Analysis Shows Continued School Population Decline For Years

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The Payson Unified School District maintenance staff has been busy preserving the district’s capital in the last year, but with enrollment expected to drop 8.7 percent during the next five years, the school board has no plans for new construction.

Superintendent Casey O’Brien said regression analysis shows a continuing decline in enrollment at all grade levels, but this comes as no surprise, with Payson’s overall population declining since the recession hit several years ago.

While the district will see a continued loss in the number of students, it is difficult to pinpoint how large it will be.

O’Brien presented the findings at Monday’s school board meeting as part of the district’s 2012 capital plan prepared for the Arizona School Facilities Board.

According to the report, the district’s student population this fall has decreased 5.4 percent, with a loss of 131 students.

K-5 took the biggest hit, with a loss of 9.5 percent, the high school followed with a loss of 3.25 percent and the middle school had a .15 percent loss. However, the district also had 70 high school students join from other districts.

PUSD has no new construction project requests for the upcoming year.

The district’s maintenance and transportation departments have had a busy year, repairing existing buildings, tearing down old ones.

Todd Poer, director of maintenance and transportation, gave an update on the department’s goals and what it has accomplished in the last 12 months.

Successes include meeting all demands and requirements established for the departments at the beginning 2010 school year. This list includes preventive maintenance and responding to a myriad of emergencies that required immediate attention, including, leaking roofs, broken water pipes, flooded classrooms and lightning strike damage, Poer said.

Other projects include:

• Demolishing three outdated portable classroom trailers, helping construct the challenge course and rekeying the entire PHS campus.

• Painting the interior of the gymnasium at the middle school.

• Relocating the Julia Randall Elementary School kindergarten playground to the Payson Elementary playground.

• Rekeying JRE after the master key was lost

• Closing Frontier Elementary

• Reconfiguring bus routes

• Installing power for new ceiling-mounted projectors at most of the schools.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the school board approved hiring Louis Crabtree as Payson Virtual Academy’s Spanish teacher. Crabtree currently teaches Spanish full time at the high school. Crabtree will assist students taking courses online, proctor tests and create in-person projects.

Crabtree’s position is funded through an additional course fee, O’Brien said.

In addition, Ted Tatum was hired as a home instruction tutor.

Occasionally, students homebound due to medical reasons need extra help. Tatum will make home visits several days a week, or as needed, to assist these students.

O’Brien said there are only a few students who need the additional help currently, but that number can change at any time.

Finally, the school board made no decision on whether administrators should be allowed to coach sports and the left the status quo in place, which lets O’Brien determine if there is any conflict.

O’Brien said some people had expressed concern in the past that an administrator acting as a coach could create conflicts.

After discussing the issue, however, the school board said having administrator coaches could be a good thing as long as it does not take away from their duties, O’Brien said.

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