News Ticker

State Bond Tally: $631.3M Possible for Schools and $193.2M for Cities

By Eric Jay Toll for The Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Ten school districts & three cities across the state are asking voters for bond money for capital improvements – and many more are asking for operations and maintenance overrides. The lack of action by the legislature to return funds moved out of the schools’ capital improvement funds to balance the state budget leaves districts hanging. Most school districts received no capital funding in recent history.

Traditionally, capital bonds have been used for long-term capital projects. One of the school districts described the bond as a “mortgage for home improvements.” The crush on school district budgets has been so heavy that a number of districts are using capital funds for short-term purchases—technology, instructional materials, computer devices—that will be obsolete long before the borrowed  funds are repaid. These expenditures are large portions of some capital budgets.

Arizona’s school financing crisis is forcing schools to use money that should be spent on construction and expansion for supplies.

***Note: AZBEX paid subscribers received more detailed information on the projects these bonds fund.  To become a paid subscriber, visit, or call 480-709-4190 today!***

Mesa School District: $230M

Mesa USD Projects Summary (for details, see the October 2nd article)


Building infrastructure Repair and renovation


Technology Infrastructure and equipment


Transportation Facilities and buses


New buildings Westwood and Dobson high schools


Repurposing Mesa Junior High School



Peoria Unified School District: $180M

Peoria USD Projects Description


Building infrastructure Renovate and improve instructional and operational buildings (excluding Old Main), including infrastructure, energy management, renewable energy and security


Technology Connectivity, wireless infrastructure, personal computing devices, projects, data center equipment


Cabling, fiber network


Transportation Fleet Purchase school buses, vans and trucks



Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC): $75M

West-MEC Projects




New campus facilities in Surprise, Buckeye, North and West-Central Phoenix



Furniture, utilities, infrastructure, street improvements


Purchase leased buildings and land

Funds to purchase real estate the district does not own



Existing facility upgrades



Tempe Union High School District: $75M

Tempe UHS Projects Description


Building Infrastructure Replacement, renovation, preventative maintenance, energy conservation and, security and safety


Transportation New buses


Building modifications Instructional improvements and enhancements


Athletic facility improvements and enhancements


Landscaping and grounds improvements


Administration building modifications and improvements



Tempe Elementary School District: $35.1M

Tempe ESD projects

Description Budget


To acquire equipment, infrastructure, software, and accessories meeting technology requirements embedded throughout the curriculum


Textbooks and instructional materials

The District is mandated to implement the new Arizona Common Core Standards. These standards are research-based and were developed to provide a consistent set of language arts and mathematics expectations to prepare all students for college and career options as well as ensure that students remain competitive in a global market.


Equipment replacement

Replace outdated custodial and special needs equipment



Flagstaff Unified School District: $20.8M

Flagstaff USD Projects Description Budget
Building infrastructure Improving school grounds, infrastructure, renovation and upgrade to school buildings; possible new buildings (not specified) $10.6M
Energy efficiency Updated to HVAC and mechanical systems; energy efficiency and alternative energy $4.0M
Transportation Bus and van replacement $1.9M
Safety and security No description $1.9M
Furniture and equipment Supplying school buildings with furniture, equipment, and technology $0.7M


Deer Valley Unified School District: $7.5M

Deer Valley USD has no funding for new buildings or expansions. Two thirds of the money goes to technology and instructional materials.


Higley Unified School District: $4.9M

Higley USD voters are being asked to fund just shy of $5M in capital improvements. No new construction is included in the bond request. Voters already approved spending the money in 2006, but the decline in property values caused by the recession—and the failure of the legislature to enact a bill allowing school districts flexibility in borrowing limits—clipped the district’s ability to spend already-approved monies.


Phoenix Elementary School District: $3.0M

Phoenix Elementary is planning a land purchase, and has allocated $3.0M for the transaction.


Cities Seeking General Obligation Bonds

Tucson Street Improvements: $100M

The City of Tucson has a $100M general obligation bond on the ballot with all of the money dedicated to improving the condition of city streets. $85M is dedicated to major streets, $14M to neighborhood streets and the $1M balance to administrative costs.


Mesa Parks: $70M

A thorough vetting process was used by the city to narrow down the projects presented to voters. There’s something for every park district in the city.

Mesa Parks Projects



iMesa Park Renovation and Enhancement Projects

These projects were generated by residents through the iMesa process.   Residents recognize the need for renovation and enhancement to existing parks.


iMesa New Park Development Projects

These projects were generated by residents through the iMesa process.  Residents suggested a desire to expand park systems and provide additional amenities.


Community Partnership Projects

These projects will be completed in partnership with Mesa Public Schools to convert school properties into parks.


Park Conversion and Improvement Projects

These projects will develop city-owned vacant land into usable park space and meet Federal land exchange requirements due to the redevelopment of Riverview Park.


iMesa Bike and Pedestrian Paths

These projects will provide enhanced connections to neighborhoods, transit, and recreation opportunities.



Tempe: $29.8M

Tempe City Projects Description


Infrastructure Preservation & Renovations

Perform preventative maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation on city buildings; improve municipal infrastructure and facilities


Park Improvements

Acquire, construct and improve park and recreation (including park lakes) infrastructure, equipment and facilities


Police communications

Continue the upgrade of the Police/City Radio System to digital, interoperable capability; utilize improved technology through replacement of existing hardware/software systems; and acquire and improve public safety facilities and equipment



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