Final 5

Community invited Friday to hear superintendent of schools candidates


Payson Unified School District (PUSD) has five finalists in its search for a replacement for retiring superintendent Casey O’Brien.

The five finalists have all held jobs as superintendents. The field includes only one candidate from Arizona, Beaver Creek superintendent Karin Ward, who lives in the Verde Valley. Out-of-state candidates include South Dakota State University adjunct professor Tim Creal; former Pike County superintendent Paul Roads from Indiana, East Washington School Corporation superintendent Cathy Egolf from Indiana and Multnomah Education Service District superintendent Ron Hitchcock from Oregon, who also served on the Mapleton city council.

The five candidates will come to Payson for two days of activities. According to state law, each candidate must pay for his or her own travel, room and board costs.

Today, Friday, March 30, candidates will tour the school district and have lunch with business and community leaders.

Friday evening at 5:30, the school board has invited the public to participate in a forum in the boardroom at 902 W. Main St. The community will have the chance to submit questions to individual candidates.

“This is your chance as a community to ask any question and listen to the candidates’ positions" said school board chair Barbara Underwood.

The school board will give each person who attends a chance to write out a comment or question for the candidates. Each candidate will then separately enter the boardroom to address the public individually.

“Everybody gets to hear the same thing,” said Underwood, “With this process, you’ll hear everything.”

On Saturday, March 31 the school board will conduct closed session interviews with all the candidates until 3:30 p.m. At that time, the school board members will discuss the merit of each candidate.

They may decide to choose a finalist and offer a contract or delay the process for further consideration.

About the Finalists


Dr. Tim Creal

Dr. Tim Creal

Currently working as an Adjunct Professor at South Dakota State University in Education Management, Creal has also served as superintendent at the Custer School District and the New Underwood District, both in South Dakota.

Black Hills State University recently honored Creal in 2010 with its Excellence in Education award. According to Black Hills State University, Creal has the following philosophy regarding education: “I view education as a way of life... not a job. When you treat it that way, it is evident that your life is about others and not about you.”


Karen Ward


Currently employed by the Beaver Creek School District, Ward won the Small Schools Award from the Arizona School Administrators Association this month, the Camp Verde Bugle reported. The award recognized her efforts to go “beyond the boundaries of the school district” and think outside the box to aid her schools. Her tenure has seen flat enrollment numbers, frozen salaries and passage of a bond to pay for a new multi-purpose building.


Paul Roads


According to the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), Roads worked as a superintendent for many years in Indiana, including Pike County. Unique from the other candidates, Roads went back into the classroom in Cave Creek and Deer Valley, Ariz. as a special education coordinator for math and English. “He can offer the perspective of a teacher,” said Karen Beckvar, the ASBA representative coordinating the Payson superintendent search.


Cathy Egolf


Currently the superintendent at the East Washington School Corporation in Indiana, Egolf spent a year in Salome, Ariz. as the Bicentennial Union High School #76 superintendent in 2001. She has degrees from Purdue University and Indiana University in Bloomington. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that Egolf saved her district 16 percent on construction costs of a new 150,000-square-foot building with a capacity for 925 students by taking advantage of a new state bill that allowed officials to negotiate costs.


Ron Hitchcock


According to the Multnomah Education Service District, as superintendent, Hitchcock oversees a student body of 92,000 students. In an article by the Deseret News, Hitchcock served as Mayor Pro-Tem of Mapleton, Ore. in the early 1990s after serving as a city council member.


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