By Raquel Hendrickson for inMaricopa.com
With a high school already more than 200 students over capacity, Maricopa Unified School District is making moves for short-term solutions while weighing options for the long term.
In a special meeting Wednesday, the governing board approved placing eight almost-new portable buildings on the east side of campus to accommodate 16 classrooms. As planned, the portables would take up about 24 parking spaces that are rarely used.
The governing board followed the recommendation of Principal Brian Winter and rejected an option that would have placed all the portables in the stadium parking lot, a plan that would have discarded 82 parking spaces heavily used during events.
The main purpose of the special capital-improvements meeting, however, was looking at the needs in space and upkeep for the entire district. According to Winter, the high school already has enrollment of more than 2,330.
Mark Rafferty, a partner at Facility Management Group, said the demographic projections for the high school are “astonishing.”
“We see a high school population growing by 1,600 students in the next six years,” he said.
Rafferty presented the needs and estimated costs of changes needed around the district as MUSD creates its capital improvement master plan. He said a second high school is a necessity.
Don Brubaker, principal architect at One Architecture, said a new high school campus would require 65-80 acres. He said a “starter” high school had to have at least space to accommodate teaching, but support spaces like a cafeteria, gyms and arts programs could be compromised.
Rafferty said Arizona School Facilities Board was already looking at the numbers for Maricopa High School because of the profound rate of growth projections. SFB has asked the Legislature for at least partial funding for school space ($22.5M) and school land ($3M).
The study of the capital improvement situation has been ongoing the past five months as MUSD officials consider asking taxpayers for a bond on the November ballot. At the next regular meeting of the board Jan. 23, Superintendent Tracey Lopeman is asking to work with consultants on a bond-election plan. (The board will also consider selling vacant land it owns.) Rafferty said even if a bond election were successful it would take up to three years to reach a date of occupancy in a new high school. But the necessity of another high school was not a point of debate.
Read more at inMaricopa.com.