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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local May 26, 2016

11/19/2012 1:05:00 PM
No progress on Verde Valley school shared services
Warner study on shared services delayed until Dec. 17
No report, preliminary or otherwise, was presented during the joint meeting regarding the study, which is paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendentís Office. Instead, Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials gave a PowerPoint presentation about how Proposition 204 being defeated will impact school districts. Most of his report went over information available on the Auditor Generalís website.
No report, preliminary or otherwise, was presented during the joint meeting regarding the study, which is paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendentís Office. Instead, Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials gave a PowerPoint presentation about how Proposition 204 being defeated will impact school districts. Most of his report went over information available on the Auditor Generalís website.
Mingus to ask C-OC to make a decision on shared superintendent
Following the joint meeting of local school districts Thursday night, the Mingus Union School Board met in executive session to discuss replacing Superintendent Tim Foist, who is leaving at the end of this school year.

Mingus and Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District have been involved in discussions for most of the year regarding sharing services, including a shared superintendent. The districts are already sharing a Director of Special Education.

When the board reconvened after executive session, Board President Jim Ledbetter made a motion, which was seconded by Board Member John Tavasci Jr. to move ahead with replacing Foist.

"We will be hiring a superintendent of some sort that ideally might be shared," Ledbetter said.

He explained that he has communicated with Randy Garrison, president of the C-OC school board, to ask if the C-OC board would meet in joint session with the Mingus board on Dec. 17, following the final report from the Warner Group on shared services and shared personnel.

Ledbetter said the MUHS board has authorized him to begin putting together a search committee, which will include, in addition to community members, board members from C-OC, Clarkdale-Jerome and VACTE.

Friday morning Tavasci talked about the MUHS board meeting that followed the Thursday night joint meeting.

"Mingus' back is against the wall," he said.

Tavasci said the Mingus board wants to find a superintendent that has K-12 experience.

"We're going to sit down with C-OC school district," he said. "We want to address that at a joint board meeting."

-Philip Wright

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

CLARKDALE - Administrators and school board members from local school districts held a joint study session Thursday night to receive a preliminary report from the Carolyn Warner Group on the feasibility of shared services, including a shared superintendent.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District and Mingus Union High School District have been involved in discussions for most of the year about sharing services and personnel. Clarkdale-Jerome School District attended the meeting but isn't expected to enter into an intergovernmental agreement for any shared administrative position.

But no report, preliminary or otherwise, was presented during the joint meeting regarding the study, which is paid for by the Yavapai County School Superintendent's Office. Instead, Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials gave a PowerPoint presentation about how Proposition 204 being defeated will impact school districts. Most of his report went over information available on the Auditor General's website.

MUHS board member John Tavasci Jr. said Friday morning that he expected a report about shared services. "If it is done and what the savings would be."

During the meeting Tavasci did ask Carolyn Warner what the study shows on sharing a superintendent. Warner did not answer Tavasci, other than to say that if that is something they want covered, it could be included.

Friday morning Tavasci said Mingus has to hire a superintendent because Superintendent Tim Foist is leaving at the end of this school year. He said the board would like to hire someone with kindergarten through high school experience who, in the future, both districts could be happy with.

MUHS Board President Jim Ledbetter said the Mingus Board was a little concerned when Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter started the meeting by saying that no one is talking about the benefits to students.

Lebetter said that is what the board has been interested in all along. He explained that the board had been going line item by line item while working on budgets in recent years looking for more money to put into the classroom. The board also has been looking for opportunities to improve its curriculum.

He said having a shared director of curriculum for both districts would be a huge value. A shared director of curriculum would be able to align curriculum for both districts from kindergarten all the way through high school.

Carolyn Warner addressed the meeting. She said there has been a lot of talk about the history between the districts.

"We're not here to talk about history," she said. "We're here to talk about the future."

She pointed out that this effort has not been based on legal mandates. She said her group, in doing the study, is not charged with giving recommendations.

"Our charge is to bring you a finding of fact," she said. "This effort provides many paths to success. There is no one perfect model, only models that work."

The Warner Group Study is to determine data that would indicate areas where savings could be gained through shared services. The study was to look at three tiers of possible cost sharing among the districts. Those include instruction and support staff; district office management, including payroll, technology and grant writing; and shared administration.

Another joint session that was originally scheduled for Nov. 20 for the districts to discuss the results of the Warner Study was cancelled.

