Chandler Edition - April 2021

CHANDLER EDITION

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 9  APRIL 20MAY 17, 2021

ONLINE AT

Chandler USD faces budget cuts Due to a drop in enrollment, funding for students learning remotely and costs associated with distance learning during COVID-19, Chandler USD and public schools across the state are navigating smaller budgets for the current and next scal years.

Chandler USDavoids sta layo with federal funding, budget cuts

BY ALEXA D’ANGELO School districts across the state— and the nation—have had to grapple with taking on costs associated with COVID-19, such as increased sani- tation, new technology for remote learning and more sta to create smaller classroom settings that allowed for social distancing. Among those costs and decreased enrollment in public school districts, districts such as Chandler USD have had to rely on federal and state fund- ing to oset COVID-19 costs. CUSD Chief Financial Ocer Lana

Berry said the district was able to cut $11 million from its scal year 2020-21 stang budget this spring without laying o teachers, instead using attrition and other cost-saving measures to prevent the loss of jobs for this scal year. But the district is not in the clear for scal year 2021-22 when CUSD may see a loss of 186 posi- tions due to the enrollment dip with- out additional funding. “For the last 30 years, we’ve been growing,” Berry said. “We did expect for the district to grow CONTINUED ON 12

CHANDLER USD COVID19 EFFECT ON FISCAL YEAR 202021 Maintenance & operations revenue

FY 2020-21 distance learning dierence

FY 2020-21 average daily attendance decrease

2,384 Total drop in enrollment $25.91M Total FY 2020-21 decit $31.12M COVID-19 relief to date

$13.89M LOSS

$12.03M LOSS

$350M

$325M

$13.89M LOSS

$300M

$275M

$250M

0 SOURCE: CHANDLER USDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Chandler Fashion Center eyes future stores, oerings BY ALEXA D’ANGELO In the 20 years Chandler Fashion Center has stood in the city, mall ocials said it had not seen a more dicult year than 2020—with the coronavirus pan- demic further accelerating the growth of online shop- ping as brick-and-mortar retailers struggled to get customers through the doors.

Despite a dicult year due to COVID-19, Chandler Fashion Center is working to attract new tenants and create new oerings for consumers in the coming year. Chandler Fashion Center

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SOURCE: CHANDLER FASHION CENTER COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Newoerings: Urban Outtters f.y.e Harkins entertainment concept Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant Doc Popcorn

CONTINUED ON 15

Chandler USD selects interim superintendent

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THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMAMY: To give my mom a break on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, my dad and I would share quality time shopping at the mall. A lot has changed in buying trends over the past 30 years. As the Chandler Fashion Center turns 20 this year, our front-page story looks into the mall today and plans for the future. Amy Ellsworth, PUBLISHER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMALEXA: Students, educators and parents have had to adjust to mask mandates, online learning and so much more while school districts have had to grapple with creating all the changes and maintaining student and sta safety. All of that, combined with an enrollment dip, has led to tighter budgets. We delve into Chandler USD’s budget and how funding has helped the district to avoid layos. Alexa D’Angelo, EDITOR

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CHANDLER EDITION • APRIL 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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project that will service travel nurses on short-term contracts and subcontractors for nearby employers. The renovated hotel is expected to be complete early this summer. 6 Pork on a Fork is expected to open its new Chandler location this May. An exact date was not known as of press time. The restaurant oers slow-cooked barbecue favorites. The original location of the restaurant is in north Phoenix. The Chandler location will be at 1972 N. Alma School Road in Chandler. www.porkonafork.com 7 The Double Dutch , a restaurant, will open in Chandler later this summer. The restaurant will be located at 1890 W. Germann Road, Ste. 1, Chandler, in the location that previously housed the now-closed The Ivy. According to a notice posted on the door, the restaurant is seeking a liquor license, and a hearing with Chandler City Council was scheduled for May 13. 8 Wildower Beauty Bar , which oers lash, facial and waxing among other ser- vices, is opening a Chandler location this year. The business already has locations in Gilbert and Queen Creek. An opening date was not known as of press time. It will be located at 4300 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler. www.arizonawildower.com 9 Construction is underway on Ziggi’s Coee , which will be located on the southwest corner of Ocotillo Road and Arizona Avenue in Chandler. The coee shop oers classic coees, fruit smooth- ies, Red Bull infusions and more on its menu. www.ziggiscoee.com 10 K9 Resorts , a luxury pet hotel, will open a Chandler location later this year.

