TUSD proposes multimillion-dollar bond to improve schools across district, public comment period ends tomorrow

Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 10:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - After years of planning and review, the Tucson Unified School District is proposing a $480 million bond to improve all 88 schools across the district. The public comment period for the bond is set to close tomorrow at noon.

The bond aims to update and improve facilities and classrooms all across the district, as well as update and install new security systems to increase safety. Pending the public’s feedback, the TUSD governing board will meet tomorrow and will decide whether or not to move the bond forward.

The bond’s proposal has been in the works since January, with the creation of a bond committee taking a closer look at the needs of the district.

But the proposal’s history goes years back.

School officials have been recording the needs of each school and its cost, and with that information, the committee created a package detailing the needs of each school.

The needs fall into four categories: facility improvements, safety and security, technology, and lastly, transportation.

The bond will only be used for these categories and not be used towards salaries and new positions.

According to a preliminary draft of the bond projects, Rincon/University High School will receive the most funds, reaching almost $16 million, with Tucson High and Sahuaro High close behind.

Dr. Ravi Shah, the president of the TUSD governing board and a parent of children attending TUSD schools, says the bond is an important investment into the local community.

“Every parent with kids in our schools, every teacher and staff member, all of us on the governing board visiting schools in our district, know that our schools really need help,” he said.

Repairs and upgrades to facilities and classrooms will take up most of the bond, with over half of the 480 million being used to repair bathrooms and damaged floors to renovating art and music classrooms.

Safety takes up the next largest chunk of the bond.

Dr. Shah says with the increase in school shootings across the country, more safety infrastructure is desperately needed.

And, if approved, students may see a bit of that bond through new Chromebooks and iPads.

With most of the schools in TUSD being over 50 years old, Shah says the bond is long overdue.

“Since the great recession of 2007 to 2009, the state has underfunded the capital needs of our schools by tens and hundreds of millions of,” Shah said, “a lot of our upgrades in schools haven’t gone through and haven’t happened.”

The public comment period for the bond proposal is still up but will end tomorrow at noon. If approved, the proposal is taken out of the district’s hands and will be managed by the county board of elections for a vote this coming November.

“I’ll be working as an individual over the next few months talking to voters throughout every community here in Tucson,” started Shah, “making sure they understand why passing this bond is such an important thing to do.”

According to Dr. Shah, the average homeowner will pay $126 annually over the next several years if the bond is approved for folks living within the district.

Several attempts were made to contact watchdog organizations on the bond proposal, such as Pima County Republicans and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, on their stance on the bond, but they have yet to respond.

If you want to submit a comment before tomorrow’s deadline, click here.

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