COTTONWOOD – If consolidation is a marriage between school districts, then we’re seeing the first signs of a courtship between Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek.
Tuesday, the Mingus School Board agreed in principle to have Board President Anita Glazar and veteran board member Jim Ledbetter meet with Cottonwood-Oak Creek board members.
It is expected that meeting will be with C-OC Board President Jason Finger and another member of the board.
While the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board has officially agreed to “move forward” with a consolidation/unification study, Finger said late Tuesday that he will present the Mingus proposal to his board and collectively decide who will join him at the negotiation table with Glazar and Ledbetter.
The Mingus board did not formally vote on the measure Tuesday, but Glazar said the decision will be made official once new superintendent Penny Hargrove begins her duties in July.
Glazar said after consultation with Mingus Interim Superintendent Jack Keegan and consolidation/unification architect Andy Groseta, she agreed that moving forward now was the best course of action. She specifically wanted Ledbetter to join her in talks with C-OC board members.
“This will be a small setting. Cottonwood-Oak Creek has already agreed to move forward. We need to talk with them,” said Glazar.
The consolidation/unification of the three Upper Verde school districts has been discussed and debated for more than 50 years. Local voters have gone to the polls five times over the years to decide various marriages of Cottonwood-Oak Creek, Mingus Union and Clarkdale-Jerome.
They have all been defeated.
This most recent effort spearheaded by Groseta and other community leaders has already been firmly rejected by the Clarkdale-Jerome School Board.
Among Cottonwood-Oak Creek board members, both Finger and JoAnne Cook have voiced support for a merger of the districts.
In an April meeting, Mingus’ Ledbetter said of unification/consolidation: “We all know, intuitively, that this makes logical sense.”