BASIS Schools officially broke ground Tuesday morning for its Oro Valley campus.

Town of Oro Valley officials were joined by BASIS co-founders Michael and Olga Block for the ceremony at Steam Pump Village. As they turned ceremonial shovels, work continued at pace on the new school, which plans to be open this fall.

BASIS hopes to have up to 400 students in grades 5-9 during its first year of operation, the 2010-'11 school year. By 2013, the school at 11155 N. Oracle, in Steam Pump III, would have students in grades 5-12.

"In addition to providing a top-rate education to students, we hope the new BASIS Oro Valley location will also act as a tool for recruitment for local businesses that seek high quality employees who want the best education available for their children," said Olga Block.

"We have had a waiting list for years, and to now be able to provide more students with an educational opportunity at BASIS makes us very happy indeed," said Carolyn McGarvey, schools director for BASIS Tucson.

BASIS Schools "have gained national recognition for their rigorous curriculum and incredible student achievement results," a release said. BASIS Tucson was ranked the #1 school in the U.S. by Newsweek and the #2 open enrollment high school in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

In 2009, BASIS was highlighted in the documentary film "2 Million Minutes: The 21st Century Solution." Robert Compton, a venture capitalist and producer of the film, described BASIS as the "only 21st century school in the U.S."

BASIS is hosting upcoming information nights to provide more details to those interested. People may visit for dates and times, or call 326-3444.

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