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2/7/2013 6:01:00 AM
Mount Tipton, other schools face changes
Kingman board trying to make up budget hole of at least $1 million
Mount Tipton school.
Mount Tipton school.
La Senita elementary school.
La Senita elementary school.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

The middle and high school portions of Mount Tipton would close, La Senita Elementary would be mostly shuttered and everyone at Palo Christi Elementary would be temporarily relocated as part of a plan to trim at least $1 million from next year's Kingman Unified School District's budget.

The school district faces a $1 million to $1.9 million budget shortfall for the 2013-2014 school year, and it got the go ahead from the school board Tuesday to start a process that could end with these things happening.

Kingman Unified School District Director of Finance Wanda Hubbard laid out two scenarios for the board at Tuesday's five-hour budget workshop. One outlined a best-case scenario - a shortfall of a little more than $1 million - and the other laid out a worst-case scenario, a $1.9 million shortfall.

To deal with the former, Hubbard, with the backing of staff, recommended:

• Converting Mount Tipton School from a K-12 to K-6

• Closing La Senita Elementary and sending its students to KUSD's other elementary schools

• Temporarily relocating the students and staff of Palo Christi Elementary to the campus of Desert Willow Elementary.

"We're talking about a major shift for the whole district," said KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks.

The shift would save the district $1.1 million, but chances are the decision to restructure Mount Tipton won't go over well in the communities the school serves.

The district, however, is not prepared to abandon the school's middle school and high school programs altogether. The plan is to offer the Kingman Online Learning Academy at the school to students in seventh through 12th grade, Hubbard said. Students not interested in online schooling would need to be bused into Kingman.

The future of Mount Tipton was the topic of contentious discussion last year and the year before. With the district on the verge of restructuring the school last year, the community served by Mount Tipton turned out in full force to argue against the plan and even propose several of their own solutions.

In the end, the school board approved a two-year plan that allowed Mount Tipton to remain open and addressed many of the financial issues that brought the discussion to the surface in the first place, including the disparity in per student spending, the school's attendance and membership issues and the school improvement grant that sunsets at the end of this school year and was worth $350,000 a year while it was active.

Rebecca Smith, a Dolan Springs resident with four children who attend the school, was instrumental in staving off the restructuring last year, and she has a renewed interest in the issue this year.

She said the community, school and district were supposed to work together to address Mount Tipton's issues. But that's not what happened, she said.

"You can't fix what you don't address," she said.

Not one grant was sought in the last year despite the fact that grant funding is one of the only ways the school could increase its revenue, she said. Though community members continually promised to be part of the grant-seeking process, Smith said it didn't happen because the district failed to provide a framework where community members and school employees could work together.

The other way to increase school funding is to have more students.

"I'm still waiting for the district to come to us with any sort of growth plan," she said.

Jacks declined to comment on Smith's assessment.

There are 66 high school level students who attend Mount Tipton, and currently the student/teacher ratio is eight to one, according to KUSD budget documents. Additionally, the district is spending $13,706 per high school student at Mount Tipton this year, but it spends $5,078 a student at Kingman High.

To be fair, the district is spending $11,713 a student at Lee Williams High School, but that number will come down as the school grows. Currently, there are only freshmen students at the school.

Smith said a town hall meeting at Mount Tipton will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks. There, she and other community members will unveil a proposal that addresses Mount Tipton issues as well as the issues facing the entire district. She wants as many people to attend as possible, but she wants people to come with solutions and ideas instead of vitriol, as was the case last year.

The rest of the district's best-case scenario recommendation is complicated.

The plan is to move Palo Christi students and staff to Desert Willow, which is currently being used for the district's pre-kindergarten program. Relocating the school won't save the district much money, but it will give KUSD the opportunity to fix the plethora of structural issues at the school, including a damaged roof, should the board decide fixing the school is something it wants to do.

In turn, the pre-kindergarten program would be moved to the kindergarten wing of La Senita Elementary.

