July 18, 2008
3 Districts Get Zero for New Schools
By JAMAR YOUNGER
State budget sets aside no funds for construction, land
The Sunnyside, Sahuarita and Vail districts will have to wait until next year for state funds or find other sources of money to build their new schools.
The Legislature approved a budget last month that does not allocate money for new school construction or land acquisitions for the new fiscal year, which began last Tuesday.
The School Facilities Board did receive $593 million from the state, but $344 million of that money will be used to reimburse the state's general fund for school-construction costs covered last fiscal year, said Kerry Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Facilities Board. The board allocates state money for new school construction.
The Facilities Board also will use $8 million to pay for more classroom space for full-day kindergarten classes, Campbell said.
Vail can still build its new middle school if the district decides to use bond money originally designated to help pay for other new schools. The district would have to get approval from its Governing Board.
The district estimates it will cost about $12 million to build the middle school.
Sunnyside will not be able to start planning its new high school, which was projected to open in 2010.
Sunnyside officials projected the high school to cost $18 million.
Sahuarita will have to wait at least another year to build its second high school. The district wanted to open the high school in August 2009.
The Facilities Board originally estimated construction of the new high school would cost $13.8 million, Assistant Superintendent Manuel Valenzuela said.
District officials now are considering options to deal with overcrowding at Sahuarita High School, which is the only high school in the district.
About 1,500 students are expected when school begins next month. The high school's capacity is 1,250.
One option would include moving to a year-round, multitrack schedule in which students would attend school during different months.
The school also could go to double sessions, which would allow half of its students to attend school in the morning and half in the afternoon. If one of those measures were approved, the district would not implement the measure until August 2009.
The state budget that took effect July 1 does not allocate money for new school construction or land acquisition.
Amount of the $593 million that will go back to the state's general fund for school-construction costs covered last fiscal year.
Students expected to enroll in 2008 at Sahuarita High School, which has a capacity of 1,250
* Contact reporter Jamar Younger at 434-4076 or [email protected]
Originally published by JAMAR YOUNGER, ARIZONA DAILY STAR.
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