Phs Names Anna Van Zile New Academic Dean

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Payson High School English teacher Anna Van Zile will round out Payson High School’s new administration next year, new PHS Principal Kathe Ketchem announced last week.

Ketchem, who also heads the district’s alternative school, Payson Center for Success, will also take on the high school next year.

Former PHS Principal Roy Sandoval’s position was eliminated due to budget cuts, as was one assistant principal position. The board chose not to renew the contract for assistant principal Tim Fruth.

The new administration will confront increasing graduation requirements while trying to maintain academic standards amidst a shrunken budget.

“Anna Van Zile is committed to quality education at Payson High School and to having a direct impact on student success and achievement,” wrote Ketchem in a news release.

“We are fortunate to have an administrator such as Anna who is invested in our children and community.”

Other changes, including scheduling, will also take effect next year. However, Ketchem said the bulk of reorganizing is still undetermined.

A former Arizona Rural Schools Association Teacher of the Year, Van Zile has for the past six years helped the Arizona Department of Education with reading and writing standards and standardized test assessments. More recently, she has sat on a state committee to review the new common core standards part of the federal education reform.

“Anna and I are and will be partners in the process of supporting staff, students and the community,” wrote Ketchem in the statement.

“We are committed to listening, engaging all in fact-finding, joint problem-solving, and solution finding that work for students and staff.”

An eight-person panel interviewed three people for the position, which was solely advertised for internally. Ketchem sat on the panel, as did three other teachers, two administrators and two parents. She declined to say who sat on the panel.

Already, several changes have been announced for next school year, including a change in class periods to meet state requirements. Students next year will take six, 60-minute classes instead of eight, 48-minute classes.

Ketchem said that until the school’s finances stabilize, this could impact the number of electives students can take. The decisions were driven by state vocational education guidelines.

Also, state graduation requirements are steadily increasing.

Beginning with incoming sophomores, students must take four years of math and three years of science — up from the three years of math and two of science required of incoming juniors.

Currently, the district is looking for a person to teach math and science, and will eventually have to add another math teaching position, said Superinten-dent Casey O’Brien.

O’Brien said the increased requirements could impact students who need to re-take failed classes.

Ketchem also said the number of electives students can take next year may be impacted because of recent layoffs and the condensed class periods. However, she anticipates offering more scheduling flexibility as future budgets offer more wiggle room.

“We’re always looking to improve and move forward,” said Ketchem. “We’re constantly seeking to have more effective scheduling — more efficient instruction for students.”

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