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Voters to decide West-MEC's $141M bond

October 25, 2016
Cecilia Chan

Dental, health and construction are just some of the programs that would benefit under a $141 million West-MEC bond on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The funds would pay for more buildings, equipment upgrades and land for the public school district, which offers hands-on career technical programs to more than 20,000 students from 12 member school districts, including Dysart, Peoria and Deer Valley.

"It is important for voters to approve this bond because it gives West-MEC the ability to continue the good work of providing quality CTE programs in the West Valley," said Greg Donovan, superintendent of Western Maricopa Education Center District. "Additionally programs like the ones we offer stimulate economic development by increasing the number of high school graduates ready to work or pursue post-secondary education."

According to West-MEC, the estimated average cost to the homeowner is about $6.06 a year on a home with an assessed valuation of $100,000 if the bond passes. Bonds will be sold and used over a 20-year period.

Millie Bergh Gorichs has seen West-MEC’s good works. West-MEC has six Central Campuses, including one in Glendale, and six Central Program Partner Campuses to serve students.

Ms. Bergh Gorichs wrote on West-MEC’s Facebook page in September, praising its programs.

"My oldest grandson took the automotive technician program and after graduating he was accepted into the Toyota program at Gateway and works an internship at a Toyota dealership," she wrote, adding her second grandson is taking computer coding program and a granddaughter plans on the vet tech program in a couple of years.

According to West-MEC’s consultant HighGround, 86.8 percent of those surveyed felt career technical education should be an integral part of high school offerings and 73.4 percent of those surveyed said they would vote to pass a bond.

But do not count Surprise resident Claudine Burns among the supporters.

"My taxes this year was almost $1,300," the retiree said. "If you are working it’s not a lot of money but (it is) if you are not working and you are on fixed income like a lot of people are.

"Our interest rate on savings is nothing so here you are and you keep paying out your money and nothing is coming in. When does it stop?"

She note that taxpayers will be paying off the proposed bond for 20 years.

"Why aren’t the high schools offering the program West-MEC is offering," she said. "High schools could be offering it. What are they doing?"

If the bond fails at the ballot box, Mr. Donovan said the Governing Board would need to discuss if and when it would be appropriate to go back out for a future bond.

"If the bond were to fail, we would continue to provide our current quality programs and move forward with central programs on our campuses where space was available," Mr. Donovan said. "All additional programs would be re-evaluated or put on hold."

West-MEC also passed a $74. 9 million bond in 2012, which helped pay for new campuses, including the one under construction in Surprise, and expand current training centers in the area.

What the $141 million bond would pay for:

•$3.5 million at the central campus for road and off-site upgrades, equipment upgrades and replacement.

•$11.6 million at the Northeast Campus for an additional building and equipment upgrades and replacement.

•$33.5 million at the Southwest Campus for phases 3 and 4 and equipment upgrades and replacement

•$41.3 million at the Northwest Campus for phases 2,3 and 4 and equipment upgrades and replacement.

•$6.6 million for land north of the District Office for a future student services building, training and testing, multipurpose meeting spaces and for student career services.

•$44.5 million to be spent for additional land and campuses.

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