The Tempe Union High School District Governing Board voted Wednesday to join two other Arizona school districts in a lawsuit against the state that alleges the Legislature has failed to supply enough funds for emergency school building repairs. Tempe Union would join the lawsuit, known as Williams Unified School District and Sierra Vista Unified School District vs. State of Arizona, in response to the School Facilities Board's decision to deny funds, estimated at $17 million, to repair a 30-year-old ventilation system at Tempe Corona del Sol High School. Concern arose initially when studies funded by school officials found high carbon dioxide levels and mold throughout the school, but the School Facilities Board said the issue is not an emergency and, therefore, it is the district's responsibility to fund repairs. Tempe Union appealed the decision Jan. 25, and the judge has 20 days to make a ruling. The decision will serve only as a recommendation, so the School Facilities Board could still refuse to supply the $17 million. The governing board voted on Wednesday because of the timeliness of the issue, but if the judge rules in favor of the district they will withdraw from the lawsuit, Tempe Union spokeswoman Linda Littell said. Michelle Helm was the only governing board member to publicly comment on the issue at Wednesday's meeting. "I am certainly going to support this, but I think it is a sad day when we have to sue our own state in order to get support for our children," she said. "It is something I never thought I would need to do."
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