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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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2/16/2012 2:31:00 PM
IB move to Tavasci School driven by numbers
Barb UíRen
Barb UíRen

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District's Mountain View Preparatory Academy will have a new home next school year.

Mountain View will move to Tavasci School, which the board closed at the end of the last school year. The IB school will expand its class offerings at Tavasci for the 2012-2013 school year. MVP is currently located in Dr. Daniel Bright School.

MVP will be expanded from its current Primary Year Program to include the Middle Year Program for children in seventh grade. The operational cost and administrative structure of MVP at Tavasci is expected to be similar to what is currently at Oak Creek School in Cornville.

Superintendent Barbara U'Ren told the Verde Independent the Tavasci name will continue for the school, along with the addition of Mountain View Preparatory.

She said the district felt it was important to continue honoring the legacy of the Tavasci family and its contribution to education in the community. "COCSD asked Dr. John Tavasci if the family would be willing to allow the district to continue using the name of Tavasci at the school," U'Ren said.

The move of MVP to the Tavasci campus is driven by numbers and the IB's outstanding success during its first year.

U'Ren said MVP currently has 179 student enrolled in grades kindergarten through sixth grade. "MVP currently has 100 students on its waiting list, which will bring enrollment at MVP to 279," U'Ren said. "With the addition of the two classes per grade level kindergarten to seventh, enrollment may reach 350 students."

When MVP opened at the beginning of this school year in DDB, its classrooms were at capacity. "Our sixth grade was the only grade that had additional capacity," U'Ren said. "If a student moved from a class that was full, that space was filled by a student on the waiting list."

U'Ren explained that currently MVP offers one class in each grade level with the exception of kindergarten, which offers two classes. Next year, those two kindergarten classes will move into two first grade classes.

"When MVP school is opened at Tavasci, we will offer two classes in the remaining grades and will open a new seventh grade class," U'Ren said.

"We will have the capacity to serve about 350 students. We will add a grade level each subsequent year."

Moving MVP from DDB to Tavasci will mean additional supports will be needed, U'Ren explained. "Supports such as a custodian, librarian aide, nurse's aide, music and P.E. will be allocated similar to our other schools."

She said positions may be shared among schools.

"The district will need to adjust from a half-time Spanish teacher to a fulltime Spanish teacher to meet the requirements of International Baccalaureate Middle Year Program," U'Ren said.

"With the addition of the Middle Year Program to our existing Primary Year Program, a half-time coordinator will be necessary to support both the Primary Year Program and the Middle Year Program," she said.

U'Ren said the MVP campus will welcome community use of its facilities as well as district activities for evenings and weekends.

The IB program is open to all families and students. For information, contact Charline at (928) 634-2288 or visit the COCSD website at

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Article comment by: Concerned Tax Payer

COCSD - Full time KG consists of half day with the teacher and half day with an aide....
Tavasci has broken windows that haven't been fixed and someone who sleeps there so they don't have to get a room or travel? Hey, why not open it up to our needy and homeless? Our tax dollars should be going somewhere productive.

Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2012
Article comment by: Prediction Verified

Last week someone predicted Barb would immediately try to change the name from Tavasci to Mountain View Prep.

Didnt take long, did it?

But we got a good laugh from her spin on this:

(COCSD asked Dr. John Tavasci if the family would be willing to allow the district to continue using the name of Tavasci at the school)

How gracious of her!

The amazing thing is less than a year ago the district was complaining it didnt have enough money to operate 5 campuses.

Since then we know the district has taken a $60K haircut at the hands of an administrative law judge, plus has to pay that students ongoing educational expenses. Thats significant.

And we know the district is paying somewhere on the order of tens of thousands in licensing fees to the IB organization. These costs are also significant.

Combined, these expenditures mean the district no doubt has much less to work with than before.

Yet they somehow are able to reopen Tavasci with less enrollment than it had before.

All this is obfuscated in their budget posted on their web site. There is no line item showing IB fees at all.

