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2/22/2013 6:01:00 AM
Alternate Mt. Tipton proposal put forth

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Dolan Springs resident and teacher Donna Wickard has a plan that she says will save Mt. Tipton School, improve the Kingman Unified School District and save the district approximately $2.4 million.

Wickard unveiled her plan at a town hall meeting in Dolan Springs Wednesday evening.

Kingman Unified School District Superintendent Roger Jacks was not available Thursday for comment.

Kingman Unified School District is looking at restructuring the Mt. Tipton School in Dolan Springs, closing La Sentia Elementary School and relocating Palo Christi students in order to cover a projected $1.1 million budget gap.

According to Wickard, her plan would increase the district's revenue by more than $962,000 by increasing enrollment in the district and cut expenses by $1.45 million by consolidating resources in specific schools, moving the district to a four-day school week, eliminating teachers on assignment and distributing kindergarten through sixth-graders evenly throughout the district.

Under her plan, all kindergarten through sixth-graders in the school district would go to their neighborhood schools.

Starting in seventh grade, students would have a choice of three schools they could attend: Lee Williams High School, Kingman High School or high school classes at Mt. Tipton.

Each of the three high schools would have a different mission, according to Wickard.

Lee Williams would focus on the school district's Cambridge Academy accelerated learning program.

Kingman High School would be a standard high school with core classes, vocational classes and college prep classes. It would also have the strongest concentration of sports teams in the district.

Mt. Tipton would also offer normal core high school classes and college prep classes with a concentration in environmental science, business technology and early childhood education. The school would also specialize in working with students with special educational needs.

"Why create two mirror image high schools?" Wickard asked, referring to Kingman High School and Lee Williams High School. "We need to focus on what our students really need and what they want."

Wickard would also shorten the school week to four days instead of five.

"There are a lot parents out there that are afraid of moving to a four-day school week," she said. "But that Friday could be used for after-school activities, such as sports, or to fulfill their public service requirement."

Wickard's plan would also require all students, starting with seventh-graders enrolled in the Cambridge program, to complete a certain amount of public service hours each year.

KUSD staff recommended last month that Mt. Tipton School be restructured as a kindergarten through sixth-grade school, which should save the district around $500,000.

Staff also recommended moving Palo Christi staff and students to Desert Willow Elementary and moving the pre-kindergarten program at Palo Christi to La Senita Elementary School.

ICT - Dr. Mohtaseb
Related Stories:
• Despite opposition, Kingman school district cuts Mt. Tipton
• Kingman school district finance chief fires back at critics
• Mount Tipton, other schools face changes

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

It is easy to dump abuse on me for putting forth an idea, even easier to refuse to study the finances of KUSD, although Rebecca has handed them up to you on a platter!

Anyone else notice that the trolls speak with a hood over their faces while all the defenders of Mt. Tipton use their real names? I will no longer answer the trolls who refuse to back up their behavior with names.

You are a coward if you can't even use your real name when you criticize me! Get up out of your chair and do something constructive!

Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

@ Think Tank

Why do you insist that I want to force Kingman preschoolers to attend Mt. Tipton? We have our own preschool-age children that attend our school, two sessions half-day that are always full and have waiting lists for the younger students....and is just enough to train the small population of students we serve. This program ALREADY exists except for the formal paperwork!

As for giving Mt Tipton back it's own district...we would prefer to do that rather than close our school, so please contact the school board and tell them you support the de-unification of our school districts rather than closing our school and forcing us on the bus!

Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Looks like the controversy is continuing and never ending!

Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
Article comment by: C. A. Rivera-Miller

Chuckling. Geez. Almost sounds like a Reality Show script. Here's a thought. Why don't we have the students vote on a couple options, then make decisions. I mean, it sounds like another excuse to banter back and forth. Anybody ask what the students think would work? Ask them what would keep them in school. Let the kids decide.They are smarter than a lot of people in this county think. My words are finished. Going out to read a book and watch the sun set.

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

@Your Idea Stinks

We would be in complete agreement except for one thing, in your experience, you did not have a high school in your community, we do. We work hard to improve and maintain it for our children.

Also, I appreciate your opinion that we should be a pre-8. We will agree to disagree. We have a school that is a pre-12, and it is not draining you and the others in Kingman. Why should we give it up?

