Aye or nay?

The public has until Aug. 19 to submit their statements for or against the Oracle School District’s pursuit of a $13 million bond.

The Pinal County School Superintendent’s office is in the process of compiling an information pamphlet that will be mailed to registered voters living within the school district.

Pro and con statements can be sent to P.O. Box 769, or 75 N. Bailey St., Florence AZ 85132.

All statements must be submitted by the Aug. 19 deadline. The last day to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 10.

The district will be asking voters to approve the $13 million bond in the Nov. 8 General Election to bring aging buildings up to current code.

The estimated average tax rate for the proposed bond authorization is 46 cents per $100 of the assessed valuation of a property.

The Oracle School District serves about 480 students between kindergarten and eighth grade.

Todd Kissick, superintendent of the Oracle School District, said many of the district’s facilities were built between the 1930s and 1950s. He said the board approved the bond with intentions to improve the current facilities. The board will not be building a brand new district.

Fred MacKenzie, chairman of the Pinal County Citizens for Excellence in Government, said his organization feels Oracle School District Governing Board members waited too long to inform the public about their intentions.

MacKenzie said he asked the governing board to hold off the June 29 vote to send the issue to an election, which would allow more time for public comment.

MacKenzie argues that building conditions are not caused by aging; he attributed the conditions to poor maintenance.

“The district has been routinely diverting money from their maintenance budget over the past 20 years, and now that there is an open enrollment policy in effect and the students can go to any school that has room for them,” MacKenzie said in an email to The Explorer. “They want to upgrade the physical condition of their physical plant.”

Kissick said improving facilities also will allow the district to address problems with class sizes. The current facilities are too small for a class of 35 eighth graders, he said.

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