By Joshua Babb
Fellow Maricopa residents, we are in another election season, and MUSD is asking again for more funding. As you recall, MUSD currently has one override and one bond that we are paying on.
They are back now, asking for additional funding in the form of a bond. I am not against proper education funding. However, I want to urge each of you to vote no on proposition 437. Let me explain why I believe this bond is a bad deal for MUSD and Maricopa.
According to MUSD and the Yes for Maricopa Schools PAC, this bond for $68 million is twofold; $48 million to build a new high school and $20 million to other projects such as HVAC, buses, security, etc.
Need for a new high school
First, I want to address the need for a new high school. There is no doubt there is a need for a new high school in Maricopa. However, what is in question is what kind of facility is needed. MUSD hired a consultant company to analyze their growth rate, and the company recommended MUSD proceed with a starter school. This would be a smaller facility and be designed in such a way that could be added onto and grow as the student population grew within Maricopa. The school board rejected this proposal and wanted to build a full-out high school that would not be filled for years to come.
Second, what is also essential for voters to understand is that the state education board has approved funding of $22.3 for this project and 40 acres of land for the new high school. MUSD’s own estimates for the starter schools indicates it would have been 125,000 square feet at $179.69 per square foot, putting the starter school cost at $22,461,250. Just above what the state is providing. So the question at hand is, why do we need a full-size high school right now? And why ask the voters for more money when the state provided what is needed for a new school?
The other $20 million
MUSD indicates that after state funding, there could be as much as $20 million left over after the construction of a new high school. MUSD has indicated that they want to use this funding to repair HVACs, roofs, etc. and getting new buses. They should be budgeting for these items through a typical year. Does it make financial sense to fund these short-term items on a bond that we will be paying down for 28 years? Would you put a car repair on a 28-year loan? No.
Yes for Maricopa Schools PAC
This PAC is pushing for proposition 437. I find it interesting that this PAC is funded by mostly those outside of Maricopa. Major donors include contractors, consultants, businesses and out-of-state individuals. Let’s not let those who don’t live in Maricopa drive how much we are paying on our taxes. Those that are interested in learning more I recommend going to http://www.pinalesa.org
MUSD thinks we as voters should willingly increase our tax burden year after year. If you listen to the school board meeting where they voted to approve this bond measure, the only reason two voted against it was they wanted the bond to be a larger amount. Furthermore, your MUSD board members said in that very same meeting they intend on coming back and asking the voters for more in the coming years. Keep that in mind as you vote this year and next year when there are four school board positions up for reelection.
Joshua Babb is a business architect and a member of the City of Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission.