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5:35 AM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Growth in PUSD enrollment a good problem

PRESCOTT Even good problems require creative solutions.

Enrollment numbers at the Prescott Unified School District continue to increase and the district Governing Board created a committee to come up with ways immediate and long-term to handle that growth.

PUSD Supt. Kevin Kapp often refers to growth as a good problem, and Miller Valley Elementary School and Growth Committee Chairman Bob Williams at a recent media morning emphasized the importance of balancing growth with service.

Were pleased to report on the growth, he said, and we need to be realistic in accommodating it. Its a real balancing act.

As enrollment growth continues, Williams said, class sizes, lunch lines and general crowding grow, too.

One of the immediate needs the committee had to meet was to do something to alleviate big class sizes at the first-grade level the first-grade class size just exploded on us, he said.

The committee asked the PUSD Governing Board to approve hiring first-grade instructional assistants to help with instruction.

Also, the board approved hiring a math teacher and an English teacher at the high school as well as a half-time ALPS teacher to help with special-education population growth.

The growth committee came up with several intermediate and long-term goals to take place during the next five years.

Those goals include incorporating positions paid for this year with sudden growth money into next years maintenance and operations budget; using money that paid for first-grade instructional assistants to pay for a new second grade in the district; making Abia Judd a four-section school; making either Taylor Hicks or Lincoln a four-section school or Lincoln or Washington a three-section school; placing two new teaching positions in the maintenance and operations budget each year; get all positions off various grants and tuition accounts and onto maintenance and operations accounts.

Kapp said that at this point, preliminary 2005-06 elementary registration numbers are up 5 percent higher than the 3 percent that has occurred over the past few years. The high schools early enrollment is about what it was last year and the middle school administrators dont have a good read yet on their registration numbers.

Balancing growth with maintaining class size is really a wonderful dilemma, Kapp said.

The $18.7 million bond voters approved in November, Williams said, is really going to come in handy.