Recently I submitted my letter of resignation to the Payson Unified School District Transportation Department for a number of reasons, the least of which is pay. My main concerns are: 1) Student and school safety; 2) Working conditions and pay scale; 3) Concerns with the elected school board and administration.
The safety issue is obvious. Most of the transportation fleet is more than 10 years old and vehicles are worn and becoming costly to repair. I commend their shop personnel and drivers for keeping them on the road and maintaining a good safety record in the process.
PUSD is perpetual training ground for bus drivers, resulting in a tremendous expense for the entire district. The majority of bus driving positions are limited to five hours per day or less, exempting them from benefits. Some drivers are holding down two or more jobs to make ends meet. Approximately 60 percent of the drivers are retired with other incomes.
During my limited time employed by PUSD, I realized that there are many elected school board members who have no idea of how the educational system is structured in relation to state and county government regulations and procedures. In addition, some have agendas that are not those of the majority of the taxpayers, students or district employees they represent. The big issue that comes to mind is adoption of the 2007-08 school calendar. Many Payson residents I have spoken with indicated extreme satisfaction with the modified year-round calendar that the board voted against.
Before electing future school board members, please check each candidate's qualifications and background. Remember, they make decisions that affect the taxpayers and everyone in the school system.
The above observations are based on my background in and knowledge of town and county government laws, regulations, procedures and the budgeting process. I have served a total of more than 15 years in elected government positions, including three, four-year terms as a councilman-mayor for the Town of Parker.
After selling my business in 1989, I worked for the Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix as a plant foreman. I retired from that district in 1997, and a year later returned as a bus driver for another seven years. My professional, state and county government experience and knowledge causes me to have great concern regarding the ability and qualifications of some administration and department heads, as well as the elected school board members of PUSD.
Ronald L. Morris, Payson
Editor's note: This letter was shortened to fit within the 400-word limit for letters to the editor.