Cottonwood-Oak Creek to invite Mingus to joint meeting

Will make decisions about considering shared services

COTTONWOOD - When the Mingus Union School Board gets to its agenda item about a joint meeting with Cottonwood-Oak Creek District during Friday's meeting, it should have in hand an invitation from COCSD to attend a joint meeting on either April 2 or April 4.

For the most part, the districts have dropped the communications ball since the first of the year on pursuing shared services, including administration positions.

The districts were in these discussions for all of 2012. At the end of 2012, the districts' board members and administrators were studying a report on the topic produced by the Warner Group, and paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendent's Office.

During this time, the Mingus Union board has started a search for a new superintendent to replace Tim Foist who leaves at the end of the current school year.

Two communications dated March 15 from MUHS Board President James Ledbetter covering the subject of further joint meetings were sent to Ledbetter's board members and to Jason Finger, President of the COCSD Board.

In Ledbetter's memos, he is pushing to have any further joint meetings on shared services restricted to specific proposals brought to the school boards by the respective administrations. He wants specific proposals regarding joint services that the districts can make happen.

"...I feel we should have the administrators from each district develop a strategic plan for accomplishing shared services," Ledbetter's memo stated.

But Ledbetter's memo had not reached Finger by the time the COCSD board covered the agenda item during its March 19 meeting Tuesday night. The memo was handed to Finger after he opened the agenda item for discussion. It was the first he knew of the memo.

After quickly reading the memo, Finger said the two districts are going about this in two different ways.

He said COCSD wants to move forward in general on the idea of shared services, but MUHS now wants to have the boards respond only to specific proposals from the districts' administrators.

Finger said MUHS wants specifics but COCSD need to discuss how shared services would work.

COCSD Superintendent Barbara U'Ren said a joint meeting is necessary to find out how the MUHS board wants t move forward.

A decision was made to invite the Mingus board to a joint meeting on either April 2 or April 4 at 5 p.m. or later.

On Wednesday, Finger talked with the Verde Independent about the memo he received from Ledbetter.

"It's just been really frustrating that we can't seem to get together with Mingus," Finger said. "Our position, since January, has been that we need to sit down and talk."

He said he has been getting "shut down" each time he attempts to have a date set for a joint meeting on shared services.

"We're not meeting in the middle where we need to on this," Finger said.

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