Superintendent Search Launched

Payson School Board wants to interview candidates in January

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Ron Hitchcock

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Shirley Dye

For the past few months, each time the Payson Unified School District board has faced a decision that involves spending money, it has balked — except when it came to searching for an interim superintendent.

At its Dec. 6 meeting, the board unanimously and easily voted to look for someone to replace former superintendent Ron Hitchcock, who will leave by Dec. 31.

The board only struggled with dates for keeping the position posted and an interview schedule.

“ASBA (Arizona School Board Association) has a service — I think it is a free service,” said board president Barbara Underwood. “They have interim superintendents on staff, they can post openings for an interim superintendent, you can go with a national search, or more local.”

“Open it up for in-state in Arizona for seven days, and then a week from Thursday and make a decision,” said board member Rory Huff.

“That’s quick and fast and statewide,” said Devin Wala.

But Shirley Dye had a concern.

“Are we neglecting to look at the possibilities within our community?” she said.

Her question made the five members stop and think.

Then Director of Technology Joni de Szendeffy spoke up and said the process need not be rushed because the district has a strong leadership team.

Abruptly, the board decided to keep the post open until the end of December, review candidates the first week in January and start the interview process by Jan. 6.

At its last meeting of the year on Dec. 16, the board approved letting Director of Student Achievement Brenda Case sign on accounts. Case’s job description includes a provision that allows her to fill in as superintendent.

However, the elephant in the room wears a vest labeled, “Interim Superintendent Salary.” The board has not publicly stated a salary range for the new position, but it will pay former Superintendent Ron Hitchcock $58,000 for the remaining six months on his contract.

Comments

roy sandoval 3 months, 3 weeks ago

This is an important issue. The Board President is quoted in regard to finding an interim superintendent, "I think it's free"? It has been several weeks since the original vote to release Mr. Hitchcock. I expect statements with a little more surety. In reality, the ASBA does not just keep a pool of interim superintendents on staff. What they do have, is access to some resources such as Educational Services Inc. (ESI): https://educationalservicesinc.com who can contact retired Superintendents and invite them to apply. As well, they (ASBA) will post on their website: http://www.azsba.org/jobs/ There is also a pretty strong informal network of administrators out there so the word gets around pretty quickly.
My hope would be that a good experienced hand is out there and will take the challenge on. On the other hand, my hope would be that this board and particularly the incoming Board President can listen and act prudently.

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H. Wm. Rhea III 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I can't see why anyone with any degree of sanity would want the job! The board is fickle in wanting things but not standing behind those who will have to take the heat for implementing the desired procedures. And with test results declining, the schools grades will fall, and then the board, like the State, will blame the staff, in particular, the Superintendent.

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Pat Randall 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with Mr. Rhea, Why would anyone want the job and be treated the way this school board treated the last superintendent? They want a yes man or woman.

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