Scottsdale school board tackles first steps of $229 million bond

A view of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board. From left, is board members Sandy Kravetz, Allyson Beckham, Kim Hartmann, Vice President Pam Kirby, President Barbara Perleberg, Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell, and board Secretary Susan Como. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

The first few puzzle pieces of the Scottsdale Unified School District’s bond package are beginning to come together to resemble a list and a plan, as the district pin-points where to begin.

The governing board took steps to identify projects to be paid for by a $229 million bond approved last fall by district voters. The initial projects unanimously approved by the board Jan. 17 will total $45 million.

The Scottsdale Unified School District operates 30 schools located within three municipalities: Scottsdale, Phoenix and Paradise Valley. District voters approved a $229 million bond to supplement funding that has been cut at the state and federal level in recent years.

District officials are saying that the bond is earmarked for: eight elementary school rebuilds; life cycle improvements at 22 schools; learning environment remodels at nine schools; numerous transportation updates; security updates at all schools; and physical education and athletics at all five high schools.

At its Jan. 17 regular board meeting, the five elected leaders voted unanimously to approve its first bond sale in the amount of $45 million; approve renovations at Cheyenne Traditional School; and purchase architect services from Orcutt Winslow.

The board in December agreed to make Hopi Elementary School, 5110 E. Lafayette Blvd. in Phoenix, its top priority because of its aging and crowded campus. Approval was granted to pursue a second project and district officials suggested Hohokam Traditional School be given consideration. No final decision has been made.

District officials will host a meeting 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave., to discuss a possible second project.

According to Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell, a number of south Scottsdale parents are requesting Hohokam house kindergarten through eighth grade students. That request, she says, would alter the scope and scale of the project.

The district’s draft list of other projects to be completed with monies from the first 2017 bond sale are:

  • Start Hopi Elementary School rebuild — estimated cost $18 million;
  • Start unnamed school No. 2 rebuild — estimated cost $10 million;
  • Cheyenne Traditional School classroom space, gymnasium, front office and parking lot renovations — estimated cost $7.6 million;
  • Saguaro High School football field and track replacement — estimated cost $2.24 million;
  • Coronado High School football field and track replacement — estimated cost $2.1 million;
  • Chaparral High School football field and track replacement — estimated cost $2.2 million;
  • Upgrading and installation on cameras at campuses — estimated cost $151,500;
  • Upgrading of door hardware for security purposes — estimated cost $660,000;
  • Upgrading and renovating of site front offices — $3.6 million.

Cheyenne Traditional School, 13636 N. 100th St., houses preschool through eighth-grade students. Its lack of science labs and a gymnasium brought it to the forefront of the bond list, district officials say.

Renovations at Cheyenne include computer lab space, science lab space, a gymnasium, front-office renovations and parking lot renovations.

A view of Cheyenne Traditional School.

“We know we need science labs, we know we need computer space but we might also have more space needed so we want to be inclusive in that process,” said Dr. Birdwell.

Board approval means the design process can begin — including meeting with the principal, site council, teachers and architects.

While working through that process, the front office and parking lot will be improved to create a better flow of traffic and increase safety.

Parking lot improvements will include a fire lane and flow of movement, said Chief Financial Officer Daniel O’Brien at the Jan. 17 meeting. The front office re-design will secure the existing building.

“Programmed into the gymnasium and the classroom space was kind of the front office renovations,” said Mr. O’Brien. “If you run fast enough you could run through the front door, and run right back into the campus, and if nobody tackles you fast enough you’re in the campus.”

One item floating between bond sales is the demolition of the unoccupied 68th Street Campus, which was previously on the list for spring 2017 bond sale, but has since been put on hold.

Fall 2017 bond sale in the amount of $40 million has been earmarked for:

  • Finish the rebuild of Hopi Elementary — estimated cost $4.3 million;
  • Finish rebuild No. 2 — estimated cost $7 million;
  • Digital marquees (phase 1) — $600,000.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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