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2/14/2013 6:01:00 AM
School plan provokes doubts at meeting
Some say district's numbers inaccurate; town halls coming
JC AMBERLYN/Miner
Dolan Springs resident Donna Wickerd addresses the school board Tuesday regarding proposed changes at several schools, including the Mount Tipton School.
JC AMBERLYN/Miner
Dolan Springs resident Donna Wickerd addresses the school board Tuesday regarding proposed changes at several schools, including the Mount Tipton School.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter


Several people spoke out against a plan to close La Senita Elementary, temporarily relocate Palo Christi students and staff and restructure the Mount Tipton School at Tuesday's Kingman Unified School District board meeting.

District officials have said the moves are necessary to plug an expected $1.1 million budget gap.

The board did not respond to any of the people's statements, but a schedule of informational meetings to be held at each school was announced.

Some of those who spoke expressed their concerns, while others accused the district of not keeping its word.

"(Mount Tipton) is the center of our community," said Donna Wickerd, a former teacher at the school who has several children who attend it.

It has not been getting the positive attention from the district that it deserves and it's been under threat of closure for three years, which is not a formula for success, she said.

District staff recommended to the board last week that Mount Tipton be restructured from a K-12 school to a K-6 school, which would save roughly $500,000, according to district budget documents.

A similar recommendation was made last year, but after two months of debate and a fiery town hall meeting in Dolan Springs, the board agreed to allow Mount Tipton two years to become sustainable.

The fact that KUSD is back a year later to discuss closing portions of the school has Wickerd and many others in the community crying foul.

Even Roger Jacks, the district's superintendent, admits that the school didn't get the agreed-upon two years. But he maintains that KUSD didn't forecast the district wide drop in enrollment, which could be as few as 100 students or as many as 180, depending on end-of-the-year counts.

One of several stipulations included with last year's agreement focused on getting per student spending to not exceed $8,700.

The district argues that has not happened.

According to budget documents, the district pays $13,706 per Mount Tipton high school student and $7,466 per K-8 student. There are currently 66 students enrolled at the high school and 192 enrolled in K-8 classes.

Rebecca Smith, who has four children who attend Mount Tipton, has been crunching the numbers and is convinced there is a discrepancy.

"According to our numbers, we have enough money to run the school," she said.

She argued that Mount Tipton cannot be compared to other district schools because it is K-12 and there are no other schools in the district that operate in that fashion. She further argued that if the district was willing to separate the high school portion of the school for the sake of showing per-student spending, that it needs to do the same thing for the elementary and middle school portions of the school.

The school shares its resources among all grades, especially the middle school and high school portions, she said. Though she continues to work to get concrete numbers, she believes some teachers and resources have been counted twice.

District Finance Director Wanda Hubbard said the budget numbers she provided are accurate and maintained that teachers and resources were not counted more than once.

People concerned about Mount Tipton weren't the only ones who had something to say Tuesday.

Several parents spoke out against the closing of La Senita, arguing that it will be disruptive to the students who are forced to change schools.

"La Senita is a part of our community," said Ashley Baldwin, whose stepson attends the school.

Her concerns focused on extended bus routes, student registration, lost jobs, packed schools and the long-term impact of losing the school.

She argued that the district is not thinking about 10 years down the line. She wants more answers and more accountability.

"I think this is a cop-out," she said.

Others fear the realignment will be too disruptive overall.

"It seems like a lot of movement," said Christopher Akers, a man who spoke during the board's call to the public. "(There needs to be) as little disruption to as many students as possible."

More information is sure to come out in the next few weeks, with informational meetings scheduled at each affected school. Back-and-forth discussion will be allowed.

The Mount Tipton School meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

The people fighting the potential change will hold their own town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Mount Tipton is located at 16500 Pierce Ferry Road in Dolan Springs. At the meeting on the 20th, Wickerd and Smith plan to unveil a plan that not only saves Mount Tipton, but also improves the whole district.

The La Senita Elementary meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22. La Senita is located at 3175 Gordon Drive.

The meeting for Palo Christi Elementary is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 26. Palo Christi is located in downtown Kingman at 500 Maple St.

