Connecting The Community To Pusd

Volunteer coordinators bring in community members to support students, school staff


Gerald Rutz came to the Oct. 25 Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board meeting a bit disappointed.

He had written a letter to the superintendent’s office to offer tutoring in Calculus, but never received a response.

“I am disappointed that in five weeks I have not heard anything,” he said. “It means to me you don’t care enough to take care of the kids. (But) I’m still willing to offer help.”

Good thing, because at the same meeting, the district introduced three of the four new volunteer coordinators stationed at each school site.

Kelly Mercado works at Payson Elementary School (PES).

“On a daily basis I have 15 (volunteers) come through my door,” she said.

Stacey Ernst splits her duties as the attendance secretary with her duties as the Rim Country Middle School (RCMS) volunteer coordinator. Her desk, positioned at the entrance to the school, helps her, she said.

“Every time I ask (when someone comes to the front desk), “Sooo…have you thought about volunteering?” Ernst said to the board.

Julie Bolt works at Payson High School (PHS). She, too, splits her time between the volunteer coordinator position and support staff for the Career Technical Education program. “Each of us — Miss Kelly and Miss Stacey and I — totally enjoy being volunteer coordinators. Each school has its own needs. We sit and talk about different avenues of volunteer support. I can use those ideas at my school site,” she said to the board.

When superintendent Ron Hitchcock presented his suggested staffing model before the school year started, he had created a volunteer coordinator position at each school site. The idea for the volunteer coordinator position came from successful school districts in Oregon where he previously worked as a superintendent.

Only three schools have volunteer coordinators at this time. Julia Randall Elementary (JRE) is the only school that does not have a volunteer coordinator, but principal Will Dunman assured the board he will soon hire a volunteer coordinator.

On the PUSD district website,, the three volunteer coordinators’ names and emails are prominently displayed, together with a request for applications for the JRE spot.

Board member Jim Quinlan praised the effort to bring parents and members of community into the schools, especially with the tight budget.

“The more we can get parents in classrooms the better, especially since aide positions have been cut,” he said.

By the end of the board meeting, principal Rob Varner had asked Rutz to help his middle school students with math tutoring.

To volunteer:

  • Kelly Mercado, Payson Elementary School –, (928) 472-5844 or (928) 474-5882, ext. 2704
  • Stacey Ernst, Rim Country Middle School –, (928) 472-5821
  • Julie Boldt, Payson High School – (928) 474-2233, ext. 2040 or (928) 472-5847, ext. 2477
  • Julia Randall Elementary School – Contact the school office at (928) 474-2353


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