Print District votes to close Tavasci
Written by Greg Ruland   
Thursday, 31 March 2011 00:00

Tavasci Elementary School will close but Oak Creek School will stay open for the 2011-12 school year after votes by Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Governing Board on March 22.

The board voted unanimously to close Tavasci but split 3-2 on whether Oak Creek should remain open as a kindergarten through eighth-grade school. Board members Mary Valenzuela, Janice Rollins and Eric Wyles voted to keep Oak Creek open. Chairman Randall Garrison and board member Jason Finger voted against.

The votes allow the district to save $700,000 next year. Another $200,000 will be saved by restructuring. COCSD will have enough funds to balance its 2011-12 budget should Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget be approved by the Legislature, Business Manager David Snyder said.

The Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Governing Board announced March 22 that Tavasci Elementary School will cease  functioning as a traditional school at the end of the 2010-2011 school year and reopen as an International Baccalaureate school.Should the Legislature make additional cuts, amounts saved by the district in previous years will be used to make up the difference, Snyder said.

Garrison said the decision to close Tavasci was “easy” given the district’s financial situation, but wanted the board to delay a vote on Oak Creek until the Legislature finalizes its budget.

“We just can’t afford five campuses, plain and simple,” Garrison told the board. “I’m not sure we’re going to be able to afford four campuses when it’s all said and done.”

Students now attending Tavasci will go to Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School, which will be filled to capacity with close to 800 students.

In answer to Rollins’ concerns about overcrowding at DDB, COCSD Superintendent Barbara U’Ren said the school will have the same population in 2011-12 as the day it opened in 1987, several years before Tavasci was constructed.

Oak Creek will remain open as a kindergarten through eighth-grade school. Most extracurricular programs there will be eliminated.

The board debated whether Oak Creek should be converted to a kindergarten through sixth-grade school. In that case, seventh- and eighth-grade students would be transferred to Cottonwood Middle School, with extracurricular programs still offered.

The proposal to keep Oak Creek a kindergarten through eighth-grade school prompted “no” votes from Garrison and Finger, who argued it would be unfair to deny Oak Creek students the same quality of education as CMS students will receive.

Wyles said he too was concerned about the difference in educational experiences at the schools, but voted to keep Oak Creek open. Parents who want their children to participate in extracurricular activities can send them to CMS, he said.