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9:31 AM Wed, Sept. 19th

HUSD board decides on use for new high school

PRESCOTT VALLEY – Beginning in August, the new but unoccupied Bradshaw Mountain East High School will be home to a culinary arts magnet and other classes that enthusiastic supporters say will draw students back from charter schools to Humboldt Unified School District.

The district's governing board Tuesday night selected the magnet school proposal, Plan B, from three that a committee of educators drew up.

Bradshaw Mountain High School teachers Beth Staub and Theresa Ryan served on the committee. They called the plan "dynamic" and said it would encourage student career exploration and skill development. Further, they maintained that it would train teens for specific jobs after graduation, thus meeting community needs.

Staff expects initial enrollment to be between 150 and 200 students. The plan's long-term goal is to relocate additional magnet programs and integrated core classes to the new campus. Eventually, both campuses will be magnet schools, the teachers said.

In addition to the culinary arts magnet in partnership with Yavapai College, the school will offer child development, early childhood education, and general educational development classes next fall at Bradshaw East.

Academic core classes, as well as a full science and technology program, will stay at the existing Bradshaw Mountain High School. Students taking classes at the new school will ride district buses between campuses, which are about four miles apart.

According to Superintendent Roger Short, the cost of implementing Plan B will perhaps be as low as $20,000, because mostly current employees will staff the school.

The other plans under consideration would have created either a "freshman only" campus or a vocational high school at Bradshaw East, which can accommodate 600 students. All three plans met requirements of the State School Facilities Board, which paid for the $11 million structure.

The vote to approve Plan B was 3-to-1 with one abstention. Member Gary Marks, who cast the "no" vote, said he philosophically agreed with Plan B but had some unanswered financial questions about it. Later, Member LaDawn Dalton, who abstained, said she supported the action but had wanted more time to consider the matter.

In other action, the board:

• Set times for candidate interviews and community involvement in selecting a new superintendent. Board President Boyce Macdonald said four finalists will tour schools and meet staff on Thursday, May 1. Community members may meet and ask questions of candidates from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. that day at a site the board will announce later. Further, they may voice their concerns or approval or disapproval of candidates and pass that along to the board.

"As one board member, I'm looking forward to that, because I want all the community input I can get to help make a good decision," Macdonald said.

The board will interview candidates beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, May 2, and begin its deliberations regarding hiring one at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 3.

The finalists are Thomas McCraley, superintendent of Cottonwood's Mingus Union High School District; Gregory Riccio, superintendent of Torrington (Conn.) Public Schools; Henry Schmitt, Buckeye (Ariz.) Unified School District superintendent; and Leland Wise, superintendent of the Dinwiddie (Va.) Schools.

On a related matter, the board took no action on Marcia Gatti's proposal entitled "Superintendent Search Constituent Group Input Process."

In addition to members of the general public who might wish to meet the final candidates, four groups – students and parents, district classified staff, district certified staff and district administrators – would have formally met with and questioned finalists to help the board.

Some board members said the plan in the contract with Search Solutions, the consultants the board hired to conduct a nationwide superintendent search, provided sufficient opportunity for the public to meet and question candidates. Also, adding a new procedure would require an addendum to that contract.

• Directed administrators to continue reducing classified staff through attrition, rather than zero-based budgeting or a reduction in force based on declining enrollment at each school site.

"Attrition is a less onerous approach than taking people's jobs away," Short said. "It's just using the natural process of retirement and resignation as a tool to cut back on personnel costs."

Contact the reporter at lkoniarski@prescottaz.com.