Spectrum Elementary School is expected to be overloaded with students next year, forcing the Gilbert Unified School District to quickly make some major, unexpected decisions.
The governing board must decide whether to build a new elementary school within the next year, as well as where to construct it and pay for it.
Spectrum, 2846 S. Spectrum Way, is the district’s most southern school, bordered by Williams Field, Val Vista, Pecos and Lindsay roads, and is handling “unprecedented growth” near Val Vista, according to Keith Vaughan, the district’s director of planning and development.
Vaughan said the school year ended with 1,077 students and is expected to exceed 1,300 by next spring.
The school is designed to handle 1,350, with the addition of portable buildings.
“This is certainly different than what we’ve normally seen,” Vaughan told the board during its daylong work study session Monday.
Board president Thad Stump said the “only viable option today” is to redraw attendance boundaries that shuffles students from Spectrum to surrounding schools.
During the next two months, the board will decide if it needs to build another school, and if so, where it should be built.
The board is unsure of how to finance the project.
The district is not eligible to receive state funding for an elementary school until at least 2009, Vaughan said.
The district can finance the construction costs at a higher interest rate, reappropriate bond funds allocated for renovation projects at Mesquite Elementary School, or use bond funds flagged for building maintenance.
“It’s painful to sit and make decisions,” Superintendent Brad Barrett said. “But it is necessary and it will continue.”