The rest of La Senita would then be closed and its students would be dispersed throughout the district. This move would save the district $600,000 and move students to higher performing schools within KUSD. La Senita was the only elementary school in the district that received a C from the Arizona Department of Education last year - the others pulled in As and Bs.

The district is attempting to come up with more money by maximizing the capacity of its buildings, Jacks said. Many of the teachers at La Senita will follow their students to other schools, but there's no guarantee that all employees at the school will keep their jobs, Jacks said.

Many issues put the district in this situation, most notably the continued drop in student enrollment and the depletion of its reserves as the district made up for cuts in state spending.

In Hubbard's worst-case scenario, the district would need to cover a $1.9 million shortfall. To do that, it would eliminate its teacher on assignment program, which frees up principals to devote more attention to education, at the middle schools. Currently, Kingman Middle School is the only one that has this program but the goal for next year is to implement it at White Cliffs Middle School, too. This would save $100,000.

Also, KUSD would avoid creating a continuation program for its elementary schools, eliminate teacher lane changes - which is supposed to allow teachers to earn more money by taking approved college classes - and cut library as a curriculum out of the district. These three options combined would save another $765,000.

Hubbard said chances are the district will find itself somewhere in between the best- and worst-case scenarios once Arizona's 2013-2014 budget is finalized.

The board is expected to vote on any changes at its meeting the second Tuesday of March.

Re/Max - cdavidcooley (rentals/sales)
Related Stories:
• Despite opposition, Kingman school district cuts Mt. Tipton
• Kingman school district finance chief fires back at critics
• Alternate Mt. Tipton proposal put forth
• School plan provokes doubts at meeting
• School issues focus of Republican forum
• Mt. Tipton will stay open

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Reader Comments

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

The stipend was based on time and pay level, new employees got 1% and long-term employees got 2% or something similar. It was fair since they have not received a pay raise for years.

Kingman Resident, Mt Tipton is a better performing school than KHS. Legally, there is no reason to bus our children to Kingman, and if you left them here we would have more than enough to fill our school, so yes, you are stealing half a million dollars from our school every time you bus those 54 kids into Kingman. The road goes both ways....instead of forcing our kids to go to Kingman, why not let GV and Kingman kids choose to come out here, too? You act as though it is an all or nothing proposition, but that is just propaganda from the budget director, who seems to have a personal hatred for our school and cooks the numbers to look bad, when they are not. If you are really interested in the truth, come to the town hall meeting and see the REAL numbers, not the same lies that convinced us to vote for a bond a build a school we didn't really need!

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Article comment by: KM Z

Original Kingman Resident-
I was in disbelief of that claim of "found $1,000,000" also.
I went back through the school board minutes. It was a cost of living stipend of $225.00 per employee. The money came from a reimbursement from the Feds through Medicaid. To equal a million dollars, the school district would have to have almost 4500 employees! I think they have like 800, so the total amount would be less than $180,000. It just goes to show that anyone can print anything and claim it as fact!

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: origional kingman resident

@ Momma Bear,

KUSD found 1 million dollars and spent it all on a Christmas bonus for the employees???? Really?????

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: origional kingman resident

@ Donna W

How is KUSD "stealing" students from Dolan Springs? The parents of the students make a decision of which school in the district best meet the needs of their children.

It seems that the community of Dolan Springs has not begun to fulfill their commitment to seek grants and other funding to help keep the school open.

The district spends almost 3 times the amount per student for the students in Dolan Springs compared to the students in Kingman. When every dollar counts, how can this be justified?

People have a choice of where they live and there are positives and negatives to each choice.

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Resident

I had no idea Kingman was "stealing" students. I had assumed that students who didn't want to go to Mt. Tipton had a choice of going to KHS or Lee Williams. Economically for the district it makes more sense for the kids at Mt. Tipton to go to Kingman rather than the other way around. It seems like the Cambridge program is helping the school district by bringing in students from charter schools and homeschooling.

