Peoria Unified board votes to use Challenger Space Center as a district-wide arts center - AZEdNews
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Peoria Unified board votes to use Challenger Space Center as a district-wide arts center


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  • Erin Dunsey/ Peoria Unified School District

At The Jan. 24 Board Meeting, Peoria Unified Governing Board Members Voted Unanimously To Repurpose The Former Challenger Space Center Into A District-wide Arts Center Which Will Benefit The Sunrise Mountain Campus, The District And The Community. Photo Courtesy Peoria Unified School District

At the Jan. 24 Board Meeting, Peoria Unified Governing Board members voted unanimously to repurpose the former Challenger Space Center into a district-wide Arts Center which will benefit the Sunrise Mountain campus, the district and the community.

Repurposing the former Challenger Space Center into an Arts Center will enhance existing programming on the Sunrise Mountain High School campus as well as expand the potential for programming opportunities for students, including new AP offerings.

Similar to the MET Professional Academy, students from any of Peoria Unified’s seven high schools will have opportunities to take their AP Art classes at the new Arts Center.

“There are students, not only at Sunrise Mountain, but across the district who will benefit from these opportunities,” stated Panzer.

In August 2017, the Governing Board approved a land swap and took ownership of the property. Due to significant repairs needed to bring the building up to code, the building sat vacant until the district could determine a use for it that was cost effective and that would positively impact students, staff and the community.

In the fall of 2018, Peoria Unified Arts Education Director, Robert Panzer, gave a presentation to the Governing Board during a Study Session that proposed the building be used for an Arts Center and also as a rental facility/community center during non-school hours.

Peoria Unified went through a lengthy process, including holding a Community Forum, and ultimately vetted the decision through a committee of diverse stakeholders that supported Panzer’s proposal. This would free up space in the existing high schools and address some of the rapid growth taking place in the northern portion of the district by utilizing space and resources in creative ways.

It is projected that renovations for the Arts Center will begin in 2019. Additional information on the Governing Board meeting is available on the district’s website at www.peoriaunified.org

Peoria Unified School District is nestled in the Northwest Valley of Peoria, Arizona and is home to 42 stellar public schools that are unique and created to fit the needs of all students. Peoria Unified is the choice district for more than 37,000 students and 4,000 staff, serving as one of the largest employers in the West Valley and one of the largest unified school districts in Arizona.

The district has signature programs spread out between 34 kindergarten through eighth-grade elementary schools and eight high schools that excel in academics, arts, athletics and Career and Technical Education programs.

The Strategic Plan outlines a laser focus on four key areas: Student Success, Safety and Well-Being, Stewardship of Community Resources and Community Connection. Above all, Peoria Unified is committed to transparency, parent involvement and ensuring that “Every Student, Every Day is Prepared to Shape Tomorrow.”