MUSD approves guaranteed budget for athletic fields

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When it was announced that Maricopa would be getting a second high school, there was speculation that the school, known as Desert Sunrise High School, would be a “bare bones” facility, at least at first.

And until the Arizona Legislature provided $18,826,250 million in additional funding to the original budget of $22,461,250 allocated by the School Facilities Board construction grant, that’s exactly what it was going to be.

But as part of the additional $18.8 million, the Maricopa Unified School District governing board last Wednesday approved a guaranteed maximum price for the school’s outdoor athletic facilities of $3.7 million. The indoor facilities, including a gym with basketball and volleyball courts and two locker rooms each for boys and girls, was part of the initial funding.

MUSD Superintendent Dr. Tracey Lopeman defined just how “bare bones” the athletic facilities were going to be, had the new funding not come through.

“We were going to have a grassy play area and that was it,” she said. “We were very fortunate with the timing of the funding and the expertise of our team that we are going to be able to have all these aspects of the athletic facilities be a part of the school when it opens in July.”

Lopeman highlighted some of the additions the funding will provide, including a full slate of athletic features – most of which were not going to be included with the initial funding. The list includes a competition football and soccer field including goal posts and soccer goals; competition baseball and softball fields (two each); a rubberized track; field lights; bleachers; additional football storage space; concession area; and restrooms.

The funding also will provide necessities such as practice equipment and uniforms, game uniforms for the football, soccer and track teams, and other assets like mowers and other landscaping equipment.

“None of that was included with the initial round of funding,” Lopeman said. “We were able to match our master plan without having to delay or change the functionality of any those features.”

Mark Rafferty, a partner with Facilities Management Group, the project manager for Desert Sunrise, said he was happy to see some of the funding go toward athletics.

“There are a lot of things to choose from when you’re funding a new high school,” he said. “A lot of it is tied to athletics. And it really has to be if you’re going to be a comprehensive high school.”