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3/27/2013 9:53:00 AM
Chino Valley schools holding their own in Tri Cities
Duane Howard
Review File/Matt Santos
Duane Howard
Review File/Matt Santos
Matt Santos

Budgets, budgets, and more budgets.

Definitely a hot topic when people talk about the Chino Valley Unified School District, but Superintendent Duane Howard wants to make sure no one forgets that education is the top priority for each and every student in town.

"The message that's been lost is just how good Chino Valley schools are," said Howard. "Not to take away from our neighboring districts, Humboldt and Prescott are excellent, but people often forget that we are right up there knocking on their door."

Referencing the Arizona Office of the Auditor General report for the 2012 fiscal year released this past summer, Howard said he is happy with the numbers he sees, specifically with the AIMS testing results.

"Prescott is outperforming us all, and congratulations to them, they do an excellent job," said Howard. "But when you consider some of the factors like social economics, the size of the school, the number of ESL (English as a second language) kids that we have, those kinds of thing, we are doing very, very well."

According to the Auditor General's report, the 2012 Prescott AIMS passing numbers for math, reading, writing, and science average 77.5 percent, helping the district to earn its A rating

Humboldt earned a B grade with an AIMS passing percentage of just more than 70 percent.

Chino Valley also earned a B rating, with 68.5 percent of the districts students passing their AIMS tests.

This is an improvement over the C grade the CVUSD earned in 2011.

"Our average in math and reading was 72.5 and in science we scored a 72, which was about two points higher than Humboldt. I think some people are surprised by that," said Howard. "What really surprised me is how well we're doing compared to other schools in our county. We are outperforming Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, and we are basically tied with Mingus."

Listing AIMS results for math, reading, writing, and science, the Auditor General report compares each district by similar demographic areas, or peer group, as well as to the state overall.

CVUSD is outperforming its peer groups across the board, and ahead of the state averages in all categories except writing, where they are even at just below 60 percent.

"I think people think Chino is ranked in the bottom half," Howard said. "In reality, were are in the upper half or upper third, and people just don't realize that. What really blew me away was where we are in science. Our AIMS average is 72 in science. That's above Humboldt by two points and dead even with Prescott."

Howard said the district's biggest struggle is with writing. Only 57 percent of its students passed that portion of the AIMS test.

"This is our weakness," Howard said. "I think this is in part because of our large ESL population. But that doesn't mean that we can't improve. We have really been emphasizing this, especially in our elementary grades."

Of the areas the district was negatively ranked, the spending cost per pupil was labeled as "Very High," with administrative costs at $866 per student, slightly above the peer ($748) and state ($736) average.

"This is a little deceiving," Howard said. "With our force fees, we get so much money from the county, then are required to give half back, but the whole amount is listed as administrative costs."

Of the $209,178 the district received from the county for 2013, the CVUSD will only retain $104,589.

Howard said that if enrollment was up and the Auditor General report only listed the portion the district was allowed to keep, "we'd be right there with the rest of the state."

Howard said his staff is always looking for ways to be more efficient in spending, including the recently approved district reorganization, and will continue to look for solutions to budget problems.

"Education strengthens the country, it strengthens the community," Howard said. "We need to make sure we are investing in our future and the success of our Chino Valley schools shows that we are."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: How is this expectable???

PLEASE Mr. Howard, tell us this is a typo! Surly you are NOT blaming the districts poor ratings on the ESL ( better known as the Mexican kids)....right? As a parent of children in the district I can vogue that the problems in our school is not to be blamed on the ESL children. Let's get real! Did you know Prescott and Humboldt both have Mexican students too? I know that's shocking but true!!!

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