By Christopher Boan for East Valley Tribune
Four of Mesa’s six high schools are so overcrowded the district may have to consider building a new one, according to a master plan introduced to the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board last week.
The report by Alpha Facilities Solutions also said the overall condition of many schools at all levels pales in comparison with what they’ve seen in other areas – and elementary school buildings, in particular, need major repairs.
The report culminates a study of the district’s 901 buildings, representing 8.4MSF of space.
Red Mountain is the most overcrowded with 3,457 students crammed into a building designed for 2,849 – equaling 25 percent over capacity, the report said.
Mesa High and Westwood tied for second-most overcrowded, each with a total student population 10 percent above what their buildings were made to accommodate.
Mesa High’s 3,603 students are in a building with a capacity for 3,272 while Westwood’s 3,465 students are in a one that comfortably fits 3,136 pupils.
Mountain View High’s overcrowding is rated at 8 percent above capacity, with 3,386 students in a building made for 3,149.
Enrollment projections for 2024 won’t ease overcrowding, according to the report, which said the same four high schools will remain at least 10 percent above capacity.
Only Skyline and Dobson high schools are under capacity, the consultants found. Skyline is only 2 percent below its maximum with 2,527 students and Dobson’s student population is 23 percent below maximum capacity.
Building a seventh high school is only one option for correcting the overcrowding, the report said.
Other options include boundary adjustments, realigning grade levels so ninth grade could become part of junior high schools or building additions. Combining additions and boundary adjustments also is an option.
The population at junior high and elementary schools creates far less strain on existing facilities, the report indicated.
Overall, elementary schools are utilizing 80 percent of total capacity for all buildings and junior highs 74 percent.
But the report indicated at least one elementary school’s population is 68 percent above capacity while another is serving only 15 percent of the number of students its building could accommodate.
This imbalance among elementary buildings will require boundary changes, program enhancements to lure parents to under-capacity schools and overall building improvements, the report said. It added the district will need to determine the ideal size for the student population elementary schools.
The master plan is the guiding document the district will be using as it determines how to spend the $300M bond issue voters approved in 2018.
Read more at East Valley Tribune.