The Sahuarita school district wants to build a new school in Rancho Sahuarita and has a plan in place, but it can’t start building unless its bond measure passes on Tuesday.
The district’s schools that serve kindergarten through eighth grade are at capacity and student population continues to grow, said Scott Downs, an assistant superintendent. For the past five years, Sahuarita has seen a sustained growth of about 3.8 percent.
“As we continue to grow, we don’t have classroom space anymore,” he said.
The Rancho Sahuarita development, which previously donated about 65 acres to the district, plans to donate 16 to 20 acres of land for the proposed new K-8 school, but to address construction costs, Sahuarita taxpayers must approve the $25 million bond measure on Election Day.
The plan to build a new school has been set for a while, Downs said. Last year, the school district hoped to pass a $40 million bond measure for the new school’s construction and other key repairs, but the measure failed.
The Sahuarita district conducted community outreach to find out what led to the failure last year, and it found that taxpayers would support a measure for specific projects and for a smaller amount. So it reduced the measure to $25 million, $20 million of which would be used for the new school’s construction project and $5 million of which would be used to replace portable buildings.
“We listened to the community last time it didn’t pass,” Downs said.
Sahuarita is also going for an additional-assistance override this election. It’s asking voters for the lesser of $1 million or a 10 percent capital override for instructional resources and major facility repairs.
If the district’s taxpayers approve the $25 million bond, the district would kick the process into high gear with the goal of opening the new school in August 2018, Downs said.
The district has already chosen Swaim Associates Architects, which has also built Copper View Elementary School and other schools in the Tucson area. It has also put out a request for qualifications to select a construction company.
The school would accommodate an estimated maximum of 800 students, according to Downs. The site chosen is on Rancho Sahuarita Boulevard, about 1½ miles south of Sahuarita Road.
Rancho Sahuarita will continue to grow and needs more schools, said Mike Brilz, the development company’s senior vice president.
The community, which has about 5,200 homes, has the capacity for about 10,000 homes, he said. “Great communities need great schools,” he said.
There are economic drivers in the area, including the mining industry, that influence growth, said Jim DiGiacomo, president and CEO of the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce. Also, with more industries moving into Pima County in general, more families would be relocating to Sahuarita.
The chamber supports building a new school, he said.
“We’ve worked very closely together and they do a very good job.”