Multiple or single consolidation ballot issue stalls hearing on SB 1073

Sen. Allen considers whether consolidation election should be three ballots, or one

Sen. Sylvia  Allen

Sen. Sylvia Allen

PHOENIX – Whether the consolidation of Cottonwood-Oak Creek and the Mingus Union school districts should be resolved with three ballots or with one ballot, Sen. Sylvia Allen decided to not bring SB 1073 to Arizona State Senate’s Committee on Education on Tuesday.

In a two-hour meeting where Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter said “everyone put their cards on the table,” the majority of Monday’s discussion focused on Arizona Revised Statute 15-459, in which the matter of school district consolidation gives each district a separate and distinct vote.

SB 1073 – a proposed amendment to ARS 15-459 – would combine the districts into one vote.

Monday’s discussion, Carter said, was “enlightening, to say the least.”

Also present at Monday’s meeting were Clarkdale-Jerome Superintendent Danny Brown, Valley Academy Superintendent Bob Weir, Cottonwood-Oak Creek Superintendent Steve King, Mingus Union acting superintendent Genie Gee, as well as Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Joy Biedermann who represents YCESA, pro-consolidation committee members Jerry Brown, Andy Groseta and Phil Terbell, and Barry Aarons, lobbyist for the Arizona Association of County School Superintendents – AACSS.

Though “nothing was resolved” in the matter of the consolidation vote, Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s Steve King said Tuesday that consolidation is a “very complex issue.”

“Yesterday’s meeting was professional and respectful by everyone,” King said. “Everybody wants to be on the same page, however it works out.”

Before Monday’s meeting, Sen. Allen said that she “might have to hold the bill one more week if we miss the amendment deadline requirements for posting.”

Carter said that SB 1073 would not go to the education committee on Tuesday because the separate/single ballot issue “remains in question and on the table.”

At the end of the day, the consolidation vote and district representation may be similar to the difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives, Clarkdale-Jerome’s Danny Brown said.

“In the Senate, each state gets two votes, regardless of its size,” Brown said. “We are 50-50 partners with Cottonwood-Oak Creek in the Mingus Union School District.”

SB 1073 also addresses the community’s career and technical education program – Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education – as well as transition costs of a new unified district. Carter said that Monday’s meeting showed “unanimous consent” that those portions of SB 1073 “should remain in the bill and move forward.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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