Thu, Sept. 19

Cottonwood-Oak Creek secures $15M bond
Mingus override rejected by voters

Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union Superintendents Barb U'Ren and Paul Tighe. VVN file photo

Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union Superintendents Barb U'Ren and Paul Tighe. VVN file photo

COTTONWOOD -- Voters followed historical trends for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Tuesday night, approving a $15-million bond question.

The news was not for good for the Mingus Union School District, as voters rejected a capital override.

With 30 out of 30 voting centers reporting Wednesday morning, Cottonwood-Oak Creek's $15-million bond earned 57 percent of the 7,403 votes cast. Mingus' request for a capital override was rejected by 53.99 percent of the 8,536 voters who cast ballots.

COCSD Business Manager David Snyder said property owners will see the bump in their property taxes next fiscal year, but that the district could see funds by spring.

"We'll be getting with a bonding company" he said. "Before the bonds are sold and we actually receive the proceeds for those, in that time we'll be looking at how we want to do our bus and technology purchases."

Construction on some projects could begin by this summer, like replacing windows, doors, and heating and cooling units. The district will also upgrade fire alarms, electrical and communications systems, and repair roofing.

No new construction is planned under the bond, and no plan is in place for the decades-old modular units still in use on campuses.

"We'd be able to do some preliminary work next summer, hopefully we could maybe do some of that surface work, some of the parking lots and things like that," he said.

Superintendent Barbara U'Ren said the district is creating an oversight committee of community volunteers who will keep track of where taxpayers' dollars are being spent.

Some residents have already expressed interest in being involved, U'Ren said.

"We'll put it out there too and see if people are interested," she said.

While COCSD's bond passed with 57 percent of voters in favor, Mingus' capital override was down by about 9 percent at 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

"A capital bond is easier for people to understand, it's bricks and mortar," she said. "They can identify what those facility needs are."

Next steps for Mingus

Voters were asked "Yes, budget increase" or "No, budget increase" for Mingus, phrasing that U'Ren and Superintendent Paul Tighe agreed strikes people differently than a simple bond question.

"We'll continue doing our best with what we don't have," Tighe said. "In that sense, we just won't get what we need."

After numerous presentations and efforts to convince the public of Mingus' needs, from textbooks to desks, Tighe said it's difficult to diagnose why the override failed.

"Traditionally with Arizona elections, bonds pass at a much higher rate than any override," he said. "Some of it is just ballot language."

The one-school district is approaching a transportation crisis. A loan was taken out last summer to purchase five used buses, three of which are currently broken down and one of which cost the district about $20,000 in repairs in late August.

Buses were part of the capital override spending plan at Mingus.

"We certainly went into it cautiously optimistic and hopeful because the legislature's not been helping us with capital needs for some time now," he said. "Without local support, we really have no venue to try to meet those needs, so it's unfortunate for our kids.

"We are very thankful to the over 3,900 voters who supported our override. Many community members worked very hard to try to pass this election question, and we are most appreciative of their efforts. We are disappointed with the outcomes, for our students who will continue to feel the impact of the Legislature's cuts to educational funding. The compound effect of these continued cuts will have an increasingly adverse impact on our ability to provide students with the resources they need to continue to receive a comprehensive, world class education. We are very happy that the COCSD bond election passed. It will greatly help them prepare students for high school and beyond."

Clarkdale-Jerome School Board

The only issue on the ballot for the Clarkdale-Jerome School District was the election of three school board seats. Incumbent Laurie Lozano earned 29.82 percent of the vote as of Tuesday night, the most out of the four candidates.

Becky O'Banion followed with 26.86 percent of the vote, and Dale Williams earned 24.06 percent. Challenger Robert Szmanda finished last in the balloting with 18.93 percent.

Yavapai Colletge Dist. 2

Longtime incumbent Herald Harrington lost his bid for re-election to challenger Deb McCasland. McCasland received 4,816 votes, compared to 3,331 for Harrington.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @ymgonzal and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews deValleyNews

• $11 million in building and system upgrades

• $1.3 million for technology

• $1.8 million for transportation

• $800,000 for district office upgrades

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