Gila County School Superintendent Armida Bittner has been named to the Arizona State Board of Education by Gov. Janet Napolitano.
Bittner, who will take the position allotted to a school superintendent on the 10-member board, says the appointment is a great opportunity to address some major education issues.
"Money is tight and the issues are great, but we really have to do as much as we can to keep our children healthy and educated," she said. "There are so many factors, especially legislative, that will impact on children's issues beyond education -- (including) the foster care area, the area of abuse."
The state board has responsibility for general supervision of the public school system, works with legislators regarding changes or additions to the statutes pertaining to schools, and aids in enforcement of laws relating to schools. The board also works with the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs state universities. Coincidentally Bittner is currently in the process of selecting the first governing board for the newly formed Gila County Provisional Community College District.
"We have over 40 applicants for five seats," she said. "I'll be working with a selection committee to interview them all over the next couple of weeks."
Bittner, who also will keep her position as county superintendent, says Rim country residents can take pride in the Payson Unified School District.
A former high school dropout, Bittner earned her GED and then went on to college, earning a BA degree in education and an MA in bilingual education. Before being appointed county superintendent in 1988, she worked for the Department of Economic Security on a number of children's issues. She has been re-elected county superintendent three times.
Bittner was recently named Hispanic Woman of the Year for Education by Via del Sol of Phoenix.
While the state Legislature has to formally approve her appointment, Bittner participated in the board's January meeting.