New high school to be named Desert Sunrise

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Construction continues on Desert Sunrise High School which is slated to open for the 2022-23 school year. [Brian Petersheim Jr.]

The Maricopa Unified School District chose Desert Sunrise as the name for the city’s
new high school Wednesday night, choosing not to use any of the three names
proposed by the district’s naming committee at MUSD’s Nov. 11 governing board
meeting. Those names were Pecan Grove, Vekol, and Sonoran Sunrise.

The board discussed the options at the Nov. 11 meeting but chose to take more time to
review the options and consider others. Several other options were discussed at that
meeting.

MUSD Board of Governors President Ben Owens said the decision to postpone the decision was a pragmatic one.

“I just didn’t feel like we were going to come to a consensus at that time,” he said.

The board did not, in fact, come to a consensus. The vote for Desert Sunrise passed by
a 3-2 vote, with Robert Downey, Jim Jordan and AnnaMarie Knorr voting for it and Torri
Anderson and Owens voting against.

AnnaMarie Knorr

Knorr said those who were critical of the board for postponing the decision need to be
aware of the restrictions of the state’s open meeting laws.

“It’s important for everyone to know that we can’t discuss things we’re going to discuss at this dais outside of this room because of open meeting laws,” she said. “This is the only opportunity we have to discuss these things. I didn’t appreciate the kicking the can down the road comments. This is a huge, huge decision that will live on for a long time. It’s not the kind of thing we want to rush.”

Although they disagreed on the name, Anderson agreed with Knorr about taking the
extra time.

“This is a community school, and it will be here much longer than any of the board
members,” she said. “I respect the decision, but we’re going to have a hard time getting
people to sit on committees if we don’t take their recommendations. So, I think we
should stick to the three options the committee gave us.

Jordan liked the new name.

“They really got the ‘Sunrise’ part right,” he said. “It means a new day, a second chance.
And the desert theme is an excellent choice.”