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NOWOPEN 1 Forefathers , a restaurant that spe- cializes in cheesesteaks, fries and salads, opened in Chandler on March 29. The restaurant is located at 1075 W. Queen Creek Road, Ste. 1, Chandler. www.forefatherssteaks.com/chandler 2 Kastle Blak Fitness opened in Chandler on Feb. 20 at 4055 S. Arizona Ave. Ste., 6. The tness business oers

one-on-one personal training sessions. 480-434-0803. www.kastleblaktness.com 3 Pie Snob , a bakery and pie shop, opened in April its downtown Chandler location. The business is located at 250 S. Arizona Ave., Ste. 4, Chandler. 480-855-1019. www.piesnob.com 4 NuSpine Chiropractic opened in Chandler this spring. The business,

located at 4040 S. Arizona Ave., Ste. H-15, Chandler, oers multiple adjust- ment packages for patients. 480-247- 6777. www.nuspinechiropractic.com COMING SOON 5 The Aloha Motel is underway in uptown Chandler. The project, located at 445 N. Arizona Ave., will be a 26-plus room extended stay redevelopment

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

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The Aloha Motel

COURTESY THE ALOHA MOTEL

The pet hotel will be located at 1870 W. Germann Road, Chandler. An exact open- ing date was not known as of press time. www.k9resorts.com 11 Super Star Car Wash will open a location at 7165 S. Val Vista Drive, Gilbert. It oers an express exterior car wash and free vacuums, microber tow- els and high-pressure air hoses at every stall after a customer’s wash. No opening date has been announced. 623-536- 5956. www.superstarcarwashaz.com ANNIVERSARIES 12 Hilton Garden Inn Downtown cele- brates its one-year anniversary May 15 in downtown Chandler. The hotel features a pool, a restaurant and meeting space at 150 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler. 623-471-8400. www.hilton.com

Intel announced in March that it plans to invest $20 billion in an expansion to its Chandler facility.

COURTESY INTEL

FEATURED IMPACT EXPANSIONS Intel plans to invest $20 billion in an eort to expand its semiconductor manufacturing operations by building two new fabrication facilities at its Ocotillo Campus in Chandler, according to a news release from the city. “Intel’s continued expansion of its largest, most advanced manufacturing site in the world exemplies the presence of innovation in Chandler,” Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke said in a news release. The expansion marks the largest

private investment of any kind in Arizona history, according to the release. Intel said its expansion will add more than 3,000 high-tech, high-wage jobs and support an additional 15,000 jobs indirectly. Another 3,000 construction jobs will be employed while the fabrication facilities are being built. Intel said construction is slated to begin later this year, according to the news release. Intel celebrated 40 years in Chandler last year, and it opened Fab 42, a $7 billion investment.

The expansion will be located at the Ocotillo Campus in Chandler at 4500 S. Dobson Road, Chandler.

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CHANDLER EDITION • APRIL 2021

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

W. ELLIOT RD.

PROJECT UPDATES W. WARNER RD.

