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Friday, November 16, 2018

With Plate Full, Roosevelt Seeking Land for New Schools

 The Roosevelt School District is about to undertake steps to sell and purchase land on which it hopes to build future schools.
While already scrambling through a difficult time as it pressures its schools’ teaching staffs to bring district students to a level where they can pass the upcoming AIMS tests, the district is also beginning its search for both a new superintendent and new teachers for the next school year. Now, as the area’s housing developments continue to spring up and its population grows, the district is being forced to find suitable sites for new schools to both ease and prevent further classroom overcrowding.
The district is currently in negotiations to acquire two specific parcels of land that it hopes will house two future schools. One of the plots will be largely donated, and the district plans to buy and use collaboratively the remainder of the land needed for an 800-student school. The parcel of land that the district is trying to acquire is located at South Mountain and 23rd Avenues. Tim O’Malley, the district’s project manager, explains that seven acres of the new site will be donated to the district. Alone, seven acres is not enough space to house a school, so the district will ask the Arizona School Facilities Board to purchase an additional three adjoining acres. The district then plans to form an inter-governmental agreement, or IGA, with the city specifying that the district will construct parking facilities for city use if the city shares part of the acreage for space the school needs for its own parking. The IGA will involve an additional 3.5 acres with the City of Phoenix. While the final estimated plot will fall just short of the ideal 15-20 acres the district likes to reserve for schools housing 800 students, that particular area needs a school.
The district said it will also ask the Arizona School Facilities Board to orchestrate the sale of property that the district currently owns and purchase a more-appropriate property to use as new school sites. The district wants to sell its property at the corner of 15th Ave. and Vineyard, which is also in the middle of a triangle formed by Conchos, Lassen, and Davis schools. Besides being located so near to three existing schools, the site’s location also makes traffic difficult. The proceeds of the sale will go to the School Facilities Board, and the district will ask the School Facilities Board to buy a 20-acre parcel of land at 23rd Ave. and Roeser Rd. This site would house another 800-student school.
While the School Facilities Board will fund construction of the new schools, the district currently has its hands full with trying to maintain its existing schools. Having overspent its projected budget for the current school year, district administrators are scrutinizing every expense and trying to anticipate new ones. The district is using the money allotted for facilities maintenance to replace floors at Valley View Elementary and heat pumps at Davis Elementary. Costs for these projects alone are estimated at $80,000, and more repairs are predicted for the district’s aging schools.

The district recently celebrated the opening of its most recent school, Bernard Black Elementary, on 27th Ave. The school, which opened with the current school year, already has 680 students enrolled from kindergarten through the 8th grade.


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