No surprise there. It looks bad, and this administration is all about superficial appearances.

Could it be any more obvious that something is very wrong with this whole picture? Has been for awhile.

It would be good to get some accurate information here. Starting with this:

How much are we taxpayers paying for each student at the IB school, vs. how much are we taxpayers paying for each student at the other campuses?

Of course any information coming from district employees will have to be independently verified.

That's because the administrative law judge in the special ed case found that employees of this district are apparently quite willing to falsify material information provided to the public.

An independent audit would be in order.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: @ Breathtaking Hypocrisy

Please check your facts before you post. Tavasci was never serving 700 students. Just over 400 at maximum capacity a few years back and never more than that. It is sad that it closed for all of those involved but it was a measure taken by the board because of empty classrooms all over the district (not just TES). The board stated in their discussion that closing Tavasci was the best decision for the district because it was the smallest school and was not capable of taking on any more students. That was the truth as hard as it was to take.
As for the support shown for MVP in other posts it is obvious that parents are happy with their decision to enroll their children in this school. This is a choice the district has provided for parents and students and for this the district should be applauded.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Johny Sanchez

Gaia Gurl, You are one of those people who hear or read things without finding out the facts for yourself and go on what you hear or read as correct. I attended Oak Creek School and Ben was an outstanding principal who did not bring his religion to work to preach to the students.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Arizona Taxpayer

I continue to be very impressed with the way Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District not only utilizes my tax dollars, but provides different educational opportunities for my children. As a parent who has had 2 children go through the IB program and excel in college and beyond because of it, I am glad to see COCSD is taking this step.

We need to remember that all children learn in different ways and we need to give them every opportunity to excel in school and in life. IB gives them that.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Love IB

MVP is offering, by far, the best K-6 education in the Verde Valley. Thank you for finally offering educational choice in the Verde Valley.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Gaia Gurl

@ Gaia Gurl

Did I say anything bad about Ben Russell?

What are YOU thinking?

Personally, I would THINK a Christian man would LOVE working at a CHRISTIAN school.

Why are YOU so negative?

I didn't say anything NEGATIVE.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: @ Gaia Gurl

@ Gaia Gurl,
My kids went to Oak Creek while Ben Russell was principAL there and I am completely offended at your remark about him being a Promise Keeper in college and so he is where he needs to be. What in the world does him being in Promise Keepers in College have to do with him being the principle at OCS except that we know he is an honest, hard working, family man? So shall we get rid of all teachers that are Christian men or women and allow them to only teach at Christian Schools? You point is absolutely absurd and makes everything else you say hard to believe.
Maybe if the people running this district had some integrity, like Ben Russell, the school district would not be in such bad shape.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Cottonwood Parent

Every time there is an article about the IB school, there is a slew of negative comments. Now, a year later, it is probably the best performing school in the area, with the possible exception of Clarkdale-Jerome. The reason to me is clear. Although the teaching is first-rate, almost every kid I know in MVP is a top-performer. Their parents, without exception, take a personal interest in their child's education, their attitude, and their behavior in and out of class.

Now, we have a huge waiting list, and all those little monsters whose parents were bashing the school last year, are waiting to get in. Do us a favor and keep your little monsters out. IB requires parental involvement.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Dan B.

There is a link to the district's annual financial report on the COCSD website. The budget is a public record required to be presented and approved in public hearing(s). Budgets are revised and approved at public meetings. I am confident business office staff would welcome anybody who would like an explanation of district spending.

This is an article about an amazing IB school. The teachers there are phenomenal and the students LOVE their school. Students treat each other with respect and rise to expectations set by teachers and administration. Most importantly, the students are challenged by academic rigor. We should be applauding the achievement of the students, the dedication of the teachers, and the wise administration who realized the need for such a school. Keep up the good work.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: IB Mom

My tax dollars ARE at work. I've been in the classrooms at MVP. I've observed and volunteered there. I have participated in the school committees. I have a child in this school. My observations include seeing kids who respect one another. There is MUCH less bullying and harassment than in other schools (as I volunteer at other places as well). Bullying and disrespect of others is handled professionally and quickly by not only the teachers, but more importantly, by the classroom community of students working together. Academically, my son is inspired and working above grade level in nearly all subjects where this has never been the case before this year. This style of learning/teaching works, plain and simple. THANKS for spending my tax dollars in this way. Keep up the great work Mrs. U'Ren and all those who make MVP happen!

