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Board votes to close Tavasci Elementary School
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 12:00

Tavasci Elementary School will close but Oak Creek School will stay open for the 2011-12 school year.

The decision follows separate votes by Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Governing Board on Tuesday, March 22.

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

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

Should the Legislature make additional cuts to the governor’s education budget, 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 Elementary was “easy” given the district’s tight financial situation, but wanted the board to delay a vote on closing Oak Creek School until the state 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.”

The decision means students currently attending Tavasci Elementary will go to Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School, which will be filled to capacity with close to 800 students.

In answer to concerns about overcrowding at Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School, COCSD Superintendent Barbara U’Ren said the school will have the same population of students in 2011-12 as the day it opened in 1987, several years before Tavasci Elementary was constructed.In answer to board member Janice Rollins’ concerns about overcrowding at Dr. Daniel Bright, COCSD Superintendent Barbara U’Ren said the school will have the same population of students in 2011-12 as the day it opened in 1987, several years before Tavasci Elementary was constructed.

Oak Creek School will remain open as a kindergarten to eighth-grade school but will be restructured. Most extracurricular programs there, including sports, will be eliminated.

The board debated at length whether Oak Creek School should be converted to a kindergarten to sixth-grade school. In that case, seventh and eighth grade students would be transferred to Cottonwood Middle School, where a full offering of extracurricular programs will continue to be offered.

The proposal to keep Oak Creek School a kindergarten to 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.

Board member Eric Wyles said he too was concerned about the difference in educational experiences to be offered at Oak Creek School and CMS, but ultimately voted to keep Oak Creek School open as a kindergarten to eighth-grade school with reduced programs. Cornville parents who want their children to participate in extracurricular activities can send them to CMS, he said.

The final vote followed recommendations from U’Ren, who argued parents should have an option to send their children to either school, whichever was a better fit for their child. 

 

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