After devoting 25 years to Arizona education, Payson School Superintendent Russ Kinzer is heading for higher ground.
Kinzer, who has been Payson's school superintendent for seven years, submitted his resignation to the school board this week. He plans to retire in June and move to the northern part of the United States.
During its regular 5 p.m. meeting Monday, the Payson school board will consider accepting his resignation, which is set to become effective June 30, a year before Kinzer's three-year contract is up.
Kinzer started his education career in Arizona as an industrial arts teacher at Miami High School.
After four years, he transferred to Payson High School, where he taught vocational education for 10 years, worked as an administrative assistant in the district office for a year and served as associate superintendent for three years before becoming superintendent.
"I've been here 25 years and I'm ready for a personal and professional change," Kinzer said. "Last year I secured 80 points, which is what it takes to retire as a superintendent in Arizona.
"Every year I stay, I'm basically giving up my retirement benefits. This way I can collect my retirement and move on to do something else."
The school board plans to hire the Arizona School Board Association to conduct a nationwide search for Kinzer's replacement, school board president Ann Staveness said. The board will hold a public selection meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 29 to discuss the qualities Payson residents are looking for in their next school superintendent.
"The ASBA will screen the applications and submit first-round picks to the (PUSD) board for review," Staveness said. The board hopes to select a final candidate by mid-May, six weeks before Kinzer is scheduled to leave, to provide for a smooth transition.
"I really feel Mr. Kinzer has made a big contribution to the district," Staveness said. "Since he's been superintendent, he's made the district more accountable, raised our academic standards, and the district has grown very quickly and he's handled that very well.
"I think he's been an excellent superintendent and we're sorry to see him go. Hopefully, we'll be able to fill his shoes."