Sun, July 21

Sedona voters pass school bond, overrides

The Sedona Unified School District beat the odds in a struggling economy Tuesday. Voters approved three money issues for the districts at the same time that most school district voters across the state and Yavapai County were turning-down bonds and budget override questions.

School Superintendent Dr. Kim Randall said Thursday, "we had good information that the majority of the community was behind it."

Sedona voters approved bonds worth $73.4 million for new district construction and renewed two existing budget override measures. The bond measure was the most popular.

Voters approved the bonds by a 63 percent margin. A 10 percent budget override that applies to K-12 grades was approved by 56 percent of voters. Almost 59 percent of voters approved an additional 5 percent budget override question that applies only to kindergarten through 3rd grade.

The bonds will add 10 new classrooms at the high school, complete the athletic facilities and expand the high school auditorium seating from 250 to a capacity of 750.

The oldest facility, West Sedona School will also have a major upgrade. The aging primary school buildings, built by the Cottonwood Oak Creek District, will be demolished and re-built. Some of those buildings, according to Randall were once portable classrooms that were stuccoed-over.

The Big Park School will see some added classroom space, the gym will be redone and storage and stage area updated.

The override questions renewed prior approvals to keep class sizes small at 25 students/class in upper grades and 20 students / class in lower grades.

The popularity of the bond measure may have been partly due to the auditorium size expansion at the high school. That facility represents one of the few performing stages in the city now that the Sedona Cultural Park is dormant.

Randall says 10 percent of the bond money will go toward "green" energy issues. The district will install solar panels, waterless toilets and "turfing" to reduce water use.

All new classrooms will be built to "high tech international" standards to meet whatever educational and technology demands are looming in the future.

The approval may also have been due to the fact that tax rates "will not increase but actually go down" from prior years, Randall says. Two lingering bond measures Sedona taxpayers continued to pay for construction in the Flagstaff School District have now been paid off. The district also retired its own bond debt that built the Red Rock High School, Big Park Elementary and expanded the West Sedona School.

The secondary tax rate for the district will be $ 0.53/$100 in assessed valuation for 15 years.

Some 42 percent of the district's 10,645 registered voters cast ballots.