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12:06 PM Wed, Sept. 19th

PUSD faces chess game of overcrowding, challenges

Prescott Unified School District is playing a game. The school board and its administration are studying their space options, where to move what, and what to build ... and how to pay for it all.

Seems the state has pledged $10 million for a 400-student high school in the growing district. The local powers that be are working to decide from among the following:

• Build a stand-alone school for Northpoint (PUSD's new academy) with the state money.

• Build a full-size, state-of-the-art high school for Prescott High School, and pay for it with a $60 million to $80 million bond.

• Build one school for both, pooling the $10 million and the bond money.

• Sell Prescott High School on Ruth Street to pay down the bonds.

• Keep PHS for middle school uses.

• Move Northpoint and possibly the district offices to Granite Mountain Middle School.

• Move the preschool from Dexter to another location.

• These moves would leave Mile High Middle School, the district offices and Dexter vacant and on the block (sale or other uses).

None of this includes other challenges, such as the need for more elementary school space. Also, adding to Prescott High School on Ruth Street is not an option; it's already overcrowded and operating on too few acres.

This game of chess also does not focus yet on the site(s) for the new school(s) - I've heard Pioneer Park for PHS. A wild card is whether the community would support the largest local bond ever (knowing that PUSD still has $6 million in the bank from its last bond) and the timeline to figure all of this out is tight.

I agree they have space concerns; the overcrowding at Prescott High will only get worse. I also think they're being more aggressive than if they had not received the $10 million pledge from the state.

How about you? Is this the chance for the minor league baseball stadium downtown (at Mile High)? Can you afford another hike in property taxes? Or are you one of those seniors who say "I paid my dues, ... no more" and would vote against any bond issue?

One thing's for sure: this game of chess or Monopoly (or One-Card Monty, whatever you want to call it) is more complex than meets the eye.