After A Long Hiatus, High School Department Chair Stipends Return

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School department chairs will once again get stipends of $500 a year, now that the Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board has adopted new job descriptions and salary schedules.

“I’m happy to see this,” said board member Jim Quinlan.

Quinlan knows how much additional work serving as a department chair demands. He chaired the English department at the high school during his 37 years at the district and now chairs the English department at Gila Community College.

Quinlan has supported restoring stipends for department chairs since Payson High School Principal Brian Mabb suggested the change a few weeks ago.

When the district suffered budget cuts starting in 2008, the board eliminated stipends for department chairs, said long-time board members Barbara Underwood and Rory Huff.

However, board member Devin Wala raised concerns about restoring the stipends. “I have been involved with stipends without duties defined,” he said. “People have been cruising along with that, getting paid without a set of expectations and others say, ‘Hey they’re giving out free money to this person, why not me too?’ What are the qualifications for that person?”

Mabb presented his job description in answer to the question. It listed 14 responsibilities including:

• Speak for the department at meetings and hold regular department meetings.

• Help create curriculum and find textbooks and teaching materials.

• Help new teachers learn the school rules and help support teachers in their classrooms.

• Monitor the department budget, place student teachers, act as liaison with the administration.

• Be a “leader of professionalism on campus.”

Wala’s next concern had to do with a chairmanship turning into “an annual thing with an annual person.”

Mabb said the job is too taxing to assume someone will do it year after year. The principal hopes to strike a balance between keeping continuity with someone who knows the ropes, but check in to make sure they still want the responsibility.

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