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2:34 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

HUSD, Schmitt agree on terms<BR>

PRESCOTT VALLEY – The Humboldt Unified School District (HUSD) Governing Board hired Henry Schmitt, of Buckeye, as its new superintendent Tuesday night for $102,000 a year.

Board President Boyce Macdonald said the total package comprises an annual base salary of $89,500 plus a $6,000 car allowance and a life insurance policy.

"He has forgone the $7,200 dependent health coverage, and instead we're going with a $5,000 tax-deferred annuity and $1,000 for professional dues, " Macdonald said.

Terms of the contract, which has provisions for yearly raises based on performance evaluations, is three years.

Several board members welcomed Schmitt to the HUSD family.

"I hold no illusions of an easy job ahead, but with Dr. Schmitt's proven track record of leadership, innovation and integrity, we can continue the good work Dr. (Roger) Short has initiated in this district," said Board Vice President Victoria Bentz. "I look forward to the board, Dr. Schmitt, the HUSD staff as well as the community working together to continue to increase the quality of education for the students of this great school district."

Schmitt was superintendent of the 1,700-student Buckeye Unified Schools for the past five years. Before that, he spent two years as superintendent of the 900-student Red Mesa District in Teo Nos Pos, Ariz.

Twenty-six candidates applied for the HUSD superintendent slot. Interim Superintendent Short was not among them.

Schmitt said he was honored to be the new HUSD superintendent and that the three-year contract was important because it "provides the ability to succeed."

"I think what we need to do very aggressively is to restore the confidence and the integrity of the district," he said. "We need to do this by engaging all of our shareholders in the community, because this is a great district."

Further, he said standardized test scores and other data "reflect so much on the great teachers, administrators and support staff. Now I think we have to take our experience, take our story to the larger community."

Schmitt said he plans to sit down soon with staff, teachers and parents to create what he's calling "The Humboldt Experience" and hit the road with it.

"I view this district as a glass that is half full, not half empty," he said, "To me, that's very important, because that establishes a mindset, and we're going to draw in so many things from the schools and showcase the positive things that are going on here."

Schmitt said he believes that Short, Director of Finance Kirk Waddle and the board have righted the district's financial ship.

"That's very good, but what sacrifices we're going to have to make for a year or two until we get our ADM (average daily membership) back, I do not know at this time until I study the data," he said. "We do not want to cut or to cause any decline in the classroom teaching and classroom teaching ability and student learning."

Schmitt and his wife, Linda, are closing on a house in Prescott Valley.

"We are extremely excited about joining the community, and it's going to be great," he said.

Schmitt holds a doctorate in education administration from Oregon State University, and a master's in agricultural education and teacher education, as well as a bachelor's in agricultural education from Ohio State University.

In other action, the board unanimously:

• Approved a $15 increase in student parking fees at Bradshaw Mountain High School for the 2003-04 school year. That hikes fees to $35 each for numbered spaces and $25 for unnumbered ones.

Principal Jim Wells said the extra money will help maintain security and maintenance of parking lots. The administration and site council proposed the increase.

• Approved classified work agreements for the 2003-04 school year. Short said the agreements for custodians, nurses, transportation workers, district and school office staff, grounds and maintenance employees, food/nutrition and five administrators contain no pay raises.

"Improvement in the legislative budget and/or growth in student population could trigger reconsideration of limited salary schedule improvement," he said.

• Selected Macdonald as delegate and Member Belinda Wofford as alternate to the Arizona School Boards Association Delegate Assembly June 28 in Phoenix.

Contact the reporter at lkoniarski@prescottaz.com