Print South Verde High School stays on Main Street
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 22 December 2010 00:00

Following an impassioned plea by students last week, the Camp Verde Unified School District Governing Board decided to let South Verde High School stay where it is, for the time being.

The school, formally known as South Verde Technology Magnet School, has called its downtown Main Street campus home for several years.

The school district pays local property owner and former school board member Bob Simbric around $80,000 a year to lease the 6,800 square-foot building, according to Chris Schultz, director of operations for the school district.

However, the district owns the 5,000 square-foot building near the main school campus off of Apache Lane where Yavapai College holds classes in Camp Verde. The college is scaling back its operations and won’t have much use for the structure in the coming months.

With the annual budget getting ever tighter, there had been the beginnings of a suggestion to possibly move South Verde into the building currently occupied by the college.

No way, said the students.

South Verde Student Council President Andrew James read a letter from the students before the board last week.
“Moving is not a good idea,” James said.

In the letter, James cited concern over what would happen to the school’s sports teams if they were moved and had to share space with Camp Verde High School. Currently, the school uses the town’s downtown gymnasium and soccer field area for practices and sporting events.

James also noted the computer-intensive and technology-based learning curriculum that, in part, helps make the school a unique place where some students may find it easier to learn the material.

“The infrastructure [at South Verde’s Main Street building] is already up and running,” James said.

Another important factor to consider is the nursery on the campus of South Verde. Having a place to make sure children are cared for is a big incentive for many teen mothers to stay in school and finish their education.

South Verde may have a reputation for being a place for students with discipline and behavior problems, but that reputation is undeserved, said Nicole Phillips, a student at the school.

“I wouldn’t want my kids anywhere else,” said Nicole Phillips’ mother, Samantha Phillips.

James said students get along, feel safe and aren’t bullied at the current location. It’s more convenient for some students to travel to, and several people expressed concerned that moving closer to the school’s main campus could create tension between students, tension they wouldn’t be surprised if South Verde students were blamed for.

“It could create old problems,” Alan Hicks said. Hicks works with the school’s large Native American population in his capacity with the Yavapai-Apache Nation Behavioral Health Department. “We need to assist in promoting an environment conducive to learning.”

It’s also a matter of individual school identity for the students.

“They want to be the Bulldogs,” board member Andrea Wrubel said, referring to the school’s mascot. “Not the Camp Verde Cowboys number two.”

Board member Helen Freeman agreed.

“These decisions should be made in the best interests of the students,” Freeman said. “Based on what I’ve heard, the best thing is what they’re doing right now. They’ve got something good over there.”

In the end, the board directed the school district staff to pursue renewing the lease or to explore purchasing the building outright.

Shultz said if the money they spent on leasing the building was applied toward buying it the district could own the building in as few as five years.

The board’s decision was made by a 4-1 vote, with board member Judy Gilbert opposed. During the meeting, Gilbert said she didn’t want to invest in a building that may eventually end up being too small.