Teachers Speak Out Against Recent School Calendar Change

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At Monday's Payson Unified School District board meeting, the newly adopted 2007-2008 school calendar was not on the agenda, but two dozen teachers and another dozen parents asked to address the board on the subject.

Of that number, nine were given time to speak.

One woman spoke for the decision and nine spoke against it.

"(The board's decision) has polarized our teachers from those above them ... we have no voice. Our voice was the SAC (school superintendent's advisory committee)," said Julia Randall Elementary School teacher, Trevor Creighton.

Frontier Elementary librarian, Julia Ekhardt, agreed. "Given all the people here to talk about the calendar, please reconsider your decision and take into consideration how deeply the teachers feel about this," she said. "What is best for the children should be considered first. Who better to tell you of the student's needs but the people who are with them all day?"

Wayne Gorry, a Frontier Elementary School teacher, said the decision to change the school calendar was hurting staff morale.

"If staff absenteeism is a genuine problem the school board could address that problem rather than making it the calendar scapegoat," Gorry said.

Because the school calendar was not an agenda item, there was no further discussion and no action was taken.

In other school board news, the board reviewed $1,116,000 of requests from schools as they set about the business of determining where to allocate $403,294 in carry-over funds and $271,000 from a Microsoft rebate.

When the board voted to spend $356,500 of the carry-over funds as follows:

  • $29,000 on two vans
  • $7,500 to equip one of those vans with a wheelchair lift.
  • $50,000 to replace the evaporative coolers at the Wilson Dome gym with air conditioning. Of the five evaporative coolers, only three work and they are doing so with parts borrowed from the two that do not work.
  • $29,000 to replace the Payson Center for Success roof.

The balance of the $356,500 will be used for district technology upgrades.

These upgrades will include the computer network and file servers, a district time clock system and Anywhere Learning System software titles for all schools that incorporate varied instructional delivery (mixed media).

District Superintendent Sue Myers said she believed the carry-over funds are being spent in the best possible way to help the district and the children.

The board also approved a request for an additional full-time teacher position at Rim Country Middle School for one semester.

That person will teach sixth-grade social studies, one sixth-grade language arts class, one eighth-grade language arts class and two eighth-grade social studies classes.

Personnel funds were allocated for a math teacher at Payson High School, but that position was not filled. That unused teacher's salary will be used to pay the RCMS position.

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