New School Board Members Take Office

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Suzanne Jacobson/Roundup

School board president Viki Holmes (holding paper) swears in new board members Richard Meyer (left), Barbara Underwood and Matt Van Camp.

There was no tropical vacation in appreciation, but the three outgoing Payson Unified School District board members did collect some kind words as they formally served at their last meeting Monday.

“We can’t pay you and there are no trips to Tahiti,” said board president Viki Holmes as she thanked Don Engler, Charles Brown and Mike Horton.

“This is truly a labor of love and a sacrifice for the community,” said Superintendent Casey O’Brien shortly before Holmes swore in new board members Richard Meyer, Barbara Underwood and Matt Van Camp. The new board will take office in January.

After the swearing in, O’Brien quipped, “That was the easy part.”

Meyer, shortly after taking the oath, provided his first directive from his seat in the audience. Construction workers have been throwing their cigarette butts on Meadow Street, and Meyer requested that the area be kept clean.

While the new board members were campaigning, both Van Camp and Underwood strongly supported vocational programs.

Van Camp is a product of Payson’s automotive program and said he wanted to strengthen all the trade programs. He attended Payson schools from kindergarten through senior year and his daughter attends Julia Randall Elementary.

Underwood, who promoted the arts and music as indispensible for well-rounded youth, also spoke of increasing communication and camaraderie among district staff. She used to work at Payson High School and sat on a committee to pass November’s override.

Meyer advocated challenging the average student and creating a structured environment with no study halls, soda or candy, the latter two which he said cause sugary distraction.

Meyer is Payson’s coordinator for the Arizona Academic Scholars program, which encourages students to take difficult courses.

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