$25 million Sci-Tech Facility Mesa High School

Construction of a $25 million Sci-Tech Facility at historic Mesa High School begins this week.

Mesa High is about to start a makeover.

Construction on the historic, 122-year-old school is to begin Tuesday– two days before the last day of school in the Mesa Public Schools District.

Despite pandemic-related sharp declines in enrollment, MPS continues surging ahead with multi-million-dollar construction and renovation plans.

At its March 16 meeting, the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board approved the first chunk of a $40-million – up from $35 million – upgrade at Mountain View High.

Earlier, the board gave the green light to the first phase of a $70 million renovation of Mountain View and Mesa high schools.

An extensive overhaul of Mesa High and Mountain View campuses with some new buildings and additions, revamped athletic fields and other improvements is funded by the $300 million capital bond issue voters approved in 2018.

The second phase of Mesa High’s massive renovation was cleared to begin this week by the board.

According to Assistant Superintendent Scott Thompson, “We started with some of the fields ... new tennis courts and reshifting our fields.

“By moving the fields, the next phase was possible, the Sci Tech building.”

He said community input underscored “a great need for better science facilities.”

The new science and technology building will also be home to welding and construction classes.

“That is an exciting new thing coming to Mesa High,” said Superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis, after the board voted unanimously to approve the contract.

Mesa High’s new Sci-Tech Facility will cost just under $25 million.

Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, a revised budget showed the district still in the hole, with a projected $31 million deficit largely due to enrollment that fell by nearly 8 percent during the pandemic.

MPS also lost more than $7 million due to the state providing reduced funding for distance-learning students, compared to those taught in the classroom.

The district will be able to fill the budget hole, Thompson again noted, thanks to Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds received or anticipated.

MPS expects to receive $240 million in ESSER money.

As Thompson noted the federal money has a great deal of flexibility, the district is hosting meetings on how to use ESSER funds with “Invest & Innovate” virtual community meetings. 

The 90-minute meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m. via Webex, with meetings scheduled May 18 and May 27. Sign up at http://mpsaz.org/rsvp.

With the federal money providing financial confidence, the board heard presentations on a variety of proposed teacher raises and one-time “stipends,” and approved an extra $90,000 for graphics, raising the total to $290,000.

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