Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

What will be the impact on the Pendergast Elementary District’s schools, notably Desert Mirage and Sunset Ridge? Nedda Shafir, a Pendergast Elementary School district communication consultant, said in the May 18, 2017 edition of the Glendale Star that the school district is only projecting a rise of 1 to 2 percent of student enrollment (based on enrollment for the entire district), including the proposed Stonehaven project.

There are two elementary schools that appear to be impacted. Even though the Desert Mirage Elementary School is located at 8605 W. Maryland Avenue and the Stonehaven area is not within its attendance boundaries, it would appear that it will have to accommodate some of the new elementary students produced by Stonehaven. The elementary school that is targeted to receive this new influx of students is Sunset Ridge Elementary located at 8490 W. Missouri Avenue. Stonehaven is within its attendance boundaries.

The following information is publicly available by doing a quick internet search. Each school has a maximum capacity of approximately 700 students. The last publicly available enrollment figure for Desert Mirage was 627 students and the current enrollment for Sunset Ridge is 639 students. Again, a quick internet search provided this information.

If the changes to Stonehaven are approved by the city council there will be a total of 1,362 homes. If we multiply the expected 1,362 Stonehaven homes by the national average of .8 elementary students per household, the Pendergast Elementary School District will see its enrollment increase by 1,089.60 new students.

Both schools combined have a maximum capacity for 1,400 students.  Combined both schools have an estimated enrollment of 1,266 students. Stonehaven will nearly double the k-8 students population with an estimated 1,089 new students. It is obvious that neither or even both of these schools will be able to accommodate the new elementary students that Stonehaven will produce. The last Pendergast district bond vote was approved with financing to add classrooms to Sunset Ridge. 

In a letter dated June 20, 2017 addressed to the Stonehaven applicants, Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux says, “The Pendergast Elementary School District has reviewed and evaluated the Stonehaven residential project. Sunset Ridge Elementary has the capacity and welcomes all students from the Stonehaven Community.”

It becomes clear that, despite the district’s assurances, it will not be able to accommodate this influx of students with new facilities within a year as required by Section 3 of Glendale’s City Code.

From Section 3 of the city’s Codes:

“B. No rezoning application shall be considered complete under Section 3.302 until the applicant provides a letter from the appropriate school district which certifies any of the following, or the time period for the school district’s response to a request for certification has expired under subsection D:

“1. That the school district has adequate school facilities to accommodate the projected number of new students within the school district’s attendance area;

“or 2. That the school district will have adequate school facilities by a planned capital improvement to be constructed within one (1) year and located within the school district’s attendance area;

“or 3. That the school district has determined an existing or proposed charter school can provide adequate school facilities;

“or 4. That the applicant and the school district have entered into an agreement to provide, or help to provide, adequate school facilities within the school district’s attendance area in a timely manner;

“or 5. That the school district does not have adequate school facilities to accommodate projected growth attributable to the rezoning. “ I ask you to judge for yourselves. Have any or all of these city requirements been met or justified with hard data in Dr. DeBlieux’s letter?

Also please take note of item #4, “That the applicant and the school district have entered into an agreement to provide, or help to provide, adequate school facilities within the school district’s attendance area in a timely manner.” There may be no such agreement at the moment but it does confirm what I have learned from within the development and educational communities…and that is, a developer will often make a dollar contribution per house constructed to do exactly what item #4 requires.

By the way, again from an internet search attributed to Civil Rights Data Collection, Desert Mirage has a student-teacher ratio of 28:1 and Sunset Ridge has a student-teacher ratio of 24:1. The Arizona state average is 21:1.

Copper Canyon High School, located at 9126 W. Camelback Road, within the Tolleson Union High School District, seems to fare no better than the elementary schools. Stonehaven is within the school’s boundaries. The Stonehaven applicants have no letter from the district in the latest packet of information they supplied on Friday, June 23rd to each member of the Glendale City Council.

Joseph Ortiz, Tolleson Union High School District Director of Public Relations and Marketing said in the May 18, 2017 edition of the Glendale Star, “The current average number of students per household for Tolleson is 1.35 per household. However, this number is only for our high schools and does not include their siblings in our partner elementary schools.” Tolleson has a planned site for a future high school at Broadway and Dysart Roads. Not to worry—that’s only about 8 miles south and 4 miles west of Stonehaven. FYI, it’s student-teacher ratio is 24:1 as compared to the Arizona state average of 21:1.

Current enrollment at Copper Canyon High School based on an internet search showed an enrollment figure of 2, 251. There is no publicly available information on its total student capacity.

If we multiply the 1,362 homes proposed under the Stonehaven changes by Mr. Ortiz’ figure of 1.35, the yield is 1,089.60 new students. That is nearly double the current enrollment and an unsustainable increase in the number of students for Copper Canyon.

Where are all of these children going to go? Perhaps the parents of children in these school districts deserve an explanation based on hard, factual data provided by the respective superintendents.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

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