FLORENCE — Plans for a fourth high school, perhaps by 2024, in the Florence Unified School District are underway.

On Jan. 14, the school board approved the district’s annual capital plan for the state School Facilities Board, which reviews capital projects and helps with funding.

“Based on current projections, we will have to build a high school by 2024,” Assistant Superintendent Adam Leckie told PinalCentral. District officials don’t have an exact location in mind, although it will most likely be in the northern part of the district, Leckie said.

The district’s existing San Tan Valley high schools, Poston Butte and San Tan Foothills, both opened in 2009.

Although FUSD competes with charter schools for younger students, overall enrollment is up year to year, Leckie said. The district sees lower enrollment in kindergarten through second grade.

“We believe a lot of those kids are initially starting at charter schools, then we see our enrollment increase in third and fourth grades,” Leckie said. “Most charter schools in the area don’t have high school programs, so we see a big boost in enrollment in our high school program.”

The district forecasts it has ample space for K-8 students through 2029, although there is still a potential to have to construct other buildings, depending on the speed of growth.

“We’ll just have to keep an eye on it and project a couple of years out with the School Facilities Board,” Leckie said. “The district is doing our best to project out anticipated cost, so we can be careful with the money we spend, using the School Facilities Board to help offset costs to the local taxpayers and get as much funded through that process as possible.”

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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