Cornville fights closing of Oak Creek School
'School is the heart of the community'
CORNVILLE - About 115 people turned out Thursday night to say no to any closure of Oak Creek School or any transfer of the school's students to another school.
"Closing our school is unacceptable," said PTO treasurer Shannon Barth. "It won't happen."
Barth's comments pretty well represent the feelings present during a hastily called meeting in the gymnasium of Oak Creek School. The meeting was in response to a PowerPoint presentation given to the school board Tuesday night that listed closing a school in the district as a last-ditch option.
Superintendent Barbara U'Ren presented two budgets to the board. Both budgets must deal with huge cuts from the state. But one scenario will play out only if Arizona fails to pass Proposition 100, which would temporarily raise the sales tax rate by 1 percent.
U'Ren listed a number of worst-case options. One was closing a school within the district. Another was moving junior high students from Oak Creek School to Cottonwood Middle School. People in Cornville assumed that if a school were closed, the district would choose Oak Creek School instead of Tavasci Elementary School, the newest campus in the district.
"It all boils down to Prop. 100," Barth said. She said if the proposition fails, "a school closure is pretty much inevitable. It's not going to be us."
Board members Jason Finger and Eric Wyles attended the meeting.
"I felt it was a very positive meeting," Wyles said. "No one in the district wants to close this school even on a temporary basis."
Wyles said he tried to dispel rumors and present the facts. "It was a civilized meeting," he said. "I was truly very proud of the community. Oak Creek School is truly a part of the community."
He said the community was open to different ways of keeping the school open, including larger class size an even multiple grades in a classroom.
Barth made the same point. She said the community would likely consider any reasonable manner of keeping the school open. "We have $8,000 in the PTO fund," she said. "We're willing to use it to save our school.
"This school is the heart of the community," Barth said. "Closing any form of Oak Creek School or busing any kids to Cottonwood is unacceptable."
She said that about 100 people from the school's community will show up to be heard at the next C-OC Governing Board meeting.
"If they allow each person three minutes to speak, that's 300 minutes," Barth said. "We're willing to camp out all night."