Things may be rough Monday morning when the vo-tech district and its member schools sit down to restart negotiations.
Both sides are firm in their resolve. Both sides feel they are right.
The Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education recently broke off negotiating with the satellite districts that it comprises. The satellites — Mingus Union, Cottonwood-Oak Creek, Camp Verde, Clarkdale-Jerome and Sedona-Oak Creek school districts — are not willing to retreat on their demands as outlined in recent letters of resolution to VACTE.
The superintendents from the five satellite districts and VACTE recently began negotiations. After three meetings, according to several of the member superintendents, a new intergovernmental agreement was almost worked out. The only sticking point remaining was the actual split of money.
The current split between VACTE and it satellites is 60 percent to the satellites and 40 percent held by VACTE. The satellites want their share of the split increased to 75 percent.
But at the fourth meeting, VACTE Superintendent Marv Lamer showed up for about five minutes to tell the other superintendents that his governing board had taken everything off the table. That created a stalemate.
During a VACTE board meeting Wednesday night, Steve Dockray, board president, said he wanted to clear up some points. "I keep seeing in the paper that everything is off the table," he said. "That is not true." He said only the money split was off the table.
Dockray said his board gave direction to Lamer to tell the member superintendents that everything else was on the table.
The superintendents, however, insist that Lamer told them that his board had taken everything off the table.
Rebecca O'Banion, president of the Sedona-Oak Creek governing board, asked Dockray when his board had given Lamer such direction. "Where was it discussed?" she asked.
Dockray said it was during an executive session. When pressed, he said it was his direction to Lamer, not the board's
Kim Randall, Sedona superintendent, said that isn't what the superintendents were told. "We were told the morning after your executive session that the board had taken everything off the table."
O'Banion asked about a resolution recently presented to the satellite districts as being approved by the VACTE board. She pressed the issue of when and where such a resolution had been approved, saying she could not find it on any of the VACTE agendas. She pointed out that if the VACTE board had voted on such an item during an executive session, it would be a violation of Arizona's Open Meetings Law.
Dockray said he was trying to recall; that the board might not have voted on it. He said that at some point (during the executive session) he turned to Lamer and gave him direction.
During open discussion before an agenda item that called for the VACTE board to discuss the resolution recently passed by the satellite districts, the floor was opened for public comment.
Three superintendents and three satellite board members spoke.
Ron Maughan, superintendent of Camp Verde School District, told the VACTE board that during negotiations, everyone has been talking about symptoms, not the illness. "(You) need a vast overhaul in your five-year plan."
Maughan said the current VACTE plan does little to focus on what the original goal was. He talked about VACTE retaining 40 percent of its budget for basically administrative costs.
He said no Arizona school district should spend more than 9 percent of its budget on administration costs. "All five districts in the Verde Valley are flying at 9 percent or less," he said. "Please examine your plan."
O’Banion said, "We want VACTE to come to the table and discuss a bilateral contract."
Randall told the board that the superintendents felt "it was time to put some things in writing." She read a statement asking that discussion begin again soon. She also read four points that the superintendents feel are necessary to reach a new IGA. Top among those points was the 75-percent split that the member schools want.
"We're looking for a partnership with VACTE," Randall said. "We can build programs together that focus on the kids."
Tom Moore, VACTE board member said he believes a meeting should be held that includes only the board members from all the involved districts and excludes the superintendents.
Dockray agreed. "I feel like it needs to be boards, and boards only," he said.
Allen said that while she would not speak for her board, she was confident they would refuse to attend a meeting that did not include her.
Bobby Surber, Sedona board member, also said her board would not meet without its superintendent.
"Our superintendents will be there," Surber said. "We'll all get the information at the same time. We've heard what you want," she said to the board members. "And we've heard something different from Marv Lamer."
Before adjourning, VACTE board members voted to attend a meeting 8:30 a.m. at Mingus Union on Monday. That meeting will include all superintendents members of governing boards who wish to attend.