Elevation Drawing of Entrance to New Pima High School

Graphic depiction of the complete site plan for the new Pima High School campus.

At the time we completed the PES Construction Project we had already begun working toward replacing the 1938 Pima High School facility. The first step was to obtain a structural engineers report showing the inadequacies of the facility. Given its age the building is in remarkably good shape, but the report estimated it would cost $3-4 million to bring it up to current construction standards. It would cost even more to address the mechanical issues (plumbing, electrical and climate control systems) which are out of date. Based on this report the Board approved a resolution to retire the facility as soon as possible and transition it to district support needs. Because the projected growth over the next five years would provide elementary school demands for space that would use up all the Main Street facing classrooms, there will be no room for high school students on the existing campus.

The Arizona School Facilities Board approved an entire new campus for Pima in 2021, and the Arizona Legislature approved $22,299,543 in funding for the project in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. At that time we began looking for a site. The law requires a process that begins with ruling out any Arizona State Land. This took all of 2021 to accomplish, but in February, 2023 we were told to pursue a land purchase. The board identified the parcel across the highway from Speedway as the ideal site. The location has easy access to the main road through town in a part of the highway that is at a reduced speed. The site is large enough to accommodate all the needs of the project including athletic fields and a modest agricultural field. In the Fiscal Year 2024 budget the state allocated money for the land purchase and in August we closed on the purchase.

By this time we had already made significant progress towards the design of the facility. First, a consultant was hired to determine how many square feet would be needed for the various functions and programs you find at a high school. To accomplish this a team of teachers from Pima High School travelled to schools across southern Arizona to get an idea what options to consider. They then helped the consultant put together the specifications. As this was wrapping up, another committee including a representative from the Town of Pima and the School Board was reviewing applications from Architectural firms. In the end this selection committee hired SPS+ to design the campus and buildings. SPS+ met with an even larger group of teachers over the following six months to ensure the facilities we designed met the needs of our programs. There were also opportunities for members of the school board and the site council to have input. Based on all this feedback, SPS+ has designed a 67,000 square foot facility on a 44 acre campus.

While all this designing was going on another group was working hard to monitor the projected cost of the project. From day one the Governing Board and the Superintendent have been committed to building the high school without having to impose a secondary tax rate on the community. This commitment is based on the board's belief that placing an additional burden on the citizens is something that should only be done as a last resort. Towards this end they have charged Superintendent Rickert with the task of keeping the costs down and finding the funding to build the school.

In order to move from design to construction the district must identify a contractor. After the attempt to develop a select qualified bidder list failed, the district published an invitation for a Construction Manager At Risk to take on the project. Applications were accepted and three candidates were interviewed. Danson Construction was identified as the best firm for the job. They will submit a Guaranteed Maximum Price for the project and we will submit this to the School Board and the Arizona School Facilities Board for consideration in December.

We anticipate breaking ground on the project during the first part of 2024. From there construction will go in fits and starts. Infrastructure will be laid in first, and then the buildings will be brought in and installed. This will be accomplished through the utilization of Modular Construction. For more information on the rationale behind using this approach see the link in the sidebar. The new Pima High School will be open for classes in August 2025.

In alignment with Arizona laws and regulations as overseen by the Professional Group Public Consultants, Inc. Pima schools has undergone an extensive process to identify a contractor for the New High School construction project. There have been multiple phases to this effort. First, in an effort to determine the practicality of the modular construction method the district issued a request for interest (RFI). The district received five responses to the RFI, and determined there were sufficient capable contractors available to move forward in that direction. Second, in an effort to limit the contractors who would bid the project to those with appropriate qualifications, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was issued. Arizona law requires that a RFQ receive at least three qualified submissions for a district to limit bidding, and not enough qualified submissions were received. Finally the district advertised for a Construction Manager At Risk (CMAR) to undertake the process. A CMAR submits an application and is hired to develop a Guaranteed Maximum Price for the project. If the CMAR and the District are unable to arrive at a mutually acceptable GMP, the project would go back to the application process. Currently the district is negotiating with Danson Construction to develop a GMP. All of the procurement efforts were processed through opengov.com. If you click here, you will be taken to the Procurement Portal. Limit departments for Pima and change "Active" to "All" to see all the documentation.


Did you know that Pima Schools is growing?

When this year’s graduating class started in kindergarten, Pima served just under seven hundred students. This number stayed pretty steady until they were in sixth grade. In 2014 we saw the enrollment start to climb. Between 2014 and 2018 district-wide enrollment increased by a steady three percent per year. Between spring break 2018 and the first day of school the following fall we saw a sudden explosion. Enrollment increased by 14 percent! We continue to see steady growth as our current enrollment is up four percent from where it was a year ago.

This creates some challenges. Last year saw class sizes at some grade levels increase suddenly and dramatically. We brought in a modular to increase the number of classes and hired a few more teachers. Since then we have been hard at work laying the foundation to meet the needs of our growing population with a new school building.

In January, we hope to begin building a thirteen classroom building on the north end of the campus. This building is being designed with the needs of our kindergarten, first, and second grade students in mind. The project also calls for renovating the six classrooms currently occupied by kindergarten and first grade for high school classes. This means Pima Elementary School will see a net increase of five classrooms, Pima High School will see a net increase of four classrooms , including two large sized science rooms that include lab space within the classroom, and Pima Junior High will see a net increase of two rooms when the recently acquired modular is relocated to that campus. Across the board we will see improved opportunities to meet the needs of all our students.

If you would like more information about the project, please continue to check this page for timelines, maps, and drawings. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact the schools for more information.

Thank you for your continued support, and now you know.