Julia Randall Elementary School Principal Rob Varner will act as Payson High School’s athletic director next year, the school board decided recently.
The district shaved the spot to part-time because of budget cuts. Last year’s athletic director also served as one of two high school assistant principals.
“To combine this into a part-time position is going to be a lot of work,” said board member Barbara Underwood. She said she called other school districts and discovered that athletic directors attend every game, and leave last.
Underwood worried that this amount of work would overly tax Varner, but said she also didn’t want to see the district spend money on stipends for other people to oversee games because of the district’s tight finances. The district recently eliminated 21 positions to solve a $1.2 million shortfall.
Superintendent Casey O’Brien assured her the situation constituted, “extraordinary measures for extraordinary times.” He acknowledged the incredible amount of extra work involved, but said other people will help.
Board member Richard Meyer wondered if the district had really minimized the impact to classrooms if it was still set to pay an athletic director out of its operations fund.
A few seconds of dead silence followed his question.
Finally, O’Brien said the district will save overall from eliminating librarian positions and the full-time athletic director spot although it will hire librarian aides and spend $10,000 on the athletic director stipend.
Plus, the district will collect money from fees.
“We’re spending a little so we can save a lot,” O’Brien said.
He added that current athletic director Jason Lobik wanted the district to fill his spot quickly so that Lobik could help smooth the transition.
Also, O’Brien said parents and other community members were calling the district, so he expedited the process.
Board member Rory Huff thanked O’Brien for hurrying. “I’ve received call after call,” he said.
Meyer asked if the job faced elimination should the statewide 1 cent sales tax election fail on May 18. If so, the district should just cut the position now, he said.
“I don’t think you can have athletics without a director,” said board member Matt VanCamp.
O’Brien said that the position would not be cut if the sales tax failed, but he would look to fund it somewhere other than the main, operations fund.