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: About Time

ITS ABOUT TIME that the school district has to account for to the YEARS of MIS-SPENDING of OUR tax dollars!!! It's just to BAD that our children have to pay the biggest price for this!!! What about restructuring of the District jobs???? NO mention of that!!!!!

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: Chrissy Davis

Thank you for clarifying where the extra kids would go. I didn't see where it stated that they would be adding more teachers to Cerbat to compensate for the 200 extra kids.

I just mis-read this portion of the article it said " Many of the teachers at La Senita will follow their students to other schools, but there's no guarantee that all employees at the school will keep their jobs, Jacks said."

I am sorry that some of you prefer to brow beat those of us who have concerns about our childrens schools by being rude in your responses.

I thank those of you who clarified it for me and didn't feel the need to belittle me in the process.

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Article comment by: Make Up Your Mind

"anyone can attend" then "there is a fair selection process"

Make up your mind, there is not an open enrollment like the other schools. Also, anyone with half a brain realizes that if you are a religious family, your chances are much better and will probably be moved to the head of the line.

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Article comment by: Contact ALL State Representatives to Stop Funding KOAL

KOAL Parent - did you or I elect the board that runs this business called KOAL? Is there open access - if so why don't you go, and get all the correspondence, emails, etc. between the administration and the "founders"? or any other documents similar to those KUSD has for public access.

You're correct about one thing - ALL of it is FUNDED BY THE TAX PAYERS. And please let us know where this mysterious tax money comes from if not from you, me and all of us. That's the issue we all pay for your little "selected" child. Hey, if you want your little darling to not go to the public schools that we have always funded and supported,, has a leadership elected by the people for the people, then you pay all the money to fund it. Then you can select who you what to attend, what you want to pay the teachers, class size, build the building you want, etc. WE ARE TIRED OF PAYING TO HAVE OUR KIDS TOLD THEY ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR KOAL - that's another thing we had not say in - So yea, it is a private school when it comes to who it lets in and public when it comes to funding.

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

Joan, It' is illegal in Arizona to turn a public school into a private school, at least that is what Roger Jacks keeps telling us at Mt Tipton.

How about, we should definitely move to four day weeks for all 9-12 students. Mt Tipton switched to save money for the district, there is no reason we should be the only ones tightening our belts!

Kingman Residents, Mt Tipton is not the area with declining enrollments, Kingman is. You steal our students, then claim you can't afford to fund us. Mt Tipton serves FIVE communities, not just one, and we have has over 80% drop out rates without a high school out here. An online HS will not help, our students already have the option of online charter schools. They have already cut our elementary school to 5 teachers for 7 grades (K-6) and now they want to cut out the entire 7-12, leaving us with nothing but a computer and a paraprofessional, not even a real teacher! The answer is for Kingman schools to improve enough to bring back students who have left for charter and home schooling, not continue to steal more students from the rural communities to the north!!

Wanda Hubbard said it would be a shame to destroy the community school of Palo Christi, but apparently doesn't agree about destroying all FIVE communities north of Kingman, she said LWHS has already been opened and it would be a shame to close it....but doesn't seem to think it would be a shame to close us, even though we have been open 11 years!

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Article comment by: momma bear

I agree Pat needs to go I have had two serious issues brushed off and also I heard the district found 1 million recently and distributed throughout the district as a Christmas bonus. Now they are closing the doors to school thats messed up. you know i will be at those meetings voicing my concerns.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: KHS CLASS OF 1981

KAOL is a public school, anyone can attend, even from another community. They do not “choose” who attends, there is a fair selection process, established by the state, that allows those on the wait list to attend as classroom space is available. I know, most think that only kids of cops, firemen and oh, don't forget about the good 'ol boys, kids get selected. That just isn’t true. Yes, the Academy does not receive the same funding levels as the KUSD district does, it receives less! Check your tax bill and look for KAOL.

