School boards add, change, clarify draft consolidation pamphlet

Clarkdale-Jerome School Board President Jill Zaske: “It’s unknown how [consolidation] will affect Valley Academy.” VVN/Bill Helm

Clarkdale-Jerome School Board President Jill Zaske: “It’s unknown how [consolidation] will affect Valley Academy.” VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD – For Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s school board, it took less than 30 minutes to discuss, consider and recommend changes to the consolidation information pamphlet assembled Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter and his staff.

Putting its collective stamp on the 43-page booklet, Clarkdale-Jerome’s school required less than 40 minutes, but both the Mingus Union and Valley Academy boards required more than an hour.

In the end, the four boards clarified, changed and added to a draft copy of the pamphlet that Carter plans to have completed by Aug. 8 when his office is scheduled to deliver the information pamphlet, including consolidation plan, to the printer.

The information pamphlet, which includes a sample ballot, will go to voters before Oct. 2, as one pamphlet and consolidation plan will be mailed to each household containing a registered voter.

Mingus Union High School

Before sending its requested changes to Carter’s office, the Mingus Union School Board agreed Thursday to pass those changes to the district’s legal team.

“I’d hate to see our voices not be heard,” said Mingus Union School Board member Steve Gesell. “This is the only way we can provide guidance to the voters.”

Which is why Mingus Union scheduled a 4 p.m. Friday meeting to finalize its concerns with Carter’s office.

One change the Mingus Union board suggested regards the sample ballot’s fifth bullet point under a ‘yes’ vote for consolidation should read “Undetermined financial impacts” to Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education No. 1 (VACTE) in regard to governance and funding.

Other changes the Mingus board considered bringing to Carter’s office include “unknown financial impacts to the new K-12 district,” “creating potential claim of assets against the new unified K-12 district by Clarkdale-Jerome School District,” and “increasing property tax rates for the newly-created unified school district with a decrease in secondary property tax for Clarkdale-Jerome School District.”

Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education

The Valley Academy board decided to “clean up” the language in the letter it collectively sent to Carter as a statement against the unification of the Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek school districts, VACTE Superintendent Bob Weir said.

“Yes we suggested some changes,” Weir said. “One was to our statement, and we added some information about our central campus numbers to our definition of who VACTE is.”

Clarkdale-Jerome School District

Impacts to Valley Academy regarding governance and funding are unknown, the Clarkdale-Jerome School District collectively said Thursday in its request to change one of the bullet points on the sample ballot.

One change the Clarkdale-Jerome board has sent to Carter’s office is that the sample ballot’s fifth bullet point under a ‘yes’ vote for consolidation should read “Unknown impact to Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education No. 1 (VACTE) in regard to governance, funding and programs.”

Under a ‘no’ vote for consolidation, the board requested that Carter’s office change the verbiage to read “Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School District NO. 3 shall remain a separate and distinct elementary school district, serving K-8 students within their district boundaries.”

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District

The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board members voted Friday morning to have Carter’s office review pro and con statements made by Dan Mabery, Jason Teague and the Committee for Better Upper Verde Schools-2018 “as to factual content,” as stated in the draft minutes for the Aug. 3 meeting.

“This is our chance to speak up,” C-OC board member Jason Finger told the board before its 5-to-0 vote.

At one point, the board considered asking Carter’s office to review each of the 46 pro/con statements.

C-OC board member Eric Marcus said he was “concerned about getting into the merits of the pro and con statements,” the draft minutes stated, and that he “does not believe it is the board’s role to get into the arguments of it.”

Finger also said that he did “not want to insult” Carter. Finger’s suggestion was that statements he believed to be incorrectly represented as fact should say “in my opinion” or “could” instead of “would.”

Sunday, Aug. 5 is the first day that voters can request an early ballot.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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