Informational meeting Jan. 18

Tim Ihms. Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopa offers diverse school options for students, and may be adding more.

In addition to its large district school and five charter schools, a private school could also open its doors in the city.

Maricopa Christian School would teach students K-6 in a location that has yet to be determined.

The institution would be headed by Tim Ihms, an Arizona native who founded and led two private Christian schools in Gilbert for more than 20 years.

Ihms is now a resident of Maricopa and current special education teacher at Pima Butte Elementary for the past three years.

His resume includes a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, a master’s from University of Northern Colorado, various teaching certificates awarded from the state in K-12 special education and elementary education, as well as an administrative certificate.

Looking to revive his career as an administrator, Ihms’ planned Maricopa Christian School to be one of only two private schooling options for residents at a proposed price tag of $6,000 per student. The other choice is Graysmark Academy, a private preschool in Maricopa that has been in operation since 2006.

The tuition rate for MCS is lower than Ihms’ previous private schools, which he said were competitive with the ‘higher-end’ private schools nearby in the Valley.

Ihms said the school will not hold fundraisers, but will accept donations. He hopes to keep operation and tuition costs down by performing custodial and office work himself.

Considering Maricopa’s median income is $75,000, Ihms said his school’s education and sense of community would more than justify the cost.

“The school does an amazing job; With that, people believe in it and sacrifice for it,” Ihms said. “It’s a different world, and it’s meant to be.”

The reason he has decided to open a school in Maricopa, Ihms said, is because he believes in its unique methods, which proved to be successful for his previous students in Gilbert – methods he said often can’t be implemented in a public or charter setting.

For starters, the school would not label its students based on ability.

Ihms explained because MCS would not receive government funding, it is not required to label whether children are gifted or special education students. For this reason, the school would offer “personalized” education for each child without nightly homework.

“Each student has an individual goal every day based on the day’s work beforehand,” Ihms said.

The school would also implement a lessened focus on technology and forego digital norms that are often found in traditional local schools. Students are instructed primarily by their teacher, using computers sparingly for lessons on typing, Word processing and Excel spreadsheets.

Students would learn in small class-sized cohorts. Inside one classroom, a teacher would lead kindergarten through third grade; another would teach fourth through sixth.

It’s a form of consistency that builds positive social relationships and an “amazing education,” according to Ihms.

“It allows the teachers and the students and the parents to know each other for up to four years, usually,” Ihms said.

Of course, the most obvious difference from other schools would be MCS’s religious component. Being a Christian school, Ihms said it would not include faith-based curriculum textbooks, but direct readings from the Bible.

As is the major challenge for most start-ups in the city, Ihms’ “million-dollar question” that still needs to be answered is the school site’s future location. Although he has scouted available spaces, he has not committed to one yet.

An informational meeting is scheduled Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. inside the wet room at Copper Sky Recreation Center. There, Ihms will provide prospective parents information about his proposed school and will also brainstorm solutions to its logistical challenges.

“If we want to get this schools started, I’m going to need help,” Ihms said.

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