Essential That School Staff To Pull Together After Override Defeat

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The citizens, albeit by a very small margin, have chosen not to support the override. These are tough economic times for many, that is a given and well understood by all of us in the school district; however, for Payson Unified, the challenge to provide both a quality and comprehensive education just became more challenging. I’m not saying this to complain or grumble about the electorate.

As a wise educator once told me, life goes much smoother when you make reality your friend. We will move forward, optimistic, but certainly pragmatic. Rather than a special commentary on the override, I would like to share with the community, my letter that was sent to our employees on Wednesday.

As you are probably very aware by now, our maintenance and operations override was narrowly defeated this week. This is certainly disappointing; however, I want to reassure you that there is no immediate impact on any position or employee.

We are fully funded for all of our programs and positions throughout the balance of this school year. We have a terrific school district with outstanding teachers, administrators and staff. We will continue to be an outstanding school district with great employees. There is understandable anxiety given that the district must reduce our 2009/2010 budget by approximately $400,000 (one-third of the override) next year.

It is far too early to outline specifics. That is a process that will involve meetings, discussion and, eventually, determinations by our board a few months down the road.

Let me try to reassure you with what I can say with certainty:

We will look to absorb as much of the reductions necessary through attrition. That is, as we are informed of retirements and/or moves we can fill positions in-house vs. bringing in a new employee.

We will carefully examine all facets of our M&O budget to determine how we may operate more efficiently, saving dollars.

I will recommend to our board that they authorize an override ballot measure for one year from now. This is the soonest this can be done. Current economic conditions may have been a very significant factor in the outcome of this election. I believe that the core of our community supports our children and our schools. A special election next November may yield a much different result.

I will work diligently to minimize the negative impact of M&O reductions next year, but it is imperative that we bring back the override if we are to maintain, for the long-term, many of the programs that make our district a cut above most others. For now, know that I will seek to minimize the impact to our children by preserving as many of the programs we presently have in place as possible.

We do face some significant challenges. What is essential for our continued success, I believe, is that we pull together and continue to strive to maintain the level of excellence that we are known for. In this spirit, we can rise to successfully meet our challenges and continue to do what is best for Payson’s kids. Let’s continue to do the exceptional; continue to demonstrate by our words and actions our commitment to the mission:

Unite students, parents, staff and community to achieve the common purpose of academic excellence.

Lastly, let me assure you that I will make it a priority to keep all of you well informed and engaged with developments. I will seek your feedback and encourage your suggestions and dialogue to obtain outcomes that reflect collective and creative problem solving.

Thank you for all you do.

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