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Bio groups support expansion of nationally recognized school in Oro Valley

Tags: basis tucson, c-path, innovation park, oro valley, ventana medical systems

Lourdes Medrano, Arizona Daily Star

The nationally recognized Basis Tucson, a charter school, wants to expand into Oro Valley. "We are really interested in putting a school here," Michael Block, co-founder of Basis, told the Oro Valley Town Council last week. But to open a school in the town by the fall of 2010, Block is looking for some help. "We can't fund a world-class education and fully fund facilities at this point," he said.

Block's remarks came during a presentation to the council on the school, which he and his wife, Olga, opened in 1997 at 3434 E. Broadway. The couple in 2003 opened a second school in Scottsdale. He suggested the town's municipal operations complex, where employees work in modular buildings near North Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and East Innovation Park Drive, as a potential school location. "It'd be great to find some way to share that site," he told the council, which took no action on the matter.

Later, Mayor Paul Loomis said the municipal site may not be compatible with a school given the town's plans to build a multimillion-dollar municipal operations center there. A budget crunch put on hold such plans and employees continue to work out of modular buildings. "There are a lot of other sites that offer better opportunities," the mayor said. The town is willing to facilitate Basis's expansion effort, although there may be some limitations as to what Oro Valley can do, he said. Loomis likes the idea of having Basis in town.

It's the type of school that executives inquired about when he met with executives from Roche Holding AG and other companies in Switzerland. Swiss-based Roche is the drug maker that owns Ventana Medical Systems Inc. at 1910 E. Innovation Park Drive. "I think it's very exciting. It offers an additional level of education for our community and our future residents," Loomis said of the school's expansion plans. The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools already has granted Basis a charter for a third campus that Block calls "Basis at Innovation Park."

Ideally, Block would want the school near Ventana on East Innovation Park Drive, he said later. "That seems to be the area where the biotech growth is," Block said, adding that he is exploring partnerships with firms that conduct business in Oro Valley to make the school a reality. Already on board is Raymond Woosley, president of the Critical Path Institute at 1730 E. River Road.

The group, which has various Oro Valley partnerships, studies ways to speed development of safe drugs. Woosley gave high marks to Basis at the council meeting and said C-Path, as it is commonly known, supports bringing more educational efforts to the area. "We're committed to help any way we can to see that through," Woosley said.

To read the full article: Bio groups support expansion of nationally recognized school in Oro Valley