Charter schools do get to operate under some different rules (good and bad) and perhaps that is why some in Arizona, like KAOL, have been successful. My kids attend the Academy, one at each campus. We like the schools, we support them, and we try to work through issues when we have them. My wife and I have regularly put in volunteer hours as much as triple the requested time.

I am more confident in the current KUSD board than I have been in almost 10 years. They need to know your concerns but need support too. If closing a school and reducing capacity or function of a few others is necessary, so be it....the school board can't turn a blind eye and just keep operating into a financial crisis much like the fire district in Dolan Springs.

If a high school student has to bus in and out of Kingman from Dolan Springs, then so be it. They do that in a lot of areas of the KUSD high school in Wikieup or Yucca. Maybe a four day school week could help the budget some as well, and I certainly don't understand all the late start and early release days that KUSD has.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: concerned citizen

Amazing, isn't it?
We're just starting to hear the cries of protest and the "knashing of teeth."
All because KUSD did what almost everyone in Mohave County wanted every city, county, and state agency to do. And that is, to start cutting back and live within your means, like the ordinary people have to!
They're closing down inefficient and costly schools and consolidating the students. There will be loud cries, screams, and outrage coming in the next months, mostly from areas north of Kingman. And that's exactly where most of the "hate-government" people live.
Amazing, isn't it?

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: May Be ....

@ And Again, and the others who approve of these types of comments, the prisoners that work and "earn money" have to pay the majority of the money that they "earn" on housing and other item that they have to have, that you as a taxpayer would otherwise have to foot the bill for. Really, if half of the people that whine and complain about prisoners working did their homework before spouting off, there wouldn't be so many posts. And how many people anywhere, are illing to do the work that they do, for the pay that they get. If they didn't do it, then it wouldn't get done. Honestly, if you are willing to pull weeds on the side of the road for 50 cents an hour, apply, if not quit whining.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

It just amazes me how people mix up issues with local government jurisdictions that have no relationship to each other. The county does not run the Kingman schools. The City of Kingman does not run KUSD. The mess I. The Dolan Springs fire district has nothing to do with anyone else in the County other than gross mismanagement by their administration. The Kingman Academy is a public charter school which receives its money from the State Legislature. The fact is that from 2007-2010, Arzizona cut state aid to education at all levels to a higher percentage than any other State in the union. And Arizona was already near the bottom in State aid amounts to school districts and community colleges. KUSD's ISSUE IS ALMOST ALL ABOUT THE STATE LEGISLATURE's CUTS OF STATE EQUALIZATION TO SCHHOL DISTRICTS. This is Doris Goodale's problem, this is Kelli Ward's problem. Yet they continue to want to cut taxes and have done nothing to get rid of all the special interest tax credits in the State income tax code. Tell them to listen to US not ALEC, the Goldwater inst., or the Arizona Center for Theocracy.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: just saying

@and again.

It may have been 3 hot and a cot back in the day, but the prison system is no longer like that. Inmates must pay for electricity if they have a tv, they must pay for hygiene items, they must pay for laundry soap. How are they expected to pay? one way is to burden their family to provide these essentials. families who didnt ask for their loved one to be incarcerated and now suffer with their lose. Or the inmates can work for a measly 10 cents and hour! This option helps to teach them work ethic and to provide for themselves in a healthy way. these inmates will soon return to our communities. Maybe if they learn something in prison they wont end up back in prison and become productive members of society instead of a burden. also inmates only receive 2 meals on the weekends and only 2 hot meals on a weekday, the other is a sack lunch.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Lee Williams is a nice school, nice looking building, but when 1/3 of the students were failing, and that 1/3rd had to be put on after school tutoring to bring their grades up, what does one blame the teachers, principle or the lack of funding? I would be inclined to lay blame on lack of funding by the fiscal genisuses running the county, and northern part of Arizona who seem to be fit for little more than whining, and blaming everything on democrats who do not domianate the state legislators, attorney generals office nor the governors office, no lay it where it belongs on them fiscal geniuses who call themselves republicans and sometimes tea partiers and others just plain teapublicans!

