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7:33 PM Tue, Sept. 25th

Good ol’ school days

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic
Kindergarteners, first- and second-graders climb on the playground equipment at lunchtime on the first day back to school Monday afternoon at Washington Traditional School in Prescott.

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic Kindergarteners, first- and second-graders climb on the playground equipment at lunchtime on the first day back to school Monday afternoon at Washington Traditional School in Prescott.

PRESCOTT – Preliminary numbers show that for the fourth consecutive year enrollment in the Prescott Unified School District is growing.

According to head counts on PUSD’s first day of school on Monday, overall district growth has increased by a “healthy” 181 students, or 3.6 percent.

The biggest enrollment jump occurred at the high school, at which 1,831 desks were full on the first day of school – an increase of 98 students, or 5.7 percent, from the first day of school in 2004.

Elementary schools gained 71 students, or 3.3 percent, and middle schools gained 12 students, or just less than 1 percent.

While more students in a district bring more money from the state, PUSD Supt. Kevin Kapp said the district must find ways to handle the growth.

This year, for example, the PUSD Governing Board in July approved spending sudden growth money to hire an additional music teacher, P.E. teacher and art teacher (each for one day per week) to accommodate enrollment growth at Miller Valley Elementary School.

During the spring 2005 semester, the board approved adding several new positions, at the high school and at elementary schools, to accommodate enrollment growth.

Although the district doesn’t have to report enrollment numbers to the Arizona Department of Education until the 40th day of instruction (which falls in October), Kapp said he’s happy with the numbers he’s seen so far.

The state bases the amount of money each district receives on an average student enrollment count during the first 100 days of each school year.

Each student brings the district about $4,000, and students with special needs bring in additional money. But, each additional student also brings the need for instruction, programs and classroom supplies.

“The bottom line is, we’re up again,” Kapp told board members during Tuesday’s board meeting. “We were anticipating between 2 and 3 percent growth.”

Challenges accompany growth, Kapp said, but those are the kinds of challenges he likes to face.

Contact the reporter at heller@prescottaz.com