screenshot of land

The “Cortona” property on the southwest corner of Farrell and Murphy roads is the planned location of the new school.

MARICOPA — An announcement from the Maricopa Unified School District shed new light on the plans for a second high school being built with State Facilities Board money. The school is scheduled to open in July 2022 and have the style of a career academy or small learning communities.

The land recently approved for purchase is approximately 80 acres and sits on the “Cortona” property on the southwest corner of Farrell and Murphy roads. The choice was made after careful consideration of location, proximity to infrastructure, accessibility, flood plains, overall space and price.

“The Cortona property is priced the best. It is not impacted by the flood plain and is in an area of our city that is predicted to see substantial growth,” MUSD Business Director Jacob Harmon said in a press release.

Phase 1 of building the new high school will consist of four modular academies or small learning communities that can be built upon as the school grows. Current estimates from the SFB put the capacity at 1,330 students which, when divided by the four modules, is 333 students per small learning community with a 1:25 teacher-student ratio.

The high school is described as open for easy monitoring of class activities and flexible for classroom space.

“We are committed to building a high school that maximizes every dollar in the first phase while providing an infrastructure set for expansion into future phases,” Superintendent Tracey Lopeman stated in a press release. “Programming will follow a similar path. We will identify foundational programs that will blossom into the career academies and learning communities that help shape young people into responsible citizens, great employees and wonderful neighbors right here in Maricopa.”

Phase 2 will help adjust the school’s capacity to grow in later years with the possibility of shuffling two academies into four buildings to adjust the blueprint and free up space for improvements.

The cost of Phase 1 is about $26 million, which will go toward the land purchase and initial construction. Any additional buildings or add-ons will have to be funded locally through bond measures.

“I am excited for the children in our city,” Governing Board President AnnaMarie Knorr said in the press release. “The additional high school will not only address overcrowding but will arrive with its own identity and focus. It is not meant to be a cookie cutter replication of Maricopa High School, this is about expanding opportunities. It is important to us that each school continues to develop its own unique culture and programming to meet the diverse needs and interests of all our scholars.”

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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.

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