The Peoria Unified School District has tried to get bonds approved by voters during the past few years, and now the district has no more funds coming in from the last voter-approved bond in 2012.
The final funds from the bond have been allocated for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 .
Generally, bonds are used to purchase capital needs or improvements for existing facilities, such as renovating a school or purchasing buses.
In 2012, voters approved a $180 million bond authorization that funded a variety of capital improvements ranging from technology to transportation.
CFO Michelle Myers said there is a general expectation that proceeds from bond sales will be expended within three years of the sale, and there was one final bond sale in July 2019 in the amount of $17.4 million from the 2012 authorization.
The final funds from the 2012 bond will be spent on priority and essential projects during the next year or so to include: roofing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical improvements to district schools as well as parking lot renovations and student transportation vehicles.
Fiscal year 2020 bond funds went to a variety of projects including: HVAC updates at Sundance, Cotton Boll, Sahuaro Ranch, Apache, Marshall Ranch, Paseo Verde, Parkridge, Vistancia and Lake Pleasant elementary schools, as well as athletics gym improvements at Peoria, Ironwood, Centennial and Liberty high schools.
Bonds are loans made to the school district that are used to purchase capital items and/or make capital improvements to existing facilities, such as building or renovating a school or purchasing technology needs.
Most funding for public schools comes from residential secondary property taxes, which is revenue budgeted by the Arizona Legislature. This funding falls short of districts’ day-to-day operational and facility needs, which is why they reach out to residents for bonds and overrides.
Arizona school districts have a history of needing bonds to fill funding gaps where state funding falls short.
The 2012 bond was the last bond authorization approved by district voters. PUSD has experienced a wave of failures at the ballot box since then, including $198 million and $189 million bonds in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
This year, the district placed a proposed $125 million bond on the Nov. 3 ballot that includes $56 million for elementary school upgrades, $23 million for high school upgrades, $25 million for technology, $6 million for transportation and $2 million for district facility upgrades.
The bond also includes $13 million to purchase land for a new high school in the northern part of Peoria.
It is described as a critical needs bond, which does not include new construction.
If the bond is approved, the authorization would be $1.4781 per $100 of limited assessed valuation for a residential homeowner in the district.
Additionally, there is a proposed 13% maintenance and operations override on the November ballot to fund positions and programs. There would be no increase to the tax rate as this would be a continuation of the current override.
The override would provide about $28 million in additional funding annually for the district’s maintenance and operations budget. This includes teacher and staff compensation, all-day kindergarten, athletics and extracurricular activities, physical education, nurses and health services, art, band and chorus, assistant principals, reading and gifted programs.
Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.