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3/12/2013 6:00:00 AM
Mount Tipton decision could come tonight

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The Kingman Unified School District will make a decision tonight about whether Mount Tipton in Dolan Springs will remain kindergarten through high school or will be restructured as a kindergarten through sixth-grade school.

The residents of Dolan Springs and the surrounding areas have been battling with the district to keep the school open and serving area students of all grades for three years.

The KUSD board meets at 5:30 p.m. at the district office, 3033 MacDonald Ave.

Parents have cited concerns about the long bus ride into Kingman for their children, especially special needs students, and the better teacher-to-student ratio at Mt. Tipton as reasons they don't want their children going to Kingman schools.

Donna Wickard and Rebecca Smith each have children who attend the school. They claim that the district has not given the school a fair chance to find funding to support itself. Last year, the district gave the community two years to make the school sustainable.

The school district said it had to change its plans after student enrollment dropped district-wide by at least 100 children. The district is also facing an estimated $1.1 million shortfall in funding, which could be exaggerated by the federal sequestration.

Wickard proposed a plan last month that she says would save the district $2.4 million by increasing enrollment, consolidating schools, moving to a four-day school week and cutting expenses by $1.45 million.

It would also keep Mt. Tipton at its current designation as a pre-kindergarten through high school.

In an email to the Miner, Smith claims the numbers the district's finance director, Wanda Hubbard, is giving the board are incorrect.

Hubbard's figures show that the district could save approximately $500,000 by changing Mt. Tipton into a kindergarten through sixth-grade school.

Middle school and high school students could still take some classes online at Mt. Tipton.

Smith said that Hubbard's figures include pay for three custodians when there are only two and the cost of a long-term substitute teacher but not the savings from not filling the teaching position permanently.

According to Smith's numbers, the district pays approximately $58,000 for custodians, $968,636 on teachers and $24,500 for substitutes for a total of $1,051,136.

According to Hubbard's figures, the district paid $79,050 for custodians, $916,806 for teachers and $66,600 for substitute teachers at Mt. Tipton this year for a total of $1,062,456.

It also doesn't take into account the fact that many of the programs currently funded by a three-year federal School Improvement Grant were previously paid for by the district and are not new costs, according to Smith.

However, the district told Mt. Tipton parents last year that it would not pick up all of the expenses currently covered by the grant once it expired.

The grant money was used to improve Mt. Tipton's performance and moved the school from an "under performing school" rating in 2008 by the state to a "B" or "performing plus rating" in 2011.

According to Hubbard's figures, the school will lose more than $533,000 in funding once the grant expires at the end of the school year.

Approximately $182,500 of the grant went to paying for an instructional coach, a grant coordinator, fees, supplies, a social worker and stipends for two people.

Mt. Tipton isn't the only school that will see changes in the next school year.

The district is also proposing to temporarily close Palo Christi to make necessary repairs to the building's roof, electrical systems and plumbing.

The Palo Christi students would be moved to the new Desert Willow School.

The district would also close La Senita and divide its students and teachers among Desert Willow, Hualapai, Manzanita, and Cerbat elementary schools.

The Little Explorer's Preschool, which is currently located at Palo Christi would be moved to the empty La Senita Elementary School.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

Recently our we started an Entrepreneurship (Marketing) CTE program and the first set of students to complete it were tested by the JTED district's standardized testing system for CTE students...It is only a few kids, I admit, but they were my students and it was my subject being tested.

There is also an AIMS science test as well as reading, writing and math.

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Article comment by: And What Testing

When you talk about state testing and all your students passing - since when is your subject matter tested by the state. It was my understanding that the students were tested on Reading, Writing, and Math. Has that changed and no one knows about it.

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

I have a B.S. In Business and Information Systems from the University of Phoenix as well as an M. Ed. In Secondary Education from Northern Arizona University. I am CTE teacher with 8 years of experience in the classroom and specialize in Marketing and Business Information Systems--technology for business. Every student I have ever had tested by the state has passed their test.

Rebecca Smith is an experienced entrepreneur with experience running various businesses and creating budgets, as well as being a full time college student.

What are the qualifications of the board members?

Laurie Voss Barthlow, who is the only one who tried to reconcile the budgets, also has business experience.

The others....either don't understand budgeting or don't care. They didn't even care enough to look at my plan and see that even a few of the reforms I suggested could have saved Mt Tipton!

In fact, the only comment made by the board members about my plan, other than Laurie's, was when Jeri Brock stated that it was too far to bus students from Kingman to Dolan Springs four day per week...but apparently it is OK to bus kids to Kingman from Meadview and Temple Bar five days per week!

Say whatever you else want about Rebecca and I---We care about our community and we did everything we could to help EVERYONE, which is more than the 4 school board members who voted yes to murdering our town yesterday can say for themselves!

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

@Lynneah, I do not have an MA in finance. But give me two numbers and when they do not add up I know that. I have not accused Wanda Hubbard of anything other than giving me two different sets of numbers that do not add up, and have asked for these to be resolved. That is her JOB! I am tired of being misquoted. If any wish to see those numbers before making rude comments, let me know. The board has decided, Tipton middle and high school is no more. Now you are left with the elementary which they swear they wont touch. Then again, they went back on their word in regards to our two years to become stronger. Why would anyone believe them. After all of these cuts, you are STILL deficit spending, and your numbers are still declining. Kingman elementary schools are now reaching capacity due to the dissolution of La Senita. How do you justify keeping a school open with less than 140 students??? Kingman, you got what you wanted, Tipton is gone. Nowhere else to cut but you. Let us see how well you take that in the next couple of years. Remember some of you who said, "you chose to live there, now deal with it???"

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: parent and employee

Look people the school board doesn't want to close any school down and would like to keep things the way they are but they see all the financial issues we do not so don't blame the school board, its the economy and our wonderful president. Not. Be gratefully for what we have and not what we don't. As long as the students have a school to go to and the teachers continue to teach, than it will get better and it may not be easy but we will get through it just like any other thing in life. Thank you.

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: origional kingman resident

@ School Board Members

The school board is elected. Most are business owners and professionals, as well as parents. They serve on the school board for free, devoting many evenings for meetings and Saturdays for workshops.

Did you vote?
Apparently the majority of people who voted approved of the board members who were elected.

If you feel that you are so qualified to determine that the work these elected people do is sub standard, maybe you should run on the ballot to fill the next opening.

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Step Up

@ School Board Members....

Have you been to the school board meetings, the special school meetings?
Have you ever been in a position similar to them.
Don't throw stones at a glass house, unless you're willing to fix the windows when you figure out you're wrong.

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: School Board Members Not All Qualified

Wow! I'd hate to be in there shoes!!! I think only half of them are qualified to pick out what clothes they where every morning! And half of them can't even balance there own check books. I'd vote for a redo and start fresh with a new board.

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: jist me

Perhaps they should start a Charter School

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Lynneah Tessman

What experience does Mrs. Smith have? Has anyone thought of this? Also, what experience does Mrs. Wickard besides being a "former" teacher? Where are their degrees? That's right they don't have one....You do not get the job if you do not have the education or experience to handle it...I do not see Finance on thier job history...I think the paper needs to think about who they get thier comments from and realize that we need to respect thier opinions before we will accept them...Time for Kingman to get off thier butts and wake up...It's time!

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