District consolidation ultimately goes to voters

Consolidation Committee Chairperson Dan Mabery says that the topic of consolidation/unification “gets the muddiest is when you start analyzing the dollars.” (Photo by Bill Helm)

Consolidation Committee Chairperson Dan Mabery says that the topic of consolidation/unification “gets the muddiest is when you start analyzing the dollars.” (Photo by Bill Helm)

COTTONWOOD – It is expected that at some point, the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union school boards would each vote on whether they support consolidation and unification of the two districts.

If either school board votes against taking consolidation/unification to the public, it would require a citizen’s initiative – a petition – to put the issue on the ballot.

Committee Chairman Dan Mabery says that “no matter what this committee comes up with, the vote will come up next year.”

“Where it gets the muddiest is when you start analyzing the dollars,” Mabery says. “It is my hope that we will continue down our list of pros and cons and find a result that is helpful to everyone as to the consolidation question.”

Committee members spent more than an hour Tuesday discussing two of the more than a dozen topics meant to be labeled either pro or con to a possible merger.

Mingus Union’s Steve Gesell says that “hopefully [the committee meetings will] bear fruit in helping everyone in the community gain a better understanding as we move forward, regardless of whatever path that takes.”

Though committee member Micah Swenson says that “some progress was made” during Tuesday’s meeting, “if anything, I’ve come away with more questions than answers.”

“There’s a complexity to this that none of us fully grasp at this point but are working toward,” says Swenson, an eighth grade teacher at Cottonwood Middle School. “We have intelligent, knowledgeable people on the committee. But with 14 of us, you’ve got a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives to weigh and consider. Any area we decide to discuss is going to take time. While we see the same topics, the optics are different for each of us.”

Mabery says that the committee will “continue down our list hopefully at a more rapid pace, as I plan to change the format a little, and find a result that is helpful to everyone as to the consolidation question.”

Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s Janice Rollins also says that she would like to see a 30-minute “time limit on how long each topic can be discussed.”

The next meeting of the consolidation/unification committee is scheduled for 4 p.m. De. 12 at Mingus Union High School.

Mingus Union is located at 1801 E. Fir St. in Cottonwood. This meeting is open to the public. Call (928) 634-0580 for more information.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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