2 principals + 2 assistant principals + 4 secretaries = realignment

C-OC school board approves staffing structure at Thursday meeting

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Board President JoAnne Cook seeks clarity in the board’s March 22 meeting to discuss leadership models for the district’s schools. (VVN/Bill Helm)

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Board President JoAnne Cook seeks clarity in the board’s March 22 meeting to discuss leadership models for the district’s schools. (VVN/Bill Helm)

— Two schools, two principals, two assistant principals, four secretaries.

And one floating secretary, at the superintendent’s discretion, according to need.

This is the administrative model that Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District’s governing board voted 3-to-2 to approve Thursday after close to three hours of discussion, consideration and pleading - not just from the general public.

Ever since the C-OC school board agreed in February to approve Superintendent Steve King’s plan for realigning three of its schools into two K-8 schools, both the superintendent and the board’s five members have held additional meetings to not just decide how to merge the schools, but also to decide how to save money.

The majority of Thursday’s discussion commenced at the board’s 6 p.m. study session to review King’s five proposed staffing structures.

Following the study session, the board then took a short break before it held a special session, which allowed for public discourse before the board’s eventual vote.

Realignment

Under King’s realignment plan, three of the district’s schools – Dr. Daniel Bright (K-2), Cottonwood Elementary (grades 3-5) and Cottonwood Middle (grades 6-8) – will become two K-8 schools.

Dr. Daniel Bright and Cottonwood Middle School will become K-8 schools, and Cottonwood Elementary School’s 700 building will be used for an early childhood learning center. The rest of the CES campus would be closed until/unless the district and the board agree on how the other buildings are to be used.

The plan is to create “family-friendly schools,” King said. And having K-8 schools would allow children to attend the same school for their first nine years.

Fiduciary

On more than one occasion during the board’s two meetings, the word fiduciary was debated amongst board members.

As board members considered leadership plans such as a principal and assistant principal at each of the district’s two realigned schools, or no assistant principals at either of the two schools, the board also considered an option to have one assistant principal who would essentially be a floater between the two schools.

With experience in Sedona schools before Cottonwood-Oak Creek, Matt Schumacher told the board that he’s “yet to see a shared services model work.”

A shared assistant principal would be “coming in there, [and] you’re just a hammer,” said Schumacher, principal at Cottonwood Middle School. “You’ll create an erosion of relationships. That’s not how we want to conduct business, the business of kids.”

The board agreed with its vote Thursday that there would be a savings of about $180,000 with the realignment and the approved leadership model.

But C-OC board member Jason Finger urged the board to consider tabling the vote to allow time for additional reflection.

“It was a very charged, heated issue,” Finger said on Friday. “Last night, I feel the prudent thing would have been to mull it over. I very likely may have voted for the same model that was approved last night.”

Next meeting …

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District’s governing board will hold its next regularly-scheduled meeting at the District Office, located at 1 N. Willard St. in Cottonwood.

Call 928-634-2288 for more information.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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