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Enrollment Booming At Queen Creek Schools

(Photo by Mariana Dale - KJZZ)
Students at Queen Creek Unified School District's Newell Barney Middle School.

Thousands of new homes are planned for construction in Queen Creek, and the local school district expects to double its enrollment in the next 10 years.

“The visual look at our community — it’s a lot of open fields, agricultural fields, and a lot of that is being plowed under and developed,” said Queen Creek Unified School District Superintendent Perry Berry.

Student enrollment has increased nearly 40 percent since August 2012, according to a report from Applied Economics, a consulting firm hired by the district.

There are currently 6,699 students enrolled, and the Applied Economics study predicts at least 10 percent more students annually in the next five years. 

“We think it’s a great problem,” Berry said. “I mean, I think it’s a great opportunity. It shows we have a lot of prospective home buyers coming into Queen Creek. There’s affordable housing. We have a top-notch educational system.”

Berry says the district plans to build new schools to accommodate the growth, starting with a high school.

“Right now we’re in a state where we don’t have a great way to build schools without bonding capacity and bonding authority from our local voters,” Perry said.

Instead, the district is seeking money from the Arizona School Facilities Board. Berry said the district will present its proposal at a February board meeting.

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Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.