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Sat, Jan. 25

Board works to determine future school locations

PRESCOTT - Although the state approved a new 400-student high school for Prescott Unified School District on June 7, the school board is still unsure where to build the structure.

Currently, the district's top two possibilities lie with Mike Fann and acreage at Pioneer Park from the Bureau of Land Management.

During a board meeting Tuesday evening, board member Joan Fleming said Fann currently owns about 200 to 300 acres of land near Highway 89A next to Tri-City College Prep High School. She said Fann mentioned he could sell PUSD about 50 acres if the district needs land to build a school.

In addition, Superintendent Kevin Kapp said the City of Prescott and Yavapai County currently lease the majority of land at Pioneer Park from the BLM. Neither entity pays anything to lease this land, he added.

After meeting with Prescott City Manager Steve Norwood, Yavapai County Administrator Julie Ayers and Yavapai County Capital Improvement Coordinator Jim Holst, Kapp said the city and county are open to relinquishing their property at Pioneer Park back to BLM, thereby allowing PUSD to lease the land for free.

Before that could happen, Kapp said, the district would have to go through a process with BLM, something he needs to research.

For the past few months, board members considered proposing a bond between $60 million and $80 million on November's ballot to build a high school large enough to accommodate all of Prescott High School's students. They would designate the state-approved, 400-student school for Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy. Board members hoped to find a site large enough to build the two schools near one another.

However, board members are waiting to hear from city and county officials before proposing an amount for a bond, to see if either entity would be interested in buying property from PUSD. If the district could sell some of its property, that would help lower the bond amount.

After meeting with city and county representatives, Kapp said neither was interested in buying land from PUSD. He attributed the disinterest to the land trade that took place between the city and county Tuesday.

Now the board is unsure how much money it would need to build a school. Yet the deadline to officially propose a bond on November's ballot - July 10 - is fast approaching, and some members are wondering if the district should wait until 2008.

In past meetings, some board members feared voters would not approve a school bond in 2008 because of three other government- proposed bonds for that year. However, Tuesday evening, the board discussed the possibility of working with the City of Prescott to propose a parallel bond in 2008 that would appeal to voters.

For example, board member Tom Staley suggested building Northpoint at one site, PHS at a nearby location, and having the two schools share certain components, such as art classrooms and science labs.

In addition, other board members said the district and city could work together to build a third structure, such as an aquatic center, that the community and the students could use. With such a plan, the district would have a better chance of receiving approval on its school bond in 2008.

Overall, the board wants to drive out to Pioneer Park and see which properties are available before making any further decisions.

Contact the reporter at

slopatin@prescottaz.com

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