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CITY OF SURPRISE

 

PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION SPECIAL WORKSHOP

 

12425 West Bell Road, Suite D-100

Surprise, Arizona 85374

 

November 21, 2006

 

MINUTES

 

Call to Order:

 

The Planning and Zoning Commission Workshop Meeting began at 6 p.m. in the Surprise City Hall, 12425 West Bell Road, Suite D100, Surprise, Arizona 85374, on Tuesday, November 21, 2006.

 

Roll Call:

 

Chairman Lyn Truitt, Vice Chair Jan Blair, and Commissioners Skip Hall, Steve Somers, and Fred Watts were present.  Commissioners Richard Alton and Antonio Segarra were absent.

 

STAFF PRESENT:

 

Assistant City Attorney Jim Gruber; Assistant Fire Chief Clint Mills; City Planner Janice See; City Planner Hobart Wingard; City Planner Lance Ferrell; City Planner Adam Copeland; City Planner Gard Garland; City Planner Terry Pearson; Planning & Community Development Director Scott Chesney; and Planning and Zoning Commission Secretary Carol Dager.

 

                                                              PRESENTATION:                                                            

 

Chairman Lyn Truitt introduced Scott Thompson, Executive Director, Business Services Dysart School District. 

 

Mr. Thompson provided a brief history of Dysart School District:

1990s: Poverty and Weak Budget:

  • One of 13 poorest districts in Arizona.
  • Sued state to form School Facilities Board.
  • Only 78% of eligible students attended school in the district.
  • Forced to eliminate all sports and extracurricular activities.
  • Had five campuses; three were 50 plus years old and poorly maintained.
  • Failed bond and override elections.

2000s:  Growth and Evolution:

  • Encroachment issue leads to protect Luke Air Force Base initiatives.
  • Arizona School Facilities Board commits $140 million to build new district schools.
  • Two Traditional migrant farming communities are now Arizona’s fastest growing cities.
  • Bond passes $74 million to follow up on Capital Equity Committee recommendations.
  • Since 1999, growth spurt 25% and more than 2,000 new students each year.

 

 

 

Emphasizing that the Dysart School District is the fastest growing school district in Arizona, Mr. Thompson noted the past and projected growth of the school district:

  • Increase of more than 3,500 students from 2004 to 2005; 2,800 students from 2005 to 2006.
  • 20,900 students this year.
  • 40,000 students in less than 10 years from today.

 

He mentioned that the following economic factors indicate that growth will continue:

  • Housing prices.
  • Local commercial development.
  • Housing availability.

 

Mr. Thompson pointed out that the school district personnel work closely with city staff to keep track of developments.  One of the critical issues for the school district is infrastructure.  He suggested that timing is key to ensure everything is in place when a new school is needed. 

 

Mr. Thompson next discussed how a district acquires school sites, specifically talking about the Arizona School Facilities Board.  This board is funded by the state general fund allowing the schools to be built equitably throughout the state.  The district is required to submit information annually which is used to determine the district’s eligibility for any new schools. 

 

Mr. Thompson showed a map that indicated where the planned and proposed school sites were located.  He talked about construction costs and their impact on the district.

 

He mentioned that many students frequently have been moved from school to school.  Boundaries are changed to keep the schools equitably balanced with the numbers of children.  Many things are considered in the decision to move boundaries: families, stability, programs, school capacity, and transportation. 

 

Mr. Thompson addressed several myths:

  • Dysart schools are overcrowded.
    • While some schools have more students than others, boundary changes have avoided this issue.
  • Dysart classrooms are overcrowded.
    • Classroom student/teacher ratios are very competitive.
  • Dysart schools are in bad locations.
    • While some schools have better locations than others, many of the current school sites were established before the district started working with the cities.
  • Developers must have schools to sell a house.
    • Not true (see Royal Ranch, Litchfield Manor, and Roseview developments).

 

Chairman Truitt commented that the Commission strongly supports the schools, noting they prefer to have the school agreement prepared at the preliminary plat stage.   He pointed out that he appreciates the developers who donate the land for the schools.  He believes it is essential to our community to have the best quality of schools available to the residents.

 

In response to Commissioner Watts, Mr. Thompson replied that a letter is provided to the City Planning Department from the school district only when they have a document from the developer identifying the donation of a specific acreage for a school site. 

 

In response to Vice Chair Blair, Director Chesney replied that future design development standards will assist in ensuring a new development includes a school site.

 

In response to Commissioner Hall, Mr. Thompson indicated that the state has a formula that shows when a school will be funded for construction. 

 

In response to Commissioner Somers, Mr. Thompson stated that typically the school district would not expand beyond its boundary. 

 

Chairman Truitt opened the meeting for public comment.

 

Paula Forster, Surprise resident, voiced her concern about Dysart not having a vocational/technical program.  She also asked for a report that would show the class size for each class.

 

Mr. Thompson replied that the district does have vocational programs called signature programs.

 

Hearing no further comments from the public, Chairman Truitt closed the public hearing.

 

             CONSIDERATION AND ACTION TO HOLD AN EXECUTIVE SESSION:            

 

Pursuant to A.R.S. § 38-431.03(A)(3), the Planning and Zoning Commission may go into executive session with the City Attorney for legal advice on any item listed on the agenda.

 

There was no request made to call for an executive session.

 

                                                              ADJOURNMENT:                                                             

 

Hearing no further business, the Planning and Zoning Commission workshop meeting was adjourned on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 at 6:47 p.m.

 

 

 

______________________________________  

       Scott R. Chesney, Director

       Planning/Community Development Department

 

 

_____________________________

 Lyn Truitt, Chairman

 Planning and Zoning Commission