They may not be technically unified, but the consortium between the Colorado River Union High School and Bullhead City Elementary School Districts is getting the results you might expect from unification. On Monday, the governing board of both districts enthusiastically put their stamp of approval on a formal agreement for another year of consolidated efforts between the two district.
It’s estimated that more than $550,000 has been saved during the first two years of the consolidated structure. Most of the savings is in administrative costs, but there have been added benefits realized from transportation and technology services. It was two years ago when Riley Frei became the superintendent of both district while Benje Hookstra was hired as assistant superintendent. Together they have overseen the operations of six elementary and two high schools.
“We’re fortunate to have administrators that work well together,” said Bullhead City School Board President Kory Burgess. “We’d love to have unification, but we keep running into stumbling blocks.”
“I would love it if we were all unified,” said Colorado River High School Board President President Lori Crampton. “You can see the amount of money that we’ve saved just with the two (districts).”
While saving money may have been the driving force behind consolidation, it wasn’t the only benefit being sought. Streamlining the curriculum so that students transitioning from one district to the other– eighth grade into high school– wouldn’t be negatively impacted was also seen as a potential benefit of working closely together. Frei says, the teachers in both districts have taken the situation to heart over the past two years. He claims teachers are feeling a much stronger sense of responsibility for seeing a student all the way through high school graduation.
“I feel that the main thing that is most noticeable is the shared accountability for student achievement,” Frei said. “We regularly have teachers and administrators from both districts working together on curriculum mapping and then reporting out their data to each other.”
“Doing this helps the high school folks feel more vested in the junior high programs and the elementary folks more accountable for high school graduation rates,” he added.