Just in case you only read the first paragraph, here’s what you need to know. Voters in Prescott Valley and Dewey-Humboldt will have a couple of items at the very end of their ballot that are very important. The Humboldt Unified School District has bond approval and budget override questions that are needed for the benefit of our students and our community. This is not prop 208 but just for local schools and just for what our students need. There is broad support for these items from leaders across the political spectrum and support from the business community including an endorsement from the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce. Please make sure to flip your ballot and vote Yes for the HUSD Bond and Override.
The Humboldt Unified School District is the largest in Yavapai County serving Prescott Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, and the surrounding areas. HUSD serves 5700 students on 10 campuses, is the second-largest employer in the quad-city area, and is a vital part of our community and local economy. HUSD values students above all else, demonstrated by the fact that we spend a higher percentage of our budget in the classroom than 86% of the districts in the state.
HUSD is an efficiently run district in a very precarious financial position. The last Auditor General’s report of AZ School Districts showed 94% of districts in AZ receive more funding than our district does. The reason for that is simple; most districts have the support of local bonds and overrides. HUSD currently has neither. However, there are 2 issues on this year’s ballot that can remedy that.
Learn About the HUSD Bond/Override
The first issue is approval of bond sales in order to raise funds for capital needs on school campuses. The voter informational pamphlet includes what these funds would be spent on. These funds will go to basic needs, including school safety and security, student and teacher technology, replacement of end-of-life buildings, classroom upkeep including carpet and desks and HVAC systems, and roofing where needed. Also, Bradshaw Mountain High School is one of the only high schools in the state without an adequate auditorium. This bond includes the addition of a performing arts facility, which frees up other space for expanded career and technical training on the high school campus.
Districts across the state have had to turn to their local voters to approve capital bonds for basic needs because School Building Renewal funding was eliminated from the state budget in 2009 and has never been reinstated. There has not been any dedicated hard capital funding provided to school districts for 11 years. The capital items in this bond are things that other students in Arizona take for granted and that our students go without. I strongly believe that has to end.
The second issue is approval of a 5% budget override. This additional funding will be used to add Social Workers or Counselors to our school sites and reduce class sizes. The School Counselor’s Association recommends a student to counselor ratio of 250:1, our current ratio is over 1500:1. Passage of this override would let us reach 385:1. Again, this is a critical need that most students in AZ have access to and our students deserve the same.
I often get asked how voters know that the money will actually be used for these purposes. That’s an easy one. By law, the district can only spend the funds on the items listed in the voter information pamphlet and there will be a citizens committee to provide oversight of spending.
I am particularly proud of the broad support that has risen for these ballot questions. Take a look at the letters submitted in favor of the bond and override in the voter pamphlet, you’ll find the voices of students, educators, parents, and conservative politicians urging a Yes vote. It’s also notable that there were no letters submitted against.
Also, it is very significant that these measures were endorsed by the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce, and many other local small business owners. In our community business leaders know that healthy schools, healthy businesses, and a healthy economy all work hand in hand.
These measures are quite affordable, especially given the huge benefit our students would gain from them! The estimated cost for both measures is less than $9/mo for the average homeowner, and will likely be much less as anticipated growth in the area will diffuse the cost.
For all the reasons stated here, and many more, I ask the voters of the Humboldt Unified School District to vote Yes for the bond and Yes for the override. This is a vote for young girls building confidence on a performing arts stage, and young boys building character on the football field. This is a listening ear for a kid with a tough home life, and good-paying jobs right out of high school for the kids who pick a path other than college. More than that, though, this is how we show our young people what it is to be a member of a community that cares about each other.