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Districts bus together
Written by Lu Stitt   
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 11:55

Mingus Union High School and Cottonwood-Oak Creek Elementary school districts recently entered into their second intergovernmental agreement.

The elementary district will provide services to the high school in the new agreement for transportation management. They already provide food services for Mingus students, and have for many years.

“I don’t think you have to unify to save money but you do have to think out of the box,” Mingus Superintendent Tim Foist said.

Foist and COCSD Superintendent Barbara U’Ren think the agreement will be beneficial for both districts and the taxpayer.

By pulling money from education Foist said the government and the state are forcing districts out of the box.

“This IGA is a starting point for us to say this is what we can do this year. It’s a good move,” Foist said.

According to the draft IGA, Cottonwood-Oak Creek will provide direct reporting, driver training, safety training, driver hiring [on an advisory capacity] and report quarterly to the Mingus governing board.

Mingus approved the draft IGA at the board’s Aug. 13 meeting. COCSD board approved the document at its Aug. 11 meeting. The IGA will now be given to the districts’ respective counsel for review.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for both districts. We already have the food services and that’s working well,” U’Ren said. “We hope to have some things that will make it good for taxpayers.”

Foist, U’Ren, Mingus Business Manager Kirk Waddle, COCSD Business Manager David Snyder and Debbie Wheaton, director of transportation services for COCSD, created the draft IGA, according to U’Ren.

“We’ll bring the two districts together and see what’s working best and combine them,” she said.

Foist gave an example. Mingus has a hoist that can lift an entire school bus so mechanics can more easily work under the bus when necessary. It could be used for both bus barns, he said.

Wheaton will take care of the reports for the Arizona Department of Education and some driver and safety training. She’ll also work closely with Dennis Chambers, U’Ren said. Chambers is the Mingus coordinator of operations.

U’Ren and Foist emphasized bus routes will remain the same and elementary students will not be on buses with high school or middle school students.

“As we move forward with our transportation services, I believe the only change parents might see is the voice of our dispatcher at the office here,” Foist said.

Looking to the future, Foist said he would like to start a Verde Valley-wide consortium on services that could be shared.

“All of those boards and all of that leadership, we can come up with wonderful ideas we can bring to the table,” he said.

The agreement is effective for one year from Aug. 5 until Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010. The IGA has a termination provision in which either party may provide the other with a 30-day written notice of termination.
Financial responsibilities are still to be determined.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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