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It's back to future for Prescott class

PRESCOTT--As the Class of 2013 enters their senior year, it is a good opportunity to look back on their journey through the Prescott School System.

Long before these students entered kindergarten at Malone Elementary, the community considered how to best serve their educational needs. Along with approving necessary revenue for operating expenses over those years, the community approved the following building improvements that directly benefited our current seniors throughout their school years:

February 1994--a referendum was passed to update the high school by expanding classroom space, providing accessibility, improving lighting, expanding parking, constructing a track, and acquiring bleachers and equipment.

December 2000--a referendum was passed for an addition to Malone Elementary, including furniture, fixtures and equipment.

September 2004--referendums were passed to renovate the middle school and complete improvement projects at the high school.

Since the time our seniors entered kindergarten in the fall of 2000, enrollment trends in Prescott have consistently increased. Malone Elementary School has seen the most dramatic impact, with a 19.3 percent overall enrollment increase in that building from 2000-2012. This presumably will impact the middle school and high school, as those students progress. That is great news--it means our community is growing with new, young families and Prescott has a great future.

As we look at our referendum history, it is also important to recognize the referendums that did not pass. Historically, support for construction of new buildings and facility enhancements (such as an auditorium and swimming pool) has not been favorable. At least six different building referendum questions have failed since 1994. Without new buildings to supply necessary classrooms, temporary relief has been provided with increased class sizes and portable classrooms. While these are viable and affordable short-term solutions, they are not likely to be sustainable as enrollment continues to grow.

As a community, it is a great responsibility and privilege to provide a quality education to students from the time they enter Malone Elementary to the day they walk the stage at graduation. As the school district continues conversations on how to best accomplish this effort, we will strive to offer effective communication and opportunities for input. Providing adequate space needs requires good long-term solutions that will provide the best overall value for our community.

With support for prior renovations and maintenance improvements, the Prescott School District has three solid buildings. Those buildings continue to be viable resources as we look ahead to long-term solutions for our growing student population. When today's kindergarten students walk across the graduation stage in 13 years, good long-term planning will have provided the best educational resources to make them ready for their future.

In upcoming columns, we will review historic enrollment trends at PSD, the condition of our current building resources and the work of our committees who are evaluating options for the future. The support and input of the community is greatly appreciated.

Roger Hulne is the Superintendent of the Prescott School District.