Also, I find it disrespectful for you to assume that we are not involved and caring parents out here. I do however understand that in Kingman, you are given a very distorted perpective of our school and community. Like you, we have parents who are very involved, like myself, and likeyou, we also have those who are not highly invested in their childs school career. Please do not insult me and my community in regards to our parenting. I would not disrespect you or your community in that way.

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: Your Idea Stinks!

@ Rebecca For 10 years I was bussed to Kingman for school. I know just what it is like to ride that bus from out of Kingman. We were a lucky kids to be able to go to the Kingman schools. We were moved from school to school in our early years because the Kingman district could not make up their minds just which school we should attend until we entered Jr. High. It was either our parents drove us 26 miles to Wikieup everyday or we rode the bus 25 miles to Kingman. They chose to get permission for us to ride the bus. We were very thankful for that opportunity. All outlying schools had only 1st - 8th grades at that time and all high school students were bussed into Kingman. Why should your kids be any different than the rest? Other than the fact that you will be now responsible for getting your kids to the bus stop on time and making sure you are back at the bus stop getting them after school. Yes they are going to have to be parents. Take an active role in their kids schooling. It will not hurt them one bit to ride the bus. If your not happy with these arrangement then you can drive them to school and bring them home or home school the kids. We as tax payers in the city AND out of the city should not have to foot your bill on the high school end of this decision. In my opinion your school should only be pre-K-8 just like the rest of the County. Figure out a way to make it work that way then you will probably get the needed help you want.

Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

@ Original Kingman resident....

Your statement, "How on earth could it be possible that "KHS lost 1.3 million dollars in revenue to LWHS"? Both of those schools and Mt Tipton are part of KUSD. They are not competing with each other for revenue.

What is the difference between Tipton and LWHS then? KHS revenue is supporting LWHS by having their potential students sent there.

As for the 1.3 mil.... KHS has 1.3 million dollars less to pay for their large school. They must also endure painful cuts to balance the budget.

$2000 more per student than LWHS...FALSE! And the only reason that this number will come down at LWHS is that they will be shipped 240 more students who would have gone to KHS. Another 1.3 mil.

Forced busing is not being suggested. Our students can go to KIngman, and 54 of them do. The other 200 or so, chose to stay at their community school. We also pay taxes, and we do not wish to be forced to ship our kids to KIngman.

Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident


How on earth could it be possible that "KHS lost 1.3 million dollars in revenue to LWHS"?

Both of those schools and Mt Tipton are part of KUSD. They are not competing with each other for revenue. The district is in the process of deciding how to best spend its money to best meet the needs of all the students in the district.

The first article about KUSD's plans to restructure the schools stated that the cost per student will decrease at LWHS as successive grades are added each year.
Mount Tipton still spends over $2,000 more per high school student than LWHS, but there is no condition at Mt Tipton that will lower the amount with time.

The Cambridge program at LWHS sounds like a great program. It attracts students who want to excell and will help KUSD keep those students and attract students who might otherwise go to KAOL or an on line school, without having to bus the students 40 miles out of Kingman. This sounds like a wise way to spend limited dollars.

The only ones who seem to be drinking Kool-Aid are you and Donna W. It seems that many people, (who pay taxes that fund the district by the way), are not in favor of spending 3 times the amount that is spent per student on KHS students to keep Mt Tipton HS open. Nor do they sound enthusiastic about bussing numerous students out to Mt Tipton.

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

@your idea stinks! I appreciate your opinion. If I lived in Kingman, and I did not know any better, I might be saying the same things. But I do know the difference. You are also correct when you say that we got what we wanted. We wanted to add a highschool to our existing school. We got that, and in return, KUSD got a large sum of money. Now we are cry babies because we will not lay down and needlessly die. I believe that the other members of KUSD would be screaming as well if they were being unjustifiably pushed into a corner and their children were about to be force bused to Tipton.
Again, please do a personal search of the numbers in each school before you judge. Not one word was ever mentioned in any board meeting for at least the last 8 years, of the 'financial disaster' that is supposed to be Mt. Tipton, until 1 week after the announced opening of LWHS. Suddenly the finance director is saying that our special needs education is 2.4 million dollars in deficit spending status. Our 'fully funded' preschool program is 200k in deficit spending. Where do you think that the money to cover that is coming from? Yes, you are correct....everybody elses schools! Please do your homework.

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: Your idea Stinks!

