Originally Published: July 10, 2017 6 a.m.
Summertime in Prescott is a great time for our Prescott Unified School District (PUSD). Yes, we all get to take a breath and a break, but at the same time, we are always moving forward toward the future.
Public schools are at the heart of any community, and we are grateful every day that our community provides amazing support for its school system.
For example, during our last board meeting in June, the Prescott Frontier Rotary donated $15,000 for our summer school programs; an annual gift that provides much-needed opportunity for PUSD students. Additionally, the Prescott Area Young Professionals, who are affiliated with our very own Prescott Chamber of Commerce, donated $12,500 to our Prescott Unified School District Education Foundation from the proceeds of their “Party in the Pines” that was held at our very own Mile High Middle School. If you didn’t notice, the Mile High field has been instrumental in community events for many years, and the field’s utilization has increased greatly due to our continued partnership with the City of Prescott.
Another way we all work together as a community in Prescott, and with our neighbors in the Quad Cities, is in forest fire response. Our school buildings become command centers and evacuation shelters in the toughest of times. Our colleagues in Humboldt and Mayer have been particularly busy with the recent Goodwin fire and our schools have provided refuge where our community bonds together to support each other through good times and bad. Prescott High School was set on standby, ready to receive kids from the Senator Highway summer camps in the event they needed to be evacuated suddenly. During the Yarnell Hill fire, PHS and Mile High both became command centers for weeks. Of course, those were our kids. Their families work for us, go to our schools and continue to be a vital part of our community.
We are keeping our facilities crew very busy this summer. Thanks to our taxpayer-supported bond dollars, we are replacing very outdated carpet throughout the district. We are also updating our antiquated phone system, as well as security cameras across PUSD.
You probably have seen some action at Washington School, as our front fence has come down to coordinate with the City of Prescott in a sidewalk beautification project on Gurley Street. This ties nicely into our aspirations to remodel the top floor as our district office. The rest of the building is our amazing Discovery Garden Preschool, as well as our Family Resource Center. We are excited to see this building become the hub for our schools and community. We are timing this carefully with the sale of the current district office on Granite Street. The bid for remodel is happening as I write, and we hope to time this with an escrow closure on the district office mid-September. If all goes well, we could be in the new building in early spring of 2018.
In the meantime, our staff has been focusing on the continuous cycle of updating our curriculum, as well as setting goals based on student achievement for the next school year.
Don’t blink, school starts Aug. 3! Enjoy the beautiful Prescott summer.
Joe Howard is superintendent of Prescott Unified School District.