ADOTworks to preserve native plants along the I-10Broadway Curve BY ALEXA D’ANGELO Months before construction begins

BROADWAY CURVE The Arizona Department of Transportation is expanding I-10 along the Broadway Curve. Widening I-10 to six general- purpose lanes and two HOV lanes between 24th Street and US 60 (Superstition Freeway) Building collector-distributor roads between Baseline Road and 40th Street to separate local traffic from through traffic on I-10 Adding an additional general- purpose lane on I-10 from US 60 to Ray Road and keeping the HOV lane Modifying I-10 connections at State Route 143, Broadway Road and US 60 to improve traffic flow and safety Adding two bridges for pedestrians and bicyclists over I-10 between Baseline and Broadway roads and improving the Sun Circle Trail crossing at Guadalupe Road The I-10 Broadway Curve improvement project is funded in part by Proposition 400 , a dedicated sales tax approved by Maricopa County voters in 2004. SOURCE: ADOT/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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Group, in a news release. “There were more than 1,000 plants along the South Mountain Freeway that we maintained for more than three years and replanted after construction to preserve the plants and the beautiful landscape.” Crews will remove plants near I-10 to clear the way for construction of new freeway lanes and other improvements, according to ADOT. ADOT anticipates construction will begin this summer on the Valley’s first urban freeway recon- struction project, according to the news release. Over the next several months, crews will relocate utility lines and continue design work as preparations continue on one of the largest freeway construction projects in Arizona history, according to ADOT. ADOT anticipates construction will be complete by late 2024. The project is expected to cost $640 million.

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on reconstruction of I-10 through the Broadway Curve, the Arizona Department of Transportation is identifying native plants to preserve along an 11-mile section of the freeway, according to a news release from ADOT. Crews are examining an estimated 2,500 trees along I-10 between I-17 and Loop 202 to identify state-pro- tected plants—such as ocotillo and saguaro and barrel cactus—and native trees, including palo verde, mesquite and ironwood. Plants will be relocated into temporary nurs- eries during construction so they can be transplanted when work is complete. “Protecting the natural Arizona environment is an important part of our work,” said Robert Samour, senior deputy state engineer and leader of ADOT’s Major Projects

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McClintock Drive, Kyrene Road bike lane additions The city of Chandler is constructing two new segments of bike lanes along A McClintock Drive and B Kyrene Road that will connect to the existing bike lane system at the Tempe city limits. Status: Crews began work on the project July 13 and started with tree removal and utility potholing on the road, according to the city. The work is on both the north and south lanes of the roads. Timeline: July-April 16 Cost: $4.04 million Funding sources: federal grant, local match

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UP TO DATE AS OF APRIL 14. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT CHNNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY&EDUCATION

News from Chandler and Chandler USD

COMPILED BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

QUOTEOFNOTE

Chandler USDgoverningboard selects interimsuperintendent

District approves $2.38Mfor internet CHANDLER USD At a March 24 meeting, the Chandler USD governing board approved an expenditure of $2.38 million for internet and wide-area network, or WAN, services through Cox Communications. The district recommended approval of Cox Communications to provide internet and WAN services to the district in the amount of $56,560 per year for internet services and $231,120 per year for WAN services plus a one-time nonrecurring charge in the amount of $2,092,510 for the WAN.

“I ANXIOUSLYAWAIT THE OPPORTUNITY TO CELEBRATE A CONCLUSION TO THIS PANDEMIC.” KEVIN HARTKE, CHANDLER MAYOR

CHANDLER USD The Chandler USD governing board announced April 7 that Frank Narducci would succeed Camille Casteel as the district’s interim superintendent beginning this summer. “I am honored to continue to serve our students, sta and families during this transition time,” Narducci said. “It’s an honor to work with Dr. Camille Casteel who I believe exemplies everything good about public education.” Narducci has served Chandler USD as the assistant superin-

tendent of elementary schools since 2012, according to the district. He has been in the district since 1996

