School Board Struggles To Adapt To Mandates

Payson Unified School District Office

Photo by Andy Towle. |

Payson Unified School District Office


The Payson School Board at its Sept. 10 meeting will continue its struggle to reconcile its goals with an avalanche of changes imposed by the state and federal government — usually without any money to fund the sweeping changes.

The board has to overhaul its goals to meet the national “common core standards” created by the federal “Race to the Top” mandates.

‘The state is now done with its vision and it’s now our turn to adopt and implement the goals,” said Ron Hitchcock, superintendent for the district.

The state received from the federal government a waiver of the 2001 Federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law that would have required virtually every child to perform at grade level in core academic areas.

“The federal government said, ‘We’ll give you waivers if you don’t want to be under NCLB — you just have to create your own standards,’” said Hitchcock.

At Monday’s meeting, the board will approve the district’s goals. (To read the four goals and their descriptions please or call the district office at 928-474-2070 or seek the link to the goals embedded in this story on our Web site).

The goals include:

• Rising student achievement

• The quality of district facilities will reflect the high quality of classroom instruction.

• Exemplary customer service.

• Excellence in board leadership

Hitchcock said Payson has often adopted changes in response to federal and state mandates, only to soon revert to business as usual. He said the new common core standards demand change by setting specific academic benchmarks in core subjects measured by standardized tests.

“In the past, the staff did evaluations because they had to, but they just got put in a file. Now our motive for evaluations is to improve teaching by illustrating what impact it has on student achievement in the classroom,” he said.

The board will also adopt proposed policy changes distributed by the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA).

“Every school district contracts with ASBA. Its attorneys write up the policies adopted by the state Legislature and distribute them to all schools,” said Hitchcock.

Some of the policies have to do with bidding and purchasing procedures, others with personnel and staff policies, and others with evaluation processes.

Two of the final agenda items have to do the legislative relations.

The board will vote to add Hitchcock to the roster of PUSD employees recognized as lobbyists for the district. While Hitchcock said he has no intention of being in Phoenix every day lobbying, he would appreciate any legislator he needs to speak with agreeing to do so. This vote will put him on the “official list” so legislators will recognize him as an advocate for the district.

The board will also vote on the top 10 political priorities for ASBA’s legislative lobbying.


Tim Fruth 4 years, 4 months ago

Excellence in Board Leadership. I think under current conditions that would be considered an oxymoron. As one board member recently commented. "I don’t have a light bulb in the sky."


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