As members of the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Governing Board continue to push for a vote on consolidation with Mingus Union High School District in November, board members from the Advisory Committee of MUHSD and COCSD are still hesitant.The main concern: Not enough data.
Committee member and MUHSD Governing Board member Jim Ledbetter said during an interview that he doesn’t have enough data to endorse a consolidation between MUHSD and COCSD.
“It’s easy to just say, ‘let the public decide,’” he said. “I applaud the discussion, but we can’t move forward without the facts.”
Ledbetter also said that he doesn’t believe that a larger school district would necessarily be better for students in the end.
“There is no data that would support a large bureaucracy,” he said. “Smaller generally attracts families. We saw this with [Mountain View Preparatory].”
The issue of consolidation appeared on voter ballots in 2008 but failed to pass. One of the main studies cited in consolidation discussions now is a 2008 tri-district consolidation report by education consultant David Bolger.
Ledbetter said during the advisory committee on Tuesday, Jan. 9, that he spoke to Bolger and that Bolger would not recommend using nine-year-old data.
Also cited is a feasibility study from 2012 by Bolger. Ledbetter recommended the committee should accept Bolger’s bid to update it. He also recommended the hiring of Mingus’ former interim superintendent, Jack Keegan to work as a consultant.
But, COCSD Governing Board member Janice Rollins said she feels the studies on hand are already feasible and is opposed to spending money for an outside source in terms of hiring Bolger.
“We have the figures,” she said during a COCSD board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 11. “We have people capable of giving us the information we need.”
During an interview, Ledbetter noted that having staff in the district do the work in compiling data may be an awkward situation because they would be too close to the issue.
Rollins acknowledged that while it may be awkward, that shouldn’t be an excuse for not using the schools’ own resources.
“I feel we have enough people employed to do it,” she said. “If we have the resources why should we spend the money? I feel we are wasting time.”
To ensure discussions on consolidation are kept neutral, Mingus committee members agreed to hold future meetings at the Cottonwood Public Safety Building at 199 S. Sixth St.
Kelcie Grega can be reached at email@example.com