CITYHIGHLIGHTS

Chandler City Council May 13, 6 p.m. 88 E. Chicago St., Chandler 480-782-2181 • www.chandleraz.gov Chandler USD board April 28, 7 p.m. 1525 W. Frye Road, Chandler 480-812-7000 • www.cusd80.com MEETINGSWE COVER March 24 to spend $2.1 million of 2019 bond funds and e-rate funds on network infrastructure equipment. The board unanimously approved the expenditure. CHANDLER USD At a meeting March 24, the Chandler USD governing board approved spending $276,885 on new curriculum for K-6 general music classes. SCHOOLHIGHLIGHTS CHANDLER USD The Chandler USD governing board voted CHANDLER Chandler City Council approved a pay-for-performance increase for all city part-time and full- time employees April 8. The raises will cost the city $5.53 million across all funds. Each full-time employee will receive $3,000, and each part- time employee will receive $1,500. The one-time bonuses were made possible by the cost-saving eorts of the city during the pandemic. The city did not actively ll vacant positions during COVID-19 and put that savings toward the bonuses.

Frank Narducci

with 38 years of experience in public education, according to the district. The governing board approved Narducci as the interim superin- tendent in a 5-0 vote.

Total $2.38M $56,560 for internet services

$231,120 for wide area network services $2.09M for one-time wide area network fee SOURCE: CHANDLER USDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Board approves 2.5%raise for Chandler USD teachers and sta

Masks recommended, not required, in city buildings, property CHANDLER After Gov. Doug Ducey relaxed COVID-19 mitigation mandates— such as mask usage and limited business capacity—Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke released a statement March 26 asking residents to respect the mitigation poli- cies that Chandler businesses, nonprots and events are still employing. “We’ll take the same approach inside city buildings by educating and encour- aging the use of face coverings, physical distancing and disinfection practices,” Hartke said in a statement.

CHANDLER USD The Chandler USD governing board voted on March 24 to give teachers and sta a 2.5% raise for the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, the entry level and top level of each salary schedule will increase by 1.5% for cost of living, and the district will con- tribute an additional 2% to cover the increase in the employee cost for health insurance, according to district documents. The district will also provide a one-time $1,000 stipend for reten- tion in December 2021 along with

a one-time stipend to all full-time employees for $500 if growth on the 80th day of the school year is 500 additional students. That stipend would also be paid out in December 2021. Based on the district’s current student enrollment and 2021-22 projections, the administration deemed it necessary to reduce stang by $11,069,519, according to board documents. Part of that budgetary reduc- tion in force will come from resignations and retirements, according to the district.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

BUSINESSFEATURE

BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

ESCAPE ROOMS TO TRY

“WE NEVER CONSIDERED OPENINGANYWHERE ELSE; THIS IS OURHOME; AND I THOUGHT CHANDLER DESERVED TOHAVE ONE. ” KATE OBERMILLER, COOWNER

TONY’SBISTRO

In this room, the Obermillers have customers dig through clues left in a maa-associated restaurant.

THE PAWN SHOP

The Obermillers designed this room to be kid-friendly, and Kate Obermiller said it usually ends with everyone running around frantically.

PHOTOS BY ALEXA D’ANGELOCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Escape: Chandler Family-owned business brings adventures to life K ate and Lewis Obermiller decided years ago to take their family to an escape room. At rst, Kate said she was not too keen on the

THE CABIN

Kate Obermiller said The Cabin is the hardest hourlong room at Escape: Chandler. Customers must nd clues left in a dark cabin in the woods in order to escape.

designed and put together by Kate and Lewis—and the details in each room take anywhere from six to nine months to put together. “It’s a game; it’s fun for us to do; and it’s fun to watch people go through the rooms,” Kate said. “We started with just one game, and then we built the other three after we opened.” The last year has proven dicult for the business due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but Kate said that escape rooms are one of the activities that have been especially safe throughout the last year. “We have limits on the number of people in each room, and now we book parties of two or three peo- ple into rooms by themselves, instead of grouping multiple parties, so you are always with just the people you came with,” Kate said. “And each room is sanitized thoroughly after each group. Escape rooms have been one of those activities I wish people thought of more as safe during the pandemic because really it has been a safe activity all along.”

