MARICOPA — A new school in Maricopa is in session despite its campus not being ready to go.
Heritage Academy, a charter that selected Maricopa for its fourth school, has claimed success in its operations despite delays in the construction of its campus. Currently, classes are being held in the Elements Event Center, part of the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.
Elements is accommodating approximately 400 students from sixth through 12th grade, along with 35 teachers, with barriers separating each classroom.
Heritage Academy has the area booked until Sept. 30. However, it is hoping to have the school built before the end of September.
Although concerns of safety and accommodation for the classrooms may be brought up, Jared Taylor, charter representative and chief executive officer of Heritage Academy, assured that the issues are managed at the temporary classrooms.
“UltraStar has great security to begin with,” Taylor said. “We also have our security protocols with our teachers. Safety is not an issue.”
The teachers have been surprised as to how well the temporary classrooms have worked out.
“It has been wonderful. I was a little worried with not having a building at first because I am an experienced teacher who is used to a classroom,” said Jennifer Titus, seventh and eighth grade science teacher. “UltraStar has been amazing. They are very accommodating to us, they have given us amazing beautiful space. No matter what room I’m in, there’s everything I need in order to teach my class the way it needs to be taught, even if we were in a traditional classroom.”
The delays have been due to the unavailability of contractors, along with delays in financing, which have now been handled, according to Taylor.
“We’re really pleased by the city leadership,” Taylor said. “It was nice to have the support from the mayor and we have respect for all the other schools.”
Principal Kimberly Ellsworth acknowledges the challenges teachers take on, such as moving to different classrooms each period, but ultimately they have been “rock stars” in the process.
“I’m not going to say it’s perfect, but they’re doing an amazing job of really focusing and making sure that the students are focusing on what’s happening in class,” Ellsworth said.
Students are sure to have no complaints when they are spending their classroom hour in a movie theater.
“Surprisingly, it’s going smoother than what we expected,” Ellsworth said. “I think it’s a little bit more exciting for the kids — they get to have Spanish class in a movie theater.”
Days before the school opened in late July, parents were able to come in and see the facility where their kids would be attending classes temporarily. Despite the accommodation, the Maricopa campus had the most students the charter has started out on a campus, according to Ellsworth. Heritage has also incorporated sixth grade to the Maricopa campus, when others have only taught seventh through 12th grades.
“Above all else, we hope to serve the parents that invited us to come out,” Taylor said.