Originally published Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 02:04p.m.

School district consolidation has always been a powder keg in the Upper Verde Valley.

Now we have the announcement that the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board Tuesday potentially will push the consolidation question forward to the County School Superintendent’s Office for inclusion on the November 2018 ballot.

Should that occur, it could cause the consolidation powder keg to explode.

Certainly, such action will create consternation. Cottonwood-Oak Creek is running the risk of ruffling Mingus’ political feathers. It would not be out of the realm of possibility that a majority block on the Mingus board would view C-OC’s action as a violation of an agreed-upon process; that being allowing the consolidation study committee to complete its job and present both boards with a list of unification pros and cons. It could create ill will between the two boards to the point that Mingus steps away from the table.

Let’s hope that does not happen.

Reading between the lines, this potential action by Cottonwood-Oak Creek simply means the job of the study committee is to help Mingus make a decision concerning consolidation. It means Cottonwood-Oak Creek realizes this issue has been studied to death for more than 30 years. It means Cottonwood-Oak Creek has thoroughly educated itself on the pros and cons based on the volumes of information already available to both boards.

It means Cottonwood-Oak Creek is fully confident it is doing what it believes is best for the community and students.

Further, it means Cottonwood-Oak Creek is willing to continue its participation in the study committee to help Mingus come to a conclusion on what it wants to do.

One can fully understand why Mingus officials would become upset with this potential action by Cottonwood-Oak Creek. One can understand why they would consider it premature.

If that’s the case, let’s hope Mingus officials can put those feelings aside and continue due diligence through the study committee process.

In time, when Mingus has all the information it believes it needs from this study committee, the school board can move forward and likewise do what it believes is best for the community and its students.

Ultimately, let’s hope both districts are on the same page, serving the same students and the same community in a unifed manner.

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