COTTONWOOD - The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Governing Board has announced that it will hold a public meeting, with a period for public comment, to discuss closing one or more of the district's five schools. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Cottonwood Middle School gymnasium at 500 E. Mingus Ave in Cottonwood.
Arizona law requires that the board wait at least 30 days after the meeting before taking action on a school closure.
Two schools are being considered by the board for closure: Oak Creek School in Cornville at 11490 E. Purple Sage Dr. and Tavasci Elementary School in Cottonwood at 2939 Del Rio Dr.
During the meeting the board will listen to public comment either for or against closing one or both schools.
Reasons stated by the board for the proposed closure of district schools are the "financial impact of declining enrollment and the serious budget challenges with the potential reduction in state aid and rising operating costs."
The possible closure of the two schools was discussed by the board and administration during a study session on the topic Jan. 11. It was again discussed following the study session during the board's regular meeting the same evening.
During the study session, David Snyder, director of business services, said the district will be short $1.5 million for next year. That shortfall is on top of the heavy cuts the district has received during the last two fiscal years.
It was projected during that meeting that closing Oak Creek and Tavasci schools would save the district $734,405 per year. That amount includes the cost of all-day kindergarten, which the district is trying provide. An additional $200,000 would be added to the total savings per year if the district did not offer all-day kindergarten.
Board member Jason Finger said during the Jan. 11 meeting that closing only one school really isn't an option for balancing the expected shortfall.
"By closing one campus we're not even coming close," he said.