Fri, May 24

Commentary: Passage of SB1254 brings consolidation question one step closer to local voters

Credit Andy Groseta with one of the biggest political coups in Verde Valley history. Wednesday, Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1254 into law.

SB 1254 was introduced late in this legislative session.

It was tied to a petition drive Groseta and his Committee for Better Upper Verde Valley Schools – 2018 had initiated through the County School Superintendent’s Office to consolidate the Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek Districts.

Had SB 1254 not successfully weaved its way through both the House, Senate and governor’s office, Groseta’s petition effort would be nullified. All the work over the past year to bring the consolidation issue to voters would have been for naught.

It was quite the gamble, and in the end Groseta was holding a full house.

This, however, is not an end-all to the consolidation issue. Groseta and his team still must collect the required number of signatures by June 4 before the issue is placed on November ballot.

Should that happen, don’t be surprised to see Mingus Union legally challenge the effort. From the onset, the Mingus district has been adamantly opposed to a district merger, and it’s unlikely Mingus officials will not put up some kind of fight.

If that does not happen, and this issue actually is placed on the November ballot, we still can expect this to be the most highly charged political issue in the Upper Verde between now and the election. School district consolidation always has been a volatile issue in the Upper Verde. That is not going to change.

The debate has existed for decades and it’s best to once again let it be decided by the voters. The voters can choose to continue to pay layered taxation for three separate school districts, two of which govern one school each. Or, they can choose to eliminate the layered taxation, leave Clarkdale-Jerome as its own district, and merge Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus into a single K-12 district of one high school and four feeder schools.

Ultimately, the voters know what is best for the community.