As local voters filled in the affirmative black oval on their ballots Tuesday, they also started to remove what many residents consider a black mark from the face of Payson education.
Passing with nearly a 3 to 1 margin, 73.2 percent of eligible voters approved the $33.8 million bond that will provide new buildings, repairs and renovations to several Payson public schools. The final numbers: 4,574 "yes" votes and 1,677 "no" votes.
"My heartfelt gratitude to the Payson community for putting our children ahead of any other personal concerns," said Kristi Ford, president of the Payson Kids Count Bond Committee. "This truly was a community effort."
The approved bond will not increase the property tax rate for homeowners, but will extend the life of capital improvement bonds used years ago to build Frontier Elementary School and Wilson Dome. Those older bonds will be paid in full in three years. At that time, payments on the new bond will begin.
Where the money goes
Julia Randall Elementary School will receive more than $20 million in improvements including a new two-story classroom building, enlarged student drop-off and pick-up areas and fencing. While other dilapidated buildings on the JRE campus will be demolished, the original 1935 rock building, the oldest continuously used school building in the state, will be renovated and restored.
Rim Country Middle School will receive about $7.5 million in improvements, which will include enclosed walkways to connect the three academic wings, a new band and choral room and more space for administration, library and a technical lab.
Payson Elementary School will receive about $1 million for site work that includes exterior and interior paint and carpet.
Frontier Elementary School is slated to receive nearly $1.5 million for new roofing and interior acoustical treatments. New and enlarged student drop-off and pick-up areas will also be built at FES.
More than $1 million is designated for Payson High School where artificial turf will be installed on fields and a landscaped student mall will be built.
Why the high school facilities were left out of this latest bond proposal was a frequent question posed to committee members.
"We can't bandage the high school any longer," Ford explained. "That's why the high school has to be its own separate ($31 million) bond issue. "The school board is very aware of the absolute need to address the replacement of the high school," Ford said.