CUSD maps $3.8M ACP Middle School expansion - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

CUSD maps $3.8M ACP Middle School expansion

August 30th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
CUSD maps $3.8M ACP Middle School expansion

By Ken Sain
STSN Managing Editor

Chandler Unified School District is in a unique position at this point. It is still growing, but knows those days are coming to an end and is moving ahead with plans to figure out how to prepare for fewer students.

Arizona College Prep Middle School is one of its campuses that is still growing and the Governing Board approved spending nearly $3.8 million on Aug. 24 to build seven new classrooms for ACP Middle School.

That school has 747 students enrolled this year and a waiting list of more who want to attend. District officials project its enrollment could reach over 900 next year.

The original plan was for eight new classrooms, but Chandler Unified officials said they spoke to school leaders and made changes. 

Tom Dunn, CUSD executive director of support services, said it’s important to actually listen to the people who are going to be impacted and make sure they are getting what they need.

In this case, Principal Manjula Reddy said they needed improved space for their arts and engineering programs that current classrooms cannot accommodate.

So one of the proposed new classrooms was sacrificed to build three larger rooms. Two of the new classrooms will be dedicated to engineering and a third to art, with some storage space in between.

ACP Middle has students in 6th through 8th grades and has been using three portable buildings for additional space. The location was the site of Erie Elementary School until that closed in 2013 and then became the temporary home for Arizona College Prep High School.

The high school specializes in added rigor for advanced students and has consistently been ranked among the best in Arizona and the nation since it opened in 2007.

Last year a new building opened for the high school students, leaving the location at Erie and Alma School available for just the middle school students.

District officials said during the Aug. 24 meeting they never considered just adding more portable buildings, saying they aren’t that much cheaper.

Board member Jason Olive said that a portable building could cost as much as a regular building and after 20 years, it would be falling apart. He said by spending a little more to invest in a brick-and-mortar structure means in 20 years, the distric still have a good building that can be used.

The contract for constructing the new addition was awarded to Concord General Contracting for a guaranteed maximum price of $3,776,700. It passed unanimously.

Dunn said when you include the cost of moving a portable building, and getting it wired with all the lines it needs and include bathrooms, a portable building can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The growth at ACP Middle contrasts with CUSD’s future. Its enrollment is expected to drop in the coming years because fewer young families can afford to live in the District’s boundaries.

Earlier this month the Governing Board heard details of a space utilization committee, which will begin to look at how best to use the space at eight elementary schools when the enrollment begins to drop.