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Poor Grammer

@ No Name

Instead of complaining what the district is doing you should enroll yourself in some classes yourself. I've seen some pretty bad grammar in this section but yours is pretty bad. Try wring your posts in MS Word and doing a spell and grammar check on it before you post it so you don't look like you're uneducated.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Not Unfair

@ no name

"Lee Williams is entrenched in the Cambridge program one of theri elite programs that they will continue dispite the fact that that program is unfair to the studnets who are no in it."

I don't agree with that statement. Most of the Cambridge program is computer based. Also, the Cambridge program is not there for every student. If your child is barely passing their regular courses then they would surely fail in the Cambridge program because of the advanced curriculum. The students in the program had to be endorsed by the teachers to participate. These students are working anywhere from 1-3 grades ahead of the schools regular curriculum.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Maximize Capacity

I don't think dispersing the kids to other schools would be that bad if the teachers were able to go with them like they said, and there was room for more classrooms to accommodate. I think the biggest concern parents like me have is that my child already has 32 kids in her class and there are only 4 teachers for her grade, so roughly 136 kids in just 1 grade pushed into already crowded classrooms. However if the other schools they are going to were able to add more classrooms and keep some teachers it would kind of pacify the concerns of over-crowding. KHS had trailers for classrooms, I know that's not ideal but it could be a temporary solution....And lastly if the kids are going to be put in "higher performing" schools then it should have high performing teachers follow, if cuts have to be made somewhere with teachers I would want the best performing teachers to stay.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Save Education

Can someone please explain to me how closing Palo Christi and remodeling it is going to save the district money? Remodeling a building is expensive! Let's put this money towards educating our children. Desert Willow is sitting empty let's use it and La Senita. Palo Christi could be remodeled later when the district has the money.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Las Senita Parent

As a parent of a Las Senita student and being one in the past I have to say this is wrong! My child is in a Kindergarten class with 34 students, I find it difficult to believe that the amount of children being enrolled has dropped for the ELEMENTRY children...I think that the board wasted a profound amount of money on the Lee Williams school and put more time and effort on that school when they could have split the money between all the schools to fix some of the problems such as new roofs and such at the other schools. I also think that they made a huge mistake in unifying the school districts....high school should have remained separate from the elementary...This is a horrible injustice to our children on the selfishness of a school board. disgusting.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Think Tank

@Mt. Tipton If you choose to live out in the middle of nowhere you have to live with the consequences. If you enjoy the open space and the room then you have to deal with the negatives as well. It is not fair for your children to receive more that double the amount per student than the other schools.

As for Palo Cristi, tough situation but it is probably best just to let that building go. It has been run down for some time.

La Senita should stay an elementary school. It is funny that the solution to our lack of funds and space is to use even less space. You can't pack in children like sardines.

Desert Willow should house all of the Pre School, Kindergarten and daycare for the district. PS Look at the numbers. You can't fit all of the kids from Palo Cristi in to Desert Willow. There is not enough room.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: origional kingman resident

@Chrissie Davis

The article states that many of the teachers would be following their students to the other schools, so it sounds as though they aren't planning on increasing the current class sizes, but will have additional classrooms with teachers for the relocated students.

If the district has to cut between 1 and 2 million dollars, it seems smart to utilize the available space in fewer buildings, rather than spend money to repair a building with a plethora of structural issues. The money that would be for repairs is better spent directly on the education of students.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: LYNNEAH TESSMAN

@Chrissy Davis - Please reread the article and you will see quote " Many of the teachers at La Senita will follow their students to other schools..." so they are not going to slam Cerbat with a bunch of kids and no teachers --- PLEASE read before you type
@John Armstrong - Very nicely put!
@KAOL --- It is about time someone finally said it out loud --- KAOL - gets the same amount if not more but does not have the same rules or regulations that the public school has - - They get your money but they can chose who goes there...Something is wrong with that picture...Time for Kingman to stand up for what it wants....

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