Three Seats Open For Payson School Board

Payson Unified School District Office

Payson Unified School District Office Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Three of the five available Payson School Board seats are up for grabs in the November election.

Tonto Basin School District has one position out of three and the Pine/Strawberry School District has three out of five positions up for election.

Payson Unified School Board (PUSD) president Barbara Underwood, along with members Matt Van Camp and Kim Pound, currently hold the three seats up for election.

Underwood says she has picked up an election packet and plans on running.

Van Camp says he won’t run again.

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Matt Van Camp

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Kim Pound

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Barbara Underwood

“My job is too demanding,” said Van Camp during the school board’s annual summer retreat. He works for the Payson police department.

Kim Pound has told school board members he will not run again. As of press time, he was not available for comment.

Most residents don’t understand the hours the school board members volunteer to maintain school business.

The board approves the budget, hires and fires administrators, approves contracts and guides the school. For example, last year the school board voted to keep elementary class sizes smaller — after having increased them significantly the year before. That decision controlled where administration focused when recommending teacher layoffs this year.

The school board also approves building projects such as the parking lot solar panels and the adventure course.

Each year, the school board holds a daylong retreat to discuss policies and procedures.

“I would say a school board member averages about two hours a week in homework reading up to understand the issues,” said Underwood. “If it’s a controversial issue, it takes many hours.”

Underwood suggests anyone interested in running for the school board check out the information on the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Web site. ASBA has a webinar and testimonials, along with a brief quiz to help a potential candidate decide if they have what it takes to become a school board member (www.azasba.org).

ASBA’s Web site describes the job: “As a school board member, the decisions you make will affect children and their parents, the livelihood of school system employees and the economic well-being of your community.”

The process to get on the ballot requires a potential candidate to pick up an election packet that is available now at school district offices or the Gila County superintendent’s office.

The county superintendent’s office can answer any questions and gathers all signatures and paperwork.

“Before collecting petition signatures, a candidate must sign the $500 threshold disclaimer,” said Margie Velasquez from the superintendent’s office, which limits campaign spending.

The $500 threshold exemption statement protects the candidate from the need to create a political committee.

Candidates can spend more than $500, but must then list their donations and meet other campaign reporting requirements.

With other elected offices, such as county supervisor or treasurer, the candidate will likely spend more than $500 to get elected. Candidates spending more than that limit must create a committee with a campaign manager and treasurer, according to county elections requirements.

Candidates must gather 70 signatures on their petition before they can qualify for the ballot. Everything must be filed with the superintendent’s office by Aug. 8.

“They can start bringing in their packet on July 9, but it has to be in by Aug. 8 at 5 p.m.,” said Velasquez.

Members of the public interested in running may pick up an elections packet at any time either at the school district offices or the Gila County superintendent’s office. If a potential candidate would like to have a packet mailed to them, call the superintendent’s office.

The Gila County superintendent’s office is located 112 W. Cedar Lane in Payson. For more information, please call (928) 472-5371.

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