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Operations | 1010 E. 10th St., Room 96 |  Tucson, AZ 85719 |  (520) 225-4912

Facilities Master Plan and 2017 Bond Election

Tucson Unified School District is committed to improving the facilities at each of the District’s schools in an equitable manner. With this in mind, the District developed a Facilities Master Plan to identify necessary facility repairs and improvements and funding sources. Over eight million square feet of buildings that average 47 years old coupled with cuts in State funding by more than $100 million over the past ten years has left Tucson Unified schools with outdated equipment, leaky roofs, broken heaters, and many more problems. The Facilities Master Plan was developed to identify and prioritize these needs. Implementation of this plan will set the stage for success in this district for years to come.

During the development of the plan, through town halls, focus groups and surveys, the district received suggestions and feedback from a wide range of our community, including teachers, staff, administrators, parents/guardians, students and interested community members. This public process and school-by-school assessments of experts in the field, identified over $500 million in school facility needs. The plan identified a bond as the only viable source of funding for the improvements needed, so focus groups developed bond scenarios to allocate different bond funding amounts to key projects.

Based on this work, the District Governing Board called for a bond election to be held on November 7, 2017.

Facilities Master Plan Information

Facility Master Plan (in PDF)

Facilities Master Plan FAQ

Q1. What is a Facilities Master Plan?
Answer: A Facilities Master Plan can address building maintenance, technology improvements, renovations to enhance curriculum, essentially anything that a school or district might need in regards to facilities. School and community involvement and consensus is built into the Facilities Master Plan process. As the plan is put into effect, all participants are allowed to comment and give suggestions. This, along with regular assessments, will address both current and future educational needs and gives the district the flexibility to adjust to emerging needs.

Q2. How does this plan benefit our community?
Answer: The master plan identifies facility improvements that enhance the learning environment; reduce costs through green building, energy efficiency and maintenance; and increase safety and security for our students adn staff. Besides reducing the annual costs to maintain buildings, costs that detract from classroom needs, these improvements support a curriculum identified in the District's strategic plan which includes high academic standards, project-based learning, technology matched to the workplace, and college and career learning opportunities. In summary, the Facilities Master Plan provides the opportunity for us to:

  • create better learning environments
  • reduce maintenance and energy costs
  • provide teachers with facilities that support them
  • inspire students and parents
  • attract students and teachers
  • improve neighborhoods and the community

Q3. What impact has State budget cuts had on Tucson Unified School District?
Answer: In the past ten years, funding for the Tucson Unified School District has been cut by over $100 million. As in virtually every other school district in the state, this has left our schools with outdated equipment, leaky roofs, broken heaters, and many more problems.

With eight million square feet of buildings, which average 47 years old, Tucson Unified must create a plan for its future. This is where the Facilities Master Plan comes in.

Community Survey (in PDF)

Key Facility Improvements for Buildings and Grounds

With over eight million square feet of buildings that average 46 years old, Tucson Unified School District is faced with considerable needs in maintaining our facilities. Add to this cuts in State funding by roughly $98 million over the past ten years, and the District needs address the needs of schools with outdated equipment, leaky roofs, broken heaters, and many more problems.

Here are some of our more pressing current needs:

  • Roofing - Recoating & Select Replacements - $53M
  • Heating & Cooling - Replace Equipment - $72M
  • Security - Fencing, Burglar Alarm, Front Entry - $23M
  • Special Systems - Fire Alarm, Public Address - $8M
  • Plumbing - Replace Old Fixtures - $2M
  • Doors / Hardware - $12M
  • Playground Equipment- $1M
  • Technology - Power & Access - $7M
  • Transportation - Replace Buses & Improve Facilities - $10M
  • Electrical - Replace Electrical Service Gear & Panels - $2M
  • Track & Field Repairs - $10M

Total = $200 Million

Key Facility Improvements to Enhance Learning

To better support modern curricula and teaching methods most of the learning spaces in Tucson Unified schools need to be upgraded. Key improvements would include improvements to multi-purpose areas, libraries, science and art labs, and the creation of project spaces where students could put what they have learned to use.

The following are estimated general funding categories and amounts based on surveys of one-third of the Tucson Unified schools. During the bond implementation phase, each school would work with a bond team to identify optimum projects for the school.

