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Originally published Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 02:59p.m.

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Though Camp Verde School Board member Eric Lawton was “all in favor” of a four-day schedule for South Verde High School, he said that the alternative school was “developed for kids who had to be in a different environment.” VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE – South Verde High School was not supposed to be the same as Camp Verde High School.

That’s what Helen Freeman reminded her fellow Camp Verde School Board members Tuesday before she voted against administration’s recommendation of a four-day week district wide.

Freeman wasn’t the only member of the district’s governing board who voted to keep South Verde on a five-day week calendar.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the district’s 149-day four-day schedule – but that South Verde would retain its five-day schedule.

Though board member Eric Lawton was “all in favor” of a four-day schedule for South Verde, he said that the alternative school was “developed for kids who had to be in a different environment.”

In fact, Danny Howe, the district’s administrator in charge, said that South Verde Principal Brian Tankesley “has thrown out the idea of keeping the school open year round.”

“He’s talked about that as well,” said Howe, who told the board he would provide them a five-day South Verde calendar for approval in April.

Four days versus five days: the discussion

Though Tim Roth admitted he was not a fan of the four-day week when Camp Verde Unified embraced the new schedule in 2014, the board president said “the district should be aligned,” then voted in favor of South Verde moving to a four-day week schedule.

For Freeman, school should be seen “as an opportunity.”

“I wouldn’t want to take the opportunity away from our students,” she said. “I think it would be a mistake to make a change at this time.”

An alternative to Camp Verde High School, students can choose to either of the district’s two high schools, board member Carol German said.

“I really think they need to be there as it was established,” German said. “If they don’t want to go there, they can go to the regular high school. I wouldn’t change it for convenience.”

Friday attendance figures ‘horrible’ at South Verde

According to a memo included in the board’s March 12 agenda packet, attendance at South Verde on Fridays is “horrible.”

“Out of the 30 students, we are lucky if 10 show up,” the memo stated. “The attendance factor is part of what the state looks at for funding. ADE expects us to have 94 percent in attendance daily.”

On Fridays, South Verde’s average daily attendance is 35.48 percent.

“If you go to a four-day week and 90-something percent come, you get paid at a higher amount,” board member Bob Simbric said. “I think there’s a place for [the four-day week], a need for it.”

According to the district’s enrollment figures for the past three years, South Verde’s student population has been as few as 19 on Aug. 7, 2017 to as many as 38 as recently as March 1, 2017.

Since Feb. 15, South Verde has had 37 students enrolled. Howe told the board Tuesday that if the alternative school “is at 38 or above, we’re not losing.”

But Friday attendance is “something the administration needs to address,” Freeman said. “It’s an internal issue.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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