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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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1/18/2013 9:19:00 AM
Cottonwood-Oak Creek Board to keep looking at shared services
‘There has been a lack of continuity of leadership at Mingus’-- Barb U’Ren
‘There has been a lack of continuity of leadership at Mingus’

-- Barb U’Ren

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board, with two new members, discussed whether to continue looking at increasing shared services with Mingus Union High School. The Tuesday meeting was the first since JoAnne Cook and Jason Little replaced former board president Randy Garrison and board member Eric Wyles.

It was also the board's first meeting since Dec. 17, when it received the results of the Warner Group's feasibility study on shared services with MUHS. That meeting ended with both school boards committing to study and consider the results of the Warner study. The members of both boards were urged at the December meeting by Yavapai County Superintendent Tim Carter to go over the study report in detail and apply those results to their own districts.

Part of what the members were seeking to determine was whether to continue discussions - which have been ongoing for more than a year - between the two districts on the idea of sharing certain administrative positions, including a superintendent.

One of the strong points made in the Warner study was that alignment of curriculum between the K-8 district and the high school district is seriously lacking. That was one of the main points brought up Tuesday night by each of the COCSD board members.

Cost savings through shared services has been a major topic all through the discussions, and finding more money to put in the classroom is still a major goal for both districts.

But Tuesday night, alignment of curriculum between the districts was obviously a major goal for all of the COCSD board members.

Jason Finger asked each board member to mention what his or her top concern is for considering moving forward with shared service and possibly a shared administration.

Each member mentioned curriculum as a major concern.

Janice Rollins said that, according to the study, curriculum is a big problem.

Finger pointed out that, according to the Warner study, the districts are falling short on alignment of curriculum. He said that saving money might not be as important as aligned curriculum.

Rollins said that without further study, the district cannot even address the issue of sharing an administration.

But Finger disagreed. He said that the focus so far has been on the MUHS board's search for a superintendent.

"They have a half-time superintendent," Finger said. "We need to talk about their search."

COCSD Superintendent Barbara U'Ren said what is needed more than anything else is to have an expert in curriculum come in and help the districts.

She said the lack of alignment of curriculum is nobody's fault.

"There has been a lack of continuity of leadership at Mingus," U'Ren said.

Finger said he doesn't want to study this issue forever. He said he would like to move ahead with looking into this with Mingus.

The board directed the administration to contact a school district in Illinois that was discussed in the Warner report to ask how that district decided between using shared services or unification with another district.

Finger said he wants to meet with the MUHS board again to see what they are currently thinking.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: The shared services/consolidation of the two districts is long over if Barb is involved.

And to Do not let Barb drag this out...some of us cry on the way to work, as well as the way home.

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Gaia Gurl

In Broward County Florida, there is ONE Superintendent for more than TWO HUNDRED schools.

"Robert W. Runcie is Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), the nation's sixth largest public school system. Runcie was appointed by the School Board to become the 20th Superintendent of the BCPS on October 5, 2011 ."

Which makes the system here look PRETTY DARN STUPID!!!

A Superintendent at EVERY Verde Valley School is OVERKILL.

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Heaven help us from more of the same

Randy Garrison served on the Cottonwood Oak Creek School District Board for ten years and as President last year. Now he's running for Cottonwood City Council? Heaven helps us, we don't need more of the same! Worse yet, he is aligned with Darold Smith who got booted off the Council by the voters in the last election for obnoxious behavior. It's obvious Randy failed as a School Board member, agreeing with his Superintendent on everything including closing down Tavasci School and almost cost Oak Creek residents their school in Cornville. He stopped the discusion of consolidation and shared services when Mingus criticised the lunches provided by COCSD. Pretty petty stuff. Cottonwood voters are not dumb and we do not need or want more of the same.

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: Former PTA member

Wouldn't you think that a school system where it is possible for one of the two superintendents to work part-time should get serious about combining services? Maybe only one superintendent is needed. Seems to me some people might be fearful of losing their jobs. Maybe that why this situation drags on and on. Most school systems I am familiar with have one superintendent, a principal and vice-principal at each school and a special services administrator together with anciliary staff.

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: Do not let Barb drag this out

After all that has gone down in this district in the past few years, does anyone honestly believe curriculum alignment is the COCSDs biggest problem?

The teachers who used to be happy but now go home in tears might disagree.

The kids who used to walk to Tavasci Elementary and now have to take the bus to DDB might disagree.

Practically everyone in Cornville might disagree.

Parents of special ed students might disagree.

The list goes on.

That curriculum alignment is the biggest problem is a crock. But we can expect that kind of thing from COCSD superintendent Barb Uren, who will do or say just about anything to divert attention away from her administration's repeated failures of judgment and leadership.

Note to COCSD board: do not count on Barb Uren for any objective information or advice when her job is at stake. Do expect her to try to drag out this process until it is too late and you have to rehire her.

Do not let that happen. Seize this opportunity with Mingus.

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