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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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3/21/2013 2:43:00 PM
Cottonwood-Oak Creek to invite Mingus to joint meeting
Will make decisions about considering shared services

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD - When the Mingus Union School Board gets to its agenda item about a joint meeting with Cottonwood-Oak Creek District during Friday's meeting, it should have in hand an invitation from COCSD to attend a joint meeting on either April 2 or April 4.

For the most part, the districts have dropped the communications ball since the first of the year on pursuing shared services, including administration positions.

The districts were in these discussions for all of 2012. At the end of 2012, the districts' board members and administrators were studying a report on the topic produced by the Warner Group, and paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendent's Office.

During this time, the Mingus Union board has started a search for a new superintendent to replace Tim Foist who leaves at the end of the current school year.

Two communications dated March 15 from MUHS Board President James Ledbetter covering the subject of further joint meetings were sent to Ledbetter's board members and to Jason Finger, President of the COCSD Board.

In Ledbetter's memos, he is pushing to have any further joint meetings on shared services restricted to specific proposals brought to the school boards by the respective administrations. He wants specific proposals regarding joint services that the districts can make happen.

"...I feel we should have the administrators from each district develop a strategic plan for accomplishing shared services," Ledbetter's memo stated.

But Ledbetter's memo had not reached Finger by the time the COCSD board covered the agenda item during its March 19 meeting Tuesday night. The memo was handed to Finger after he opened the agenda item for discussion. It was the first he knew of the memo.

After quickly reading the memo, Finger said the two districts are going about this in two different ways.

He said COCSD wants to move forward in general on the idea of shared services, but MUHS now wants to have the boards respond only to specific proposals from the districts' administrators.

Finger said MUHS wants specifics but COCSD need to discuss how shared services would work.

COCSD Superintendent Barbara U'Ren said a joint meeting is necessary to find out how the MUHS board wants t move forward.

A decision was made to invite the Mingus board to a joint meeting on either April 2 or April 4 at 5 p.m. or later.

On Wednesday, Finger talked with the Verde Independent about the memo he received from Ledbetter.

"It's just been really frustrating that we can't seem to get together with Mingus," Finger said. "Our position, since January, has been that we need to sit down and talk."

He said he has been getting "shut down" each time he attempts to have a date set for a joint meeting on shared services.

"We're not meeting in the middle where we need to on this," Finger said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013
Article comment by: Wow! Another COCSD Board Trip?

I agree! Must be rough to take time off from the hustle and bustle of life and go to the beach! San Diego is rough, conference or not! Let's get the money in the classroom and to these teachers that put countless hours in, and get paid peanuts!
I understand that MUHS gave 9 choices of 'meeting' dates and COCSD shot them all down. Hmmmm.... a hidden agenda... a secret plan? What the heck is going on COCSD?????

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

If at this point C-OCSD isn't ready to discuss specifics, what's the point of a meeting? And if he really wants one, why doesn't Jason call Jim?

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: In the Know

Here's the deal. I have worked with Ledbetter on many community issues, so I decided to look a little deeper and called the school. Cottonwood Oak Creek only agreed to two days in the entire month of April. Both days did not work for the Mingus Board. Finger actually chose days that Mingus' Board was not available.

Community wake up. The elementary board is going to San Diego in April. That is why they are not available.

I think they spent money to go to Chicago in recent years. C'mon Mr. Finger, get money in the classroom not on another board trip.

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: DO NOT lighten up Ledbetter....

Please do not lighten up Ledbetter. COCSD wants to keep talking in generalizations, while MUHS needs to find a new Superintendent quickly. It's time to get down to specifics. If COCSD cannot be be bothered with specifics then too bad. That's how things get accomplished.
One thing is for certain. We do not want Ms. U'ren in charge of MUHS to make the poor decisions that have put COCSD at the bottom of the totem pole on classroom spending and at the bottom of the totem pole in morale of district employees.
This is a poor attempt by COCSD at making it look like they have tried so hard at making this shared services agreement work, when in fact, it has been completely opposite.
Stand firm MUHS board. You have better teacher pay, better classroom spending, better morale and a much better administration.

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Ledbetter should lighten up

The two districts have an historic opportunity here to make education for our children better than its ever been.

Jim Ledbetter should approach this with flexibility and an open mind, without setting preconditions.

Getting the two districts to cooperate on shared services is difficult enough without one side or the other setting limitations on the process.

Pick up the phone Jim and call Jason. Work together. It's not that hard to do.

Make this happen. We want to see a shared superintendent next school year.

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