Sat, Sept. 21

Cottonwood-Oak Creek $18 million bond survey returns 9 parent responses

COTTONWOOD -- Out of the more than 500 surveys sent to Cottonwood-Oak Creek district parents soliciting input on a possible bond override election, nine returned responses.

Of those nine, superintendent Barbara U'Ren said they were positive, and noted that a lack of response is likely because parents are satisfied by the level of education children are receiving.

"Most of those who responded would vote yes, and most were registered voters," she said.

About 80 other responses came mostly from district staff, with members of the community making up the remainder of the survey's respondents. Roughly 75 percent of the total agreed that they would vote in favor of a bond override if it were on the November ballot.

The hypothetical question asked if respondents would support an $18 million bond that would cost about $5 monthly per $100,000 in property valuation.

One "yes" response said, "The schools are a vital part of this community and they need this attention," while a "no" response said, "$60 a year is a lot to raise your property taxes. Too much."

A study session was scheduled before the June board meeting to explore the in-depth needs of each school, and establish a plan for informing the public.

Business manager David Snyder said the district is also seeking input from staff and an architectural firm, steps that U'Ren said will give board members a clearer picture.

"For us to get complete details and cost analysis can't happen until the architect comes back and says, this is the big picture from what Sodexo has given us and put it into a workable format," she said.

COCSD formed its exploratory committee after a Sodexo facilities report indicated the school needed about $18 million in upgrades to maintain safety and minimize long-term repair costs.

"We're seeing more things going wrong and greater expenses form going back and fixing things," U'Ren said.

Unlike an override, a capital bond would allow the district to issue and sell general obligation bonds. A $15-million capital bond would come with 5.5 percent interest over 20 years and cost taxpayers roughly an additional $4.50 monthly per $111,000 property valuation.

Buses to replace the district's aging fleet and HVAC units needed at almost every building would be covered by the bond revenue. The full list of needs at each facility can be found in Tuesday night's board meeting documents, found on the district website.

The district would need to make a final ballot question decision by Aug. 6, with pro and con statements due Aug. 8 and ballot language due to the Arizona Legislative Council by Aug. 11.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @ymgonzal and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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