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: @ Breathtaking Hypocrisy

This is why we pulled our kids out of the district. Unless and until there are some changes made at the top, the COCSD is going to continue down the wrong path.
It should absolutely outrage people that a year ago, we were having meetings on the possibility of shutting down two schools within the district because of the lack of money and now less than a year later, all of the sudden, they have money to open the school back up for the IB program. Where did this money come from?
And let me guess, are they going to have a principal at OCS again since they have this influx in cash? Are they going to start funding sports again at OCS as they do for the other schools in their district? Are they going to offer TRUE full day Kindergarten as Clarkdale does? Or are they just going to dump all of their money into this IB school that benefits a small percentage of students in the district because this is Ms. U'Rens baby. I can tell you what the answer is before it has even been decided.
This is a pathetic excuse for leadership.
HOWEVER, I will tell you that there are alternatives. My kids now go to Clarkdale-Jerome and I am so absolutely impressed with the education they are recieving.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Gaia Gurl

My grandsons are going to the IB school.

I don't see intensive teacher training as a BAD thing.

As long as the IB school will not be teaching the BIBLE, I do not see their curriculum as controversial.

Ben Russell was a member of the PROMISE KEEPERS in college . . . personally I think he is EXACTLY where he needs to be.

First you state COCSD is not transparent with their budget, then you go on to say where you THINK their money is going.

As a state and FEDERALLY funded school their budget numbers are available for all to see, just ask.

I have a feeling in another life, you two "posters" were burning books and witches at the stake. LOL

Fear is IGNORANCE and KNOWLEDGE is power!

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: District Parent

The truthaboutib website is full of bad information and someone else's agenda. Please don't believe it. Visit the school. Talk with the teachers. Get real facts. Be informed. We did that, and we're very happy with MVP and Ms. U'Ren.

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
Article comment by: Breathtaking Hypocrisy

Lets remember that Tavasci was operating at near capacity with over 700 students just a year ago when the COCSD decided to close the school, allegedly due to budget constraints.

Now, less than a year later, they want to reopen it with less than half that number of students. Providing their most optimistic IB enrollment projections pan out.

Lets also remember it costs more to run an IB program because of the significant licensing fees that must be paid to the Swiss organization that dictates the controversial curriculum.

So where did the money magically come from that enables this school to reopen?

If this district were more open and transparent with their budget numbers, we might have an idea.

They have not, for example, publicly disclosed the licensing fees they pay to the Swiss-based IB organization.

We do know their Inclusion program mainstreams special ed kids into regular classrooms. This has enabled them to divert much of the significant federal funding received for each special ed student to, ahem, other purposes.

They also found a number of other questionable ways to divert funding to other purposes.

It remains very unfortunate that this district chose to let go, reduce the hours, and demote so many good people, including the former principal of Oak Creek, Ben Russell, and many of the dedicated special ed staff throughout the district.

For our community, it remains very unfortunate Tavasci school was closed in the first place. It is not only capable of serving twice as many kids next year, but also provides very high quality facilities designed specifically for special ed students.

It remains unfortunate that the district somehow finds money to reopen a half empty school but lacks counselors and school nurses, lacks full time kindergarten teachers, and the needs of special ed students are not being adequately met.

Its actually worse than that. The expensive lawsuit the district recently lost over their ill conceived Inclusion program proved the district falsified information provided to parents of a special ed student.

Rest assured there is a steep price to be paid for all this, and it will be paid not just by our kids. We as a community are all the poorer for these decisions.

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