Cash-strapped schools look outside

If Jim Womack decided to retire from Beaver Creek Elementary School, it might be a good thing.

Not good that the district would lose its jack-of-all-trades maintenance/transportation director, but good that they could get Womack back for less cost through Educational Services Inc. (ESI).

With money shrinking but costs rising, school districts are looking for outside solutions.

In the Camp Verde Unified School District, the governing board is investigating whether the Yavapai County Education Service Agency can provide assistance with a vacant administrative position.

The Beaver Creek board approved a one-year option for "leasing" employees from ESI, a Cottonwood-based company run by John Tavasci Jr. Under that contract, teachers, administrators and classified employees can retire for a year, retain the Arizona State Retirement System stipend and draw 85 percent of their pre-retirement salary from ESI, which leases them out to schools. Beaver Creek's board also voted to provide at least 50 percent of insurance for employees who opt to retire and come back through ESI.

"You don't want a whole stack of contracts that you can't pay," Beaver Creek Administrator Karin Ward said.

April is looming for school districts, and with it the deadline for offering contacts to staff for the following school year.

Camp Verde Unified is trying to shrink its administrative costs by shrinking contracts. The position of technology director is empty at the moment.

The board was given a couple of options this week - assigning the position part-time to Lisa Mina or adding it to the duties of the facilities director. They opted to table all administrative contracts until March 31 and in the meantime look for outside advice with that position.

"I want to hold off until we see what the county can help with," board member Helen Freeman said. "I would like to hear what the county has to say."

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