Good for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board.
Its membership displayed bold political courage and conviction this week by firmly and unanimously voting to allow the community to decide the controversial school district consolidation question.
From this corner, Cottonwood-Oak Creek did the right thing, and soon-to-be new Board President JoAnne Cook hit the nail on the head when she said it’s time for the community to “look at a new [educational] model.”
It bears emphasis that when Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union were selling simultaneous overrides to the community leading up to November’s election, override supporters pushed the agenda of unity, saying the two districts serve the same educational community and same student population.
Cook echoed that message Tuesday in her support of school district consolidation when she said, “They’re all our students. We’re all educating the same pool of kids.”
The action by Cottonwood-Oak Creek is not a given that voters will ever get to weigh in on this. For it to end up on the ballot in November, or any time for that matter, it will likewise require a vote of confidence from the Mingus Union School Board. Short of that, consolidation supporters would have to embark on the arduous process of a citizen initiative to qualify the question for ballot consideration.
If it does end up in the hands of voters, who’s to say what will happen? It’s foolish to assume you know what voters believe is best. Add to that the fact that history is not on the side of Upper Verde consolidation advocates. This issue has been batted around for decades and there has been more talk than action.
There is a strong belief in the community, however, that this is the best hope the Upper Verde has ever seen for a successful consolidation drive. That belief is anchored in the fact that this movement is driven by the community, and the folks behind it have done a thorough job of gathering facts. They have done their homework, and they have done it well.
This consolidation drive, no doubt, is getting more interesting by the day, and the action Tuesday by the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board has certainly upped the ante on the movement.
Should it make it to the voters, we then will be able to see if JoAnne Cook is correct that it’s time for the community to “look at a new [educational] model.”
Or, if the Upper Verde will continue to be served -- and taxed -- by three school districts, two of which govern one school each.