After voters last year approved a bond sale but rejected a parallel budget override measure, the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District is now planning to bring back the failed measure for this November’s general election.
SCVUSD board members voted unanimously at a meeting in June to put the measure on the ballot again, following a recommendation from an override committee comprised of school staff, community members, parents and students.
“It was unanimous that we felt that this was a great time to move forward to help our community, to help our school,” committee chair John Fanning told the governing board, explaining that while more than 20 people participated in committee discussions, only 16 were present for voting.
Last year, SCVUSD asked for voter approval of a $22.5-million bond that would finance renovations at all schools within the district, as well as an associated budget override increase from 7 to 9 percent that would help cover expenses incurred from those renovations. Voters approved the bond measure, but final voting results showed that the budget override was rejected by a 13-vote margin.
At the school board’s June 9 meeting, Fanning summarized the programs and projects that would be impacted without the accompanying maintenance and operations override increase.
For example, the construction of a community pool – which was proposed under the bond measure – will add expenses of nearly $170,000 for general maintenance and the staffing of lifeguards.
Fanning said the override increase would help cover up to six lifeguards and a supervisor, and potentially pool heating equipment for a future swim team at Rio Rico High School.
“The goal here is to not only have that for the schools and for the students in our district to use, but also for our community… ranging from 4 years old up to senior citizens using our pool,” Fanning said, adding that the district would also be adding jobs in the community as they hire locally for those positions.
He added that the maintenance of the new facilities proposed under the bond – which also include a new stadium, tennis courts and a weight room – are expected to total more than $54,000. In addition, SCVUSD also expects to incur nearly $120,000 for other staff positions and management software programs.
The override would also cover the added expenses of installing better lighting at the athletic fields, and
allowing sports teams and community members to make use of those areas after school hours. Those expenses are estimated at more than $32,000.
“I’d love to see our Little League come back to Rio Rico. That’s something that we miss and, with lights, we could make that happen,” Fanning said, adding that it’s currently not possible to make full use of the fields due to poor lighting at night.
Superintendent David Verdugo pointed out that Tubac residents had voiced concerns that the new lighting in the fields might affect the area’s “dark sky” classification. He added that staff was working to ensure that the new lighting would still meet dark sky standards.
“One of the things that I would say about this proposal is it’s not making things equal, but it does add equity for our community. It gives our students, it gives our community access to things that they don’t currently have,” Verdugo said.
The estimated secondary tax rate needed to fund the 9-percent override is $1.20 per $100 of net assessed valuation.
Verdugo added that district administrators would reach out to community members via informational meetings about the proposed override increase.