MUSD studies elementary school boundary changes

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MUSD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Tracey Pastor outlined three possible elementary school boundary realignments at a town hall meeting on Wednesday. The second public meeting on the issue is Monday at 5 p.m. at MUSD district offices. [Jay Taylor]

Maricopa’s growth means widespread changes throughout the city, and the effects will ripple through to elementary school students next year.

The Maricopa Unified School District is considering potential changes to the attendance boundaries of its six elementary schools to accommodate recent growth and prepare for an additional population to come.

Four elementary schools would be affected by the plans under consideration: Butterfield, Maricopa, Saddleback and Santa Cruz, MUSD Administrative Services Assistant Superintendent Tracey Pastor said. She added that Pima Butte and Santa Rosa elementary schools would not be impacted, nor would middle or high schools in the city.

The four affected schools are larger than Pima Butte and Santa Rosa, with 43 classrooms and a capacity of 956 students each. Pima Butte has 21 classrooms and a capacity of 506 and Santa Rosa has 24 classrooms and can accommodate 603 students.

The district has 3,880 students, but is expected to reach 4,844 by FY2026, an increase of 24.8%.

One study area is a grid bordered by Porter, White and Parker, Smith Enke and Honeycutt roads. Pastor said under this option, the grid would be split, with 140 students moving from Santa Cruz to Butterfield.

“If we can move half the students on this grid from Santa Cruz to Butterfield, that’s the best-case scenario for Santa Cruz,” Pastor said.

Santa Cruz has the largest student population in the district with 794 students. However, district projections show it will grow to 1,177 by the 2026 school year if the boundaries are not changed.

Saddleback is the other school set to exceed capacity in five years, at 1,064 students, 108 beyond capacity.

The second and third options considered would impact Maricopa and Saddleback students. A grid bordered by Smith, Maricopa, and Farrell Roads and the Maricopa-Casa Grande Freeway would move 153 students living in the Pala Brea and Desert Cedars communities of Saddleback to Maricopa.

The other option – and Pastor said only one of the two would be implemented – would also move students from the southwest part of the city from Saddleback to Maricopa. This area includes six grid areas bounded by Peters and Nall, Vista, Maricopa and Ralston roads. The area currently has only 35 students, but with the expected growth of the Amarillo Creek subdivision, Pastor said it will be overcapacity by 2026.

“We’re trying to get all six schools into the 85-95 percent capacity range before we’re ready for a new school,” Pastor said. “It’s the perfect scenario. The School Facilities Board does not allow us to build when a single school is over capacity. They collectively look across the district, and it is our responsibility to share growth among our six schools. That’s why we’re monitoring growth across the district and planning ahead rather than trying to react.

“Saddleback and Santa Cruz are the two we’re most concerned about,” she continued. “These are the two with the most students now, but more worryingly, this is expected to happen in two or three years.”

MUSD will hold its final public meeting on the matter on Monday, November 7 at 5 p.m. at the MUSD District Office at 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

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