Thu, Oct. 22

Commentary: Consolidation = one school board, one vision, one mission

In America today, we may believe the political process has broken down and no longer is functioning. With daily protests, rioting, and looting in various hot spots across America, it would be easy to come to that conclusion.

But we want to assure you that here in the Verde Valley, the political process is still alive and well. We want to thank the 2000-plus registered voters who signed a citizen-driven petition to put school consolidation on the November ballot for the total voting public to express their opinion. It is refreshing to see such a process alive and well in America.

We feel this is a question that should come before the voters for their input and decision.

Sixty years ago was the last time we had major change in the delivery system of primary and secondary education of our school districts. A lot has changed since the formation of our union high school district.

Just as retail trade has evolved, with some of the old standbys like Sears and JCPenney disappearing, we believe public education is evolving with the many alternatives of open enrollment, online education, home schooling, charter schools and private schools.

Our opponents are trying to preserve the status quo and throwing out numbers and other distractions to confuse you, the voters.

The financial implications regarding property taxes are resolved. Nothing is dramatically changing in the school finance arena. It has been determined by Tim Carter, Yavapai County school superintendent, and confirmed by the Arizona Tax Research Association, Arizona Association of School Business Officials and Arizona Department of Education that property taxes will decrease in both the Clarkdale-Jerome District and the newly created unified district. We need to listen to the experts on school finance.

This is great news for taxpayers. Please refer to pages 8-9 in the Voters Information Pamphlet that you have received in the mail confirming that taxes will be going down. No one will be paying more.

School funding and declining enrollment in some districts will continue to challenge education delivery here locally and in Arizona. With this most recent COVID-19 pandemic, we could very well see a major shift from our public schools to other educational resources, exacerbating the revenue challenges. Declining enrollment from our changing society is inevitable.

The vote on consolidation is not to change our various schools, and their educational model, only to merge two smaller districts (1,100 and 1.900 students) into one medium sized district (3,000 students), eliminating duplication of administrative services and plant operations and diverting those savings to the direct delivery of education to students.

The Clarkdale-Jerome elementary K-8 district has chosen to continue operating independently. As an independent district, their school board can assist its high school students to attend the high school of their choice, and pay the respective tuition cost for those students.

The taxpayers deserve a positive return on investment and this can be achieved by consolidating Mingus Union High School and Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Districts into one newly unified pre-K-12 school district.

This new unified school district will have one school board with one vision and mission to provide the leadership and direction to ensure that the curriculum and instruction are aligned and best suited to provide the best education possible to our students (pre K-12) in the Upper Verde Valley.

In unified pre K-12 school districts, teachers are trained to share methodology, which results in increased student achievement as learning outcomes are consistent.

Better matriculation from elementary to high school is what some of the highest performing and best school districts in Arizona have. We want to have our newly created unified school district to be more like them. Our students deserve it. Please vote yes for the kids. Vote yes for school consolidation.

The Committee For Better Upper Verde Valley Schools (aka Consolidation Committee) wants to thank those who have supported our consolidation efforts, and especially the following members of our educational community who have broadened our resource base:

Past school board members who support consolidation MUHS Board (8)

Cottonwood-Oak Creek Board (7)

• Susan Foley

• Jo Anne Cook

• Andy Groseta

• Jason Finger

• Craig Hoffbauer

• Dan Mabery

• Don Godard

• Mike Mulcaire

• Scott Stokes

• Rudy Stadelman

• Phil Terbell

• Eric Wyles

• John Tavasci

Current and former educators, administrators and superintendents who support consolidation

• Genna Adams, Teacher, COCSD

• Vicki Jo Anderson, Administrator/Teacher, American Heritage Academy

• Jack Castimore, Teacher, Alaska

• Deana DeWitt, Assoc. Superintendent, Sedona-Oak Creek School District

• Chris Godard, Counselor, Nevada

• Andy Groseta, Teacher, Amphitheater Public Schools

• Dr. Jack Keegan, Retired Superintendent/Interim Superintendent, MUHS

• Denise Kennedy, Principal/Teacher, COCSD

• Julie Larson, Superintendent, COCSD

• Ken Ligon, Principal/Superintendent, AZ & NV; American Schools in Greece & Pakistan

• Kerry Miller, COCSD (now in NH)

• Michelle Stadelman, Principal/Teacher, COCSD

• John Tavasci, Superintendent, Clarkdale-Jerome/ COCSD

• Kirk Waddle, Former Business Manager, MUHS/Exec. Dir. Business Services/CFO-Saddle Mountain Unified School District

• Lynda Zanolli, Teacher, COCSD

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