Julia Randall Elementary School's brand new first-grade teacher met with her class for the first time Monday.
The Payson Unified School District board of education voted unanimously to hire the extra first grade teacher at JRE to alleviate large class sizes. The decision pleased a large contingent of parents who packed the meeting room at the school district office on West Wade Street.
Superintendent Herb Weissenfels anticipated having to hire a substitute temporarily, but the new teacher, Maria Cummings, was available to start immediately. With the addition of another teacher, first grade class size at JRE drops from 27 to 19.
Sixth-grade class size
Issues of class size dominated the school board meeting. In a related matter, Art Rogers, the parent of a sixth-grade student, addressed the board regarding large class sizes at that grade level.
"I think the school district might be making a mistake in some of the allocations of teacher resources, specifically with the sixth grade," Rogers told the board. "I know you're under tight funding regulations and you can't do things that you don't have money for, but I'm concerned about the sixth grade in particular because it is the first grade when you get out of elementary school.
"The class sizes right now are anywhere from 30 to 35 and I think everybody would probably agree that is not ideal."
Rogers provided the board with information that showed that the average class size is 25 nationally, while Arizona's average class size is 28. As a long-term solution, Rogers suggested a budget override supported by a tax increase.
"But that's not going to solve the problem here this year," he told the board. "I'm not an expert on where the funds are, but I would suggest for a short term that you ask the question: If we decided to hire an additional teacher what would be sacrificed, where would the funds come from? That's a question that needs to be looked at."
Following his presentation, board President Viki Holmes asked Rogers to talk to Weissenfels about forming a committee to look into a possible override election.
"That's how many of the schools in the Valley do a lot better -- because their constituents will vote for overrides for various programs," Holmes said.
PHS dress code amended
The board also approved a modification in the Payson High School dress code that will ban hats from being worn in classrooms.
"A couple years back there was a sentence put in there that would allow hats to be worn in the classroom at the teacher's discretion," Weissenfels said. "We're taking that sentence out at the request of the high school administration. The reasoning behind it is that the kids are not subject to a standard set of rules all day long, so they're trying to develop a little more consistency."
RCMS mold abatement
Finally, the board approved two items that will allow mold cleanup work to proceed at Rim Country Middle School, including decontamination of evaporative cooling units and a biocide wipedown.
Payson School District's dress code
- Only tailored shorts and skirts that are hemmed may be worn in grades kindergarten through twelve.
- Bare midriffs, halter tops, and spaghetti straps are not acceptable past the third grade.
- Bare feet are never acceptable. In the interests of student safety, shoes must be worn at all times. Closed shoes are to be worn for any type of physical activity, such as physical education, etc.
- Jewelry shall not be worn if it presents a safety hazard to self and/or others.
- Profane or defamatory writing on clothing or jewelry is not acceptable.
- No bandannas of any color, size, or shape may be carried or displayed in any classroom or at any school activity. This also includes simulations of anything representing "colors."
- No hats may be worn (by staff members or by students) in a classroom, unless it's properly approved occupational safety headgear requred for special classes.
- Properly approved occupational safety headgear required for special classes.
- Gang-related personalization is not permitted on hats, on items of clothing, or on one's person.
- Obscene language or symbols, or symbols of drugs, sex, or alcohol on clothing are expressly prohibited.