Seeking funding to make long-delayed school infrastructure and equipment improvements, the Ray Unified School District (RUSD) will ask voters for approval to issue bonds up to $3 million total in November. If approved, homeowners could see their property taxes increase by up to $0.615 per $100 assessed valuation, or $49.20 a year on an $80,000 home.
“RUSD has so many needs that we need to address, which is why we are seeking the bond issue,” said Superintendent Curt Cook. “Many of these needs we have postponed addressing due to the decline of capital funding from the state.”
A major need is for funding to expand technical and vocational education at the high school, which voters approved last year. New courses planned by RUSD will cover welding, carpentry, web development and cosmetology.
Among other needs cited by Cook include new buses and vans to get students to class, and new security cameras. The sidewalks and parking lots on school property need repaving, and netting at the elementary school, shredded by recent monsoons, needs to be replaced so students can have lunch outside. RUSD also needs to update its computer equipment (some up to seven years old) used by students, especially with Arizona putting increased emphasis on online testing.
“The last time voters approved a RUSD bond issue was in 2001. Some of those funds were used to build a track for competitive track and field events. But so much time as elapsed that the track now needs to be replaced,” Cook said.
“I’m sure residents of the district know that RUSD has been conservative with funding over the years and that we have stretched the budget and done more with less revenue than most other districts. But the need to upgrade is overdue,” he added.
To inform voters of the issues involved with the bonding request, the Pinal County School Superintendent’s Office is preparing an informational pamphlet that will be mailed to households throughout the district. Persons wishing to submit an argument “for” or “against” the bond issue are asked to send them before August 18 Pinal County School Superintendents Office, 75 N. Bailey St, Florence, AZ 85132.
After this pamphlet is mailed, RUSD plans to hold a forum where citizens can learn more about what the district can use the additional revenue, and to help prioritize the projects. The date of the forum is not yet set.
The special bond issue election is set for Tuesday, November 7. All voting will be by mail with no polling places accepting ballots.
A Little District History
In 2014, voters in the Ray Unified School District approved a $330,000 budget override. Taxpayers saw no change to their tax bills with its approval. The measure garnered 643 yes votes to 307 no votes.
In 2016, voters approved the district’s membership in the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology (Joint Technological Education District) 914 (yes) to 360 (no). Property taxes received only a minimal increase (5-13¢ for the entire year).