MUSD studying elementary school boundary changes

MUSD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Tracey Pastor presented three possible elementary school boundary realignments at a public meeting Wednesday. The second public meeting on the issue is Monday at 5 p.m. at the MUSD district offices. [Jay Taylor]

Maricopa’s growth means widespread changes across the city, and the effects will trickle down all the way to elementary-school students next school year.

The Maricopa Unified School District is studying potential changes to the attendance boundaries for its six elementary schools to account for recent growth and prepare for additional population to come.

Four elementary schools would be impacted by the plans under consideration: Butterfield, Maricopa, Saddleback and Santa Cruz, MUSD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Tracey Pastor said. She added that Pima Butte and Santa Rosa elementary schools would not be impacted, nor would the city’s middle schools or high schools.

The four impacted schools are larger than Pima Butte and Santa Rosa, with 43 classrooms and a capacity of 956 students each. Pima Butte has 21 classrooms and a capacity of 506 and Santa Rosa has 24 classrooms and can accommodate 603 students.

The district has 3,880 students but is projected to grow to 4,844 by fiscal year 2026, a 24.8% increase.

One area under study is a grid bordered by Porter, White and Parker, Smith Enke and Honeycutt roads. Pastor said under this option the grid would be split, with 140 students moving from Santa Cruz to Butterfield.

“If we can move half the students in that grid from Santa Cruz to Butterfield, that is the best-case scenario for Santa Cruz,” Pastor said.

Santa Cruz has the largest student population in the district with 794 students. However, district projections show it growing to 1,177 by the 2026 school year if the boundaries are not changed.

Saddleback is the other school projected to go over capacity in five years, at 1,064 students, 108 beyond capacity.

The second and third options under consideration would impact students from Maricopa and Saddleback. One grid bordered by Smith, Maricopa, and Farrell roads and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, would move 153 students living in the Pala Brea and Desert Cedars communities from Saddleback to Maricopa.

The other option – and Pastor said only one of the two would be implemented – would also switch students in the southwestern part of the city from Saddleback to Maricopa. That area includes six grid areas bounded by Peters and Nall, Vista, Maricopa and Ralston roads. The area currently has just 35 students but with the projected growth from the Amarillo Creek subdivision Pastor said it will be over capacity by 2026.

“We are trying to get all six schools within the 85-95% capacity range before we are ready for a new school,” Pastor said. “That’s the perfect scenario. The School Facilities Board doesn’t allow us to build when just one school is over capacity. They look collectively across the district, and it is our responsibility to share growth across our six schools. That’s why we monitor growth across the district and plan in advance rather than trying to react.

“Saddleback and Santa Cruz are the two we are most concerned about,” she continued. “They are the two with the most students now, but what is more concerning is projected to happen in two or three years from now.”

MUSD will hold its final public meeting on the issue Monday, Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in the MUSD district office at 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.