C-OC will 'wait-and-see' on shared superintendent

Districts will see feasibility study Monday night

VVN/Philip Wright<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->COCSD Superintendent Barbara U’Ren presented outgoing school board members Randy Garrison and Eric Wyles with a token of appreciation for their service. Garrison served 10 years on the board, and Wyles served 5.

VVN/Philip Wright<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->COCSD Superintendent Barbara U’Ren presented outgoing school board members Randy Garrison and Eric Wyles with a token of appreciation for their service. Garrison served 10 years on the board, and Wyles served 5.

COTTONWOOD - Outgoing Cottonwood-Oak Creek Board President Randy Garrison wants to slow down and basically start over on the idea of sharing a superintendent with Mingus Union High School. The board took no action Tuesday night on making a proposal to Mingus for shared administrative services.

Board member Jason Finger, however, wants to continue discussion of the matter, and he wants to do so soon.

Both districts will meet in a joint session Monday, Dec. 17, to receive the results of a feasibility study on a shared administration conducted by the Carolyn Warner Group. The MUHS board has scheduled a meeting immediately following the joint session on the Warner report. Time is becoming critical for the Mingus board because it must conduct a search for a new superintendent to replace Tim Foist, who leaves at the end of this school year.

The MUHS board must know whether the COCSD board wants to share a superintendent. The answer to that question will determine how Mingus goes about searching for a new superintendent.

Incoming COCSD board members JoAnne Cook and Jason Little were in attendance for the study session. Garrison said the main reason for the session was to inform the new members on the important issues.

If the COCSD board wants to share a superintendent, then it will have to be directly involved with the search. For that to happen, the COCSD board will have to make a decision very soon in order for Mingus to begin its search for a new superintendent.

"There never should have been two districts in the first place," Garrison said during discussion Tuesday. "Budgets are getting thinner and thinner."

Although Garrison said the two boards should continue talking about sharing administration positions, he was not encouraging the new board members to move quickly on the matter.

He pointed out that the Warner study, which was paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendent's Office, turned into a six months project and slowed down the discussions on a shared superintendent. He said the discussion is now basically back to the starting point.

"It'll take at least a year to go through a superintendent search," Garrison said.

He acknowledged that time is tight for the Mingus board. But he said the COCSD board cannot make a move based on that.

Later in the evening during the COCSD board's regular meeting, Superintendent Barbara U'Ren said that after hearing the results of the feasibility study next Monday, the boards could determine if there are ways to share services.

Garrison said the topic could be a discussion item on next months meeting agenda.

But Finger said he wants to come out of the joint meeting on Monday with a date set for the two boards to continue discussion of a shared administration.

The Warner Group Study was set up by County Superintendent Tim Carter with the agreement of three local school districts. The study was designed to indicate areas where savings could be gained through shared services.

The study was to look at three tiers of possible cost sharing among the districts. Those included instruction and support staff; district office management, including payroll, technology and grant writing; and shared administration. COCSD and MUHS are already sharing some services such as a Director of Special Education.

Both districts originally agreed to the Warner study because they have, most of this year, been involved in discussions about sharing services, including possibly sharing administration positions such as superintendent.

The districts were expecting the results of the study during the summer. But the study results were put off until after the November General Election.

Then the districts were expecting to receive the results of the study during a joint meeting Nov. 15. But no results were available during that meeting, and another joint session was scheduled for Dec. 17.

The Mingus board has scheduled a meeting immediately following the Warner report Dec. 17 so it can make some decisions regarding its search for a new superintendent.

During the COCSD meeting Tuesday, it was mentioned that COCSD and MUHS boards plan to have a brief joint meeting following the results of the Warner study.

By Philip Wright

Staff Reporter



CLARKDALE - Governing board members and administrators from Mingus Union, Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Clarkdale-Jerome school districts will meet for a joint study session at 5 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Clarkdale Campus of Yavapai College. The purpose of the meeting is for the districts to hear a report on a feasibility study by the Carolyn Warner Group on sharing services, including a superintendent.

The governing boards will have time to ask the study team questions, and the study team will take questions from the public.

This joint meeting is a follow-up to a meeting scheduled for Nov. 15 for the boards to hear a preliminary report on the findings of the Warner Group. But that meeting ended without any report, preliminary or otherwise, on the feasibility of sharing services or administration.

The Nov. 15 meeting focused only on the budget situation districts likely will face after defeat of Proposition 204.

The Yavapai County School Superintendent's Office is paying for the report, which was contracted at $18,000.

Immediately following the Nov. 15 meeting. The MUHS School Board met in executive session to discuss replacing Superintendent Tim Foist. Foist is leaving the district at the end of the current school year.

Mingus and Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Districts have been involved in discussions for most of this year regarding sharing services, including a shared superintendent. The districts already share a Director of Special Education.

Following the executive session, board President Jim Ledbetter made a motion, seconded by board member John Tavasci Jr. to move ahead with replacing Foist.

Ledbetter told the Verde Independent, "We will be hiring a superintendent of some sort that ideally might be shared."

The MUHS board authorized Ledbetter to begin putting together a search committee, which will include community members, board members from COCSD, Clarkdale-Jerome and VACTE districts.

The morning after the Nov. 15 meeting Tavasci said the Mingus board has its back against the wall. He said the Mingus board wants to find a superintendent with K-12 experience.

The COCSD Governing Board scheduled a study session for Dec. 11 in which it intended to discuss a proposal to MUHS for shared administrative services.

The MUHS board had scheduled a meeting at Yavapai College for Dec. 17 immediately following the joint study session. Two agenda items for that meeting refer to shared services and a superintendent search committee.

Item 4.5 calls for discussion and possible action regarding the Warner Group's analysis of shared services.

Item 4.6 is for discussion and possible action regarding invitations to persons who might serve on the superintendent search committee.

Another agenda item calls for discussion and possible action on the district's partnership with the Verde Valley Medical Center for a nurse practitioner.

The idea that has been discussed in previous board meetings is to have an onsite free clinic for employees and dependents to offset reduction of some benefits under the district's group health insurance. The employee's dependents will no longer be covered under the plan at some point after the first of the year.

"It will be a licensed health care facility," said Ledbetter. "The hospital measured the space we thought was appropriate."

The clinic will be in a space that used to be a teacher conference room.

Ledbetter said the idea at this point is for the clinic to be open eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, but not for consecutive hours. He said some research shows that the busiest hours would be early morning and again in late afternoon.

He said he believes the clinic could be open during the upcoming spring semester.

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