Elementary Schools

  • Student Space Improvements1 - $23 Million
  • Community Space Improvements2 - $32 Million

Middle / K-8 Schools

  • Student Space Improvements1 - $15 Million
  • Community Space Improvements2 - $13 Million
  • Technology Hub3 - $15 Million
  • Multiuse Outdoor Pavilion4 - $13 Million

High Schools / Alternative Programs

  • Student Space Improvements1 - $10 Million
  • Community Space Improvements2 - $10 Million
  • Technology Hub3 - $12 Million
  • Career & Technical Education5 - $ 7 Million

Total = $150 Million

Notes:

  1. High School lobbies should be addressed relative to restrooms and exhibit space.
  2. New lighting, sound systems, acoustics with updated AV systems and finishes.
  3. Areas for enhanced student access to wireless, printers, wall monitors and student
    social interaction.
  4. Provide shaded outdoor areas for sports and large events
  5. Support transitioning students into the workforce by providing spaces that have up-to-date equipment and technology.
  6. &

Key Technology Improvements to Enhance Learning

Key infrastructure upgrades would be implemented to support STEM curricula and a "one-to-one laptop" initiative including:

  • electrical upgrades for power at the optimum locations
  • replacement of wireless routers for the higher capacities needed to support one-to-one laptops, digital libraries and databases
  • improvements to spaces to provide a better student-technology interface.
  • computer labs and cyber cafes that can be used for on-line testing, video conferencing, professional development and distance learning

Total = $47 Million

What People Are Saying...

Martha P. L. Whitaker, Tucson Unified parent

"The best part of TUSD schools is the fact that they are public schools. My children have, for the most part, had excellent teachers who sincerely care about all students, and are dedicated professionals."

Andrew Gardner, Tucson Unified parent

"TUSD has a lot of facilities, and a lot of complete facilities with cafeterias and libraries and athletic facilities that most charters do not. They can serve as community centers that support students and families in ways that a store front or office park school can't."

Mark S., Tucson Unified parent

"I have been happy with the three TUSD schools my children have attended ST, Dodge, and UHS; but many TUSD schools are in need of help building better communities and better academic environments for student success."

Astrid Cassandra Becerra, Tucson Unified parent

"I am a proud Tucson Unified parent. the district has a long way to go but I have so many things that I appreciate. The teachers who truly love their job, the office staff who are happy to greet you in the mornings, the support staff who are great team players, the principal who is always on top of everything to make sure the school is taken care of. The parent involvement is incredible. Those district officials who are constantly fighting for the best for our students. Some members of the board who never loose focus on what matters and who matters(the students, families and TUSD employees) Last but not least a superintendent who has stood strong in the fight to get TUSD to a better place."

Information on the November 7, 2017 Bond Election

2017 Bond FAQ

Q: Why is Tucson Unified proposing a bond?
A: Our schools are in need of repair and refurbishment. They range from over 100 years old to 7 years old with an average age of 47. Although we strive to maintain these schools to high standards to serve our students, we have faced over $100 million in cuts to State capital funds in the last 8 years and our last bond was approved by voters 13 years ago. With State funding that is about 10% of what is needed for capital improvements and one of the lowest in the nation, it simply isn't possible to maintain our schools at the levels they should be to support the education of our students. Maintenance has been deferred; key building systems are in need of upgrades and replacements; old, inefficient systems drain money from education; and the environment for our students and teachers can be unacceptable.

Q: How did Tucson Unified determine the amount needed for the bond?
A: This bond was recommended by a group of staff, parents and community members who drafted the 2016 Facilities Master Plan. They identified the levels of funding needed and the projects that should be included in various bond amounts. This work was followed by a survey of potential voters in April 2017. Although a $300 million bond was identified as the preferred level of funding in the master plan process, the survey of voters indicated 70% support for the $180 million bond.

Q: Will this bond support student achievement?
A: To prepare for this bond, a group of educators, a school planner and an architect visited all of Tucson Unified's schools and interviewed staff to determine improvements necessary to support education in the 21st century. Their assessments led to $45 million being proposed for Learning Space Improvements and Technology. This is funding that will go directly into classrooms and other spaces to support student achievement. Additionally, monies saved through increased efficiencies and lowered maintenance of new or refurbished building systems can help support our program to move more funding into classrooms.

