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Sat, Feb

For families with siblings attending schools in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek District, juggling between different schools will become a thing of the past starting in the 2018-19 school year.

The COCSD governing board voted unanimously on Tuesday, Feb. 6 to move forward with kindergarten through eighth-grade realignment, restructuring three of the district’s schools into two K-8 schools.

Arizona continues to dwindle near — or at — the bottom of the list for teacher salaries, and Verde Valley educators aren’t excluded from the hurt of low pay and rising housing costs.

For example, the average salary of a Sedona-Oak Creek School District teacher is $39,302, according to a 2017 Arizona Auditor General report. The median home value in Sedona is $404,400, according to latest data from the United States Census Bureau.

If there’s one thing that key players from Mingus Union High School District and Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District can agree on is that, unification or not, the end game is to achieve what is best for the kids.
 
For some, it’s still not 100 percent clear if the answer is to consolidate the two districts based on current data. Others are pushing a petition for a vote on consolidation in November.

As crowds from all over the Verde Valley gathered at the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education’s new campus in Cottonwood, fire science students Levi Parker and Jayson Martinez demonstrated the speedy yet challenging process of putting on firefighting gear.
 
“We try to get it on in under 60 seconds,” Parker said. “We will be racing to see who gets it on faster. Right now [Martinez] is the quickest.”
 

As members of the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Governing Board continue to push for a vote on consolidation with Mingus Union High School District in November, board members from the Advisory Committee of MUHSD and COCSD are still hesitant.
 
The main concern: Not enough data.

Despite being near — or at, depending on the analyst — the bottom of the list for teacher pay nationally, Arizona’s voters continue to express the need for better K-12 education.
 
According to a December 2017 poll via education advocacy group Expect More Arizona, the majority of the poll’s approximately 600 likely Arizona voters agreed education is the No. 1 issue for the state. It is the third year the poll resulted in education being named top priority.

Although Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District has decided the matter of its consolidation with Mingus Union High School District should be in the hands of voters next November, the 13-member MUHSD and COCSD Advisory Committee for Consolidation continues to examine the implications of consolidating districts.

At 4 p.m., Jan. 9, MUHS will host the next consolidation committee meeting. In the meantime, two members of the MUHSD Governing Board have weighed in on the issue.

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