Tonto Basin Elementary School

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Progress at Tonto Basin Elementary School is just about everywhere you look.

The building program funded through the state's School Facilities Board is complete.

All the classrooms have new air conditioning and heating; the gym has a new floor and lighting, plus air conditioning and heating; there is a new cafeteria where 100 percent of the school's 60 students are served lunch and between 80 and 90 percent get breakfast as well; and brand new rest rooms.

"I think the kids are prouder of the rest rooms than anything else," Principal John Ketchem said and he is too, showing off how neat the students are keeping the facilities.

The school also has a new intercom system, a new emergency exit for the upstairs rooms, improved drainage and new sidewalks around the entire school.

Help from the Tonto Apaches has also given the school lights on its ballfield. Ketchem said the next project is to put grass on the field.

A new program for the students and their families is a family reading night at the library. It is part of the Accelerated Reading program designed to get students to read more and comprehend and remember more of what they read.

The county's library for the Tonto Basin area is the school's neighbor, making it possible for the students and faculty to use it as a school library.

"Every Tuesday, an adult comes (to the library) with their child between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. If the adult wants they can read one of the Accelerated Reading books and take a test, just the way their children do."

The school won a grant to get a satellite for Internet service and put two Internet computers in each classroom.

Computers will be put to work in an upcoming Accelerated Math program to help the students improve their math skills.

He does not see the school population growing much, but another change is in the talking stages: providing transportation for the Tonto Basin students attending Payson High School and want to participate in after-school activities.

The school also is offering intensive in-service training for its teachers and aids.

"We're going to continue to train our teachers and work with our parents to give the kids the type of education they deserve," Ketchem said.

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