Crying enough is enough, the Payson Unified School District board killed requests to create two new positions as it approved a slew of layoffs at its meeting on June 5.
In the last few weeks, Superintendent Ron Hitchcock, Director of Student Achievement Brenda Case and the principals at each school site have shuffled staff and created new positions to cope with state-imposed changes in curriculum, school ratings and teacher evaluations.
The board balked at creating two new counseling positions, but on the consent agenda approved what amounted to more than 18 layoffs for teachers’ aides and clerical staff, plus three teacher resignations.
“We’ve made an unbelievable amount of changes this year,” said board member Rory Huff, “To add another person is just asking for too much.”
Huff said this after incoming Julia Randall Elementary School Principal Will Dunman asked the board to add a behavior intervention specialist to his staff. Dunman said he needed help coping with behavior problems in the classroom.
“We’re seeing more and more time needed to intervene to catch students earlier in their career to meet their academic needs,” said Dunman.
Current JRE Principal Rob Varner agreed, “I could spend hours and hours and hours on behavior issues — one person cannot do academics and behavior. This (position) could be a full-time job easily.”
But a motion to approve the position died for lack of a second.
The board also balked at approving an additional counselor in the high school counseling department to prepare students for a career or college.
Hitchcock said the change would update an existing position to reflect state-mandated changes.
Hitchcock also wanted to make the job a certified position, with required degrees and certification.
That was just too much for Huff. “This last year we’ve had a ton of changes,” said Huff. “I’d like us to see how it would be to go one year without it. I’ve got to be honest, we’ve been asked to approve a lot of changes.”
Huff echoed the sentiments of board members reeling from the massive changes to staff and administration.
Board president Barbara Underwood wondered if these positions would directly affect children.
“I have Mr. Pirch in the back of my mind, who always said, ‘Think about the people who are touching the children and on the way out from there,’” she said, “I feel we’re going on the way out of touching the children on a regular basis with these positions.”
Shirley Dye said teachers used to handle behavior issues in the classroom.
Jim Quinlan worried about the budget.
“I’m just concerned at this time if we can afford to add another certified person,” he said.
Business Director Kathie Manning noted that the board had approved Hitchcock’s staffing model that called for the new positions. She also said these positions would definitely touch students.
“I’d like to clarify, your concern is we’re getting farther away from students, but both of these positions are directly related to students,” she said.
But the board had had enough. Neither position was approved.