Thu, Dec. 05

Editorial: County schools chief lays down law on consolidation rhetoric

It’s doubtful there will be an Upper Verde school district consolidation election this year, but that sure hasn’t stopped people both pro and con from making claims about the impacts of such a merger.

To which Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter says you should take any such claims with a grain of salt.

In fact, Carter says we’re all better off ignoring consolidation rhetoric until an election officially is called.

Earlier this week, Carter fired off an email to a group of people in the Verde Valley with whom he regularly communicates on consolidation issues.

He did not mince words in expressing his displeasure with some of the consolidation claims being made locally in media reports and on social media.

Carter was even more perturbed that when pressed, these same people claimed they were getting their information from him.

We’ve been down the “Tim Carter said …” road before in the Verde Valley with school district consolidation. When told of two incidents last week by people from both sides of the consolidation fence in which they claimed the information they were purporting came directly from Carter, the county schools chief told The Verde Independent, “I’m tired of this. I don’t appreciate this.”

Going forward, Carter said in this week’s email, anything and everything he has to say about consolidation will be done in writing.

“If anyone asks a consolidation question that I need to respond to, I will do so in writing and copy the Verde Valley Consolidation Communication Group. As in the past, everyone will get the same information at the same time.”

Carter explained such an approach is necessary because many of the claims being made by consolidation supporters and foes alike appear to “be misleading, be inaccurate, be false, misrepresent the facts by omission of key points, use past data to make a point about a possible future election as if it were still fact, be inappropriate assumptions, be misinformation, lack facts, and be, in some cases, untruthful.”

Further, Carter explained, “Upon our investigation, it was discovered that some of these so-called ‘facts’ were attributed to me or my office, which were not true. When asked for proof, none was forthcoming.”

In addition to making consolidation comments only in writing, Carter further put everyone on notice that:

• “Our office will only provide information if an issue is directly in front of us, and we have the statutory right or obligation to act,

• “My office will not engage on issues that are hypothetical,

• “We will not make projections,

• “We will not speculate,

• “We will not provide comparisons.”

In conclusion, Carter said, “Our strong suggestion is that everyone stop doing these things as well. In my opinion, they are harmful, paint an inaccurate picture, and are doing a disservice to the community.”

If and when a consolidation election officially is called, Carter promised his office will provide everyone “with factual information about the timeline, process, and of course, we will develop and distribute the publicly pamphlet and the consolidation plan as required by law.”

The moral of the story obviously is that when hearing various claims made about school district consolidation, we should be skeptical about what we are hearing.

Press those making their claims to provide attribution on where they got their information.

If they say that got it from Tim Carter, then they should be able to provide proof.

In writing.

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