BASIS Charter School’s new Scottsdale location causing controversy

SCOTTSDALE — The expansion of BASIS Charter School in Scottsdale is causing controversy for the neighborhood near 128th Street and Shea.

The location is zoned for a school, however residents in the area aren’t thrilled about the idea. They say the students’ safety could be at risk.

“Imagine the cars stacked up, and they’re walking innocently in front of the cars. But that one third lane where you got a car barreling along at 65, they’re texting, they’re not looking at the light. You got a dead child,” said Dick Thomas, a neighbor in the community.

Neighbors are also concerned that the school will bring in more traffic. But officials at BASIS Scottsdale said that they have already agreed to pay for improvements that would actually make the intersection safer.

“It actually turns the intersection from a grade level F to a grade level C,” said Elizabeth McConaghy, head of school at BASIS Scottsdale.

Hundreds gathered at a public hearing last Tuesday to share their opinion, some in support of the expansion, others expressing concern over the location.

Citizens Safety, what they call a “citizens activist group,” say they employed experts to review the site plan. They say their group is trying to give the school alternative options.

“It’s all unnecessary. If we could all work together, there are seven sights that can be used we’ve got a buyout group,” said Tim Heinemann, co-founder of Citizens Safety. “I mean there is a better way.”

“A lot of us have been somewhat disappointed and somewhat shocked about the lack of support that we’ve received from some factions in Scottsdale, not all factions certainly,” said McConaghy. “We believe that we do a great service to this city, we just wish that we had been more supported from the on-set when this process began.”

The Scottsdale City Council has to approve the abandonment of an easement for the property, which they did at last Tuesday’s meeting. Officials for the school say that they plan to start construction immediately in order to have the school ready for 4th through 12th graders at the start of the August 2016 school year.