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Tue, Feb. 25

New school causes new questions

PRESCOTT - After a three-hour meeting Wednesday morning, the Prescott Unified School District Governing Board still is uncertain what to do with a new 500-student school the state most likely will approve June 7.

PUSD Superintendent Kevin Kapp said the state already approved the building unofficially; however, the State School Facilities Board will vote to make it official at its next meeting. At that point, Kapp

needs to tell the state how PUSD plans to use the building, and requires direction from his governing board first.

During Wednesday's meeting, board members discussed a few options. First, they could designate the entire building for Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy. Currently, Northpoint operates at the Dexter Family Resource Center in Prescott. The school can serve 400 students. However, Kapp said once Northpoint reaches 200 students at Dexter, it will be at full capacity. Next year, Northpoint will have a freshman and sophomore class, with close to 200 students.

All the board members agreed Northpoint needs a building of its own; however, some said they don't want to designate the 500-student school for Northpoint before deciding what to do about the overpopulation at Prescott High School.

Another option board members discussed revolved around proposing a bond between

$60 million and $80 million for the November ballot. The district would use the money to build a new state-of-the-art high school for PHS, thus eliminating the parking and overpopulation problems. The district still would use the state-approved school for Northpoint.

If board members decide to call for a bond election, they must do so by July 10. Board member Joan Fleming urged the other members to call for a bond this year because the city has three bonds coming up in 2008. She's worried if the district waits a year, voters won't approve a school bond because of the city bonds.

Board member Tom Staley suggested moving both middle schools into the current PHS building, and moving the district offices into Granite Mountain Middle School. He said this would keep the cost down for taxpayers by freeing up other buildings either to trade or sell.

While some members opposed the idea initially, they eventually opened up, but wanted to check with parents first. The board told Kapp to send out a survey to middle school parents, asking if they would oppose sending their children to a 1,200-student middle school.

The board also discussed where the district would build the school or schools, agreeing North Prescott is the best location. Kapp said he's beginning some preliminary discussions with city officials about sub-leasing land at Pioneer Park.

While he didn't receive a clear consensus from the board, Kapp said he did receive clarity on the questions he needs to answer before June 7.

Contact the reporter at slopatin@prescottaz.com

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