The Agua Fria Union High School District

The Agua Fria Union High School District is asking voters to approve a $55 million bond.

Girl Scouts of the United States of America sell cookies, nonprofit agencies hold fundraisers.

Schools ask voters for funding.

West Valley voters will decide on more than a quarter billion in funding. 

The Avondale Elementary and Littleton Elementary school districts are asking for overrides. The Buckeye Elementary, Saddle Mountain Unified, Tolleson Union High School and the Agua Fria Union High School districts seek voter approval for bonds.

The West Valley is far from alone. Voters in nearly half the school districts in Maricopa County will receive ballots asking them to decide on school funding.

“School districts are authorized to issue negotiable bonds for the purpose of acquiring a project or projects,” explained Maricopa County School Superintendent.Steve Watson. Funds are raised by tax increases on properties within the district.

Budget overrides, according to Watson, “occur when voters in a school district adopt a budget in excess of their revenue control limit.” (For more, see Watson’s guest column, p. 14.)

While one is an override and the other a bond, both the Avondale Elementary and Agua Fria Union High School districts are requests to “enhance safety and security.”

The Avondale Elementary override also would use funds to upgrade technology and school facilities.

 Dennis Runyan, superintendent of Agua Fria Union High School District, answered questions but noted “I am not promoting the bond ... I am trying to provide facts for the community as requested.”

He emailed the following summary:

‘We have a number of needs being addressed through this bond request. School safety enhancements including updated campus cameras and fencing along with replacing our key system with a card reading system where feasible. The Agua Fria campus which is pushing 60 years old is currently completing phase one remodeling and this bond would allow that project to be fully completed for the phase two campus renewal and modernization.  

“This bond would also provide us an opportunity to update the transportation facility which is over 40 years old and allow the transportation services to be centrally located. This would not only provide for some replacement buses and modernization the fueling systems but also help balance drivers routes as our district schools’ locations have expanded all the way to Buckeye and Waddell in the West Valley.”

According to the summary, “Our new blended online curriculum academic support services at Coldwater Academy  would have an instructional building for all campuses with individual project needs as outlined in the fact sheet. We surveyed the schools and the community and have tailored the needs through this process. Some items like roofing fixes and chiller replacements are not as visible to the public  but they remain critical to our ability to function and provide safe learning environments.”

The bond would also fund a replacement gymnasium for Goodyear’s Millennium High.

 Millennium is also in need of a replacement gymnasium which was requested to be updated in the previous bond needs in 2010-11 only to be pushed back 10 years to this current cycle based on other instructional priorities and overcrowding at that time,” states the summary.

For more, see the “2019 Bond Fact Sheet” at aguafria.org.

 Mike Shepard, executive director of Support Services for Agua Fria Union High School District, noted the Bond Planning Committee met several times over the winter and spring “to identify district needs and prioritize projects.”

More than 50 students, teachers, staff and parents took part in the committee.

The amounts of the bonds and overrides:

• Agua Fria Union High School District, $55 million.

• Avondale Elementary School District, the lesser of $1.9 million or 10% of the District’s revenue control limit for capital purposes.

• Buckeye Elementary School District, $54 million.

• Littleton Elementary School District, 15% override, $5.1 million.

• Saddle Mountain Unified School District, $47.5 million.

• Tolleson Union High School District, $125 million.