Print Parents object to Cornville school closure
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 00:00
More than 120 concerned parents gathered at Oak Creek School in Cornville on Thursday, April 22, to object to its possible closure for the 2010-11 school year.

Oak_Creek_School_closing_1The hastily called meeting of the Oak Creek School Parent Teacher Organization came after the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School district announced April 20 the closure was possible to help make up a potential $2 million budget shortfall.

Closing the school would eliminate the jobs of 40 people and save the district roughly $480,000, COCSD Board member Jason Finger told the gathering.

Many who attended the PTO meeting said they would fight the closure.

“We like our small community school,” Rod Taylor said. “We would probably not have our kids go to this district if they close this school.”

“We moved here because of the tight-knit group of people who live in this small community,” Taylor’s wife, Shawna, said. “It’s not fair.”

Oak_Creek_School_closing_2Finger attended the meeting with COCSD Board member Eric Wyles. Wyles said shutting Oak Creek School would only take place if there was no other way to close the budget gap.

“We, as a board, understand the ramifications of closing a campus, even temporarily. Nobody wants to do that, absolutely nobody,” Wyles said.

The board already voted April 20 to lay off 24 employees, including 15 teachers, and to provide kindergarten in half-day sessions instead of full days as currently offered. These and other cuts will close a $1.1 million budget shortfall predicted for the 2010-11 school year.

The deficit is anticipated as a consequence of declining enrollment and the state Legislature’s decision to reduce funding for kindergarten, according to COCSD Superintendent Barbara U’Ren.

If a 1 cent sales tax increase, as proposed in a ballot initiative titled Proposition 100, fails Tuesday, May 18, more drastic cuts, including the school closing, are possible, Wyles told the parents.

Oak_Creek_School_closing_3Wyles urged residents to call 10 of their friends to get out the vote in favor of the tax increase.

Finger said the board identified several possible cuts in the event Proposition 100 fails, none of which alone can solve the district’s budget problem.

Reducing the school week to four days would save between $75,000 and $125,000, Finger said.

Increasing class sizes by cutting four more teacher positions would save the district $300,000, he said.

Finger said other possible cuts include:

  • Eliminating all music to save $133,000, physical education to save $192,000 and computer classes to save $137,000. Total savings would be $462,000.
  • Reducing pay for teachers and staff by 1 percent to save $103,000.
  • Requiring all teachers and staff to take one day off without pay to save $58,000.