High School Capacity Problem Due to Bad Decisions in the Past – But Where is the Current Plan?

The problem of high school excess capacity is consistently raised – there are at least 6,200 seats too many for the current enrollment. The table below bears out this contention and the excess capacity may in fact be as high as 6,500 seats. How did we reach this stage?

If we look at the high school enrollment trend over the last 10 years, the annual enrollment has consistently decreased each year to the point where 2012 enrollment is 9% lower than 2003. At the same time enrollment is decreasing, an additional 650 seats were added in 2008 and 2,800 seats in 2009 as three new schools came on-line.

As you can see in the table above, the new seats simply added to the already existing 16% excess capacity and jumped to 35% in 2010. It appears that there were some errors in judgment and planning in prior administrations – and the cost to the taxpayer was tens of millions in excess building costs. But enough of shooting the wounded – let’s look forward.

From the data, APS must have known that it had an excess capacity problem as far back as 2008 or 2009. If that’s the case, why are we still talking about it and not correcting the problem? Not only did it cost taxpayers tens of millions to build the excess capacity – it also costs millions annually to keep unused capacity operational.

It is time to stop complaining and time to present a plan to reduce the excess capacity. We need to stop the extra millions of spending on maintenance and upkeep!

**Data obtained from the 2011 CAFR and FY12 Budget Book.

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