School Board Draws Up Its Wish List

Cost aside, board dreams of all-day kindergarten, no sports fees, bonuses and pay raises for teachers

Payson Unified School District Office

Payson Unified School District Office Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Payson School Board members took a deep breath last week and revealed their heart’s desires — regardless of the price tag.

Superintendent Ron Hitchcock had asked members of the board to give him their wish list, without considering the cost.

That felt like strange, new territory for some — including as Matt Van Camp.

“I could sit down and give a list of 20 things we could do for our school,” he said. “What can I tell Ron and the management team about how to reach those goals? I don’t have a light bulb in the sky.”

Hitchcock replied that if the board can refine its goals, then possibly during the budget process, the district will discover it has spent money on things the board doesn’t consider a top priority.

With that in mind, Barbara Underwood asked if the district or state could find a way to fund all-day kindergarten.

She also wanted to put hiring regulations in place to ensure the best and the brightest get hired.

And finally, she wanted to give the staff some sort of bonus.

“It’s been five years since we’ve done anything for employees in the district,” she said. “I’d like to see us do something as a thank you monetarily.”

Barbara Shepherd said she would like to make sure all the front desks at each school gave exemplary customer service. After visiting each school, she felt at many places she was “intruding on their day.”

She would also like to see the technology for the school upgraded. The other board members agreed with her.

But Shepherd admitted, “Everything I want to see has to do with money.”

Kim Pound said he’d like to see salaries increase in order to attract and retain the best people.

“Our salaries are not comparable to other districts,” he said.

Rory Huff, the board member with the longest tenure, tried to infuse verity into the discussion.

“Realistically, our funding will hamstring anything,” he said. But Huff still had a goal — he would like to see the charging of athletic fees go away.

He also offered some hope that board goals can make a difference. Huff said for the last three years the district has put improving the school grounds on the agenda. He believes the maintenance department has succeeded.

“I don’t know who is in charge at the middle school, but you could eat off those floors,” said Huff.

At the end of the discussion Hitchcock nodded his head, a smile on his face because he felt the board coming close to creating agreed upon goals.

“We’re real close to turning this into a document to go out there (which says) these are the four overarching goals for the district,” he said. “Then you can mean what you say, and say what you mean.”

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