Rethink Sale Of School



Regarding Frontier Elementary School (FES) — Originally I thought the sale of the school would be for a further educational use (a private school or Gila Community College expansion), which makes some sense; but to sell it just to get it off the asset roles needs some rethinking.

I understand the school board had some problems with Roy Sandoval, but in his recent Roundup blog he makes a lot of sense and, given his expertise, we should probably give some consideration to his comments.

Yes, we are in a recession and yes, the student population is down, but even with the incompetence regarding the recession coming out of DC, at some point the downward economic pressures caused by an extended recession will lessen and that in combination with the attraction of Payson will create the need for additional elementary classrooms.

Having spent a lot of years in the political world, I understand the attraction of quick-fix cash to get through a difficult moment, but as the old proverb says, “we can be penny wise and pound foolish” and that is exactly the point Roy Sandoval is making. We need to pay attention to the facts that he presents:

1) FES has about $5.5 million in construction cost ... the original build in 1996 plus the renovation done a year before it closed (one might even ask, “did we not know it would be excess when we renovated it?”) and that does not include the field and the well. It served about 400 students.

2) The recent redo of Julia Randall Elementary was about $20 million to serve 500 students.

3) A future school will probably cost upwards of $25 million.

Six or seven years from now, when the school board starts the campaign to do a bond issue to handle the increase and uses the old tried and true arguments that you “can’t let the kids down” or the old reliable “we will need to cut sports without it,” we need to think back to this time and ask “were we penny wise and pound foolish”?

Floyd Robert “Bob” Edwards


roysandoval 3 years, 10 months ago

Thanks Bob. If others have a concern, they should call board members or speak to the Board at the call to the public during a board meeting. The Board president sets the agenda with the Superintendent so if you want it on the agenda, the best way is through the Board President.
Here is the full quote Bob was talking about: My concern is that the original bond to fund FES, the Dome at the high school and an addition to the middle school was 9.9 million dollars. I believe that FES was about half of that. After it was built, they had to upgrade the electric panel. They also upgraded the kitchen. Then they put in in the field and well for irrigation. Later, they put classrooms in the P.E. dome. Finally, the year before they closed it, they took money from the bond that funded the new JRE and the Middle school renovation and added to the parking lot. When you add all this together it's around 5.5 million. Now after 17 years (it opened in 1996) it is for sale for 1.25 million. I think that's about 23% of the cost. It's a bargain for sure. However, only in education with bond tax money can you afford to build something for 5.5 million, maintain it for 17 years and sell it for 23% of the cost. Not counted in this is another 2 million or so that was received via fed. and state funding for amending right of ways for schools etc. I would only add that price tag in JRE was about 20 million. It will hold about 500 or so. I believe FES had around a 400 student capacity. In the event a new elementary school is needed in 5 or 6 years, the price tag will most likely be around 25 million for a 400 student elementary school. This school district would go to bond for this money. As well, by that time, the chances are that many aging buildings at the high school will need fixing as well. Is this a good use of taxpayer money? Will it ingratiate the public to pass another bond, or a budget override they will be asking for in two years - or will it alienate an already strapped public? Now, I realize there are some that might dismiss my apprehensions as leftover "bad blood" from the debacle three years ago. However, many will realize these numbers are real - from the last bond all the way to the projected cost of a new elementary in five to six years.


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