Projections show more housing in DVUSD, but small enrollment gains

Arrowhead Elementary School is one of four Deer Valley Unified School District campuses that will not see phase 2 security upgrades this summer. Those will come at Arrowhead when the campus in Glendale undergoes modernization improvements in 2018. [Courtesy DVUSD]

By Cecilia Chan
Independent Newsmedia

Deer Valley Unified School District may need a new elementary school down the road, according to a demographic and enrollment analysis.

The Governing Board last week reviewed the report, which looked at enrollment, charter school data and residential housing developments.

“We only use this report for long-term planning, not for staffing needs,” said Deputy Superintendent Jim Migliorino, who oversees Fiscal and Business Services. He said the district is seeing lots of infill development, housing projects that have resurrected since the recession.

The bulk of the housing development is now concentrated in six existing projects with considerable in-fill development in two areas, north of Happy Valley Road on both the east and west sides of the district boundary, according to the report.

Currently, student enrollment is concentrated in the middle of the district. The district boundary is north of Bell Road  up to the Maricopa County line and stretches from 99th Avenue to 40th Street.

Nearly 9,700 new housing units are expected over the next decade with occupancy rates continuing to rise, resulting in more than 10,000 new households.

Despite that, however, in the next 10 years the district expects to see only a net enrollment of 700 students due to smaller household sizes, Mr. Migliorino said.

Future capital needs, according to the report include modernization projects at Desert Sky Middle School this summer and Arrowhead Elementary in summer 2018 and Hillcrest Middle School in 2020 so that every student have the same learning opportunities at all campuses.

Board Vice President Jenny Frank applauded the district to ensure all students have equal access to a quality learning environment.

But she voiced a concern with the possibility the district may need a new school in the future.

Although there is money to build a new campus from a 2013 bond, she questioned where the district would find funding for its operation, which includes hiring staff.

The district’s maintenance and operation budget can only be stretched so far, she said.

“I don’t understand how we can consider this at this point,” Board member Darcy Tweedy said, adding the district is already spending more than $1 million renovatingschools that are under- enrolled.

“It’s not sustainable to build new schools and continue to operate under-enrolled schools,” she said.

She suggested the district first look at boundary adjustments before considering building a new school.

Mr. Migliorino said it takes 24 months to build a school and that it needs to be on the district’s radar screen. He noted that there are regions in the district that can not be served with the schools in the immediate area.

For example, the high growth region, east of I-17 near Happy Valley Road, has only two campuses serving that area, he said — adding shifting school boundaries can be considered.

Board member Ann O’Brien said the district has some schools bursting at the seams and other schools that need more students and it was time to have a study session to look at ways to distribute the student population.

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