MARICOPA — The Maricopa school board gave approval to raise the job order contract from the current $1 million to $2.5 million during Wednesday’s regular scheduled meeting.

The vote was 3-0 as board president AnnaMarie Knoor and board member Patti Coutre were absent.

The move was made necessary to complete the district’s portable classroom project at Maricopa High School.

“What $1 million used to buy 15, 20 years ago, became very difficult to do that now,” said Don Brubaker, the principal architect at One Architecture. “That is why you are seeing districts go ahead and raise that amount to a more reasonable amount so that we have the ability under these tight time frames and a sense of urgency too keep moving forward.”

Last month, the board approved eight double-wide portable classrooms to be constructed on the high school campus. The buildings will accommodate 16 classrooms and house 400 students.

The portable classrooms are expected to be up and running in time for the first day of classes in the fall, and will be located on the east side of the campus between the softball and baseball fields.

According to Mark Rafferty of Facility Management Group, in the late 1990s there was a lot of growth, which resulted in a lot of out-of-state companies coming in. In some cases, these companies led to disappointment for their clients and as Rafferty told board members, it left a black eye as a result of it.

Because of this, the state Legislature developed several alternatives including the use of job order contractors that are already pre-approved.

Rafferty said it was designed with a baseline of $1 million and allowed for school boards to raise it by $2 million or $3 million for small projects.

“A good example of that is the temporary classroom project we are working on at the high school,” Rafferty told board members. “That project will absolutely exceed that 20-year-old baseline for the contracting, so we are talking about raising it.”

The total cost of the project is estimated to between $2.2 million and $2.3 million and includes all the needed infrastructure work along with a 36-month lease for the buildings.

Board member Josh Judd asked if it was possible to purchase the buildings.

“The only reason why I bring it up is the need is not going to go away with the continued growth,” Judd asked. “So unfortunately in three years when we give these up, we are giving up space that we have acquired for a short period of time.”

Rafferty responded to Judd’s inquiry by saying the manufacturing of portable classrooms was thriving in the 1990s and early 2000s, however, the companies stopped making those classrooms.

“You could call this luck or act of God, being at the right place at the right time. We are very fortunate to be able to find these portables and to be able to find some that are in such great condition,” Brubaker told board members. “This is a real coup for the district. So just to be able to find and take care of this need, it’s really incredible.”

Board member Torri Anderson said she has seen pictures of the portable classroom and added that she is not an advocate of portable classrooms, but said they are in amazing condition and they are almost brand new.

“Once you get inside, they look like a regular brick and mortar (classroom),” she said. “I’m glad we found them. I think they are a great solution for the time that we have and I think the dollar amount is a valuable resource.”