Editor’s note: After publication, MUSD specified art, music, coding and robotics classes were affected. The district contends it aims to prevent overcrowding rather than relieve it.
It’s the first week of school in Maricopa. But not every student has a classroom to learn in.
Delays in state inspections have thwarted installation of seven portable units across Maricopa elementary schools.
The units, which were delivered last month, have yet to become operational for the new school year.
“When we started the process in January,” MUSD Chief Financial Officer Jacob Harmon said, “obviously the goal was to have them done before the first day of school.”
But completion of the portables remains incomplete and uncertain. Administrators do not have a timeline.
Installation of the portable classrooms was intended to relieve the strain caused by overcrowded classrooms, which has been a growing concern in the district.
Harmon said the timeline is “very, very condensed,” as the district readjusted its school boundaries in January.
Ideally, Harmon said he hopes to start the next portable process in the fall rather than late winter or early spring.
The State Housing Authority will conduct a cursory round of inspections at Butterfield and Santa Cruz Elementary Schools this week.
“After that, there could be further inspections based on their findings,” Harmon said.
At Saddleback and Maricopa Elementary Schools, crews are still working to build the base for the portable buildings. Whenever those are finished, they will begin the same inspection process.
The permits and inspections are out of the district’s control, Harmon said, as they await approval from the state.
“If any of these pieces have a delay, we won’t be able to meet our deadline,” he added.
With the start of the school year underway, some special student groups have been displaced and are learning in non-traditional spaces — like the library — rather than classrooms.
However, Harmon assured all traditional classes are held in traditional classrooms.
As students and staff eagerly await the portables, school officials say they’re continuing to work on the timeline and striving to ensure students have access to appropriate learning spaces as soon as possible.