What a bunch of cry babies.. You choose to unify with the Kingman school district many years ago... Now you have what you asked for. Owen's Whitney is much farther out, for the last 50 plus years all high school age kids from all the outlying areas rode the bus into Kingman. Now your children are so stressed and tired to ride a bus? That is a so sad that "we" as tax payers have to support your school at your convenience. If you are not happy get out of the district and start your own school, save the district money and fund it yourself.

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: Rebecca Smith

To all who have drank the kool aide and are now chanting the battle cry of 'close Tipton'....have you all studied the numbers for your selves?? How do you KNOW that Tipton cannot sustain itself?? Until you do, do not suppose that the information is accurate. By the way, Lee Williams spent $11,000.00 per student last year. KHS lost 1.3 million dollars in revenue to Lee Williams last year and will do the same this year. Where are the reflected cuts t KHS? My suggestion.....stop verbally abusing each other and tear into those numbers. That is where the answers lie.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Close Mt Tipton School

And Rick live by your own philosophy - you chose to move to the outback, live with it.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: This Latest Proposal is Only Supported by Mt Tipton

Donna, you ask Ron and others to come up with a plan. We have, we support the proposal to close the high school at Mt Tipton. And I might add examine the possibility of closing the entire school unless you and others in the Don't-touch-our-school camp can't lower the pupil costs to those of the rest of KUSD.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: An Involved Parent of KMS

"Bullying is rampant and so are bad test scores at both KMS and White Cliffs." And this statement is based on what?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Close Mt Tipton

No, Donna those special ed costs are not "locked in". We can "unlock" them very quickly - just close the entire Dolan Springs school.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Some of Us Aren't Fooled

Good job, Think Tank.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Close Mt Tipton

Now isn't Donna's solution cleaver. Cleaver yes, practical no. She accomplishes her goal - to save her Dolan Springs schools. Yet it will be tremendously inefficient. She wants to draw students from the Kingman area all the way up to Dolan Springs instead of transporting the few students up there down to Kingman. Nice try, Donna. Let's use the words from another comment - you live in the (outlying areas), deal with it.

The solution is close Mt Tipton, or go private, or take advantage of the juicy offerings called charter schools.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Carol Ann Rivera-Miller

When there was the issue of bussing students across town in Las Vegas for their answer to integration, it was faced with much objection. I chose to Home School through Home Schools United. This type of education offers students the opportunity to actually spend their time learning the subjects required to graduate or just prepare for life in general. Less time in front of videos. The interaction with more students came with special events created by the parents who were involved. One alternative to think about.
Another big question here seems to be with where the money for Mt. Tipton will come from. What happened to last years' plan to hire a "Grant Writer" to dig up some funds to use towards the expenses? Another alternate plan to consider. The increased attempts to improve safety at our schools is costly right? This is already in place at Mt. Tipton. Whoever built this school, did so with the full safety of the students in mind. Then we got the substation with the Sheriff's officers right at the school. Mt. Tipton, therefore, would not require the expenses of increasing security. Why not use Mt. Tipton as a training center for more officers to get to be placed at other schools. The Sheriff's Department could contibute funds to the school for saving this necessity at this location. It has also helped deter the violence that may occur.
One more thought. Dolan Springs is a town of mostly retired people. These residents will be relying on these students to assist them in the future. Why not start some sort of "Sponsorship" program for the residents to donate a per student amount. With all the new tax issues, this would be a great deduction & make the kids feel special to have someone care for their continued education.
As far as new teachers wanting to come out here. There are several just waiting for this mess to be cleared up. New faces! New attitudes! Not related! Not just using Mt. Tipton as a stepping stone to another position!LOVE TO TEACH!

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Sherwood

@ concerned citizen

you're given your namesake a bad name. YOU are anything but concerned?

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Think Tank

Donna, I again appreciate your passion for this issue. I honestly want to like the ideas you put forth and I would like to see a logical way to save Mt. Tipton. I simply don't see it. To answer your points:
1 and 2) I understand Mt. Tipton already has its own preschool. The only point I was making is that you said that Mt. Tipton should specialize in early education and special education. If you are going to specialize in something I am just assuming you would want more students that fit that mold at your school. Saying require was a poor choice of words on my part and I apologize. The point I will still raise to you though is why do you feel it is prudent for special needs and preschool children to take the bus ride out to Mt. Tipton? Your complaints about the bussing in to Kingman are well documented. These problems are compounded with special needs and early education students. Why then would you even ask parents to put their special needs students through that when they have services available much closer?

