The merging of services between Mingus Union High School and the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District will increase administrative efficiency and expand services for students, claim unification supporters.
Add the economic benefit of incentive funds, the unified district may have additional monies for expenditures such as library books, vocational services and even an additional counselor and full-time nurse, says C-OC Superintendent John Tavasci.
"The top on the list on many campuses is more library books," explains Tavasci. "John Christensen has also talked about adding another counselor and a full-time nurse."
Although combining transportation services may cause some staff to be reassigned, Tavasci contends the end result will be beneficial to both students and the taxpayer.
"Why have two facilities if one can provide services?" he asks.
Consolidating bus locations and the transportation department’s warehouse could provide an additional facility for vocational students.
"If Votec passes, what a wonderful start. We’re looking at a campus within a campus," Tavasci explains.
He envisions a facility conversion, a strategy that provides benefits to vocational students without incurring the expense of additional classroom space.
"It would be pretty minimal in comparison to new construction," he says.
Tavasci also argues that merging support services is not only economically advantageous, it also alleviates some of the responsibilities currently shouldered by Christensen.
Tavasci speaks from experience.
"When I was with Clarkdale-Jerome District, I had to wear all those hats," he explains. With a unified district, Tavasci contends Christensen will be better able to concentrate on his primary role of leadership.
"With transportation, special education, curriculum and business services personnel, it allows the principal to be an instructional leader," says Tavasci. "It will be a real help for John if it comes to pass. With a good administrative structure, problems get resolved where they are happening."
"There are a lot of hats," agrees Christensen. "But efficiency is not always the best thing. There is also autonomy for some institutions and you have to balance personal input vs. efficiency. The question isn’t just ‘is it more efficient’ but rather ‘does it provide better decision making and are people happy.’"
The question for many residents, however, comes down to dollars and cents.
Mingus school board member Leland Wieweck believes the specific costs of merging the districts along with the issue of asset division with Clarkdale-Jerome need to be addressed before he can foretell the future benefits of a unified district.
"I don’t know how the division of assets is going to play out. I don’t know about the legal fees and monies spent for drawing up legal documents. These all have to be figured out. No one has a clue how much that is going to be."