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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local October 3, 2015

8/16/2012 2:07:00 PM
Mountain View Prep to become charter school
Mountain View Prep to become charter school
Board Member Jason Finger: “We’ve got a waiting list ... We want to give this program its own identity.”
Board Member Jason Finger: “We’ve got a waiting list ... We want to give this program its own identity.”

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD - Mountain View Preparatory Academy at Tavasci will become a district sponsored charter school beginning July 1, 2013. The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Governing Board voted Tuesday night to change the status of its International Baccalaureate Candidate School to a charter school.

The move will significantly increase the district's maintenance and operation budget during fiscal year 2014-2015. Some increase in M&O will come during the first year of operation as a charter.

During discussion of the agenda item, the administration made it clear that staff and teachers will remain district employees once the change to charter status occurs. MVP will still be a district school.

The district opened MVP this time last school year in Dr. Daniel Bright School. It outgrew the available space on that campus almost immediately. For this school year, the board moved MVP to the Tavasci campus, which had been closed during last school year due to state budget cuts over the last four years.

On Aug. 8, MVP opened its new school year in its new location already at the school's capacity with a waiting list for more students. It opened the new year with 363 students in kindergarten through seventh grades.

That growth is not expected to stop.

"For the new school year, 162 new students were enrolled in grades one through seven," said Superintendent Barbara U'Ren Wednesday. "Eighty-three of those students attended charter schools or schools in a surrounding district last year."

U'Ren explained how the funding for students through the charter school will help the district.

"Basic funding per student is the same for district and charter students at about $3,300," she said. "The district students no longer receive the soft capital and unrestricted capital, about $500 per student, that we have in the past."

She said that if that funding were to be reinstated then it would not be such a financial advantage to switch MVP to a charter.

"The additional funding runs $1,000 to $1,500 as there are several factors involved that vary from district to district," U'Ren explained.

She said C-OCSD will receive the additional funding in FY13-14 for any new students to the charter.

"This would include new kindergarten students or any transfers from other districts," U'Ren said. "Full funding for all students at MVP would take effect for FY14-15." She said that amount will be added to the current M&O budget.

On Wednesday, board member Jason Finger answered some questions about the expected growth of MVP and what the district's options might be.

"We've got a waiting list," he said. "The board has tried to project out those numbers."

Finger said the board and administration doesn't want MVP to keep changing locations. "We want to give this program its own identity," he said.

Finger said the board has to find a way to deal with the positive numbers.

The board already knows the numbers are increasing. Next school year an eighth grade will be added, and likely additional classes for existing grades, such as seventh grade.

When Tavasci School was built it opened as a K-5 school. At that time, school districts were all seeing substantial growth, and the Arizona School Facilities Board (SFB) planned to build out Tavasci within a few years of its opening to accommodate sixth through eighth grades. Then the economy dipped and school growth halted.

"Building out is not likely to happen," Finger said. "I don't see us doing a bond."

He said one option would be to move the middle years program at MVP to another location. But he added that the district, at least for the near future, will likely get by with the addition of modular classrooms. The school is already using modulars for some classes.

David Snyder, District Director of Business Services, agrees that the district cannot look to SFB for any help.

"The SFB looks at total district (enrollment) rather than on a per-school basis," he said. The district would have to grow about 700 students before district capacity would be reached, Snyder pointed out Wednesday.

"As the state has severely reduced the amount of capital and building renewal funds, it will be necessary to pay for any building renovations, systems replacement, upgrades or new construction through bonding."

Snyder said that, from inception MVP has been structured to control growth in a way that maximizes available classroom space.

"As we look forward to accommodating additional class levels at MVP up to 12th grade, administration will be analyzing the options available to house the growth of MVP," he said.

Finger said it has been a tough couple of years for the district, the administration and board as it went through making some hard decisions. At one time the district's projected budgets had the board considering closing of Oak Creek School and Tavasci. Instead, Oak Creek remained open and Tavasci was closed for one school year.

"It was unfortunate we had to close a campus," Finger said. "But we've got all of our schools open again."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012
Article comment by: Darn! Was hoping the status would change

When I heard MVP was moving to charter school status I got excited... because they have some great teachers. But I REFUSE to put my child there because they are an "IB" school. When I read in one of the comments that the status of IB is not changing I become sad. To quote Senator Margaret Davis, of Utah , decrying the IB Programme, “I don’t want to create “world citizens” nearly as much as I want to help cultivate American Citizens…” It seems that every dictator, from Germany, the Soviet Union to ancient Rome recognized that to change government, it only takes one generation of education. Lincoln said “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next…” Cottonwood parents, is an “International Programme” truly desired? I don't want my child's education to be a system that came from a foreign country and it's whole teaching under the UN council, what will the next generation know about being American? When MVP is not an IB school then it will be an option. But when that "system" is being their guidelines for education, then I will continue to steer CLEAR from them! .

