Mon, June 24

School officials meet with Tavasci parents
Where students will go to school next year yet to be decided

Superintendent Barb U’Ren said a transition team will be working with parents to help everyone feel more comfortable with the coming changes.

Superintendent Barb U’Ren said a transition team will be working with parents to help everyone feel more comfortable with the coming changes.

COTTONWOOD - Cottonwood-Oak Creek Superintendent Barbara U'Ren and other administration members met with parents of Tavasci Elementary students Wednesday night. About 30 people, including school district employees, showed up to find out what lies ahead for Tavasci students and their families.

"It's a difficult time for you," U'Ren said. "I understand that."

She said that no matter what decision the school board makes about where the TES students will go, it will be a "team effort" that takes the community, educators and families to all work together.

"The governing board did vote to close Tavasci School," U'Ren said. She explained that TES will be closed for next school year.

Although the board has not decided how Dr. Daniel Bright and Cottonwood Elementary schools will be configured, it is known that the students from Tavasci will go to those two campuses.

The options are that both CES and DDB would remain with the current grade levels they now serve, or both would be reconfigured as K-5 campuses.

U'Ren told the audience that a transition team will be working with parents to help everyone feel more comfortable with the coming changes.

The decision to close Tavasci was made by the school board March 22 during a special meeting.

During a phone interview with the Verde Independent, David Snyder, Director of Business Services, said that closing Tavasci will save the district $385,000.

Another $314,000 will be saved by the board's decision to keep Oak Creek School open as a K-8 campus but to restructure the school.

Snyder said the district expects a shortfall next year of about $750,000, which is half the $1.5 million shortfall the district originally expected. The earlier, more dire predictions were based on the district's understanding that it would face a 10 percent reduction in its per-pupil, base-level funding from the state.

But Gov. Jan Brewer proposed a budget that basically cut the expected shortfall in half. That allowed the district to consider more options, including keeping Oak Creek School open, but restructured.

Snyder said the $385,000 savings from closing Tavasci comes from restructuring personnel. The district will no longer need a principal, two secretaries, one nurse, custodians, a computer teacher and librarian.

The district expects to save another $100,000 through restructuring the district office. That savings will come from such steps as additional furlough days for principals and administrators.

By Philip Wright, Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD - The decision by the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board to close Tavasci Elementary School next year means those students must be absorbed by Dr. Daniel Bright and Cottonwood Elementary schools.

During a study session March 29, the administration presented two configurations the board could choose from on how CES and DDB will operate. The first configuration is to keep both schools as they are now. DDB would remain as a K-2 school, and CES would remain as grades three through five.

Under that configuration, DDB would have a total population, after absorbing Tavasci students, of 594 students. That population would include 515 students in DDB and another 79 students enrolled in the Mountain View Preparatory International Baccalaureate Candidate School. The configuration for DDB includes full-day kindergarten.

If CES remains as a 3-5 school, its population will be 566. The district's preschool for Title One and special needs will be located at CES with 41 students. That gives the campus an expected total population of 607 students.

If both campuses become restructured as K-5 schools, DDB's regular population will grow to 610 students, with the same number of MVP students. The total campus population will be 689.

As a K-5 campus, CES will have a population of 471 students, plus the 41 preschool students, for a total of 512 students.

Under the K-5 configuration, both CES and DDB will offer full-day kindergarten.

Originally, the administration and board considered including the option of restructuring CES and DDB campuses to K-6. But Superintendent Barbara U'Ren told the board during the study session that neither campus has enough classrooms to accommodate the K-6 option.

She told the board that either configuration of keeping the two campuses as they are now or restructuring them to K-5 will allow for the MVP school to fit into DDB.

The MVP school will be structured as K-6 within DDB within its own wing. U'Ren said the plan is to add one grade level to the IB school until it fills out as a K-12.

She said the Middle Year program for MVP includes seventh through 10th grades. Then the Diploma Program for MVP would eventually include 11th and 12th grades.