Former Mingus super: money saved through consolidation

“I think in the long run unified districts are better. It’s an efficient system where you can direct money as close as you can to the students" -- Jack Keegan

“I think in the long run unified districts are better. It’s an efficient system where you can direct money as close as you can to the students" -- Jack Keegan

COTTONWOOD – Mingus Union’s former interim superintendent talked with members of the Advisory Committee for

'I think in the long run unified districts are better. It’s an efficient system where you can direct money as close as you can to the students’

-- Jack Keegan

Consolidation Tuesday about a possible savings should the Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek school districts consolidate.

Charged last year with exploring cost-savings efficiencies – which included a possible merger with Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District – Jack Keegan considered former Mingus Union school board member Andy Groseta’s plea that the two districts see what it would take to become one district.

Despite the Feb. 20 presentation from Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s business managers that showed a loss when considering both costs and savings, Keegan was clear Tuesday that a savings “could be done” should the two districts merge.

Admitting to have done a “more broad” study than Mingus Union’s Lynn Leonard and Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s David Snyder, Keegan presented information he gathered while a Mingus Union from February through June 2017.

“I did not intend this to be a detailed analysis,” Keegan told the committee. “I wasn’t trying to push this thing either one way or the other.”

Keegan projected an administrative savings of between $352,171 and $635,766, as well as a $750,000 plant operation savings in a merger.

But Keegan also estimated a $645,000 cost to bring C-OC teachers’ salaries “on par” with Mingus Union teachers.

“You’ve truly got to have parity with your people or you won’t have a happy marriage,” Keegan told the committee.

Keegan also told the committee that “it would be very important” to equalize salaries “as soon as the savings to cover the difference is realized from the consolidation.”

“This could and should be done without freezing the Mingus teachers’ salaries,” Keegan also told the committee. “If you freeze Mingus salaries, that wouldn’t work. You’d probably have to hire a lot of new people.”

During the presentation, Consolidation Committee member Jason Finger asked Keegan if he thought a unified model serves students “better than what we are currently doing.”

“I think in the long run,” Keegan responded, “unified districts are better. It’s an efficient system where you can direct money as close as you can to the students.”

“But,” Keegan added, “I would never push it.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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