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3:48 PM Wed, Sept. 19th

<I>100th day ...</I><BR>Humboldt schools see more than 9% growth

PRESCOTT VALLEY – In the past year, Humboldt Unified School District (HUSD) has grown significantly, and Superintendent Henry Schmitt attributes the growth not only to an increase in population but also to the quality education the district offers.

He said HUSD has more charter, private and home schools than anywhere else in Arizona, so "it's very competitive, and if you're not providing quality education, parents will find schools that do."

He added that "we have one of the strongest cadres of teachers, administrators and support staff. The education we're offering is exceptionally good."

Schmitt said the amount of money the district receives from the state every year depends on its 100-day numbers and the Average Daily Membership (ADM) at that time.

From the 2004-05 school year, he said the whole district was greater by 505 students on the 100th day, which was Jan. 25, and the preliminary ADM had increased 463 students.

"These are wonderful numbers," he said, adding that district-wide "we have a growth of 9.23 percent over last year. That is quite exceptional. We're in a fast-growth district, and 9.23 percent is tremendous."

Schmitt said they count student attendance on the 40th day of the school year, and this year HUSD had 5,791 enrolled students, compared to 5,268 last year.

"This shows we have kids enrolling throughout the school year," Schmitt said. "It's not like we get all of our students in August or September."

This also means that a lot of people are moving into the area, he added, and "we have a very mobile student population. A lot of people are moving into the community and they are selecting schools in HUSD as the schools of their choice."

Schmitt said Bradshaw Mountain High School has had an 11 percent increase in enrollment since the previous year, Bradshaw Mountain Middle School has increased 9.11 percent, and Glassford Hill Middle School has grown by more than 6 percent.

He said Coyote Springs Elementary School is the largest elementary school in the district, which had a growth of 2 percent from last year.

"We fill Coyote Springs up first, and the overflow goes to Mountain View Elementary, and then to Lake Valley Elementary, and then to Liberty Traditional School," he said. "It doesn't look like the K-5 schools are growing much, but that's because we fill Coyote Springs first."

Kindergarten-through-fifth-grade schools have grown since last year, however, with the following numbers: Humboldt Elementary School, more than 4 percent; Lake Valley Elementary, 1.5 percent; Liberty Traditional School, 40 percent; Mountain View Elementary; nearly 8 percent.

Schmitt said the state will give HUSD $3,013 per student, so next year it will receive $1.6 million in Base Support Level (BSL) money. He said the $1.6 million does not include Group B financing (money for special education students, transportation and special programs). "We don't know what we'll receive, but there will be more funds than the $1.6 million."

While the growth in the district is wonderful, Schmitt said some challenges come along with district-wide growth of more than 9 percent.

To meet the needs of student growth, Schmitt said HUSD is building a new K-5 school in Granville that "will cost the district over $1 million to open." He added that "even though we have new growth, we have to budget for new schools."

Schmitt figures that after buying materials, supplies and hiring staff, it will take $1.2 million to open it. Also, in the fall of this year, the new Bradshaw East campus (the ninth-grade campus) will open, which will cost the district about $448,000 to open.

With the sudden-growth money the district will receive, Schmitt said HUSD will buy school materials and attempt to increase the salaries of certified teachers, classified personnel and administrators.

"Growth is wonderful, but with that, you've got to be on top of the financial side of it," Schmitt said.

Contact the reporter at rbump@prescottaz.com