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Fri, Feb. 21

PUSD board votes against bond election

By SHARI LOPATIN

The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Prescott residents will not have to worry about approving a $60 million to $80 million bond for a new high school, at least for the remainder of 2007.

The Prescott Unified School District Governing Board voted Tuesday night against calling a special bond election; however, members clarified they would prefer to postpone the bond until 2008.

"My feeling is we're not in the position to hold a bond issue in 2007. I think we first need to get the land," said Board Member Joan Fleming, who acted as the board president in Steve Campbell's absence.

For the past few weeks, board members and district representatives have debated possible locations to build a new, state-of-the-art high school and the new 400-student high school the state approved on June 7.

PUSD Superintendent Kevin Kapp said the Bureau of Land Management owns the majority of property at Pioneer Park. Yavapai County and the City of Prescott lease most of that land for free.

Kapp said city and county representatives told him they would be open to relinquishing their land to the BLM, thus freeing up space for PUSD to build its schools. If PUSD can lease land from BLM at Pioneer Park, Kapp said it would be free.

However, the board does not know if this will be definitive right now. Board Member Tom Staley said if PUSD cannot lease from BLM, the district either will have to buy land or pay to lease land from another entity, which forces the district to include that price in the bond.

"I think I said right from the start, it would be too quick to do a bond this year," Board Member Dee Navarro said. "I also really think we need more public input. That's paramount."

Navarro said the district needs to be financially responsible with its spending.

All together, board members agreed they still want to call a bond election to build a new high school large enough to accommodate the full student population at Prescott High School. However, they said they do not have enough information about the location and land issues to make a decision on an amount for the November 2007 ballot.

"I think we need to see something more concrete than we have now to run a bond election," Board Member Andy Newton said.

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