Consultants Hired To Help With Superintendent Search

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Moving quickly in the search for a new superintendent, the Payson Unified School District board hired a consulting firm at a special meeting Tuesday.

The Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) will run the replacement search after Superintendent Casey O’Brien announced last week he would retire in June.

Karen Beckdar, with the ASBA, will spearhead the search.

The school board hopes to have candidates identified by April 15 and one hired soon after.

“The ASBA offers a whole package for a price of $4,500,” said Barbara Underwood, school board chair.

Not every board member approved the decision, however, board member Kim Pound voted against the ASBA.

“I have a problem with the Arizona School Board Association,” he said, “I think there’s a lot of cronyism.”

The ASBA worked with O’Brien and the district in the past to improve the board’s effectiveness.

ASBA’s classes did not impress Pound. He said he does not think the organization has Payson’s best interests in mind.

Underwood said the school board has other options.

It could do the work of hiring someone itself, hire a firm to handle advertising only or pick a firm to handle everything but screening applicants. A national firm put in a bid of $10,000 to do the job ASBA said it could handle.

The ASBA will help the board define what it wants in a candidate, advertise the position and present applicants, Beckdar said.

Board member Rory Huff said the board, not ASBA should screen applicants. Pound agreed with Huff.

Despite Pound’s dissenting vote, the board hired the ASBA.

By Wednesday morning, Beckdar had created an online survey for the public to add their input into the search. Visit http://login.azsba.org/surveys and select “Payson USD Leadership Qualities Survey,” to join the conversation.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, Beckdar will facilitate a public meeting with the school board to discuss finding a candidate.

“(The planning meeting) is beyond what the job is,” said Beckdar. “It is what sort of leader (the board is) looking for.”

The board formally recognized O’Brien’s retirement at a recent meeting. “I’ve only worked with you for a year, but I’m sorry to see you go,” said Barbara Shepherd, school board member.

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