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3/14/2013 6:00:00 AM
Despite opposition, Kingman school district cuts Mt. Tipton
Contentious issues faced the Kingman Unified School District board Tuesday night, including a controversial budget proposal and the resignation of a popular administrator.JC AMBERLYN/Miner
Contentious issues faced the Kingman Unified School District board Tuesday night, including a controversial budget proposal and the resignation of a popular administrator.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

Correction: The original version of this story misspelled school board member Laurie Barthlow's name.

KINGMAN - The Kingman Unified School Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to address a $1.1 million budget gap using a plan that closes Palo Christi Elementary, moves some elementary school students and restructures Mt. Tipton School from a pre-kindergarten through high school to a pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade school.

Board member Laurie Barthlow voted against the plan, saying she wanted more time to understand the budget numbers.

Mt. Tipton parents and some students, including the school valedictorian, protested the restructuring.

"We had the best scores in the district," said Wolfgang Lee, who has nine children who went to the school. "We worked with the board to save that school. Maybe the best thing is to become un-unified from the district."

Emily Clement, the valedictorian, said she stayed at the school because of the athletic programs. She wouldn't have been able to do that traveling back and forth to Kingman. The teachers at the school also helped her excel in her schoolwork and earn a full four-year ride to college.

"My big problem with closing Mt. Tipton is that I can name at least two kids that can do (the Kingman Online Learning Academy)," said student Arianna Nelson. "You will have kids move or drop out. They need attention from a teacher, not a computer screen."

In a prepared statement read to the board, Superintendent Roger Jacks acknowledged that KOLA would not work for all students at Mt. Tipton and some would have to be bused to Kingman.

Jacks also pointed to a letter from the University of Virginia's Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education, which recommended moving Mt. Tipton to a kindergarten through sixth-grade school because of the district's difficulty finding high school and middle school teachers with certifications to teach more than one subject.

Parent Donna Wickard requested a full audit of the district's financial figures for Mt. Tipton.

Board member Charles Lucero pointed out that the Arizona Department of Education and the federal government audit the district several times during the year and no material findings had been made against the district since 2007. Those audits are also public documents, he said.

Wickard pointed out that the school's Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards results for the last three years have been dropping in almost all categories except 10th-grade math, 10th-grade science and 8th-grade math. Those three teachers were transferred to the Cambridge Academy accelerated learning program in Kingman, she said.

"Have you looked at my plan?" she asked the board, referring to a plan she proposed last month during a public meeting in Dolan Springs. According to Wickard, her plan would restructure the district and save it approximately $2.4 million.

Board members Jeri Brock and Debbie Francis said they had reviewed Wickard's plan.

Brock said it would be unrealistic to bus students to Mt. Tipton from Kingman.

Rebecca Smith, another critic of the restructuring, pleaded with the board to take more time before making a decision.

"We can be closed next week just as easily as we can be this week," she said.

Barthlow said she spoke with Smith one-on-one about Tipton's budget and agreed to compare Smith's findings with the district's findings.

"I thought it would be easy," Barthlow said. "That was foolishness on my part. I'm still very overwhelmed, and that's my shortcoming. I don't think Mrs. Smith is wrong or Mrs. Hubbard [the district's financial director] is wrong.

"I can't shrug my shoulders and just vote."

Lucero, however, said he was ready to make a decision.

"This is a smart plan. It maximizes our resources and leaves us financially healthy," Lucero said. "I have 110 percent confidence in the finances provided to us."

Francis said she, too, had confidence in the numbers provided to the board, even though she didn't fully understand them.

And Brock added that the school board can't please everyone.

"There's no good solution that will make all of us happy," Brock said. "We just have to do the best we can do."

ICT - Mission Bank 233x388
Related Stories:
• Lee Williams principal resigns
• Alternate Mt. Tipton proposal put forth
• Mount Tipton, other schools face changes

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Article comment by: Sarah Sherman

It is a GOOD thing that Mt Tipton will close. I know it's sad. And it sucks for the teachers and staff that will loose their jobs.... The pre school was AMAZING!!! For my kids, but on a different side, what these kids in Dolan and the other small towns surrounding, is better structure as they are growing into adults. I went to a VERY large high school in las Vegas and things at mt Tipton high are NOTHING like a normal high school. The elementary is great! But all the kids going to high school need to have more! Better sports, better uniforms, cheer leading, (proper cheerleading) , after school programs, they need to interact with more kids besides the same 20 they have known their entire lives. Mt Tipton is behind, my daughter only in 1st grade, wasn't taught things in kindergarten that she should have been taught. U aren't going to get recruited to a great college playing ball by attending a school like my Tipton. Nor a achedemic scholarship to a ivy league school at mt Tipton. Keep it open for elementary yes. But jr high and high school kids need to be outside the small town box. So they don't become the next society of Dolan-ites. There is amazing people in that town. But much more losers and druggies, and that is NOT what we want our youth to become!

Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Obama won but the facts still stand. Obama's American vision = communism”

And another individual proves that they have no actual understanding of the tenets of communism.

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Article comment by: Michelle Bell

Very disappointed in this decision.

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Article comment by: Max Gibbons

Obama won but the facts still stand.
Obama's American vision = communism
Government taking over and there is nothing the public can do to change there minds.
The funny thing is that Obama and his family seem to be on vacation almost every time something major is happening.

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Spending cuts should start with the presidents vacations …”

And where was your indignant ire when The Criminal spent millions upon millions on his 1,020 days of vacation – the most of any president in our history?

Oh, and don’t forget – the president is NEVER really on vacation (or that’s what the right wing spewed when The Criminal was taking his 1,020 vacations days).

Let’s put it as simply as possible – Obama won, deal with it.

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Wow for a county with long time republican rule where is all that fiscal genius they claim to own? I mean if we use the national past as a lesson republicans were in power when entire nation fell into great depression under the infamous Herbert Hoover, then during the 8 year reign of cut taxes to the rich under Bush Jr and prosperity will flow but alas 2008 was almost a Deja Vu of 1928! I think beware of anyone who says they are a fiscal genius they might be not quite up to the task!

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: Something is Definitely in The Water

Yep, it's Obama's fault.

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: Perhaps KAOL Will Help Ya

Yes, Rebecca I do believe Mt. Tipton's closure will save money. It's only common sense that it is more expensive to educate a handful of students in outlying areas. The jury is still out as if LWHS should have been opened this past fall. It is unfortunate we live in a time of very tight budgets.

Perhaps KAOL will take over.

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: Thanks Board

Thank you board for your courage. Well the courage of four of you. What's with Laurie Barthlow? How much time do you need to do the right thing?

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: max gibbons

Spending cuts should start with the presidents vacations and not on the people that will be the future of the US. Last vacation that Obama and his family went on was to Hawaii . That took 20 million out the tax money that we give to pay for school and other important stuff. We the the people not we the people except government.

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@ vock canyon
"Perhaps we should cut the $250k+ retirment for the county manager to help cover the school shortage."

And exactly how would you propose doing that? Also...where do you get your number? He's making more per year from his county retirement than he was paid in salary? Doubtful...

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

Perhaps we should cut the $250k+ retirment for the county manager to help cover the school shortage. But we all know whats more important....

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

"We need to cut spending!"

Whoa, not at my school!


Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

You are told that Mt. Tipton is a drain on the district. You are told that KUSD will save 500k. You are told that these actions will fix the deficit problem. And you believe this why??? Because they tell you to!!! I have 3 sets of figures from the Finance Director. They are all different. They are incorrect and misleading. But the board would not know that because they did not bother to look. The only one who even took an objective look at those numbers, voted 'nay'. She felt it necessary to look more closely at the facts before making such an impacting decision. The others, never called, emailed, texted, or personally asked one question about those numbers. They asked the Director who showed them why her figures were accurate. What did they expect her to say?? Even if the figures were accurate, (and I state publicly that they are not) you will still be running a deficit. What will you do next year??? You are being manipulated, and you are going right along with it. This is NOT about Mt. Tipton. This is about the people representing you who are making decisions foolishly. Say what you will about me, but I have taken the time to examine these numbers. Have you??? I do not recall talking to any of you.

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

The picture caption says someone resigned? No mention in the story? [Admin: There is a separate story about the resignation.]

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman time to make a change

It sounds and looks like we need to make a change in the schools cut some of the fat.We have programs that worked 15 to 20 years ago like the ICARE program for kids that could not make it in normal day to day school.ICARE has a school down town just for ICARE kids they can come to school for 1 to 2 hours a day come and go as they please smoke by the gates of the school . it would be better to give that money that we are spending on the ICARE program back to the kids that are going to all day school .We have K-12 and Online ,GED for the kids that just can's make it regular school . board it's time to make a change it's like you say you are not going to make everyone happy it's time to let some programs go .

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: Jack A.Lope

yes they should "un unify" there are not enough students and kusd cant support every community. They need to take it on their own or form a charter school.

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: You Think

"Brock said it would be unrealistic to bus students to Mt. Tipton from Kingman."

So I'm guessing that Donna Wickard's big plan was to bus students from Kingman to Mt. Tipton! Oh yeah, excellent plan.....NOT! I noticed back in 2000 the population was about 1850. Where is it now?

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: Anonymous Anonymous

Nice way to spell Laurie's name wrong.

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: Well Said

Wow! So you voted on something that you didn't understand? Now staff knows they can fool you every time! NICE!

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