COOLIDGE — Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology Superintendent Mike Glover joked that he always thought he would retire once the school reached student enrollment of 1,000.

“Be careful of what you work hard for in your goals,” Glover said, “because you can sometimes achieve them earlier than you thought.”

At the most recent CAVIT board meeting Aug. 4, Glover excitedly announced that the school had passed the 1,000-student mark and was at its highest ever enrollment for the 2021-22 school year. The overall jump, from 815 students last year to the current total of 1,017, is also the highest increase in students the school has had to date.

Glover said both administrative staff and teachers were responsible for the school’s success, but specifically credited career and technical education specialist William Snyder with assisting him on recruitment efforts over the winter.

“This was our most challenging year to recruit ever,” Glover said. “We were not allowed to come to students’ campuses, couldn’t do parents’ night or visitation tours. But I’m excited to know that this growth is due to our reputation and satisfaction from our past training of kids coming to CAVIT.”

CAVIT operates from its Coolidge campus and has students from various Pinal County high schools.

The CAVIT school year started weeks ahead of regular academic districts; Glover said this is intentional in order to do social and team building exercises and acclimate students to the CAVIT routine. Glover also said that, unlike in past years, all classes were starting off with regular instructors, even as the school nearly doubled its course offerings from nine to 17.

However, due to the high volume of students this year, Glover did cite concerns that it was a little crowded.

“We are not where we need to be with students having large, spacious classes,” Glover said, “but it is working out just fine. We have worked hard for this and are ready to educate those students.”

The school currently has two new classrooms under construction; Glover said the hope is still that they will both be completed in September.

Some board members expressed concerns about the rise of COVID cases as the variant spreads. Glover said that not all students were wearing masks at CAVIT to begin the year, as parents seem somewhat divided on the issue.

Also, Glover confirmed that several enrolled students had either been exposed to COVID-19 or had tested positive for the virus since the start of the school year. However, Glover was adamant that the school’s mitigation protocols were working and that while at school, students are regularly asked to do things like wash their hands and stay apart when applicable.

According to CAVIT’s guidelines, which follow Pinal County Department of Health requirements, students who are exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for 10 days.

Glover also said the school is prepared for whatever happens going forward, including if it has to switch back to a hybrid or even virtual model later in the year.

“When I look around the state,” said board member Marty Baca, “and I see other schools that are not able to handle this well, I think we are maintaining a very nice climate and culture for the students.”

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.