A new charter school is opening in north Scottsdale in response to parent demand for a local branch of a chain with locations elsewhere in the East Valley.
Great Hearts Academies plans to open Scottsdale Preparatory, the group's fifth charter school, about a quarter-mile north of Scottsdale Airpark this fall.
There will be about 250 students in grades six through nine the school's first year, said Great Hearts CEO Dan Scoggin.
One high school grade will be added each year until Scottsdale Preparatory serves 450 students through 12th grade.
Plans for the campus, due to be located at 7496 E. Tierra Buena Lane in a building formerly occupied by AT&T, are set to go before the Scottsdale Planning Commission on Wednesday. Both Scoggin and city officials said they haven't received any complaints about the plan.
Great Hearts decided to open the school in response to a group of about 40 north Scottsdale parents who started lobbying the agency four years ago, Scoggin said. Those parents had either toured other campuses or enrolled their students at one of its other schools in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler or Phoenix.
"There's just such a need for high schools in north Scottsdale," Scoggin said. "It's so expensive for us to be there ... but people have been asking for it for years so we decided it's time for us to step up and serve that part of the Valley."
Scoggin touted high test scores in other Great Hearts schools and a focus on liberal arts education as the things that sets the schools apart.
"The whole goal of the curriculum is we want well-rounded young men and women by the time they graduate their senior year," he said.
There are several components to the liberal arts philosophy, Scoggin said. All students are instructed in performing and fine arts to gain an "understanding of what beauty is," get seven years of lab sciences, take math through calculus, learn both Latin and a contemporary foreign language and read 60 classic books by the time they graduate.
Great Hearts recently hired Diane Bishop, a former state superintendent of public instruction and governor's education policy adviser, as Scottsdale Preparatory's headmaster, Scoggin said.
Great Hearts is also opening a school in Glendale this fall. It plans to eventually operate 12 schools in the Valley, Scoggin said.