School Bond Explained

$33 million bond to be used for school repair, renovation

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It will be up to voters to decide if aging and deteriorating buildings in the Payson Unified School District receive upgrades and face-lifts.

The choice will be made Nov. 7 when taxpayers have the opportunity to vote "yes" or "no" on a $33 million school bond.

The bond, if passed, would not increase property taxes for 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 will be paid in full in three years and payments on a future bond, if passed, would begin at that time.

The Payson School Board, at a July 10 meeting, unanimously passed a resolution ordering the bond election be held.

The recommendation to the board to hold the election came from an advisory committee that had studied district needs for more than six months.

The committee membership roster included former mayor Craig Swartwood, former Lady Longhorn basketball coach and local real estate agent Rory Huff, Flinn scholarship board member Steve Drury, local businesswoman Cari Day and former school board president Kristi Ford.

At the July 10 board meeting, Ford explained to members and the audience exactly what the recommended improvements were.

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.

The architectural team that designed the improvements, Architects Planners and Interiors (ART) of Phoenix, stressed the "Rock Building," which was originally built in 1935, would remain in place due to its historical significance. It will, however, be renovated and then possibly used as a district office and boardroom, museum or parent liaison meeting location.

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.

More than $1 million is designated for Payson High School where artificial turf will be installed on playing fields and a landscaped student mall and plaza will be built.

There will be no improvements done to high school buildings, but the old main building is currently in the midst of a renovation financed by an interest-free Qualified Zone Academy bond loan that Bobette Sylvester, district associate superintendent for business services, acquired in 2004.

Advisory committee member Huff campaigned for a new high school, saying they were most often the focal point of the community and Payson should have one of which it could be proud.

"But, in the $33 million, there wasn't enough for a new (high) school," Huff said.

Payson Elementary will receive about $1 million for site work that includes exterior and interior painting and carpet.

"PES is in about the best shape in the district," superintendent Sue Myers said.

About $1.5 million will be designated for new roofing and interior acoustical treatments at Frontier Elementary School.

Frontier, which is a dome structure much like Wilson Dome, has long suffered from noise pollution.

New and enlarged student drop-off and pick-up areas will also be built at Frontier.

Myers said she was confident voters will approve the bond issue, mostly because it won't increase taxes.

The superintendent also stressed the bond money, if approved by voters, will be used only for capital improvements.

"The election should not be confused with a budget override," she said. "We can't use the money for anything else (but capital improvements)."

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