School District Lobbies For Change From 'Urban' To 'Rural'

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The Arizona School Facilities Board awarded $1,275,178 to Rim Country Middle School for remodeling, superintendent Sue Myers told the Payson Unified School District board at its April 9 meeting.

"I also addressed our classification as ‘urban,' since by every rule we look at, it appears we are rural," Myers said.

Because of her recommendation and the work teacher Cindy Chovich did on the issue, the facilities board is looking into Payson's classification.

"If we were reclassified, it would mean an additional $64,000 for the RCMS project," Myers said.

PUSD's board asked Bill Helmintoller of Sodexo Foods to provide them with more information on the cost of student meals in other school districts around the state.

At a later meeting, the board may make a decision about raising the cost of student breakfasts and lunches.

"We lobbied the government for better nutritional standards and having them is a good thing," Helmintoller said.

But offering healthier food, such as baked chips over fried, does not mean teens will like them better or buy them.

Although food and labor to prepare and serve the meals came down this year, as of March, the school meal program is still running approximately $4,000 in the red.

"We could be at the break even point at the end of the year," Helmintoller said.

School meal prices were raised in 2006/07 in an attempt to close the deficit gap.

At Monday's meeting, the board approved the purchase of new textbooks for the high school Spanish class.

"We still don't know if we have sufficient funds for textbooks for core subjects," said board member Charles Brown, as he inquired if new books were really necessary.

The students are using outdated textbooks and teachers are supplementing those books with copies from a 30-year-old text on grammar, said Payson High School principal Roy Sandoval.

There are slight grammatical changes in language over time and activities used to teach lessons change, he said.

When the board approves a textbook, it is up to the school's principal to determine how many are purchased. A student set and a classroom set are needed.

There is a recommended state cycle for new textbook purchase. The elementary schools follow it and Sandoval said PHS is trying to catch up with it.

The board also placed two music books and a novel for Advanced Placement English students up for public review.

Music teachers at the three elementary schools liked both texts, but only one will be purchased to align the three elementary school's music programs, said Frontier Elementary School principal Gail Gorry.

The board also approved staff contracts for the 2007/08 school year.

Curtis Beckel received recognition for an essay he wrote for an Arizona Alliance of Arts Education contest.

Beckel came in third place in the fourth through sixth grade category out of 385 submitted essays.

Sneed also recognized the fourth grader's school, Frontier, with a $50 gift certificate for its fine arts program.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for May 14.

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