Consolidation: Three districts, three ballots

Sen. Allen says she’ll leave voting process in current form

Sen. Sylvia  Allen

Sen. Sylvia Allen

VERDE VALLEY – Despite requests from the Committee for Better Upper Verde Valley Schools, SB 1073 will not combine the Cottonwood-Oak Creek, Mingus Union and Clarkdale-Jerome districts into one ballot should the consolidation question come before voters this year.

That’s what Sen. Sylvia Allen said Tuesday in an email to the Verde Independent.

On Feb. 12, Sen. Sylvia Allen will ask the State Senate’s Committee on Education to vote on SB 1073, which she said would “leave the canvasing of votes as [interpreted] in [Arizona Revised Statute 15-459] so each will be counted separately.”

In a prepared statement, pro-consolidation committee members Andy Groseta, Jerry Brown and Phil Terbell “emphasized that it wanted to make sure that all of the registered voters in all three school districts have an opportunity to vote and not to be disenfranchised in the process.”

“Our intent is to give the voters a chance to vote,” the committee stated.

“Although this may have not been the outcome some folks may have wanted, current statute allows the voters of the Clarkdale-Jerome District to determine the future of their participation in the Mingus Union High School District,” said Clarkdale-Jerome Superintendent Danny Brown. “Our voters will need to decide, after weighing in on the pros and cons of leaving the union district, how they want the district to move forward in the future.”

SB 1073 also addresses the community’s career and technical education program – Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education – as well as transition costs of a new unified district.

“We are very appreciative of Sen. Allen’s efforts in sponsoring SB 1073 to resolve the VACTE taxation issue and for the State of Arizona to pay $50,000 to help pay for unification costs to the newly created district,” the pro-consolidation committee also said in its prepared statement.

The pro-consolidation committee also said that because the Mingus Union High School District’s governing board is “not willing to pass a resolution to give the voters a chance to vote,” committee members are “prepared to carry petitions” to put the merger issue on the Nov. 5, 2019, ballot.

The committee did not respond when asked when it would begin the petition process.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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