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2:36 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Kapp: PUSD growing, board to develop plan

PRESCOTT – While Superintendent Kevin Kapp said Tuesday that schools in the Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) have enough room to handle a swell in student numbers, he said taking the past three years' growth into consideration, it's likely that the Governing Board will develop a growth plan to implement next year.

"The good side is that we're growing again," Kapp said at Tuesday night's meeting. "This year we have the capacity to swell, but with three years of growth it's time to come up with a plan."

Totsy McCraley, principal at Prescott High School (PHS), said enrollment growth has "boosted class size."

Most of the classes at the high school contain 34 students and some contain as many as 38 or 39. And the North Central Accreditation Association requires that teachers have a total student load of no more than 170, but four teachers at PHS have more than that.

Kapp said he is telling school personnel to "do what you can internally to balance classes."

Overall, district growth at this point in the school year averages 3.2 percent more than enrollment at this time last year. Kapp said the growth is pretty uniform district-wide. Elementary growth is at 3 percent, junior high is at 3.6 percent, and high school is at 4.2 percent.

While at last week's board meeting, the board approved hiring a first-grade teacher in case too many first graders enrolled at PUSD, Kapp said fewer first-grade students actually showed up than the number who enrolled, so the district does not need to hire another teacher.

At the fourth- and fifth-grade level, numbers have increased so that class sizes average 30 or 31, which Kapp said has happened before.

At Tuesday night's meeting, the PUSD board approved forming an inter-district cooperation agreement between PUSD, Humboldt Unified School District, Chino Valley Unified School District and Mayer Unified School District for alternative junior high and high school resources at Bradshaw Mountain High School-East.

PUSD's director of PEAK, Craig Niece, said that this site is temporary because eventually students will fill the space at Bradshaw Mountain High School-East.

Don German, an assistant principal at PHS, said the districts haven't yet come up with a written agreement – they each were waiting until all the district governing boards voted on whether to go ahead with an agree-ment.

At this time, PUSD does not have to use any additional resources. While Niece estimates some students may not be able to travel to Prescott Valley, he thinks the majority will, and that by sharing resources, the districts will be able to provide better service to more students.

The PUSD board will have its all-day retreat Aug. 25 at the Mountain Club clubhouse in Prescott.

Contact the reporter at heller@prescottaz.com