SEDONA, Ariz. (Oct. 29, 2015) It’s no secret that when it comes to spending money on education Arizona ranks as one of the worst states in our country. Nor is it a surprise Arizona students are almost at the bottom of the barrel in academic performance.
With a state legislature continually cutting school budgets while increasing budgets for jails and other pet projects, schools in Arizona are reaching a critical mass where substandard education is becoming the norm rather than exception.
In an effort to address the challenges created by the crippling cuts in our schools and other factors including declining enrollment, the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District with the Arizona School Board Association are holding a second facilitator-driven roundtable forum to discuss the state of education and its impact on the SOCUSD, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, in the Hilton Sedona Resort ballroom, 90 Ridge Trail Drive.
The discussion will be moderated by Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Leadership Development Director Karen Loftus . Everyone in the community is asked to attend and members of the public are invited to participate as part of the roundtable as well.
Roundtables will be comprised of 25 randomly selected individuals representing parents and guardians, teachers and staff, community members and business owners. Those wishing to participate can apply online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BN9RV8G.
The deadline to apply is 4 p.m., Nov. 2. Participants will be randomly selected by ASBA representatives.
Also participating will be SOCUSD Superintendent David Lykins, all five Governing Board members, students and district administrators.
Declining enrollment coupled with devastating cuts in education are putting tremendous financial pressure on the Sedona school district, raising questions in the community whether school closings or a shorter school week might be necessary to continue operating as a viable school district.
The Nov. 7 roundtable is the second one to be held in Sedona since Oct. 15.
The first forum included presentations by Lykins, Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter, SOCUSD Finance Director Colleen Toscano, preceded by a discussion by community members and a question-and-answer period.
“We need to continue the dialogue and conversations to address this challenge in a collaborative fashion that is in the best interest of everyone,” Superintendent Lykins said. “We know for a fact that our enrollment is declining for a variety of reasons and it is up to the entire community to determine the most effective and efficient means of moving forward.”
Questions at the first forum touched on many subjects including whether four-day school weeks and closing of certain SOCUSD schools had been considered.
Lykins reported that no discussions of any schools being closed have taken place and that the financial challenges and the burden a four-day school week places on young families far outweigh any benefits.
“We have watched carefully as this situation has developed and we have presented our projections more than 30 times over the last two years to a range of groups in the community,” Lykins said. “We now need to come together as a community and work collectively to identify and develop workable, reasonable and effective solutions.”
For more information about the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District, visit www.sedona.k12.az.us.