Gilbert Unified School District has taken the first step toward completing its newest school as the governing board approved pre-construction services at its meeting Tuesday night, where officials also approved teacher salaries for the next school year.
As part of its first phase, Quartz Hill Elementary at 3680 S. Quartz St. will open in fall with a capacity of 400 students. However, the school will have 583 students enrolled from the get-go, using portables to manage the overflow.
Since approving the boundaries in March, the board has pushed the district administration to expedite second-phase construction, which would bring capacity to 800.
Assistant superintendent of business services Clyde Dangerfield suggested that, from bond issue funds approved in 2005, Quartz Hill could be completed if the district reallocated $1 million set aside for land purchase and $2 million reserved for a transportation facility.
The board will consider the issue of funding the completion at a future meeting. Dangerfield said the school could be completed by January.
Quartz Hill’s first phase cost $4.3 million and was paid with $107.5 million in proceeds from bonds approved by voters in 2005. The school was not in the original list of bond issue projects, but the board decided to move ahead with it to relieve Spectrum Elementary School crowding.
The bond projects also include $15 million for a fifth high school, delayed because costs “went through the roof.” Aside from funds used on the design, the bond money set aside for a high school has not been spent and the bonds have not yet been sold.
Dangerfield said if the state’s School Facilities Board pays for the high school, the $14 million would go a long way in supplementing construction. If the state does not fund the school, the district may have seek another bond issue.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved teacher salaries for the 2007-08 school year, increasing first-year teacher starting pay to $35,000 — a jump from the current $33,165.
Nikki Blanchard, assistant superintendent of human resources, said teachers across the board received increases at a minimum of 4 to 6 percent.
Mike Weaver, president of the Gilbert Education Association, said the teachers are pleased with the increases. “We’ve been behind some neighbor districts,” he said. “To their credit, district administration with the support of the board did some restructuring (and) maximizing resources.”