idea of an escape room. She said she had an idea that it would be claustrophobic and no fun whatsoever— but her mind had completely changed by the time they were done playing the game. “I loved it; I wanted to stay and do it all day,” Kate said. “Then I thought, ‘Why are there none in Chandler?’” In March 2018, Kate and Lewis opened up Escape: Chandler, the city’s rst escape room. “We never considered opening anywhere else; this is our home; and I thought that Chandler deserved to have one,” Kate said. There are four rooms in Escape: Chandler—each is designed for a group of people to pick through clues and play along until they can eventually escape the room. Three of the rooms are hourlong games, and one room is 90 minutes, Kate said. Each room is

Escape: Chandler 312 N. Alma School Road, Unit 9, Chandler 480-466-0005

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE Sasha’s Kitchen &Cocktails Downtown restaurant nds groove with new menu, drinks BY ALEXA D’ANGELO S ince opening in downtown Chandler in the spring of 2016, Sasha’s Kitchen & Cocktails has earned a loyal following—but the COVID- 19 pandemic gave the restaurant an opportunity to take a step back and change things up. A new scratch Italian menu was implemented last summer as well as an array of new cocktails. Assistant General Manager Kendall Murray said the restaurant has found its identity in downtown Chandler. “We tried to nd our identity for years; it had always been something dierent, but I really think we found our identity in the last year,” Murray said. “I love the concept we have now; we had time to ne-tune the menu and have customers give us honest feedback.” The new menu stems from owners’ Sasha and Donna Cosic’s family recipes, Murray said. It also makes the relationship between Phoenix’s Va Bene restaurant—also owned by the Cosics—more cohesive. “The recipes are passed down from Sasha’s mom; both restaurants are good, family-owned places,” Murray said. Murray said the restaurant also oers a private dining room that is on the top oor of Sasha’s Kitchen and overlooks the rest of the eatery. “We have ne dining, a great happy hour—this is a place that can be whatever you want it to be; it isn’t just a place to get dressed up,” Murray said. “The atmosphere uctuates. You can have a beer and an appetizer at the bar, or we’ve even had wedding ceremonies and receptions in our private dining room located in the upstairs portion of the restaurant. It can be whatever you want it to be here, and I really like that about this place.”

Braised Pork Osso Bucco ($26): Pork shank, natural jus and parmesan risotto is a staple on the Sasha’s Kitchen menu. (Photos by Alexa D’Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

CRAFT COCKTAILS The menu at Sasha’s Kitchen features several hand-crafted cocktails.

Pimm’s Cup ($9): gin, Pimm’s liqueur, lemon, simple syrup, muddled cucumbers and mint, soda

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CHANDLER EDITION • APRIL 2021

Chandler grapples with budget

dip for the upcoming fiscal year. “We are covered for last year and this upcoming year. Our problem lies in the year after that,” Berry said. Calculating COVID-19 relief funding The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund was established by Congress when it passed the first coronavirus relief bill signed into law March 27, 2020, and allocated $13.2 billion into the fund. The fund was distributed to state educational agencies and then dis- tributed to local school districts to offset the COVID-19 effects. A sec- ond contribution to the same fund was made in the second coronavirus relief bill, signed into law Dec. 27, which allocated $54.3 billion to the ESSER fund. CUSD received $3 million from the federal government in the first round and $13.57 million in the sec- ond, Berry said. Those funds were used to offset the $18 million the district spent in the current fiscal year for COVID-19 mitigation. There is expected to be a third round of ESSER federal funding that could give the district an additional $28 million, Berry said, but that is still undetermined. Berry said the district will know more before the budget is finalized this summer, but she said she believes the third round of ESSER federal funding doubles what was received in the second round. “We are very fortunate for those federal dollars,” Berry said. “We are continuing to operate with our mit- igation plans, and we haven’t seen significant spread of COVID-19 in our schools. We think we have done a good job of mitigation. Our staff is vaccinated, and I feel like we are coming around and can operate at full capacity. We are really thankful the community has stuck behind us and supported us.” Statewide, public schools doing remote learning at the direction of health officials are projected to lose up to $266 million because Arizona law funds distance learning at 5% less than in-person school, Berry said. Public schools are allocated funding per pupil based on their average daily membership—or aver- age daily attendance. “We automatically took these huge decreases and we were supposed to

Chandler USD, like districts across the state and nation, has had to make adjustments to its budget due to a decrease in enrollment and COVID-19-related expenses.