As for the preschool program going to La Senita, why close La Senita in the first place? Moving the Little Explorers program and closing La Senita will cost the district more money than if they just redistributed the Palo Christi students throughout the district.

3) I think you might be on to something. Why don't we let Mt. Tipton be its own district again? That way you can save the school and budget it and KUSD doesn't have to complain about funding it. This seems like the only logical solution to me.
WC 22

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Former Teacher

Before we jump to conclusions, you'd need to provide a better and much more in-depth analysis of what Black Mountain successful while KMS and White Cliffs were not. Data needs to shown that correlates Black Mountain's performance with its establishment as a community school before such claims can be made.

How exactly are we going to make this plan sustainable with the resources currently at Mt. Tipton? Building space is limited at the school and there's one teacher per subject in the middle/high school? How can Mt.Tipton offer anything but the core classes for middle and high school? Are you going to ask a teacher to teach an additional 2-3 classes when they are overloaded with 5-6 different classes to prep for? If you include these additional classes, where would the classroom space be?

Mt. Tipton performed better last year in scores than KHS but what about this year? Problems had become so severe that the principal had to be transferred! This doesn't strike much confidence. If there was data that showed the students progressing even further this year, I'd be more hopeful.

Another issue would be staffing. The turnover rate for teachers has been high in the district as well as Mount Tipton. How will the plan guarantee teachers will stick around? Money's tight so that rules out financial incentives, coupled with limited extra-curriculars outside of the workplace, you're bound to lose a few to bigger cities such as Flagstaff and Phoenix.

From what I've observed this plan does seem very vague and catered towards keeping Mt. Tipton as a k-12 school with very little input from other schools. I do sympathize that sending kids from the outer communities to Kingman for school adds a lot to their day but there are more opportunities for them, including possibilities of gaining college credit while in high school. Are the kids at Mt. Tipton aware of the opportunities available for them at Kingman, including a myriad of sports year round? We see great deal of support to keep the middle and high school open but will this not help students who want to be academically challenged and be involved in extra-curriculars get into a school that already offers these? KHS and Lee Williams both have the resources.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: rebecca smith

@concerned citizen....all I can say is WOW!!!!

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: rebecca smith

I would simply suggest to anyone who actually is interested in understanding the plan, to talk directly to Donna. If you wish to understand our position on finances, you can contact me. Anything else is just blind stabs in the dark using incomplete information.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

Bullying is rampant and so are bad test scores at both KMS and White Cliffs. The only successful middle school in the district is Black Mountain. What can we learn from them? One thing we know for sure--it is a small community school.

The district itself is proposing an expensive expansion of the unpopular "teachers on assignment" program that inflates administration at the cost of instruction, as a way to control both issues. I would hope, Mr. Bahre, as a talented and respected veteran middle school teacher, that you would appreciate seeing the student population lowered and wasteful administration cut, rather than technology or teachers, at a time when we do not have enough money for any waste in the district at all!

Ron, rather than take the negative path, why not get together and make a plan that works for everyone?

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

The devil is in the details....

1. Mt. Tipton already has it's own pre-school and I would never suggest that a child that young be bused that distance, nevermind the whole school. My plan actually has the pre school going to La Senita to equalize the cost of aministration and maintenance and give full access to KHS students in their Early Childhood program.

2. I never suggested that ALL or even MOST special education students be moved to Mt. Tipton. What we have said is that there are already students using special education resources at Mt. Tipton that the district is required by law to serve with specialists. With those costs already locked in, and nothing you, I, the school board, Jan Brewer or anyone else can do to remove them, we might as well encourage other special ed students who WANT to attend a small school that can better serve their specific needs, to attend this program that is already funded by law. Even if you close our high school and force EVERY OTHER 7-12 student to go to Kingman, you will not be able to force these few students on that bus, so why not make the most of it?

3. 54 7-12 students from the Mt. Tipton attendance area currently attend either White Cliffs, KHS or Lee Williams. We could insist, that since Mt. Tipton actually performs better than either of those schools, that the busing to Kingman be stopped. Instead, we propose that 9-12 students in the Golden Valley area be given the choice to attend Mt. Tipton, Lee Williams OR KHS. How can more choices possibly be a bad thing? We think that there are enough of those students who want to attend our school that we can keep the road open for everyone!

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