said it would reach the standards of what the district and Maricopa are seeking.
“It is a comprehensive high school. It’s not a mini high school. We know that is what is attractive here in Maricopa,” Lopeman said. “We want the high school to be competitive in terms of what we can do and what we can offer for the kids of Maricopa and the surrounding areas.”
The board members discussed the importance of having an equitable school for all students and families, making sure both high schools have the same amenities and programs. The new high school would be able to accommodate approximately 2,600 students.
A budget override vote to address class size and various programs in the district may take place in 2020 or 2021, seeking to continue what is in place.
Officials believe that in the next five to six years, they will be able to go back for additional capital that is necessary for the existing schools. However, it is difficult to determine the future outlook due to variables such as capacity change.
“Depending on how the variables play out, it could be as long as 10 years,” Lopeman said.
Anderson mentioned that they are always going to have needs due to a growing city and the challenges of maintaining a school district that residents want to attend.
“We’re always going to have to keep going back to the voters,” Anderson said. “This is not a one-time thing. This is a continuous process.”