Tolleson Union High School District

Tolleson Union High School District is preparing to construct its seventh high school, with a planned fall 2019 opening for freshmen and sophomores. (Rendering courtesy ADM Group)

Avondale residents will soon see the construction of a new high school from the Tolleson Union High School District.

The as-of-yet unnamed school will open at the northwest corner of Avondale and Encanto boulevards in time for the 2019-20 school year.

“Our goal is to build a new high school that every student will want to attend.” Superintendent Nora Gutierrez said.

The school will be over 300,000 square feet, with an estimated 1,200 freshmen and sophomores upon its fall 2019 opening. The design, however, will accommodate 3,000 students.

A conceptual site plan from ADM Group shows plans include a 225,000-square-foot multistory high school, a gymnasium, a practice field, a football/soccer/track field, several junior varsity and varsity baseball and softball fields, and a performing arts center.

Phase one will include the administration and special education buildings, freshman and sophomore classrooms, cafeteria, gymnasium, non-varsity fields and an Innovation Center.

Because the 2019-20 school year will consist of only freshmen and sophomores, varsity fields, junior and senior classrooms, and the performing arts center will be part of a later second phase. According to a district press release, phase two is expected to be completed by summer 2020. So, extracurricular activities minus varsity sports will be offered in year one.

In terms of future curriculum, Gutierrez revealed ambitions are high at the district.

“We are looking at providing a school-within-a-school model serving 250 students to start, that could expand as needed,” she said. “We would emulate our very successful program at University High School, which is ranked 10th within Arizona and 29th nationally by U.S. News & World Report. University High students can take Advanced Placement course work and exams with an AP participation rate at 100 percent.

“Our goal is to partner with Luke Air Force Base and possibly provide a Military Academy with rigorous and challenging curriculum with an emphasis on STEAM,” she continued. “Our new campus will have an Innovation Center that is open and flexible and can be utilized to meet the needs of our students. This unique building will allow us to have a strong focus on Career & Technical Education (CTE) and adapt as determined by our student needs.

She said funding for the school comes from a number of sources, including the Arizona School Facilities Board, Adjacent Ways and last November’s local bonds election.

The full project is estimated to cost $106 million, with over $47 million worth of funding coming from the Arizona School Facilities Board, as well as around $6.5 million coming from Adjacent Ways and $52 million coming from the bond.

According to the press release, school boundaries have yet to be determined, though many open enrollment (variance) students are expected. The school’s name, mascot and colors are also yet to be determined, with the district planning to incorporate student and community input. The school’s principal is expected to be named by January.

“Our governing board is extremely supportive and excited for the new high school to open,” Gutierrez said. “The strong focus on CTE, STEAM and advanced course offerings will prepare our students for college, career and life. Our focus is always on student academic achievement. We are no longer a hidden gem, but a bright shining beacon in the West Valley and this new high school is another example of the great things we continue to offer our students.”

For more information, visit tollesonunionhsd.chasse.us. To view a conceptual fly-thru of the school, visit youtu.be/xF47KOWRzLs.