State and local officials turned out on Tuesday, Aug. 3, for BASIS Charter School's ribbon cutting ceremony in Oro Valley.
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath, council members Barry Gillaspie, Lou Waters, Steve Solomon and Joe Hornat, State Sen. Al Melvin and Rep. Nancy Young Wright joined hundreds of parents and students to celebrate the near completion of the school in Oro Valley's Steam Pump Village.
"This project is a model, because from start to finish it only took four months to complete," Hiremath said.
The mayor called the project an example of the efficiencies of the town's revised development process. He praised the work of the developer, Evergreen Devco, Inc., and the project management team, saying construction of a new facility in just four months is "unheard of, and is an indication of the commitment that Oro Valley has to furthering" business growth and economic development. "This project would not have worked had the developer not had an approved development plan, and made every effort to deliver their work plans and other information on time."
Councilman Gillaspie also commented on the rapidity with which the project sped through the town's process.
"It's hard to believe I'm standing here," Gillaspie said. "In April, we were celebrating the groundbreaking and our feet were in the mud."
The school is located in the Steam Pump Village shopping center on Oracle Road north of First Avenue.
This will be the third BASIS public charter school opened, with one in Scottsdale and another in midtown Tucson. It has been consistently ranked among the top schools in the country for the past several years.
"We feel lucky to get this quality of education without a private school price," said Isadora Hale, whose 11-year-old daughter Summer will attend BASIS Oro Valley. The school's location in Oro Valley also pleased Hale, who lives in the town.
Hiremath said the school would be a good addition to Oro Valley, which already has two quality high schools in Canyon Del Oro and Ironwood Ridge.
"We're very happy today to bring this school to Oro Valley," said BASIS founder Michael Block.
Block said BASIS plans to open more schools in Arizona and eventually in other parts of the country.
"It's important for our young people to be competitive with any peer group around the world," said Craig Barrett, chairman of the BASIS board of directors.
Barrett was board chairman and CEO for the computer processor company Intel. He told the group of parents and others attending the opening event that the school's success was based primarily on placing excellent teachers in the classroom.
"The formula is so simple," Barrett said.
BASIS officials expect the school to open in time for the coming school year. Already, more than 500 students have signed up for the inaugural term.
Oro Valley officials said the aggressive timeframe was met because the developer had an approved development plan. BASIS took over a location in the retail center that had originally been planned for a Tutor Time, so the compatible use made it easier to lay out this project.
"Since the development plan was already approved, and they modified the architecture plan which was then approved by the town's development review board, this gave the applicant the opportunity to go straight to construction documents and permitting," said Suzanne Smith, director of Development and Infrastructure Services for Oro Valley. "That's the only way we could have made this work."
Steam Pump Village property owners, Evergreen Devco, were appreciative of the town's expedited process.
"Our experience with the Town of Oro Valley … was, in a word, amazing," said Gregg Alpert, chief operating officer for Evergreen Devco, in a town release. "We started construction only 20 days after the initial meeting. This would not have been possible without the incredible cooperation, support, commitment and vision from the Town and their incredible staff."