TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Fri, Jan. 24

Cottonwood-Oak Creek, Sedona-Oak Creek districts to share special ed director

COTTONWOOD - Shared services contracts are becoming quite common in rural communities, as school districts, fire districts and the like seek ways to stretch the dollar - and the degree of services they can offer.

Tuesday, the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District board is expected to offer a contract to Michael Remus as Shared Special Services Director, part of an Intergovernmental Agreement with Sedona-Oak Creek School District.

The agreement with Remus, which would begin with the 2016-2017 school year, would replace the IGA with current Shared Special Services Director Pam Femstamaker, who is retiring.

"When we posted for the position, we hear from Remus, who talked about sharing it," COCSD Superintendent Barb U'Ren says. "We were really excited about the opportunity. He's really an awesome, wonderful person. He's someone who can work with the multitude of stakeholders in the district, the teachers, students, administration, parents. We're thrilled to have someone with such a remarkable background."

Remus, currently the Director of Student Services at SOCSD, has expertise in special education law, as well as in training.

"He has great relationship skills," U'Ren says. "He builds relationships."

According to U'Ren, the finances of the IGA would be a 60-percent COCSD, 40-percent SOCSD split of an $82,000 annual salary. Remus, a Cottonwood resident, says he's "excited to come on board" with the district.

"I want to give back to the community I live in," Remus says.

Full-day kindergarten?

Also Tuesday, the COCSD board could reinstate the full-day kindergarten program with full-time certified teachers.

The district's kindergarten teachers currently lead the two sessions each day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and work with close to 50 students daily. According to U'Ren, the two-a-days are "very stressful" for teachers.

"We realized again as we look at the future how we can best serve the needs of our children and our teachers," U'Ren says. "The teachers have worked extremely hard, but they were wearing out."

Currently, the half-day of instruction includes reading and math, with all other education components such as music, physical education and computers taught by paraprofessionals during the other session. Should the board vote to reinstate the full-day kindergarten classes, the money to pay for the teacher salaries would come from Forced Fee Management Association Dollars via PILT - Payments in Lieu of Taxes.

Says U'Ren, COCSD is anticipating the addition of three teachers at Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School. At Oak Creek School, the kindergarten teacher who currently works1/2 day schedule would work a full day schedule.

Mountain View Preparatory School currently has one teacher who works two sessions. U'Ren says that teacher would continue with two sessions for one more year, "keeping the kinder para-pro that we have."

The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District board will meet at 5 p.m. April 19 at the district office, located at 1 N. Willard St. in Cottonwood. A copy of the agenda can be found at the district website, www.cocsd.us.

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