Underfunding distance learning Chandler USD officials say that because distance learning was only funded at 95% of what in-person learning is funded at, districts lost out on 5% of what it would usually get for students’ average daily attendance. SOURCE: CHANDLER USD/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

IN PERSON

DISTANCE LEARNING

-$12.03M LOSS TO CUSD

FUNDED 95%

FUNDED 100%

Changes in enrollment

PRESENT VS. FY 2020-21 -9.39% -2,045 students -3.02% -299 students -35.31% -417 students +1.87% +307 students

25,000

22,456

22,185

21,780

19,735

20,000

Hundreds of students did not enroll in Chandler USD this year, whether they moved schools, opted for home schooling or never enrolled in school at all. The reduction in enrollment is new for CUSD, a district that has seen growth for decades.

16,722

16,415

15,769

15,244

15,000

10,000

Early childhood and preschool Kindergarten-6th grade

7,584

7,468

7,366

7,355

5,000

7th-8th grade 9th-12th grade

1,181

954

995

764

0

SOURCE: CHANDLER USD/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

FY 2017-18 FY 2018-19

FY 2019-20 FY 2020-21

Funding the gap Chandler USD officials are hopeful that additional funding will be made available to fill in the funding gaps created by COVID-19 relief dollars. Officials hope to have a clearer picture of the next fiscal year budget in the coming months. SOURCE: CHANDLER USD/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

FY 2021-22 ESTIMATED BUDGET as of Jan. 2021

Average daily attendance decrease: $13.89M Potential decrease of 186 staff

Projected budget: $317.48M

public education where we are seeing a decrease in students, and there are a number of students across the state who aren’t even going to school, and we don’t know where they are at.” In the district’s second budget revision for FY 2020-21, approved in January, CUSD estimates a $25.9 million reduction in budget capacity, according to documents

from the district. That would bring the budget to $305.45 million for the district of roughly 45,000 students— the third largest district in the state and second largest in the Valley. Berry says with millions in federal aid, the district has been able to off- set the technology and sanitation costs associated with COVID-19 and lessen the blow from the enrollment

CONTINUED FROM 1

this fiscal year. We knew elemen- tary was going to decline, but we expected secondary to increase. Our high schools were still grow- ing—there aren’t that many compet- itive high schools in the area. We expected to grow, then the pandemic hit. We are just like everyone else in

12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

be held harmless, but because we started the year online we had a 5% reduction of average daily mem- bership, and I don’t think anyone thought that was going to happen for as long as it did,” Berry said. State Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, D-Chandler, said she feels terrible for the financial situation putting teachers—like the 152 certified staff that were given pink slips from Gil- bert Public Schools on March 30—at risk of losing their jobs. “We are certainly in almost a per- fect storm because there are so many layers to this,” Pawlik said. “We have kids that didn’t come back to their schools this fall, and enrollment numbers are down. But the other issue is that before we recessed last spring, we passed the enrollment sta- bilization grant that was intended to hold districts harmless if enrollment dipped below 2%, the most districts would lose would be 2%. In January the governor announced new num- bers. That’s a really big deal. Gilbert Public Schools was expecting around $34 million in those enrollment sta- bilization grants but got $14 million.”

