Mon, Oct. 19

School district consolidation: Hope is not a plan

Emily Meyer

Emily Meyer

Having hope is very attractive in these troubled times.

With revenues for schools dwindling, combining two districts sounds like a miracle cure: “Hopefully” we can save money.

But hope is not a plan. With consolidation, there is no plan for the mess that will be created and there is no evidence of savings.

In a newly consolidated district, revenues (based on average daily membership such as the Secure Rural Schools Program) will decrease as Clarkdale-Jerome students attending grades 9-12 in the new district will not count toward the district’s average daily membership.

A 2010 performance audit of the Cottonwood-Oak Creek district found that prior consolidations of similarly-sized districts did not result in administrative, transportation, or plant operations cost savings.

A study done by both districts shows a loss of nearly half a million dollars per year.

Teacher salaries between the districts will need to be leveled, which can only be achieved by reducing salary increases or freezing current salaries.

Right now, Arizona teacher salaries rank in the bottom five states nationally. There are also over 2000 classrooms without a fully-qualified teacher.

With teacher shortages in Arizona and across the nation, it doesn’t make sense to drive off our best and brightest teachers.

Mingus has many award-winning, competitive programs such as Band, Theatre, Welding, Auto, and the Fine Arts. These programs thrive because Mingus has always supported the teachers and their programs.

Our programs are so outstanding in our community that they are included in the best events offered in the Verde Valley, such as Walking on Main, Thunder Valley Rally and Light Up the Mountain in Jerome.

These programs are why our students thrive. They give our students hope and a plan.

Hoping that we save money, but creating a long list of problems with no solutions doesn’t make sense, especially when budgets are tight.

Please support our independent schools and vote No on consolidation.

Emily Meyer is the band director at Mingus Union High School. Ms. Meyer was a finalist for Yavapai County Teacher-of-the-Year in 2014. She performs with the Verde Valley Sinfonietta and manages local bands in the Verde Valley.

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