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Mon, May 20

PUSD board approves hiring consultant to move forward on possible bond/override

The Prescott Unified School District Governing Board unanimously approved hiring Primary Consultants for a fee not to exceed $21,000 at its meeting Tuesday evening as the board considers whether to hold bond/override elections in November.

"The money for the consultant's fees would not be coming out of M & O or be taken away from paid positions like teachers," Superintendent Dave Smucker said. "It's coming out of lease money of the Dexter School to Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy."

The district has not yet determined an amount of money that could be sought in any possible bond/override, Smucker said.

The district estimates making cuts that could be "over a million dollars" next fiscal year, because of decreased student enrollment and the use of one-time monies last year, Smucker said.

"I feel like we're probably not going to get money other ways other than bond and overrides," said John Mackin, board member. "We need the money, our facilities need the money, and I feel strongly that teachers need money."

A bond advisory committee is discussing facility needs throughout the district, will be visiting schools to determine priorities, and will present their recommendations to the board, while the district's interest -team is developing a plan of action for a possible override, Smucker said.

Board President Maureen Erickson noted that Primary Consultants has successfully helped many districts with bond/override elections.

"When school districts would try it without their help, the bonds and overrides did not pass, but once they were on board they did," Erickson said.

Primary Consultants would do a demographic study of voting habits to determine the feasibility of an election, perform a phone study to gauge the community's funding priorities and the level of support/opposition to a bond/override election, then discuss their findings with the board and superintendent, Smucker said.

Board member Scott Hicks suggested they consider not doing a demographic study, saving the district $4,500. "In every one of (the district studies), it said the demographic research indicates that most voters are not parents and staff, but are longtime community members," Hicks said. "I don't think ours would be any different."

"We know what our demographics are," said Tina Seeley, a board member. "We can say we do not want the services to exceed $21,000, and then talk about what we want to do when we get more information."

Smucker, Erickson and Seeley said they thought the community survey was critical.

"I think bond and override is significant and important enough to do it right, and do it well," Mackin said.

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