Bond Election Information

Amazon is coming. Raytheon and the Tech Park are expanding. Home development is booming. The Vail area is growing. In response to that growth, the VUSD Governing Board has called for a $61.3 million bond election.

High schools in the Vail School District are currently over capacity. K-8 schools are close to capacity. Growth is continuing. Projections indicate that Vail schools will be 2,400 students over capacity within the next five years.

The bond package that the Governing Board approved on Tuesday evening includes funding for a new high school and a new K-8 school. It also includes funding for technology, health and safety items, and transportation needs.

A 45-member Bond Committee, made up of community members, parents, and staff, met for six months to research district needs and develop a list of possible bond projects. The group’s initial list of important capital needs included over $98.9 million in projects.

The Bond Committee studied each project, and gathered input from the District’s 20 school site councils, as well as community leaders. The committee prioritized the list and submitted their recommendation to the Vail Governing Board. After further review and study, the Board approved the $61.3 million package — about $38 million smaller than the original list.

Calvin Baker, Superintendent of the Vail Unified School District stated, “Growth is standard procedure in Vail. I am greatly appreciative of the fact that for over 20 years, the community has supported bond requests and held us accountable for the expenditures.”

Click here for a PDF version of Bond Projects and here for the Bond Project Descriptions.

The cost of this bond package is estimated to be $6.20 per month for each $100,000 of  home value in Vail. The Bond Election will be held on November 6, 2018.

Proposed Bond Project Charts

Bond Information

What is a bond?

A bond is a way for a community to invest in capital projects needed by their local school district. It must be approved by voters and is repaid over time.

What is the difference between a bond and an override?

An override provides money for the regular operations budget — mostly people. A bond provides money for the capital budget — things like buildings and buses.

Why is Vail considering calling for a bond?

  • The economy is improving, and the Vail area is growing. Existing school facilities and district resources are not able to support the growth. Schools are out of space.
  • Due to the 2008 recession, VUSD’s state capital funding was cut by 87%. Many needs have developed in the last ten years that have not been able to be addressed. There is a backlog of needs in the areas of health and safety, technology, and transportation. As 4/5 of state capital funding has yet to be restored, many needs exist that cannot be funded through state capital funding.

For what would bond funds be used?

Please see list above. Click here for more complete descriptions.

How was the “needs” list developed?

  • A large group of community members got together. They spent months gathering information and looking at options to address enrollment growth and existing school space. The committee agreed that the best path forward is the first phase of a large comprehensive high school.
  • A second group of community members formed a group to look capital needs across the district. They researched needs, toured facilities, discussed validity of needs, explored other options – and developed a list of recommended projects and the cost associated with each

What is the cost to homeowners?

The cost of this bond package is estimated to be $6.20 per month for each $100,000 of home value in Vail.

Shouldn't these things be funded by the State?

Yes, but when the Great Recession cut Arizona’s revenue from $12 billion to $6 billion, education funding was drastically cut. The decade of significant underfunding and growth in the Vail area has caused many needs to develop that have not been able to be addressed. Many of these cuts have not been fully restored, and many others have not been restored at all. If local taxpayers do not assist with funding, new schools will not be built. If no facilities are built, schools will be significantly overcrowded… more so than currently. The District was most fortunate — after significant lobbying on our part — to get a major portion of the last allocation the State made for new schools. VUSD has received $22 million from the School Facilities Board for the new high school, however the actual cost is $57,000,000.

VUSD Performance Facts

  • Vail is an A rated district and is consistently rated one of the top districts in Arizona.
  • Graduation Rate of 96%
  • 15 Vail schools (all eligible) have been recognized as A+ Schools.
  • Vail Seniors were offered over $11 million in college scholarships last year.
  • Last year 165 high school juniors and seniors earned college credits.
  • Vail’s 2017-18 AzMERIT scores were 57% higher than the state average.
  • Vail has 34 Career and Technical Education programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a $61 million bond solve the District’s capital needs?

Unfortunately not. $61 million is not enough to meet many important needs in the District. However it will cover the most pressing and significant needs.

Why have so many capital purchases been delayed?

When the recession hit around 2008, the State reduced per student funding by over 20%. Additionally, almost all funding for capital expenditures — including all building renewal (major maintenance) was cut. Like many others, the District “tightened belts” and avoided buying anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Most of that funding has not been restored. Meanwhile the needs have continued to build up.

Shouldn't the people moving to the area pay for the new school?

Yes, that would be the logical solution. However, the total tax revenue generated from new homes does not approach building costs.

New Home Tax Revenue

What has the District been doing to seek additional grants or other revenue?

The District has been awarded a number of grants. However, most of them have been comparatively small and focused on specific projects. It is virtually impossible to even find (let alone win) a grant that builds school facilities or pays for regular teachers. The District has successfully obtained some additional revenue by selling services created by the District’s staff. Over 100 school districts and charters are now paying the District for access to Beyond Textbooks. The District is also selling other services to school districts. Those services include: student data management and uploading as well as distance learning programs. It is important to note, however, that most of the revenue referenced above goes to covering costs. School districts are not — by nature or legal definition — a profit center. Public schools are designed to be funded… by the public.

Why doesn’t the District stop accepting open enrollment students?

The District does not accept open enrollment students at the high school level. We also turn away most K-8 open enrollment students. We currently do accept some. As new K-8 students move into the district we will “turn off the valve” of open enrollment students. This is expected to happen in the next few years.

A school district operates under similar efficiency principles as businesses. Just like the airlines, we are most efficient when every seat is full. Unlike the airlines however, we don’t have to “sell” the last few seats at a discount. We receive the same funding from the State for open enrollment students as resident students. The additional income generated from these students makes it possible for the District to retain highly valued programs that would otherwise have to be cut. Schools that are filled with students who live in the District do not accept new open enrollment students.

What will happen if there is no bond election or a bond election fails?

School Districts must legally accept every student who lives in their attendance boundaries. As new homes are built, and new students move into the district, schools will get more and more overcrowded.

Capital expenditures that absolutely must be made (i.e., replacing a broken air conditioner or replacing a transmission on an old bus) will be made from the operations budget. About 85% of the operations budget is people. Most of the remaining 15% is made up of expenses that simply must be paid (i.e., utilities, insurance, etc.). Bottom line: classroom spending will be affected.

Governing Board contacts

Community members are invited to provide input to board members before they vote on June 26. Emails sent to comments@vailschooldistrict. org will be distributed to all members of the board: Jon Aitken, Claudia Anderson, Allison Pratt, Mark Tate, and Callie Tippett.