Sun, Jan. 26

Camp Verde schools chief resigns

Staff photo by Carol Keefer

Superintendent Marilyn Semones seen during a break at Thursday night's school board meeting following her announcement.

"Please accept my resignation as Superintendent effective May 3, 2002. It has been my pleasure to service this school district for the past four years," Semones' letter succinctly stated.

The decision that officially came before the board April 25 in a special meeting and work session was met with silence and apparently was no surprise. Semones verified that she had personally called each board member Wednesday after receiving an offer to go to work for a comparable school district near Tucson.

In July, she begins as superintendent for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District #8, also K-12.

A board evaluation on Semones' work performance began last December behind closed doors and, according to Semones, was never quite finished. Although the information is privileged, Semones did say, "The board is going in a new direction and they need to pick their own leader."

She added that she was happy with her decision to leave and "felt it best for both her and the district."

Only School Board President Irene Peoble and Andy Ayres were on the school board that originally hired Semones in 1998 following an extensive national search when 13-year veteran Phil England left.

"I'm sorry to see her go," said Peoble. "She did lots of work for the district," mentioning things such as the alignment of curriculum and teacher/employee evaluations.

It looks as though the school district is off the hook pay-wise with her resignation, according to one board member. Semones had two more years on her contract verifying a $90,000 plus annual salary.

In the past three years, the district has seen a decline in enrollment and the recent revelation of a high student failure rate. Semones was asked if those problems played a part in her decision. She said "no," saying that Arizona school superintendents across the state will face comparable dilemmas for various reasons.

Semones said she "loves Camp Verde," has "many good relationships" and "will keep her home" here. Semones is 56 years old with 15 years in school administration and 15 years in classroom experience. She says she is four years from retirement in the State of Arizona.

"I'm here to help any time anyone needs help and would be glad to," she offered saying she recognizes the sudden decision will leave many loose ends.

The five-member school board must now begin its search for a new top official to oversee its K-12 programs. The board meets in executive session on April 30.

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