After nearly a year since a committee was made to explore the idea of a Montessori high school for the Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD), school officials are taking the next steps toward making that idea reality.

Since the district explored three possible avenues for the high school last January, Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Baca said the Montessori Exploratory Committee is gathering information for a stand-alone high school and should make a presentation before the board in February.

“I look forward to their report and I believe our community appreciates that we are attempting to provide additional school choices for all families,” Baca said.

The board is currently focused on how the facility would be funded and how it would be coordinated with the Tempe Elementary School District, according to TUHSD spokeswoman Linda Littell.

Desert Garden Montessori in Ahwatukee recently launched a ninth-grade class to its program, and has been working with Baca in the effort to start a full high school, according to Desert Garden spokeswoman Lecia Michels.

“I think people will be excited about an alternative,” Michels added.

The concept for a stand-alone high school was one of three options for the Montessori school originally presented to the board last year, along with a school within an existing school or a school on a major university campus.

According to the presentation made in November, the committee stated that the stand-alone school could cost the district $17.5 million with no new bond needed, no use of an existing bond and no need for use of capital funding.

A strategy for obtaining the funding was a land swap of a 75-acre district property near Desert Foothills Parkway and Frye Road. Though the swap would cost more due to necessary site work before construction.

If completed, the school would be the first stand-alone, Montessori high school in Arizona.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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