Originally Published: January 3, 2018 6 a.m.
In 2017, the Chino Valley Unified School District kicked off its centennial year, but will really celebrate that anniversary this year, said Superintendent John Scholl.
Though the celebration itself is in the works and hasn’t been firmed up yet, it’s a recognition to look forward to, Scholl said. The actual date is in May, he said.
“Chino Valley hasn’t been around that long, so you may not think that the district has been around that long, but it has,” Scholl said. “We have some historical documents, like board meeting minutes and stuff like that. A lot of what they were dealing with in (the) 1930s we’re dealing with now. They were talking about discipline, they were talking about budgets, they were talking about hiring teachers and contracts. Thing haven’t necessarily changed. It’s just the magnitude, the size has definitely changed.”
Looking back at 2017, the district had a good calendar year, Scholl said. It also marked the finishing of his first year as superintendent and his 20th with the district, he said. Overall, there were a number of accomplishments, including hiring Chino Valley High School Principal Heidi Wolf and Brian Periera as assistant principal, Scholl said.
The district was also a plaintiff in the capital lawsuit against the State of Arizona with three other school districts in May, he said. It’s been in the works for a couple of years, Scholl said.
“We believe the state is unconstitutionally underfunding capital for school districts. (We) wanted to partake in that and be participant in that lawsuit,” he said. “That finally came to at least filing a lawsuit.”
When the school year began the district was fully staffed too, which isn’t the norm for most school districts in Arizona, Scholl said, mentioning a recent article stating there are still 2,000 unfilled positions.
The partnership with Yavapai College continued with an expansion of the dual enrollment partnership, Scholl said. Yavapai College offered biology on the high school campus, he said.
However, there are also some things that need working on, such as capital funding which is the biggest struggle right now and the reason for the participation in the capital lawsuit, Scholl said. There’s a formula that says how much the district is supposed it get, he said.
“They’re cutting us by about $1 million a year. That’s tough, we have a lot of needs,” Scholl said. “When a bus is $150,000 and you buy a couple busses and a textbook and furniture and computers you need to replace and carpeting, that million dollars goes quickly. We are definitely prudent with taxpayer money, but things are expensive and the money does go quickly.”
There’s some work for the year ahead too, he said. Already one teacher has said they’ll be moving and as such, the district has to be more proactive in hiring, Scholl said. He’s also looking forward to expanding the partnership with Mountain Institute JTED for new programs for the high school campus and more specifically with the agricultural center, he said.
Efforts to expand the dual enrollment opportunities are in the works as well, Scholl said. That partnership with Yavapai College has been great and they’re willing to meet the district halfway for the benefit of all the students, he said.
“Chino Valley High School has the largest percentage of incoming freshman to Yavapai College, at least last year. That’s a good pipeline for Yavapai College,” Scholl said. At the same time, our kids come out of here with transferable college credit and, in some cases, graduate college six months to a year early … based on what they do at Chino Valley High School.”
The dual enrollment classes being looked at include some kind of social studies, several math offerings, English 101 and English 102, he said. The district is all in on dual enrollment and the goal is to make sure whatever can be offered on campus is, Scholl said.
There’s also the possibility of a capital bond which would be voted on in November, he said. Scholl said he’s put together a group of people who have met once and a schedule is being put together over the next three months to get the information needed. He may not have all the answers now, but he hopes to within those next three months, he said.
Looking back at 2017, the year went really well and looking forward into 2018, Scholl said he’s really happy with Chino.
“I love it here, I love the school district, I love the families, I love the kids,” he said. “I think it’s a really neat school district to work for. I hope people are happy to bring their kids here.”