Only about a tenth of Morenci school district voters went to the polls May 6, but their choice was obvious. The board’s bond proposal was overwhelmingly approved, 271-51.
Voters supported a request to leave the existing millage rate from the middle school construction project at its current level for five years rather than allowing it to begin a scheduled reduction.
The move will bring in a $1.4 million for maintenance needs at the elementary and high school, along with other facility needs such as rebuilding the deteriorating running track.
The owner of a $100,000 home would have saved an average of $40 a year had the proposal failed.
Morenci Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith was surprised by the margin of victory and very pleased with voters’ support.
“A lot of key people were behind the successful campaign,” he said. “The ‘Vote Yes’ committee put their names out there and did a lot of work. Adam [Johnson] and Joe [Farquhar] went out and talked to groups. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work and I’m incredibly thankful for their efforts.”
The bottom line, he said, rests on the support of district residents.
“Traditionally, Morenci is very supportive of school issues. Once again, they supported us even in these economic times.”
Board of education members were cautious at first, Griffith said, wondering if this was a good time to seek approval of a bond measure, but they realized that costs will only increase if the maintenance work is delayed.
Griffith praised the board’s decision to refinance the middle school bond debt in 2005 after director of finances Erica Metcalf pointed out the financial advantages. That decision paved the way to the vote last week.
Griffith said there are three steps to take before work can begin—authorization to issue bonds, putting bonds out for sale and closing the sale—but he was told by the district’s construction management firm that projects should get underway this summer.
Griffith hopes that work such as floor tile replacement in the elementary school can be completed before classes begin in August.
Voters also approved the annual request for the 18-mill non-homestead operating millage, 281-36. Incumbent board members Carrie Dillon and Gary Ries were returned to office unopposed. Dillon received 271 votes and Ries was given 263.