Editorial: Bold move on unification by school boards

The members of the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union school boards proved themselves to be bold, thoughtful leaders Thursday night.

A strong majority of the two boards made it clear Thursday that they plan to pursue, and succeed, at unification of the two school districts.

Mingus Board Member Andy Groseta best summed up the consensus of the two boards: “If we approve the concept, the details will get worked out.”

For more than four decades, unification of the Upper Verde Valley school districts has been batted back and forth like a tennis ball being smacked by John Isner and Nicholas Mahut. It’s never gone away because there have always been folks who could not wrap their brains around the logic of the Upper Verde taxpayers paying for three school districts, two of which governed just one school each.

Now that it’s “game on” with unification once again, Mr. Groseta is right on the mark about the details working themselves out. These two school districts are not going down a path that has not been treaded before. There are more than enough examples of unified school districts all around us that can serve as examples of how it’s done: Sedona, Camp Verde, Prescott, Flagstaff are all unified school districts.

It’s also nice to see school board members seeing through the smoke screen of instant salary equalization between the teachers of the two districts. Those opposed to unification always promoted that idea, knowing full well that salary equalization was not possible in one full swoop. The common-sense solution, as expressed Thursday, is that salary equalization will take place over an extended period of time.

Certainly, there will be bumps in the road as the two school boards pursue this marriage of school districts. But as Mr. Groseta astutely pointed out, we’re not doing something here that has never been done before, and done successfully.

“The details will get worked out.”

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