Unless staff changes are made down the road, Payson High School will function next school year without an athletic director.
That’s because PHS’s current AD Jason Lobik was among the nine staff members laid off March 29 as part of a district-wide budget-cutting move.
Administrators continue to sort through the layoffs and contingency plans, so it’s not yet certain how Lobik’s duties will be handled or who will assume them.
The situation seems doubly compounded with the appointment of Kathe Ketchem as a replacement for former PHS principal Roy Sandoval, who was laid off along with Lobik.
Sandoval, a former wrestling and baseball coach, and Lobik’s departure, along with Ketchem’s selection, leaves assistant principal Tim Fruth as the only PHS administrator with the experience, knowledge, and possibly desire, to carry out AD duties which can include scheduling, ensuring compliance with AIA rules, monitoring student eligibility, managing budgets, evaluating programs and attending athletic events.
The only problem is, Fruth could be hard strapped by his assistant principal duties, including student discipline, and not have time to oversee athletic programs.
Another problem created by Lobik’s dismissal is that the East region is filled with gung-ho athletic directors and head coaches eager to do what is best for their schools and programs — sometimes at the expense of other region schools.
So old school coaches are asking who will now look after Payson’s best interests when ADs and coaches gather to sort through tough decisions?
Lobik arrived in Payson in the summer of 2007 as a highly praised replacement for Dave Bradley, who had just months earlier stepped down as PHS AD.
Lobik was the selection committee’s unanimous pick among the 23 applicants.
Fruth, who was on the selection committee, ironically said the new AD, who had made previous stops at Ganado and Higley, “is looking for a place to stay a while.”
During Lobik’s tenure, he’s dealt with a number of thorny issues, including an East region realignment down to six schools in 2007, a controversial 3A power point system for playoff seedings, the out-of-state hawking of advertising on school calendars, the omission of the PHS softball team last spring from the state playoffs, an AIA-mandated computer scheduling system that wasn’t up to snuff and enough game postponements and cancellations to sadden the Good Humor man.
Lobik chose not to comment for this story, saying only, “Let me think about it.”