There is no meeting scheduled for Desert Willow Elementary, which is affected by the recommendation because Palo Christi staff and students would be relocated there for the year and its pre-kindergarten program would be moved to the kindergarten wing of La Senita.

Related Stories:
• Mount Tipton, other schools face changes
• Mt. Tipton will stay open


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

@Think Tank - It is not our intention to simply save Mt. Tipton. It is our intention to offer a plan that would stabilize and strengthen the entire district. We must understand that we are one district and must find ways to solve the problems that are weakening and dividing us. We plan to speak about this plan on Wednesday at 5:30.
As for living in the country, I did not move to 'nowhere'. I moved to a small town that had a bank, gas station, post office, small businesses, market, fire station, sherrif sub station, restaurants, elderly people, young people, and everything in between. I have watched as the fall of the economy came calling, and what that left, is being gobbled up by poor managment, and greedy corporations. It is one thing to hurt the adults, but the children and their education are off limits. We can only hope that the people will unite and this school board will listen to reason.


Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Step Up

@ Think Tank...

I said that Mt Tipton was the only one that had solutions (good or bad). I noticed they left too and included them in "those that left". I don't care what else was on the agenda, it was rude to leave, children, job or snowstorm. My children were with me that night and taught to behave. If your kids cannot handle it, leave them home so you won't be "blasted".


Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: KUSD Teacher

@Response to KAOL Mom part 1 and 2,

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you! You took the words right out of my mouth. I am a teacher for KUSD, and know the ins and outs of KUSD and KAOL. Everything that you said was spot-on!

And yes, the people of this community are partly to blame if they voted "no" for the sales tax increase this past November. People were warned that this would happen, but no one seemed to listen. Now that the harsh reality is here, people aren't happy, but KUSD has to do what is financially necessary. We have cared too much about what the community wants...now we need to do what is necessary to educate our children. If that involves consolidating schools, then so be it!


Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@See Even Editor Thurlow Agrees
There's a difference between "loses" and "takes".

Every time a student is home schooled, the local school loses money...but no one took it from them, they lost it.

That's like saying if a local eatery charges too much and their food is no good....but a new place moves in and gets the business......the new place "took" it. No..they didn't. The old place lost it by providing an inferior product at a higher price.


Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

@ Think Tank

" I understand busing may be inconvenient but that is exactly what you are expecting students from Kingman to endure to save your school. My understanding is it is not OK for your own children to be on a bus by 6AM and not return home until 4PM but that it is OK for students from Kingman to take the same ride out to your school."

Excellent point!

Additionally, the AIMs scores at Mt Tipton were higher only in the last two years, while the school was benefitting from many additional resources and grants that were provided because the school was a failing school. It remains to be seen if the staff and students can maintain this success on their own with the same resources that the other schools rely on.

Hearing Donna tell it, one would get the impression that Mt Tipton is a paragon of educational excellence and parents should be jumping through hoops for a chance to bus their children there.

If people choose to live in a rural community they need to live with the negatives of that choice as well as enjoying the positives.


Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Think Tank

Rebecca,
I agree with you that Donna would have been blasted for staying as well. I am just pointing out that Step Up seemed to be disappointed in people leaving early but had all praise for anyone present for Mt. Tipton. While it is true that others left I thought it prudent to point out her hypocrisy.

As for the solutions you are proposing I actually admire the fact that you are all working hard to save your school. I also have my doubts about the districts accounting department that seems to "find" money frequently. With that said I don't see how bussing in students from other schools is going to help the situation. I have not studied the numbers in detail but I do know that simply busing students from other KUSD schools out to Mt. Tipton you will not bring anymore income into the district. I also know that while the district may not be in as dire straits as it presents itself it certainly doesn't have a great deal of extra money to expand a rural school.

My view of the matter is pretty simple: if you choose to live in the country you have to deal with the negatives as well as the positives. I understand busing may be inconvenient but that is exactly what you are expecting students from Kingman to endure to save your school. My understanding is it is not OK for your own children to be on a bus by 6AM and not return home until 4PM but that it is OK for students from Kingman to take the same ride out to your school.


Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: See Even Editor Thurlow Agrees

In Sunday’s "Editorial Column: Money not for that education" Rich Thurlow, Kingman Daily Miner’s Editor agrees that KAOL takes money from KUSD. He writes "... KUSD loses dollars every time another student enrolls at one of the Kingman Academy schools.”

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Follow Up Article

Ahron, good reporting. Now one thing you can do to shed some light on the subject would be a good article regarding how our two taxpayer systems compare with number of students, staff, operating budget, sources of income, programs offered, etc.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Harris

Francis Perkins nailed it.

Doris, Sonny, Kelli and the rest of the Republicans have a philosophy that public sector is bad and private is good. They are in the process of dismantling public schools. Republicans believe private schools under the disguise of charter schools will do a better job instead of strengthening public schools. Charters are not designed nor are they willing to educate every child. Are we willing to establish a separate but not equal system of education?

Another example of this Republican push for privatization is the prison system. Our own MTC prison led to 2 or 3 innocent folks dying because this private corporation was more concerned with profits than security.

How we actually go about promoting our state is no longer left to the state government. Brewer (who endorsed Obama by the way http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvHGkkiQ6tE) replaced the state's Department of Commerce with the Arizona Commerce Authority. ACA rents space in a fancy office building in Phoenix, buys out the contract of its first CEO with what may be tax money (the books are not publicly available), and has yet resulted in any big turn around it has promised for the state and Kingman. See http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/20120716arizona-commerce-ex-chief-cardon-bonus-stirs-questions.html. Also see http://www.arizonapirg.org/reports/azf/shining-light-arizona-commerce-authority

Republicanism has fundamentally changed the very structure of the use of our tax money. These changes have resulted in the destruction of public institutions. Public by definition is for the common good. Private by definition is for the individual benefit. The benefits have gone to those few who operate charter schools, are CEO's of private prisons, head commerce "authorities", and yet to be determined. Perhaps their next step is privatizing the City of Kingman, the Mohave County, our police forces, etc. I'm sure all those public jobs could be eliminated.


Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Response to KAOL Mom Part 2

"...when I look at my property taxes I see I'm contributing plenty to KUSD" - as well you should. America's public schools are largely what distinguished our country from others. What has made America great is the value placed on EVERYONE being educated, not just the privileged few. The privileged few can pay for what they want. Yet by allowing tax money to be diverted diminishes the ability to educate all fairly. The public school system of which you attack has built one of the highest literacy rates in the world. All Americans have a duty to contribute to the education of our youth resulting in a better society for us all, be they seniors with children long removed from the system, childless couples, singles not choosing to have children, and those citizens who decide public schools are not for their children. Choosing not to utilize the public schools available to you is your choice. Yet the cost of that choice should be borne by you and you alone. This has been a long and established American tradition of which I might cite parochial and private schools.

Charters may be around yet the pendulum will swing against using any tax payer money to support these private money making machines when the parents who are discriminated against demand justice. So all you parents upset with the negative impact KAOL is having on your child, our community, and our country organize, contact your state and federal representatives, voice your displeasure to KAOL and KUSD administrations and the state and federal Departments of Education.


Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Response to KAOL Mom Part 1

To dang KAOL Mom, we're questioning the fairness of using our taxes for 2 different systems. One (KUSD) is wide open, admits everyone who walks in on a first come first serve bases. The other (KAOL) has a few decision makers who on their own select what child attends. It may not be a KAOL problem, but IT IS A PROBLEM CREATED BY KAOL.

Next issue you raise - we are indeed focusing on the resources - that's exactly the issue - WHY IS KAOL TAKING RESOURCES FROM KUSD? These "resources" are paid by you and me and yet I am told my child, and Joe's child, and Pete's child, and Mary's child, etc. aren't good enough to attend the school we are paying for. Where's the Americanism in that?

You have the nerve to mention that KAOL doesn't have a free lunch program, that the "parents step up and step in." Listen up, these parents stepping is REQUIRED by KAOL. KAOL would have a free lunch program yet, doesn't have enough low income students to qualify. And as far as transportation - where did you think the money came from to buy all those shiny buses? Ahh, you catch on fast, bingo, tax money.


Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

@Think Tank

I appreciate the fact that you cared enough to comment. However, some of your facts are not accurate. As for the the solutions being dubious or silly, we did not attempt to go deeply into our solutions during a 3-5 minute call to the audience. But you are in luck...we are having a town hall meeting at Mt. tipton on Wednesday at 5:30 and we invite all who are really looking for solutions to attend. At this meeting, we will dive deeply into the numbers and an alternate plan. We will be listening to other ideas to be added as well. To all who are banging the drum that Tipton is costing the district...are you saying this because you have taken the time to research Mt. Tipton and the financial history, or because you blindly believe what you are told. As for Mt. Tipton reps leaving early....it is true, Donnas toddler was restless and she took him home so that he did not disturb the rest of the meeting. Had she stayed, I am sure that somebody would have written about how Mt. Tipton reps allowed their children to disturb the meeting. ugh! Hope to see you and many others on Wednesday!


Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013
Article comment by: Vintage KUSD

This is classic KUSD. Just like the 12 million that turned up missing last year. I was at that board meeting and all Wanda Hubbard had to say was that it wasn't really missing. I agree with "concerned citizen" and "vock canyon" - there is tremendous waste amongst the administrators of KUSD. They take their company cars home with them - some as far as Valle Vista - and KUSD is paying for the gas. And you wonder where our tax dollars are going?? unfortunately - not to the students.....

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Citizen

Speaking of spending money on schools being built. Someone needs to look into the school's relationship with the contractor. Golf outings, paid expense travel, gifts for continued contracts that ended with more schools being built/remodeled. These relationships are unethical and are one of the many reasons KUSD is out of money.

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013
Article comment by: no name

To Step up,
KUSD has been given a lot of ideas every year and they are rejected outright by Wanda Hubbard. One could save a hundred thousand in sewer cost alone by putting in a water meter at schools that still only have one water meter. By putting in an additional meter for the water they use on the fields would save the sewer bill for water that is going to water the grass. It would save over a hundred grand the first year even after the cost of the meter and will only grow with sewer rates going up. The same is true of the cost of watering the grass at the high schools. The district pays over a half million a year to water the grass. Just cutting back even 20% would save a hundred grand, but nope do not want to hear that. She likes the hard number of if we lay off staff we do not pay salaries. Those are real numbers. They are right there. The others like sewer and such are if cost remain the same and like the bussing she will tell you we get our money back for the cost of water. Its about real numbers and if we get our money back from the State eventually its all good even though we could be doing our community and state a service by conserving our tax money.


Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

May I suggest on cutting back on some of the luxuries. Such as district paid for cars for employees, field trips, overnight management confrences and district paid cell phones for the entire district. Do the schools really need cable? If internet is eliminated in the schools how much will that save?

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Ruth Copeland

Question: The district spends $7,466 for a K-8 student and 13, 706 for a High School student. Does that mean per student per year?

Or does the district spend $933.25 per elementary student per year and $3,426.50 per High School student per year?


Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Is it corruption or just stupidity?

Last year KUSD blew $ 24 million remodeling an unused school near downtown Kingman and this year they have to close an occupied school because of a $ 1.1 million shortfall? Either the school board is corrupt or are a product of KUSD education.

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: There is a difference

There is a difference between a charter school and a public school.
Public schools cannot demand as charter schools do that a parent volunteers on a regular basis and as a contigency for their child being enrolled. Therefore parents who cannot or won't volunteer cannot attend a charter and so their children go to public school.

Public schools do not have waiting lists which often times charters use those waiting lists for children with behavior problems or special needs. There are families in Kingman who have experienced this.

There are many differences. A charter is more similiar to a private school but instead of the parents paying for a private education the goverment is paying for the private education.

If they had to operate as a public school does they would be experiencing many of the same problems. They should have to play by the same rules.


Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Think Tank

@ Step Up What other burning issues did you want the people to stay for? The acceptance of the resignation of a teacher? The approval of leave time? An agenda was handed out before the school board meeting and everyone in attendance was able to see what was left to be discussed. Excuse people who had to get back to work or to their children. Funny how you mentioned the Mt. Tipton reps when it was mostly them that left the meeting early. In fact, when the board attempted to address some of them by name to sort out the meeting time conflict they were informed that they had left before the discussion even finished.
As for their solutions proposed by the Mt. Tipton lobby they are dubious at best and downright silly at worst. Their argument is essentially that we should make their school the best one around and send more students out there. The problem with that is that they point out that they are already understaffed. How are they supposed to handle all of the additional students if they are already shorthanded? They complain about enrollment numbers but the only solutions they offer is bus current KUSD students out there. Doing this would not increase enrollment within the district and would not increase revenue. The only thing this would do would be to increase the number of students at Mt. Tipton which would make their balance sheet look better.
WC 242


Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

The legislature, Doris, and Sonny and Kelli are responsible for the lack of money for school districts Statewide. The loss of the 1 cent sales tax dedicated to schools was one cause, so if you voted NO, it's partially your fault, as was the fetish this group has for no taxes ever of any kind. Arizona reduced State aid for schools at all levels 21% from 2007-2010 and it has not come back. That is the reason for all this school movement, and hard decisions by KUSD. Districts in Tucson, Peoria and many other places are fighting about closing numerous schools because of this lack of money. But they have plenty of money to give to for profit charters, who are friends of Brewer, or for profit pet reading programs from Utah, or tax cuts for the building industry.

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Resident

Whoever this individual is that seems to think that the KAOL is somehow taking money from KUSD needs to become a little more educated on the facts and stop trying to spread irrational propoganda.
An analysis of state data by The Arizona Republic shows charter schools collected an average $1,623 less per student over the past five school years combined - $7,806 compared with $9,429 for district schools. That's because charters don't get local property-tax revenues and generally get less federal money per student because they teach fewer low-income and special-education children. They receive more state general-fund money.

KUSD like all local school districts as a huge advantage in collecting money from all state levels that no "Public Charter School" has. Charter schools were created as a way to offer parents an alternative to local schools. They are in no way "private". Any student may attend any of the AZ Charter schools free of charge. Since the schools are smaller, size is an obstacle hence a lottery system was used to select which students may attend. I encourage you to "prove" your claims that the KAOL somehow "illegally" choses its students. Anyone can make arbitrary accusations. Provide the data to the public. The KAOL has students from all ranges of backgrounds (economic, racial, social, etc) and will readily accept any application.
The real problem with Kingman is that currently the population is beginning to shrink. Many students are simply moving away due to economic necessity. Our community needs to crunch numbers and determine how many schools we really need and close those that are no longer needed. I know this is harsh but economics are economics. Emotional ties to a school are no substitute to real-life issues. Is keeping Lee Williams High School open a good economic solution? Five to ten years ago, when our local market was thriving it may have. Does it still make sense?


Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: jack a lope

You know there is another option, and it does not use one dime of school district money and would even save the district money. Maybe Mt. Tipton, and possibly others, should become a Charter school. Charter means better teachers, better curriculum, DISCIPLINE, .......

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

"KOAL gets the same per student allowance that KUSD gets yet is decides how many students it'll take (and discriminates on who those students are) and limits its pupil-teacher ratio."

Other than the discrimination statement...which is just opinion.....why is anything in this statement bad? They get the same amount of money PER STUDENT....so they are just getting the same amount of money as KUSD PER STUDENT? Not more? Where is the issue? KUSD spends about $6000 more PER STUDENT for the Mt Tipton HS. If it's just a money issue....those kids should be the best educated in the County.....why aren't they? My son is going to college in WA, pays about $1600 per semester for engineering courses. Here we have expenses for a college education just for a HS?

Limiting the student teacher ratio is a good thing....isn't everyone always complaining about class size?

Schools that perform should be used as models for the others. Schools that cost almost twice as much without excellent results should be eliminated or completely overhauled. Sometimes it's like an old car....you just need to junk it and start over.


Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: just a fact

Stop blaming KAOL and place the blame where it belongs. The district has over built elementary schools. The one on Prospect Avenue (off Airway) has not been used for an elementary school yet. The expensive renovation on Kingman South (LWHS) and then opening it when the Business Manager told them that there was only enough money for one year.
Maybe we need better management.



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