School Finalists Picked

Four vie for top spot in Payson


After a marathon seven-hour meeting on March 24, the Payson Unified School District board narrowed the field of 22 superintendent candidates down to four.

Rochonne Bria, Karl Uter­hardt, Gregory Wyman and Denis Ward will interview with the board during two days of events on March 31 and April 1.

The board has a tour of the school, two community forums, and a day of interviews planned.

“We hope to extend a contract on April 2,” said Barbara Underwood, president of the board, but there are many factors involved she conceded.

The community is invited to an open forum with the candidates from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., Monday, March 31 at the Payson High School Auditorium.


Rochonne Bria

Bria, last worked as the superintendent of the Battle Ground School District in Washington.

The Columbian newspaper reported that Bria retired from the superintendent position in April of 2013 after 15 years of service. She resigned after helping to pass a four-year maintenance and operations levy.

The Columbian also reported that the residents of the district later found out that the Battle Ground school board paid $400,000 to buy out Bria’s contract.

“District residents have sharp­ly criticized the school board for its secrecy surrounding the buyout of contract for Bria, who retired June 30,” reported the newspaper.

The Columbian also reported that Bria grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, went to high school in Oregon and college in Arizona.

The paper said Bria served as the superintendent of the Pendergast School District in Arizona before moving to Washington State.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that Bria applied for the Tucson School District superin­tendent position in August of 2013. The paper had to win a court order to find out who applied for the position besides H.T. Sanchez who still holds the position.

“Confidentiality for the candidates was not provided to shroud a public process, but to allow the district the opportunity to engage top education professionals who otherwise might not have been willing to consider publicly seeking out new opportunities,” (Governing Board President Adelita) Grijalva said (to The Arizona Daily Star).

Karl Uterhardt

According to the Douglas Dispatch, Uterhardt currently serves as superintendent in the Tombstone Unified School District and has done so since 2007.

Prior to that, he served as the Douglas High School vice principal and athletic director, the vice principal, and director of special services for the St. David Unified School District and superin­tendent/principal of Valley Union High School District.

According to reports from The Sierra Vista Herald, Uterhardt had frustrations with the Tombstone school board because they would not accept his recommendation for a business manager.

The Herald also reported Uterhardt has five children and lived in Bisbee.

Denis Ward

According to Ward’s LinkedIn page, he currently serves as the superintendent at the Danville Schools in Indianapolis, Ind. He started there in 2008.

He received a Ph.D. in public school administration from Indiana State University in 2005.

Previously, Ward served as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and personnel at the Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation.

Web News First reported that Ward started his career as a junior high science teacher for Indianapolis Public Schools. He was an elementary physical education teacher at Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation, a high school dean of boys at Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, an assistant principal at Hamilton Southeastern Schools, a principal at Monroe-Gregg Schools at Mt. Vernon, and an assistant superintendent at both Mt. Vernon and Mooresville.

Ward also volunteers for the Boy Scouts of America.

Ward has a Twitter account (handle: @DrDenisWard) and tweets about his schools and their sports.

Gregory Wyman

Wyman’s LinkedIn page says that he is currently the associate superintendent at Tempe Union High School.

Formerly he served as the superintendent of the Apache Junction Unified School District and Snowflake Unified School District.

Wyman has a doctorate in educational leadership and administration from the University of Arizona. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Lewis & Clark College in biology and history.

In a YouTube interview with Tempe Union High Student Body President Jevin Hodge in 2011, Wyman talked about his childhood growing up with a mining family that moved from South America to New Mexico, and Nevada to British Columbia.

Wyman said he finished high school in Tempe, but decided to go to Oregon for his undergraduate degree.

“I’ve been in teaching or education for 25 years,” Wyman told Hodge.

Wyman told Hodge that in his position as assistant superintendent, he primarily helps the schools in the district with questions or educational issues or helps students

To see the interview on YouTube, visit youtube. com/watch?v=4PYJjHdy-oA.


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