No progress on Verde Valley school shared services

Warner study on shared services delayed until Dec. 17

No report, preliminary or otherwise, was presented during the joint meeting regarding the study, which is paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendent’s Office. Instead, Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials gave a PowerPoint presentation about how Proposition 204 being defeated will impact school districts. Most of his report went over information available on the Auditor General’s website.

No report, preliminary or otherwise, was presented during the joint meeting regarding the study, which is paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendent’s Office. Instead, Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials gave a PowerPoint presentation about how Proposition 204 being defeated will impact school districts. Most of his report went over information available on the Auditor General’s website.

CLARKDALE - Administrators and school board members from local school districts held a joint study session Thursday night to receive a preliminary report from the Carolyn Warner Group on the feasibility of shared services, including a shared superintendent.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District and Mingus Union High School District have been involved in discussions for most of the year about sharing services and personnel. Clarkdale-Jerome School District attended the meeting but isn't expected to enter into an intergovernmental agreement for any shared administrative position.

But no report, preliminary or otherwise, was presented during the joint meeting regarding the study, which is paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendent's Office. Instead, Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials gave a PowerPoint presentation about how Proposition 204 being defeated will impact school districts. Most of his report went over information available on the Auditor General's website.

MUHS board member John Tavasci Jr. said Friday morning that he expected a report about shared services. "If it is done and what the savings would be."

During the meeting Tavasci did ask Carolyn Warner what the study shows on sharing a superintendent. Warner did not answer Tavasci, other than to say that if that is something they want covered, it could be included.

Friday morning Tavasci said Mingus has to hire a superintendent because Superintendent Tim Foist is leaving at the end of this school year. He said the board would like to hire someone with kindergarten through high school experience who, in the future, both districts could be happy with.

MUHS Board President Jim Ledbetter said the Mingus Board was a little concerned when Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter started the meeting by saying that no one is talking about the benefits to students.

Lebetter said that is what the board has been interested in all along. He explained that the board had been going line item by line item while working on budgets in recent years looking for more money to put into the classroom. The board also has been looking for opportunities to improve its curriculum.

He said having a shared director of curriculum for both districts would be a huge value. A shared director of curriculum would be able to align curriculum for both districts from kindergarten all the way through high school.

Carolyn Warner addressed the meeting. She said there has been a lot of talk about the history between the districts.

"We're not here to talk about history," she said. "We're here to talk about the future."

She pointed out that this effort has not been based on legal mandates. She said her group, in doing the study, is not charged with giving recommendations.

"Our charge is to bring you a finding of fact," she said. "This effort provides many paths to success. There is no one perfect model, only models that work."

The Warner Group Study is to determine data that would 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 include instruction and support staff; district office management, including payroll, technology and grant writing; and shared administration.

Another joint session that was originally scheduled for Nov. 20 for the districts to discuss the results of the Warner Study was cancelled.

Both boards will meet in joint session on Dec. 17 to receive the final report on the study.

Following the joint meeting of local school districts Thursday night, the Mingus Union School Board met in executive session to discuss replacing Superintendent Tim Foist, who is leaving at the end of this school year.

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

When the board reconvened after executive session, Board President Jim Ledbetter made a motion, which was seconded by Board Member John Tavasci Jr. to move ahead with replacing Foist.

"We will be hiring a superintendent of some sort that ideally might be shared," Ledbetter said.

He explained that he has communicated with Randy Garrison, president of the C-OC school board, to ask if the C-OC board would meet in joint session with the Mingus board on Dec. 17, following the final report from the Warner Group on shared services and shared personnel.

Ledbetter said the MUHS board has authorized him to begin putting together a search committee, which will include, in addition to community members, board members from C-OC, Clarkdale-Jerome and VACTE.

Friday morning Tavasci talked about the MUHS board meeting that followed the Thursday night joint meeting.

"Mingus' back is against the wall," he said.

Tavasci said the Mingus board wants to find a superintendent that has K-12 experience.

"We're going to sit down with C-OC school district," he said. "We want to address that at a joint board meeting."

-Philip Wright

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