Originally Published: December 5, 2009 10 p.m.
This week, Humboldt Unified School District Supt. Henry Schmitt will receive the highest honor the Arizona School Administrators can bestow on a school superintendent.
Although the competition was stiff, ASA Director Roger Short said Schmitt earned the top honor of Superintendent of the Year in the large district (6,300 students) category by unanimous decision of the four judges. He will receive the award at the annual ASA/Arizona School Board Association Conference on Thursday in Phoenix.
Schmitt, in his seventh year as HUSD superintendent, said the award is an honor he shares with his "high-impact board, strong administrative team, nurturing teachers, excelling students" and others in the community.
"Without question, all of our stakeholders value education and have genuine concern for the children whose parents have put their trust in us," he said.
The nomination application is five pages and covers a superintendent's relationship with the board and community; leadership and management skills; short- and long-term planning; personnel and financial management; and personal and professional qualities. In addition, it asks for two endorsements.
Board President Howard Moody, in his comments, called Schmitt "an impressive leader with clearly-demonstrated accomplishments."
"He is respected by all staff for his straightforward leadership and for setting clear and achievable goals and objectives," Moody wrote.
Past President Rich Adler, now in his sixth year on the board, said he has seen "the consummate professional at work on a daily basis. Dr. Schmitt has been a visionary leader, never satisfied with the status quo. Under his leadership, we have seen continued growth in all areas, including students, achievement, and facility. I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Henry Schmitt for this prestigious honor."
Schmitt's accomplishments are many. Three years ago, the community approved a $41 million B Bond that has improved and expanded most school sites and athletic fields, and built a new 17,500-square-foot transportation and maintenance building that houses the district's 72 buses.
Public Relations Director Mariela Bean praised Schmitt's vision and foresight in the nomination application, stating that he is known for his alternative solutions when faced with unforeseen circumstances. She said because of this type of planning, the district "has been well-equipped and prepared to withstand the impact of difficult developments without a negative affect on the academic and financial processes of the district."
The latest test scores show that students in the majority of schools in the district are performing well above the state average. Under Schmitt's leadership, the Special Education, Food and Nutrition, and English Language Development programs have received numerous awards.
Students have always been at the center of his service, Bean said. Schmitt keeps his Sherlock Holmes hat, pipe and cape at the ready when he visits the elementary schools as the Reading Detective. For the upper grades, he and the board oversee improvement plans that include a newly-approved online curriculum at the high school.
Schmitt is set to retire at the end of June 2010. In the final six months of his term, Schmitt will continue working to get the online school launched in January. He hopes to reallocate leftover B Bond money into upgrades in infrastructure throughout the district, such as improvements to HVAC systems and energy savers to reduce electrical and water costs.
He also will study grade reconfiguration models and some creative magnet school options.
One of the most pressing goals he has for the remainder of his tenure includes a plan for the state financial crisis and how it will impact the district in the 2010-2011 school year.
"I think I will be very busy right up to the end," Schmitt said.