PIMA — Pima Unified School District Superintendent Sean Rickert said the time is right to build a new high school.
Rickert gave a presentation to the Pima Town Council on Tuesday, explaining that the district has received $22.3 million from the Arizona School Facilities Board for construction.
“It will be built to serve 500 students when it opens. At that time we project that our enrollment will be about 425,” Rickert said, “but we also anticipate that we’re going to design it with a max enrollment of about 600 students once it’s completely built out.”
He added that the district will secure a loan for about $4.4 million for construction that is not covered by the School Facilities Board, such as sports fields and parking lots. And the district is pursuing all grant opportunities available for additional funds.
“We do not anticipate going out for a bond at this time,” Rickert said. “I have spent the last district working to keep school-related property taxes in Pima as low as they can be. I know that passing a bond is the way people usually build schools, but I also know that, given the limited assessed valuation in Pima, passing a bond would have a huge impact on the property tax rate. If it isn’t necessary, we’re not going to do that.”
The district has selected the architectural firm SPS Plus to design the school and will take that recommendation to the school board for final approval Thursday. Plus Rickert said the district is waiting on an appraisal of 40 acres of land selected for the school, off U.S. Highway 70, at the corner of Ash Creek and Center Street, with acquisition anticipated by mid-September.
The additional space will allow the high school to expand career and technical education programs, such as the recently started aviation program and adding agricultural courses, as well as develop more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.
Rickert said the new high school should be open to students by the 2025-26 school year.