Both boards will meet in joint session on Dec. 17 to receive the final report on the study.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: @ Kristie and Heather

Kristie and Heather,
I don't think anyone is blaming you (the teachers).....we are blaming the administration which has lost the trust of the community it is supposed to serve and the other teachers within the district.
I don't think anyone would be surprised to hear that you are treated well....that is the way it goes with Barbara U'ren, she has her favorite staff members and her pet project (IB school) and all of us knew that were she to get her way, those teachers and that school would be treated very well.
One of you asked the question of what kind of proof anyone has that something has been taken away from the other schools in the district for MVP to exist. There is tons of evidence of this nature, if you look around and ask some questions. Tavasci school was shut down because the district could not afford to keep it open, even though it was operating at near capacity. They tried to do the same to Oak Creek School. They couldn't shut Tavasci down and open it as an IB school that very year or there would have been riots. So they waited a year and then all of the sudden, they had the money to open it up for the IB school with less students than Tavasci orginally had. Come on!!! The same year they started the IB school, is the same year that they had to strip OCS of a principle, specials and sports. OCS has the same teacher, teaching 8 grades of music, PE and computers. Come on!!! I would be willing to bet my house that the IB students are treated better than this. Well, we know they are.
And outside of your tiny school, teacher morale within the rest of your district is at an all-time low. You have lost some of your best teachers to other districts, some of your best students to other districts, the list goes on and on and on.
I realize that you are of the "chosen" bunch of teachers in the district and so you probably see no problems...but everyone from the outside of your little school sees the problems and knows it is imperative to make sure Mrs. U'ren isn't given the job of Superintendent at MUHS too.

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: nutso fasst

Ms. Tuell, I'm sorry the "Walmart" reference caused you to misunderstand my points about (1) how employees who express enthusiasm for their supervisor's ideas get more respect and (2) how a good supervisor is able to instill enthusiasm in their employees. I was expecting you to see how your 14-years of positive experience with your 5-years superintendent might relate to the first and how negative experiences of other teachers might relate to the second. I was not addressing your claim that "IB teachers are being criticized and judged," which is something I have not seen in VI comments.

I have seen claims that the IB program took the best teachers from the other COCSD schools, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Heather Langley

@@Kristie Tuell
First let me ask you what evidence you have that shows that any resources are being drained from any other school to fund MVP? If your school has cut back or lost programs it is not the fault of another school. I have to assume you are referring to Oak Creek because you mention them in your response. We donít have sports either and we have many part time people doing full time jobs. Itís difficult, but we love our jobs and the students even more so we keep working hard to provide opportunities for our students.

MVP has attracted students from all over the Verde Valley that are searching for an educational experience different than they have had elsewhere. No teacher has ever claimed that our students are more important than any other in the district. Anonymous posters have made a lot of accusations against our school, but we have held fast, stayed the course, and worked together as a team to provide positive educational experiences for our students.

It has been one of the best experiences I have had to work at MVP. I have grown as a professional in my field building my own curriculum to fit the needs of my students. I think this could be called what you refer to as ďhome grown curriculumĒ, I am a homegrown Cottonwood citizen after all.
In the future, my hope is that people that would like to have an honest, open discourse about the educational philosophies of a school or comment on the fair distribution of school funds will post their names. Take credit for your ideas and responsibility for your actions and be a positive example for those around you. Negativity breeds negativity, but I suppose a positive attitude can do the same.

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Kristie Tuell

Nutso Fast, Are you telling me that all of those WalMart employees are so motivated because of the inspirational speeches they hear in the morning as a means to bring the company more money. I know that those talks have nothing to do with providing and caring for the customer. I think your comment was nutso, the perfect name for someone who can't sign their real name!
Furthermore, I have motivational speeches with my colleagues multiple times a day. We discuss motivational ways to get our customers to perform because for us, it's not about the money! It is all about providing a quality education and showing our customers that we do care so that one day they can make the big money!

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: nutso fasst

@ Kristi Tuell

At the beginning of each shift, Walmart employees must join in some kind of inspirational cheer that expresses their joy in being so employed. Those who do so enthusiastically are much more likely to be favored by their manager than those who show resentment. Conversely, a really good manager can instill enthusiasm in those who feel resentful, while a bad one simply stokes further resentment.

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: except for taxes

To Johnny Johnson.
I agree you get what you pay for, except for taxes.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: @ Kristi Tuell

Ms. Tuell asks why is the rest of the district so against the IB teachers?

It may have something do with this:

The arrogance of those who think the IB program is better than a home grown curriculum from our own educational experts.

The condescending parents who think their kid is better and more deserving than a kid at any other school.

The IB teacher who thinks he or she is entitled and superior to a teacher at any other school.

In this district, the playing field between schools is not level, and that understandably creates resentment and divisiveness.

