YUHSD's plans to build new school faces roadblock

YUHSD plans for building a new school faces roadblock

SOMERTON, Ariz. - Could Somerton be the site of a new high school?  

It's something that a local school district has in the works, but it's facing a roadblock.

The lack of a signature from one farmer who owns land next to the project site has put Yuma Union High School District and the city of Somerton at a standstill.

It’s a plan that has been in the works since 2013, with the hope of building the first high school in Somerton. 

“We’ve had a lot of successes and we’re very hopeful for this other one and if not we’re still committed to the high school in Somerton,” said YUHSD superintendent Gina Thompson. 

By state law, a school cannot be built without neighboring land owners agreeing to restrict the use of pesticides during certain hours.

They also have to make sure they're safe and also restrict the use of pesticides on plots that are within a quarter mile radius of the school grounds. 

Thompson said it has the signatures of four of the five owners of land in that radius. They're just missing one, represented by a family trust, who have refused to sign the agreement. 

“This particular property is held in a trust. So it’s not necessarily someone who is living in Yuma and I don’t know their specific reasons.”

The mayor of Somerton said there is a strong need for a high school. 

"I think that the city is big enough to where it will accommodate the needs are there for a high school." said Mayor Jose Yepez.

Thompson says the number of students who travel from Somerton to a near high school depends on the school year.

"We're figuring between 800 and 1,100 depending on the year." 

Even though the plan is frozen, for now, residents are optimistic.

“Yes, it’s very important that they build a school here so our students can go here to Somerton and they won’t have to go to Yuma or San Luis, Arizona,” said Somerton resident Rosi Latamerano. 

“I think it’s beneficial because it might be more inexpensive for it to transport people to a local high school than it is to go all the way to Yuma,” said Santiago Renteria.  

The city has already bought land next to the high school property to build a park and outfields. 

YUHSD says if the plans go through the high school would potentially be finished by 2021 or 2022.

As for the reason behind the remaining landowner not wanting to sign the agreement, that is currently not known at this time. KYMA News 11 is currently searching for those answers. 

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