Sun, March 29

Consolidation bill to be amended for clarity

Sen. Sylvia  Allen

Sen. Sylvia Allen

PHOENIX -- The latest school district consolidation bill had its first hearing Tuesday with an assurance of added clarity from Sen. Sylvia Allen, the sponsor of the bill.

Senate Bill 1073 changes the election requirements for school district consolidation. It also “Continues the statutory authorization for the consolidation of a common school district that is part of a union high school district consisting of two or fewer common school districts with that union high school district,” according to the bill’s fact sheet.

The bill is the latest is another effort to pave a pathway to consolidation between Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union school districts.

According to the bill, it allows a school district participating in a career/technical education district at the time the school district was unified or consolidated to keep participating in the CTE program. CTE programs such as the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education would then become part of the new district.

The bill also appropriates $50,000 from the state General Fund to the Arizona Department of Education for the costs associated with school district consolidation.

Before the bill entered its first committee hearing, there were some discrepancies in the language concerning Clarkdale-Jerome’s role in a future consolidation vote.

Clarkdale-Jerome Danny Brown said Sen. Sylvia Allen assured concerned parties that the language would be amended.

“We were under the impression our votes wouldn’t count,” Brown said. “So I’m hoping that gets changed.”

According to the bill’s fact sheet, one of the provisions “removes the requirement, for a school district consolidation, that the majority of votes cast in each district approve consolidation, and instead requires only the majority of votes in each district that I proposed to be consolidated.”

The bill also removes the requirement for the majority of voters in an unaffected part of the district to approve consolidation.

The Senate Education Committee will revisit and possibly vote on the bill next week.

Mingus School Board President Lori Drake said she could only speak for herself as the Mingus Board hasn’t spoken yet on the legislation.

“The long-awaited legislative fix for our CTED; VACTE, included some other striking and adding to which, personally, I am opposed to,” she said.

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