COTTONWOOD - The Mingus Union School Board has yet to vote on this matter, but the Cottonwood-Oak Creek District Governing Board voted Tuesday night to allow Clarkdale-Jerome School to participate in a feasibility study of shared services.
The Warner Group will conduct the study. It will look into the usefulness and workability of these districts sharing costs on basically three levels. The three tiers of the study will focus on instruction and support staff; district office management, including payroll, human resources, technology and grant writing; and shared administration, including sharing a superintendent.
The Warner Group study is paid for by Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter's office.
Both Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek districts had signed on to the study earlier this year during the first stage of joint discussions on how the districts might save money. Clarkdale-Jerome had requested to be included in the study.
Clarkdale-Jerome Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor told the Verde Independent that her school board has been looking into ways to reduce costs through shared services, such as the recently formed transportation consortium. That purchasing consortium joins several school districts and fire districts to obtain better pricing on fuel and parts for their fleets.
Fleenor said all three levels of the Warner study are worth looking into. "The more information and data we have, the better off we are," she said.
She explained that her board might be interested in one, two or even all three tiers of the Warner study.
"I can't speak for the board," Fleenor said, "but I think we need to look at everything."
During discussion of the agenda item Cottonwood-Oak Creek board member Eric Wyles asked if Clarkdale-Jerome is interested in being part of a shared administration, or just included in the study.
C-OC Superintendent Barbara U'Ren said her understanding from talking with Fleenor is that it could be any level or a combination of levels of the study. She said that Clarkdale-Jerome wants an independent study that comes back with good information.
C-OC Board President Randall Garrison seemed to balk at the idea of including Clarkdale-Jerome in the study. "I'm still hearing them wanting to open their own high school," he said. "They keep throwing out this special funding they might lose."
He was referring to a comment by Fleenor that her board must be careful with entering a consolidation or unification arrangement because her district stands to lose more than $100,000 a year in federal impact funds, which are based on the district's population of Native American students.
Garrison said Clarkdale-Jerome might lose that funding anyway if Arizona House Bill 2075 goes through.
U'Ren said she didn't think State legislation would eliminate federal impact funds.
Garrison finally said he thought Clarkdale-Jerome should be included in the study, and he made a motion to approve the item. The motion passed unanimously.
The same item was on the Mingus Union School Board meeting agenda for Thursday night.