New Pima High School still on schedule for fall 2025 opening

Image Courtesy Pima Schools: This is the architect’s rendition of how the entrance of the new Pima High School will look. The school is still on schedule for a fall 2025 opening.

By Jon Johnson

PIMA – While bursting at the seams of its current facility, those involved with Pima High School can’t wait for the new school to be built. On Tuesday, Pima School Superintendent Sean Rickert gave an update on the proposed $22.3 million school and said construction continues on schedule to be completed by summer 2025 for a fall opening. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima Superintendent Sean Rickert shows the rendition of the entrance to the new Pima High School during his presentation to the Pima Town Council on Tuesday.

Rickert appeared in front of the Pima Town Council and presented a packet from SPS+ Architects of Scottsdale, which is designing the school. 

The land is under contract, and, according to the timeline presented in the packet, construction is slated to begin in January 2024 and be completed and handed over to the school by June 2025.

As first reported by the Gila Herald, the proposed location is 40 acres of current cotton fields just north of U.S. Highway 70 north of the Speedway gas station at 325 E. U.S. Highway 70. The site is nearly double the size of the current high school facility and will be a 67,000-square-foot campus. 

The ballfields, including baseball, softball, football, and two practice fields, will be located on the northern end of the property off Center Street. 

Image Courtesy Pima Schools:

The proposed football stadium features 2,890 “Home” seats and 1,496 “Visitor” seats, however, the designated bleacher seats will be flip-flopped from the one shown in this design so the home stands will be facing east with the visitor seats facing west. 

“Anybody that’s ever gone to a football game in Safford knows you don’t want the home bleachers to face west,” Rickert said. “So, that will be changed.”  

The school will have a new section of 200 South created on the northeast side of U.S. Highway 70 for access. A traffic light will be installed at the intersection of Highway 70 and 200 South, which will be beneficial for when school completes for the day. Rickert said the plan is to have morning student school traffic enter from Center Street while parent drop-off is conducted off 200 South. In the afternoons, however, the Center Street entrance gate will be closed and the 200 South gate open for student traffic out onto the highway. 

“If we close the north gate at Center Street and open the gate between, then we can direct all the traffic out onto the highway through the signaled intersection,” Rickert said. “And that will avoid any queuing issues on Center Street. We don’t want kids to be cutting through the Dollar General parking lot to try to not have to wait for cars that are stopped at the stop sign that they think aren’t going fast enough.”

Image Courtesy Pima Schools:

The school gate manipulation avoids having to install an additional traffic light on Center Street.  

The southern section of the school site will house the gymnasium and all of the school buildings, including classrooms, performing arts, culinary arts, CTE, and school administration.

Image Courtesy Pima Schools:

Parking lots are located to the west of the gymnasium and football field to allow easy access to the venues for spectators.  

Image Courtesy Pima Schools:

Rickert said one of the biggest challenges schools are facing with construction right now is labor shortages and that it doesn’t seem likely to change anytime shortly as Pima continues to grow at an unprecedented pace. To help combat labor issues, the school has been designed modularly to enable pre-fabricated panels to be assembled in roughly 15-foot-long strips created in Phoenix. The panels are then transported to the site, set on stem walls, and connected instead of having to do all the construction on site. The Gila Valley Arizona Temple was constructed in the same manner using prefabricated modular panels.    

“Doing a lot of the work in the Phoenix market in prefabrication is one way we feel we can get a lot of those labor risks and issues in control,” Rickert said.  

Image Courtesy Pima Schools: