Unless the Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board decides to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for insurance, it will have to shut down the Adventure Course by the high school.
The board’s Monday, Sept. 23 meeting includes a discussion of the decision by the Arizona School Risk Retention Trust, Inc. or “The Trust” to not cover the rope courses. The Trust reportedly recently paid out the largest settlement ever for an accident on a ropes course, said Superintendent Ron Hitchcock.
As a result, “The Trust” will no longer cover ropes courses at schools in Arizona. Payson built its ropes course with a federal grant, and participants gave it rave reviews for team building and interest.
“The Trust does not insure ropes courses anywhere in Arizona,” said Hitchcock.
Physical Education Teacher Donna Moore, the powerhouse behind the P.E.P. grant, oversaw the installation of the high and low rope Adventure Challenge course for PUSD. The course has a climbing tower, a dual zip wire and a variety of low and high elements.
Moore and her fellow P.E. colleagues have gone through extensive training to facilitate groups in leadership, team building and other life skills through the Adventure Education program.
In all, the Adventure Challenge course had a project value of $213,000.
The PUSD course will remain open for the remainder of this year because of the PEP grant, said the superintendent, but starting next year, unless the district can find an independent company and pay thousands of dollars, the ropes course will no longer be part of the physical education curriculum.
For the past three years, the PUSD P.E. department used the $1.1 million grant to build not only the Adventure Challenge course, but also purchased the exercise program Dance/Dance Revolution, video game stationary bikes, First Tee Golf Program, equipment for yoga, and in-line skating.
Since the P.E.P. grant concludes at the end of September, the physical education department had considered inviting corporations to use the Adventure Challenge course for a fee. Hitchcock said that is no longer possible.
“I’m not sure what will happen to the course,” said the superintendent.
Other items on the agenda for Monday include a discussion of fifth-grade class sizes and a presentation on what the Student Achievement teachers have done so far this year.
The fifth-grade class sizes have grown larger than the district’s staffing model called for. The board will have the discussion early on in the meeting after the constituent comments. At previous meetings, parent Amy Van Zile questioned the number of students in the classes and said it makes things hard on the teacher.
The meeting will also include a report on the work of the four new Student Achievement teachers by Brenda Case, the district’s director of student achievement.