An overview of what the new MUSD high school could look like after all future phases are complete.

MARICOPA — During a presentation to the Maricopa Unified School District board on Wednesday, representatives from building and design companies revealed a groundbreaking date and shared new 3D drawings of the planned high school off Farrell and Murphy roads.

Orcutt/Winslow architect Saravanan Bala gave the board a first look at how the front of the school could look. The renderings show a gray, angular building with dark blue accents and desert landscaping.

“One of the things that I’d mentioned before was that I didn’t want the outside of the building to be kind of plain looking,” said board President Ben Owens. “You nailed it, the dimension and the textures that I’m seeing here — I realize this is a rendering — but it’s not just a plain block wall that feels like a prison. I’m impressed.”

During the virtual tour, Bala pointed out a space near the front of the school he deemed the “art yard,” just one of the amenities the district would like to see in the new school.

Bala then walked the board through some of the additions to be paid for through a $5 million loan, including indoor and shaded outdoor dining options for students and a fully functioning gymnasium. There will also be a service yard and a maintenance/physical education building in the first phase.

Board member Torri Anderson asked if the designers and builders could maximize the storage space in the fieldhouse, even by just a few feet, to ensure there will be enough space for future classes.

“I wanted to know the size of that fieldhouse because, as a PE teacher and a coach, there is never enough storage,” Anderson told Bala during the meeting. “It’s easier and much less expensive to put it in now versus trying to add more buildings, so I just would like to maximize those storage places if we can, and get bang for our buck.”

The building team and MUSD staff agreed to look into enlarging the space wherever possible and within budget constraints.

Bala also shared the vision for what future phases could look like, which would include additional designated student parking to the north of the school, more classroom buildings, track and baseball fields and a football stadium.

“The athletic fields (will) evolve,” Bala said. “We’re putting in a field with the curvature of the future track right now, so in the future you could surround that field with an eight- or nine-lane track. Directly to the west of that, there is an opportunity to build a football stadium with fans right up against the field, which is exciting and a unique selling point.”

Representative Tim Goyette from the Chasse Building Team then had the opportunity to share an updated project timeline with the board, which included a groundbreaking date for the first time: May 7.

Goyette’s timeline also included a “topping ceremony” where MUSD staff and attendees on-site will be able to sign one of the beams of the school, and a tentative opening date set for fall 2022.

“This summer, we’re going to be preparing the site, doing a lot of earth moving,” Goyette said.

Chasse Building hopes to have the structure of the school done by around December 2021, with the interior finishes being the next phase through June 2022. Paving and landscaping will happen at around the same time. Finally, right before opening, furnishings like desks and sports equipment will arrive in the weeks leading up to the 2022 school year.

Another component of this project is the offsite construction element. The two roads that intersect at the high school, Farrell and Murphy roads, will need crucial construction to be ready for student drivers come fall 2022.

“This project has a major offsite construct,” Goyette said. “The first portion of that is going to be putting some utilities down Farrell Road, and that’s going to take this whole fall and on into winter. Late winter we’re going to be paving that road, doing a lot of dirt work and paving. While we’re doing that paving, we’re going to be doing utilities on Murphy Road.”

Murphy will also eventually be paved.

Anderson, whose family farm is right across the street, said the work had already started on the roads. Goyette concurred, and said the first fire hydrant was just installed nearby.

“It seems like every time I drive out there, there’s a new house,” added Vice President AnnaMarie Knorr. “I think it’s really critically important that we meet these timelines and get this high school built to accommodate all of our new students that will be moving into those homes. I appreciate your dedication to this and the timeline and everybody working together to get this opened on schedule.”

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Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at ksawyer@pinalcentral.com.