School Board Asked To Pass Bond

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Aging and deteriorating Julia Randall Elementary -- which was first built in 1935 -- might soon be replaced by a modern building.

The first stride toward a new facility was taken yesterday afternoon, Thursday, during a meeting of 25 members of an advisory board that has been studying a possible bond election and ways to upgrade buildings on the district's five school campuses.

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Payson High School principal Roy Sandoval examines damage to the school. PHS will need repair, but Payson's elementary schools are more in need of replacement or reconstruction.

At the meeting, the members agreed to ask the school board -- at a July 10 meeting -- to pass a resolution ordering a $33 million bond election be held Nov. 7.

The bond, if passed by the school board and later by voters, would not increase property taxes on homeowners but would extend the life of capital improvement bonds that were used years ago to build Frontier Elementary School and Wilson Dome.

Those bonds are about to be paid in full.

In coming to the conclusion that a bond vote was needed to improve school buildings, the advisory board spent several months studying and visiting each of the district schools.

The decision of the board was that one of the most pressing needs was to build an entirely new JRE to replace the group of tiring buildings that now exist.

Bond board member Rory Huff was hoping a new high school could also be built, but that would be cost prohibitive.

"A high school is kind of the focal point of the community and I was hoping, for one, we could all have pride in it, but (the money) is just not there right now," he said.

The "old main" building at Payson High School is currently undergoing a $1,654,338 facelift that will include a new roof, improved heating and air conditioning, construction of a centrally located reception area, updating three science classrooms and new offices to house administrators, their secretaries and the school resource officer.

The bond advisory board did set a goal of remodeling Rim Country Middle School by adding an office and library and improving parking and student pick-up lots.

With RCMS's growth from two to five buildings in the past decade, those lots have become safety concerns. Each weekday after school, the lots are congested with cars driven by parents there to pick up their children.

"We want to alleviate those traffic problems," said Payson Unified School District superintendent Sue Myers.

The bond committee will also recommend the Frontier Elementary School dome, where excessive noise has been a problem since the unique structures went up, receive sound improvements.

Also, storage buildings at Frontier would be built and bus and parking lots redesigned to allow better and safer access.

Payson Elementary is in the best shape of all the schools, but still needs new carpet, paint and parking lot improvements, Myers said.

At PHS, proposed improvements include one parking lot for all students, artificial turf athletic fields, security cameras and re-keyed locks on all buildings.

Both Myers and Huff said they remain confident a bond issue, if passed by the school board, would also be approved by local voters partly because it wouldn't increase taxes.

Myers stressed that the proposed election would be for bonds only and the money would be used only for capital improvements.

"It is not a (budget) override election," she said.

-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail mfoster@payson.com.

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