Seeking voter approval of a $22.5 million bond and an associated budget override increase, the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District has begun a community outreach program to inform its taxpayers about the proposals, which will be on the ballot this fall.
The district hosted the first of four informational forums on Monday evening at Rio Rico High School, giving an audience of 11 people insight into the planned projects for all five schools within the district, and how the bond and override would affect their tax bills.
“I think the big message for tonight is to be educated. We want you to understand what the tax increase, if any, would be, but also what the benefit is to the community because that’s the true outcome,” Superintendent David Verdugo said during the forum.
In addition to the series of forums, he added that the district has already begun other outreach efforts at each individual school site within the district – a factor that he believed played a role in the small turnout for Monday’s meeting.
“We’ve gone to a lot of parent groups already within the district, so they’ve been able to get a lot of the information,” he said, adding that it was important for district leadership to hold the forums to “understand why somebody would oppose it so that we can address that and share with them why we think it’s important to do this for the community.”
He continued that the district will host meetings with other local stakeholders outside of the schools, such as the Board of Realtors and the Tubac Citizens Council, as well as upload information to its social media accounts and official webpage.
The district hopes to use the money from the bond and an override increase from 7 to 9 percent for renovations and expansions that would also be available for the general community to use.
If the bond were to pass, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Schadler said, it would finance proposed renovations at all schools within the district including adding more lighting to athletic fields, repairing roofs, addressing drainage issues and repaving several areas.
The extra revenue would also expand the district by allowing for construction of a new stadium at RRHS, as well as five tennis courts and a swimming pool, among other facilities.
According to a breakdown on a fact sheet provided by the district, 73.2 percent of the funds raised by the bond would go toward school renovations. Another 17.7 percent would be for new facilities, with the rest earmarked for security and technology, “facility improvements” and buses.
The override, Verdugo explained, would help with the increased maintenance and operation expenses that the additional facilities and infrastructure would mean for the district.
“The swimming pool, that’s going to have a cost. Adding lights to fields, that’s going to have an electricity cost,” he said. “Our hope – and again, it’s a need – is that both of them will pass.”
For taxpayers within the SCVUSD, the 20-year bond would mean that the owner of a home assessed at $109,050 would pay an additional $133.38 a year in taxes, according to the district fact sheet. The seven-year override would mean $130.85 per year for the owner of the same home.
“I think a lot of people see there is a need for these things. It also added jobs because we’re going to need lifeguards to work the pools, doing all those things,” Verdugo said.
Parent and lifelong Rio Rico resident Francisco Padilla expressed his support for the district’s efforts to expand and enhance the current facilities.
“This is really for the good of our community. The schools, the district, are the heart of our community,” Padilla said during Monday’s meeting. “I don’t want to speak negatively about other entities, but this is the only way that our community is going to get these enhancements. It’s not going to happen through our local government (or) because somebody decides to give us $20 million.”
None of the attendees at the meeting spoke in opposition to the proposed measures.
Additional informational forums are set to be held on Sept. 16 at the Rio Rico Community Center, Sept. 17 at the Tubac Community Center and Sept. 25 at Calabasas School. All meetings start at 6 p.m.
For more information, see the district's bond and override webpage or call (520) 281-8282.