Pawlik said there are plenty of education funding and education- related bills moving through the state Legislature, and nothing is truly off the table until the state’s budget is adopted. “I think it’s important that people keep reaching out to their elected officials to have their voices heard regard-

said. “CEA was adamant that, at a time like this, we cannot be reduc- ing our staff. Our students now, more than ever, need smaller class sizes, special education resources, coun- selors to identify where kids are hav- ing deficiencies. We are extremely fortunate that we found out we will not be reducing staff.” H o w e v e r ,

and doesn’t actually save jobs for the school year,” Nash said. “Some of it can be used for additional personal protective equipment and sanitiza- tion—but that doesn’t save jobs.” She said she believes the CUSD administration has done “an amaz- ing job” of budgeting and moving funds around in the last year. “Not every district was able to do that. Not everyone had that contin- gency fund and the financial where- withal, I think, to figure out a way that doesn’t involve teachers losing their jobs,” Nash said. “Some of them are really struggling. We are a huge district; they knew there would be huge pushback if there were going to be layoffs. We are always paying attention.” Berry said the district’s fiscal year 2020-21 budget will be finalized later this summer. The CUSD governing board will vote to approve the bud- get at a meeting this summer before the budget is sent to the state.

“OUR STUDENTS NOW, MORE THAN EVER, NEED SMALLER CLASS SIZES, SPECIAL EDUCATION RESOURCES,COUNSELORS TO IDENTIFYWHERE KIDS ARE HAVING DEFICIENCIES.” KATIE NASH, CHANDLER EDUCATION ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT

less of what side of the issue they are on; it’s important to hear their voices,” Pawlik said. Saving jobs Katie Nash, president of the Chandler Edu-

Nash said there will be attri- tion and some c a s h - f u n d e d programs such as preschool or food and nutri- tion that might see changes in staffing due to the district’s overall loss of

cation Association, which represents teachers and staff across CUSD, said she is grateful the district avoided layoffs this year. “We had to reduce our staffing budget by $11 million, and honestly I have no idea how we did it,” Nash

enrollment. She said while the fed- eral and state funds have helped the district, there is a misconception as to how some of those funds can be used. “A lot of that money is earmarked for summer school and remediation

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

Shopping center occupancy Nationwide, shopping center occupancy is down more signicantly in malls than in open-air shopping centers.

known, but Moss said “nothing is o the table.” A representative from Har- kins did not return requests for com- ment prior to publication. Crayola Experience remained closed for the better part of the last year, Moss said, but it held a grand reopening in early March. Casey Santoro, a spokes- person for Crayola Experience, said the attraction has worked to make sure everything remains socially distanced and sanitized. “Reopening has gone better than we expected,” Santoro said. “Recovery has been much better than we thought, and we feel good about it. Chandler is such a great demographic for us, and Chandler Fashion Center has great foot trac historically.” MaryLou Ruiz-Gray, senior manager of marketing for the mall, said even after the loss of foot trac and sales in the last year, the mall has “exciting” openings and events on the horizon. “[The pandemic] opened new opportunities to reimagine certain space,” Ruiz-Gray said. “There is really a lot of stu happening here, and it’s an exciting time for retail, believe it or not, despite ... COVID-19.” Moss said the mall is partnering with local East Valley or Arizona artists and creators to have a pop-up artisan mar- ket at the mall. “They can get a good introduction to the community, and our hope is that it would help them in getting going,” Moss said. Chandler Economic Development Director Micah Miranda said Chandler Fashion Center has served the commu- nity well over the last two decades, and he expects that will continue. “The Chandler Fashion Center has provided the workforce within Chan- dler amenities to enhance the qual- ity of life,” Miranda said. “When you enhance the quality of life, you make it more desirable for people to want to grow a business here and send kids to school here. It’s helped round out what it means to live in Chandler.” Despite the changes in retail over the years with the growth of online giants like Amazon, Miranda said he believes Chandler Fashion Center has main- tained its relevance. “It’s a fortress property,” Miranda said. “It’s very resilient to economic changes because of the demographics in our community, and those demo- graphics are supported by quality jobs. And [the owner of Chandler Fashion Center] Macerich works hard to main- tain the attractiveness of the mall and keep a broad diversity of tenants there that continue to attract shoppers.”

