Media briefing paints bleak outcome if school bonds fail
By: Matt Austin
October 11, 2008

While Nov. 4 will mark a significant new chapter in American history with the election of the nation’s next president, South Tempe residents also will have another important duty to fulfill.

They’ll be responsible for making decisions that will sculpt the future of local high-school funding programs.

On Oct. 1, TUHSD Superintendent Steve Adolph, Chief Financial Officer Diane Meulemans and Director of Curriculum Cecilia Johnson met with members of the media to discuss the overrides and bonds that will be up for a vote on the Nov. 4 ballot.

All stressed what they described as the district’s dire need for new funding allocations, citing various detriments that will occur in the event of a failure. These, they said, would include bus transportation problems, poorer technology in an ever-advancing technological society, and overcrowded classes which have proven to be unfavorable in the educational process.

“There are distinct correlations that, as class size goes up, student success goes down,” Johnson said.

The district also faces the problem of being unable to pay back a loan of nearly $12 million authorized by the State Legislature if the bond does not pass.

The loan, which was designed to address Corona del Sol High School’s air-quality issues, must be paid back in ways that district officials say severely limit their ability to do so.

“Basically, we do not have any money to pay the loan back if the bond doesn’t pass,” Muelemans said.

The bond in question is worth $30 million and will be used not only to pay back the loan but to address facility problems at each of the Tempe district’s schools, many of which need several overhauls.

A diverse collection of individuals, including a number of high school students, has become involved in the “Yes! Yes! Yes! Support Our Schools group” that is advocating for passage of three measures up for a vote in November.

“If we are successful in November the number, one reason will be because of them, the students.” Adolph said.

Corona del Sol alumnus Ashley Hansen, now a freshman at Stanford University, was also involved in the group up until her departure for college in September.

“The bond override is really important for the future of our education system because it will increase school funding giving students the best opportunity to succeed in the classroom.” Hansen said.

And, she notes, it will cost the average homeowner less than $5.62 a month.

School officials say they understand that the nation is currently under economical stress and see economic conditions as one of their main competitors in having a successful election.

However, they are urging area voters to consider the magnitude of the issue and the benefits of having a well-regarded high school in their neighborhood.

“We feel strongly, especially in tough times, that investing in our young people is the best investment you can make.” Adolph said.

While school officials will be continuing their efforts to raise awareness about the different issues before voters go to the polls on Nov. 4, they encourage residents to visit for answers to questions or concerns they may have regarding the overrides or bonds.



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