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: The Facts Are Here

1. "Fishy", Mr. Bond? Then do some honest research, talk to the people involved, get facts and write about it, if you insist on commenting. If you can find something fishy, please share! I'm interested! If not, then stop spreading ill-will.

2. MVP takes all children. It is not a gifted school. If you want to enroll your child, then enroll him or her. If they charter MVP, it will still be open to all, just as it is now.

3. As for the long list of charges against Ms. U'Ren and the Board... my message to the public is this: There isn't any real truth to those charges. This is someone's wild imagination. The same rants are heard over and over, and I'm quite sure it's from just a few people with an axe to grind.

Ugh. The real duplicity here lies in the handful of people who sit behind their computer and make up ugly lies about our district. Parents are happy with MVP. Kids at all the COCSD schools - not just MVP - are getting a quality education from caring teachers and administrators. Let's focus on that!

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: Charter School get real

RE: Silly Sneaky, I love it when "special schools" use test scores and State Rankings as a way to justify their behavior. Public Schools have to take ALL CHILDREN! They do not get to pick and choose their student population. Your ranking is high because you have a selected population. When you choose to put your kid in a different school because they are "gifted", or "special", or not being challenged, that is your choice. But then when your school goes into underhanded behavior don't spout test scores or state rankings to justify it. Cause I can GUARANTEE that if public schools could pull out the scores/results of the kids that are similar to your "selected population" they, the public schools, would blow you out of the water.

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: John A. Bond

Well, this certainly "smells" fishy to me.

It was obviously the intent to move to a charter school from the very beginning.

There is just no end to the duplicity of our "educators".

Sad. Very, very sad.

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: We will not forget

Rest assured we will not forget the disingenuous ways COCSD Superintendent Barbara Uren took this school from its intended occupants.

We built this school for the children of Verde Village. This school was operating at capacity just two years ago, when Ms. Uren decided she wanted it for her latest educational fad.

So she closed Tavasci, displacing hundreds of children and their families who loved this school. And displacing dozens of caring faculty and staff who loved teaching there.

And let us never forget what she did to the special ed program specifically designed and built to be housed at Tavasci. She closed that down too, and moved those special ed kids into regular classrooms where they still reside today. Some of these kids are in diapers and on feeding tubes.

The predictable result from that was a lawsuit for failing to provide an adequate education for special ed kids, and then lying about it to parents. The district was fined $60,000 plus the ongoing expenses for competent special ed in another district.

That is your money, your taxes, this district wastefully squandered.

We are all now well aware how this district obfuscates its finances. We know it does not add up that the district claimed it could not afford to keep Tavasci open 2 years ago and is somehow able to reopen it now with less district enrollment than it had then.

Nor will we forget how this district, under Superintendent Barbara Uren, shamefully robs Peter to pay Paul.

We do not like one bit how she stripped out principals from Oak Creek and DDB, how she cut school nurses and counselors, cut full time kindergarten teachers, and took away PE programs at Oak Creek.

We will not hold our breath thinking any additional M&O funding will be used to help the other schools.

Not when there are tens of thousands of dollars to be sent to Switzerland for licensing fees for the IB school, money that we taxpayers entrust to this district and would much rather see reinvested in our own community.

The only silver lining to this disgrace is we will have a choice for possibly 2 new school board members in November.

Judging by its record, the existing COCSD school board, in terms of independent thought and action, is arguably the worst of any elected body in the Verde Valley.

Maybe, just maybe, we will get some new board members who are more than just yes men and rubber stamps. Maybe they will shake up this board a little, wake up this board a little, and put this district back on the right track.

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: Silly Sneaky

Sneaky...oh boy are you way off! MVP is remaining an IB school. This is simply about school funding and it will help all kids in the district. Don't be so judgemental and jump the gun before reading a little and perhaps learning some of the facts. Like, that this IB school (that you think is so terrible) posted the Highest State Rating of all the Elementary Schools in the Verde Valley. Now those are some facts that I can get behind!

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: To Sneaky Tactics

"Couldn't keep up with maintaining requirements for an IB school"? That's is 100% false. The chartering has nothing to do IB requirements. The state of Arizona has cut education funding, leaving districts all over the state scrambling for cash to educate our children. Chartering is simply a way to get more money into our district, and that money will benefit every COCSD school. "Sneaky Tactics" - facts please, before writing in.

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Sneaky Tactics

Sneaky tactics involved. Parents believed that an IB education would be an advantage in college prep. and college credits. Not the case now. They used IB as a "ploy" to gain enrollment. So, now they will receive "start-up" funds for a charter, its a dollar and cents situation at this point. The district couldn't keep up with maintaining requirements for an IB school so why not go charter to gain the start-up funds. Sneaky sneaky sneaky.......

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