Payson school board members are generally satisfied with themselves and their accomplishments, although they could talk more with the community about the district’s money problems and curriculum, according to a recent self-evaluation.
In a series of general statements that members made anonymously, one member felt that the middle school leadership fell short of expectations and another expressed disappointment that nobody attends board meetings.
“How do we get more input from the community?” wondered member Matt Van Camp at a Monday night meeting.
Member Rory Huff said he and fellow member Barbara Underwood have attended meetings of various service groups in town, briefing them on the district’s financial position.
Ease up on yourselves, said Superintendent Casey O’Brien about the board’s communicating with residents about finances. “You got an override passed.”
A general comments portion on the survey allowed members to expand on the district’s upcoming challenges, recent accomplishments and overall weaknesses.
Members worry about the ongoing budget deficit, declining enrollment and weak math test scores.
However, they’re proud of passing the budget override in March, keeping the recent $1.2 million in cuts away from the classroom and of starting the state’s largest solar project for schools, which will provide most of the district’s electricity once completed.
On the survey, members could answer either “satisfactory,” “neutral,” or “unsatisfied” on a series of questions that surveyed their opinions on their relationship with O’Brien, with the community, with district staff and with each other.
No member expressed dissatisfaction for any response.
Out of 20 questions, all four members marked “satisfied” on half.
Three out of four members said they were neutral on whether the board seeks community input about the district’s instructional needs.
Also, three out of four members answered, “neutral,” about whether members informed the community about the district’s finances.
One board member, in the general comments section, worried about the district’s ability to retain the current superintendent and staff.
Last spring, Roosevelt School District in Phoenix announced that O’Brien had risen as one of its top three choices for a new schools chief. O’Brien later withdrew his application after growing irritated with what he said was the procrastination of Roosevelt’s school board.
Board members felt most confident in their relationships with each other and with the district’s administration.
They felt least confident with their relationships with staff and to curriculum.