CONTINUED FROM 1

David Moss, senior manager with property management at the mall, said despite all the hardships the last year brought, he believes Chandler Fash- ion Center will emerge stronger than ever. Chandler Fashion Center is add- ing two new retail stores in the next year—Urban Outtters and f.y.e—and Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant will open just outside the mall this fall, Moss said. A new kiosk selling pop- corn—called Doc Popcorn—opened this spring as well. “The last 12 months have been everything from having stores close due to government mandates to full-on reopening, and we have been working nonstop,” Moss said. “We have been working to enhance our cleaning pro- tocols, making sure we have hand san- itizing stations available and working alongside our retailers to support with store occupancy and implement social distancing markers throughout the center. We are doing whatever we can to make sure our shoppers feel safe.” In addition to sanitation and pub- lic safety changes, the mall has also deployed curbside delivery in the park- ing lot of several retailers, a change Moss said was driven by COVID-19 but was likely inevitable. But even with changes, not all retailers have survived the last year. In May, it was announced Nord- strom would permanently close at the mall, and a new tenant has yet to be announced. “COVID-19 was an accelerator for stores that were already expiring,” Moss said. Moss said he believes the key to suc- cess for Chandler Fashion Center will be ensuring customers have experi- ence-based interactions at the mall. “We are working on more ways for people to have socially distant expe- riences,” he said. “The idea is that we are trying to bring the community together, but allow them to socially distance.” Chandler FashionCenter growth Moss said Chandler Fashion Center, like other malls across the country, had been working to add more experiences prior to COVID-19. The mall served as the rst site west of Texas to open a Crayola Experience when the concept opened in Chandler in 2019. Prior to the pandemic, Harkins was planning on opening a two-story enter- tainment concept in the location that previously housed Sears. Progress on the entertainment concept is not

Chandler Fashion Center: 92.6% occupancy at the end of 2020

100%

Malls

Open air shopping center

96%

92%

88%

84%

0%

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

SOURCE: PNC RE MARKET RESEARCHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Retail openings and closings

The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across the country and forced many retailers into bankruptcy and closures nationwide. Nordstrom at Chandler Fashion Center announced it would close due to the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020.

16K

13.4K

Store openings

Store closings

11.1K

12K

9.1K

7.1K

8K

3.9K

4K

5.2K

4.9K

1.3K

3.9K

3.4K

0

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

SOURCE: PNC RE MARKET RESEARCHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Futureof theAmericanmall Hitendra Chaturvedi, an Arizona State University professor and retail expert, said he believes malls need to adapt to a more experienced-based model or they will fail. “The mall has to change,” he said. “If they don’t change, if they just keep looking for tenants to ll their existing structure and expecting the younger generation to come in—it will be like rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.” Chaturvedi said the structure of malls “is very ’70s and ’80s” and caters to an aging generation, while the younger generation is not a “mall generation.” Earlier this year, Metrocenter Mall in the West Valley announced it would close after operating in the area for decades. The mall management cited decreased foot trac and fewer ten- ants—including the loss of several anchor tenants—as reasons for closure that were exacerbated by COVID-19, according to letter from the general manager announcing the closure. The last year also shattered records for the number of retailers to perma- nently close. According to data from

PNC RE Market Research, 13,400 retail stores closed nationwide in 2020—up from 11,100 reported in 2019. “Our malls have to deliberately change from the current structure if they are going to be a place that people comemore andmore,”Chaturvedi said. “I look at these places with an open air theater structure where everyone is watching everyone and you can look from one end to the other with shops next to each other and that model, in my opinion, is dead.” Chaturvedi said shops will need to evolve and become more experiential. “There are retailers where you go into the store and they don’t carry inventory, and you experience the place and you order it there and it’s delivered to your house by the time you get home,” he said. For malls to succeed after COVID-19, Chaturvedi said, they must become destinations. “You need people to come in and experience a home away from home,” he said.

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CHANDLER EDITION • APRIL 2021

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