HUACHUCA CITY — Tombstone Unified School District’s governing board held their monthly meeting Wednesday evening with the bond and Huachuca City road easement back on the agenda.
Superintendent Robert Devere provided a district-wide update, including current enrollment numbers at the district’s three schools. As of Dec. 6 there are 139 students at Walter J Meyer, 312 at Huachuca City School and 433 at the high school.
Devere said the numbers, especially at Tombstone High School, are expected to drop slightly due to December graduates, however the school has received interest from students looking to transfer to the school at the start of the new semester.
Board Vice President Randy Keeling and Devere praised the students and teachers for their work and efforts towards this year’s science fair, which was held during the day on Wednesday. Devere said they estimated there were well over 150 projects this year, however, his biggest take away was the “growth” he saw in the projects from last year.
The Huachuca City School road easement returned to the board’s agenda Wednesday night because Devere need direction from the board on what to do.
About three years ago, when Tombstone Unified School District was looking at reconfiguring the Huachuca City School parking lot to make it safer for students, it came to the district’s attention that the town of Huachuca City did not have an easement along School Drive, which is the roadway in front of school.
This caused the school district and town to get together and do a title search and survey in June 2017.
That title search revealed there was an existing easement between the school district and town for School Drive. The survey revealed the roadway had not been placed completely on the easement by the town at the time the road was paved.
“The town of Huachuca City misplaced School Drive when they paved it years ago,” TUSD Superintendent Robert Devere explained to the Herald/Review Thursday. “Most of the paved road is on the easement that the school granted the city in 1967. However, because of how the town paved the roadway, a portion of the road is on school property.”
Since the town needs an easement for the road, the school district is offering them an easement in exchange for $17,568 in water credit. In addition, the school district is going to gravel the dirt parking lot on the easement across the street from the school, which is around a 35 by 500 foot area.
The school district is proposing that Huachuca City pay for the cost of putting in the gravel for the parking lot. The gravel work, which is expected to start in a couple of weeks, will give the dirt parking area a better quality surface and make it more attractive, Devere said.
At Wednesday evening’s governing board meeting, board vice-president Randy Keeling moved that the school district purchase the gravel and install it.
“Part of my motion was to send the town a counter-offer that includes the $17,568 water credit as well as the cost of purchasing and laying down the gravel,” Keeling said. “As of now, we do not have an agreement with the town for extending that easement,” he added.
“The original easement agreement was to use that parking area for drainage, parking and roadway. The town apparently didn’t survey it before paving the road, because they put the road over the easement boundaries onto the school property.”
Keeling, who says he hopes the town and school reach an amicable agreement, feels that “three years is way too long to resolve the issue.”
While the school district’s decision has not been approved by Huachuca City Town Council, Devere said that after graveling the parking area, the school district will be taking the proposal to the town council for discussion and possible approval.
“By ganting the town the easement, it removes a liability problem for Huachuca City,” Devere added. “We’re actually granting the town an easement to the land that they paved in error. So, once all parties adopt the terms of this intergovernmental agreement, the town will have permanent use of the easement that the school district owns.”
The board also revisited the idea of placing a bond for facility improvements on the 2020 general election ballot. A $10 million bond was placed on the ballot in this past November’s election after being approved by the board in May. The bond failed by more than 55 percent in November.
Keeling said he has a “bad taste in his mouth” from the last election because he didn’t think it wouldn’t pass by as high of a percentage that it did. Devere estimated the District’s cost to put it on the November 2019 election, including attorney fees and translation services, to be between $42,000 and $45,000. He said he expects the price tag to be about $10,000 less next year since it’s a general election. The board voted to table the item until January’s meeting, with the hope of having bond consultant come and talk to the board.