Editorial: Consolidation fact-finding mission in very good hands
While the Upper Verde Valley’s efforts at reaching consensus and educating the community on school district consolidation were plagued by turf protection and institutional bias, it’s refreshing to see the no-nonsense approach being employed by Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter to achieve the same goal.
Most notably, every single communique Mr. Carter issues to those involved in the consolidation movement is done via email and collectively sent to every school district superintendent, the leader of the consolidation petition drive and local media.
“Full transparency is the goal,” Carter said in an email to all of the above earlier this week.
In the same email, Carter explained that he has a statutory obligation to create an information pamphlet outlining what exists now and what the effect of a successful vote will have in the future.
To do that, Carter is taking a deliberate and methodical approach to collecting information, and he is giving the individual districts specific deadlines to provide that information. For example, the email he sent to all district superintendents this week requested they only provide a five-paragraph “profile” of each district.
Also this week, Carter was scheduled Tuesday to address the Valley Academy for Career and Technical Education School Board on the impacts a successful consolidation would have on VACTE. Again, it bears emphasis that this is an open public meeting and anything and everything Carter says on the subject of consolidation is public record. Also of note, every Upper Verde school district superintendent in the Verde Valley was invited to hear Carter’s presentation to the VACTE board.
It’s obvious that Mr. Carter is going above and beyond to protect himself and his office from the kind of claims heard during meetings of the now-defunct Consolidation Advisory Committee. In those meetings, some were quick to put words into Mr. Carter’s mouth that he denied ever saying. Now that consolidation is officially on the ballot, everyone should be on notice that anything he says or writes about consolidation is a public record. Nothing is private.
Additionally, Carter is taking steps to ensure every aspect of this consolidation election is completely transparent. As he informed area school superintendents this week, “All emails requesting election information from you will come through me. I will track them from request to submission and will hold them in a separate folder. Deputy County Attorney Joy Biedermann, who represents our office, will be copied on all requests … Just a word of notice, all emails pertaining to this topic, are completely subject to public records law, to which our office will fully comply. In fact, emails that I will send to you requesting information, will be sent to the leader of the petition drive and the media as well.”
There may be some who contend that everything Mr. Carter is doing now is nothing more than a duplication of the work done over the past year by the Consolidation Advisory Committee. There is some truth in that, but while the local consolidation committee did its fact-finding in a highly charged emotional and politicized process, Carter is doing the same thing in a completely objective and non-politicized process.
At long last, this issue of school district consolidation is in good hands.