If you were teaching at any of the other schools and saw needed resources being unfairly drained away from your kids and your school to benefit the IB school, you might not be particularly pleased either.

Its not right to rob Peter to pay Paul. The child you teach in IB is no more important than the kid at Oak Creek.

Lets hope the school board catches on and puts a stop to this.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Richard Hertz

We have known for years that going forward with this idea is going to cost taxpayers over 200,000 dollars to implement. We will save roughly 80K. Seems like poor timing given the fiscal shortfall looming like a robed skeleton with a scythe. Also, lest we forget, there are serious issues and consequences to sharing a superintendent, to include competing programs and shrinking budgets, - sounds like an invitation to near-warfare among local political players, admin and educators. An expensive can of worms that we need not open. Not now, perhaps not ever.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Kristie Tuell

Golden Opportunity, Why is the rest of the district so against the IB teachers? We have done nothing, but give students and families another option in their education. IB teachers are being criticised and judged because we saw a great opportunity to provide quality education to our students! And by the way for the record, our superintendent has NEVER treated me any differently from when I first started teaching 14 years ago to now, a teacher at our awesome IB school!

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Article comment by: Paul Grasso

Many comments about unification being better better for the students? If spreading the resources even thinner helps students, I would ask to leave the Clarkdale-Jerome School district alone. They seem to have their act together with the resources they are given.
Likely because Kathleen Fleenor (who is both the Principal and the Superintendent) has foresight, common-sense, and a terrific staff. Like I said, please keep the CJSD out of this discussion.

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: John A. Bond

@ Golden Opportunity.

I do not mind you expressing your ideas but when you are going to attack someone over and over again who is a public official, at least have guts enough to put your real name on your posts.

I know you are probably fearful of retaliation living as you apparently do here in the Verde Valley where such retaliation is common place but remember "no guts, no glory".

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: @ Golden Opportunity....

I could not agree more. We pulled our kids out of the COCSD because of the poor decision making and management by Barbara U'ren and hope that the MUHS will not even consider putting her in charge of both districts. We would then pull our kids out of MUHS as well.
Let's hope the COCSD board see's this as an opportunity for students and for teachers and employees in the district to put someone fresh in place that does not have an agenda that diminishes the importance of students and teachers.

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: One District One Vision

As a resident first and an educator second, I find the Warner Study fiasco unacceptable. Their paycheck should be withheld twice as long as their report is being withheld. Our boards are ready to discuss options in a positive manner based upon fact finding, while the fact finders drag their feet and made vague statements about what they are even going to deliver.

I am only familiar with the workings of one the Verde districts, but it still blows my mind that we have split districts, separate Boards and obviously widely varying goals and missions. Our children all deserve the best of all districts. I favor one district, one Board of Governors representing the whole VV, one Business office etc. There will be three winners with this scenario.
The students will have a commonality from K thru 12. The residents will ultimately save money while still providing an appropriate education. The teachers will all be on the same page with regard to expectations, pay, and upward curriculum.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Did We Hear The Need For Vouchers

It is true that with 100% vouchers system we will
see the concern for education of all 1-12 student
go up.

Please put our children's education rights up
front and right now! And an equal right is the
parents prior-rights to educate/train their child as
they see fit.

Thanks and Good Luck.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Golden Opportunity

Lets hope the COCSD board takes advantage of this opportunity. There are a number of compelling reasons why they should.

First, sharing superintendents will result in an immediate minimum $50,000-$70,000 savings for each district, money that can be used to reduce classroom size, hire teachers, enable needed programs.

Second, the benefits of sharing a superintendent will extend to greater academic and operational continuity between the districts, and over time no doubt reveal more and greater cost efficiencies.

Perhaps most importantly, this will allow the COCSD to progress beyond the inherent and unavoidable limitations of current Superintendent Barb Uren.

For several years now, its been painfully clear to teachers, staff, and many community members that Urens tenure has been a disaster in many ways.

The news media has reported on numerous fiascoes in this district that have resulted from bad decisions and administrative mismanagement. The actions and omissions by Uren unfortunately have cost taxpayers and students plenty.

With the exception of a favored few in the IB program, Uren no longer enjoys the support of the majority of staff and teachers, whom she mercilessly bullies through fear and repression. This is a district where teachers can get written up for literally smiling the wrong way.

You can only burn so many bridges and poison so many wells before it catches up to you. It is becoming increasingly clear to the community at large that Uren is longer capable of effectively performing the job of superintendent.

In short, Barb Uren has become a liability to the district. The new school board should take advantage of this golden opportunity to correct the situation and move forward in a positive manner.

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