MUSD to get update on new high school plans

SFB phase of a second high school for MUSD.

With escrow scheduled to end Tuesday, the purchase of land for a second high school returns to a Wednesday agenda of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman intends to give an update on the high school plans.

The discussion includes a glowing summary of the Oct. 2 meeting between the district and Kelly Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Palmisano Farms and a former mayor. The Anderson farm is directly north of the Emmerson property being bought by the district on Murphy Road.

Lopeman, attorney Roger Decker, Facilities Management Group consultant Mark Rafferty and architect Saravanan Bala all met with Anderson after reaching an apparent stalemate. The school needed neighboring property owners to sign a pesticide restrictive covenant, which Anderson Palmisano had not done by a set deadline.

That document was reportedly signed as a result of that meeting.

The district’s summary of the Oct. 2 meeting described it as “professional, friendly and productive.” Kelly Anderson reportedly advised the district the intersection of Farrell and Murphy roads needs offsite roadway improvements to carry off floodwaters. He shared his ideas for safety improvements as well.

“The District team recognized and acknowledged Mr. Anderson’s insight and experience as to city government, his unrivaled historical knowledge and welcomed his support in working with the city and others,” the summary stated.

Such a mutually supportive meeting had not seemed in the cards in September.

A long list of prospective properties for the school had included a portion of the Anderson property as a finalist. Torri Anderson, the wife of Kelly Anderson and a member of the governing board, had recused herself from the land-purchase decision.

In May, Kelly Anderson sent a letter to Lopeman expressing the partnership’s opposition to the district’s selection of the Emmerson property and announcing its intent not to sell its own property to the district. With the pesticide covenant unsigned, the school’s purchase was in limbo.

During a testy board meeting in September, Kelly Anderson expressed confusion that his May letter was not part of the public record but was instead aired in a closed session. Torri Anderson went further and said the Anderson property had been taken out of contention in February, but she was told by MUSD ‘s legal representation to continue to recuse herself, which surprised members of the board.

Despite the gloomy ending of the Sept. 23 meeting, Board President AnnaMarie Knorr asked district administration to reach out to the Andersons again, which led to the Oct. 2 meeting. Knorr also emailed Torri Anderson to seek clarification of when the Anderson property came off the market and what she was told by the school district attorney.

Torri Anderson apologized to Knorr, saying she misspoke at the meeting. Though the Anderson partnership had voted in February to take their property out of contention “as respect to the Volkswagen proving ground” on the east side of Murphy Road, MUSD was not notified of the change until receiving Kelly Anderson’s letter in May.

Wednesday’s meeting of the board begins at 6:30 p.m.

The agenda also includes a presentation by the Boys & Girls Club, with meets at Santa Cruz Elementary, the classroom spending report, a revision of retention procedures and the monthly Spotlight Recognition.