Q: How does this bond support our community?
A: Parents want to live in areas with quality schools; thus, quality schools improve property values. They are also a focal point of the neighborhood, open for after school activities for students, clubs, churches and neighborhood associations. Students who graduate from effective schools become contributing members of the community, enhancing our economic security.

Q: Why is security and safety a separate line item in the proposed bond?
A: In our surveys of this community, it has been clear that safety of our students is a key concern. So, we undertook an assessment of the security of our schools. That assessment pointed to a need for improved access control, site monitoring, alarm systems and ways to lock down schools in emergencies. The costs of these improvements are enough to warrant their own line item.

Q: How can the community be sure Tucson Unified will use the bond as proposed?
A: By State law, Tucson Unified is required to allocate the bond money in accordance with the Proposed Capital Improvements table in this election packet. For our 2004 bond, to ensure we met all legal requirements and promises made to the voters, Tucson Unified established a committee of citizens to oversee bond expenditures. This committee was key to the success of the 2004 bond; they reviewed every project to recommend specific expenditures to the Governing Board. For this bond, the Governing Board has directed the same level of citizen oversight. In fact, some members from the 2004 Bond Oversight Committee helped to draft this proposed bond.

Q: How much will this cost taxpayers?
A: The bond is paid back by property taxes so the amount each homeowner or business owner will pay depends on the assessed value of their property. Financial experts estimate that this bond will cost homeowners $3.13 per month for each $100,000 of assessed valuation of their home.

Voter Survey

In 2017, between April 24 and April 29, Primary Consultants, LLC, completed a phone survey for the bond with 479 responses from voters in recent elections. The level of response provides a 95% confidence interval of ±5%.

The survey focused on four areas: 1) general attitudes and opinions about the school district and its policies, 2) community opinions towards several bond thresholds ($300 million, $240 million and $180 million), 3) community opinions towards specific uses for bond funds and 4) impacts of pro and con arguments on the vote. Results indicate:

  • There are some negative perceptions of TUSD; regardless, there is good support for public education and a bond in general.
  • In terms of bond amounts, there is marginal (54%) support for a $300M bond; decreasing the bond amount to $240M and then to $180M gains about 7% of the voters at each reduction level. This indicates that the $180 million bond is supported by 70% of the potential voters.
  • In terms of where to spend the bond, security/safety, heating and cooling, student achievement and technology had the most support.
  • Being able to spend more money in the classroom and establishing a citizen committee to oversee the bond create support for the bond to a greater extent than pointing out that State funding has been lacking.
  • All potential arguments against the bond have some negative effect but not for most voters; arguments in favor of the bond have a greater positive effect.
  • Executive Summary of Voter Survey Results (in PDF) - Presented to Governing Board on May 23, 2017
  • Voter Survey Results (in PDF)
  • &

Description of the Bond

Tucson Unified School District is proposing a $180 million dollar bond to ensure that all children in the school district have the opportunity to attend schools that are comfortable, safe and conducive to learning. This bond will support four key areas of public education as shown below.

 

Proposed Capital Improvements

 

Estimated
Costs

Non-Administrative Purposes

Safety and Security

$   30,000,000

School Facility Maintenance

$ 103,000,000

Student Transportation

$     2,000,000

Learning Space Improvements and Technology

$   45,000,000

Subtotal

$ 180,000,000

Administrative Purposes

Administration

$                  0

Subtotal

$                  0

    TOTAL

$ 180,000,000

Security and Safety: Security and safety measures for schools such as access control, cameras, safety improvements to playgrounds, fire alarms, public address systems and secure fencing.

School Facility Maintenance: Many of the schools' air conditioning systems, roofs and mechanical systems have passed their useful life as determined through assessments by the district and validated by outside professional review. This portion of the bond replaces failing systems and completes critical maintenance projects. These improvements will help to provide a positive learning environment for students.

Student Transportation: This funding will replace buses, which are beyond their useful life, to provide efficient, air-conditioned, safe transportation for students.

Learning Space Improvements and Technology: To prepare students for the 21st-century, teaching methods are moving toward project-based collaboration with a strong emphasis on college, career and technical education. This portion of the bond provides for renovated classrooms, labs and common areas, including technology infrastructure (power, wiring, etc.), to support student achievement.

Photo of Learning Space

Planning Information

Photo of new roofsPhoto of Outdoor Learning SpacePhoto of New HVAC System