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Thu, Oct. 17

Meet the candidates: John Scholl

Director of Support Services John Scholl (left) and Assistant Superintendent Cindy Daniels are the finalists to become superintendent of Chino Valley Unified School District.

Director of Support Services John Scholl (left) and Assistant Superintendent Cindy Daniels are the finalists to become superintendent of Chino Valley Unified School District.

John Scholl said teachers don't get into education for the money.

"When I went from becoming a chemist to a teacher, I cut my pay in half," Scholl said. "And when I went from being a teacher in California to being a teacher in Arizona, I cut my pay by a quarter."

Scholl, the director of support services for Chino Valley Unified School District, is one of two candidates to be the school system's next superintendent. CVUSD has scheduled a meet and greet for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 5 at the Chino Valley High School cafeteria to introduce both candidates to the public.

Before 1995, Scholl was working as a chemist doing field sample tests inside a mobile lab, checking soil and groundwater.

He said he enjoyed the work and was making good money during the five years he followed that path, but there was something calling him back to education.

"I grew up in Southern California and I had an outstanding high school chemistry teacher," Scholl said. "He really inspired me, and he's the reason I became a chemist.

"I was working as a chemist, I was doing a lot of traveling, and liking it. But I kept thinking back to my chemistry teacher. The influence that he had on me, that was something that I wanted to share."

Scholl said he enrolled at Cal State Fullerton to get his teaching certificate and learned that there was such a dire need for science teachers that he would be standing before a class only one semester later.

"It was trial by fire, you got put in a classroom, but I really enjoyed it," Scholl said.

Scholl taught in Los Angeles for two years before he moved to this area after his wife landed a job in the Prescott school system. He then taught science classes at Chino Valley High School for the next seven years.

"Chino Valley has given me so much, I've had opportunities here that I wouldn't have had anywhere else," Scholl said. "I've coached football, I helped start the track program, and would later become the head track coach. ... In a small school, there is much more opportunity to do whatever you want, and Chino Valley has given me that opportunity."

When John Parris took over as principal of Chino Valley High School, Scholl was asked to make the move to administration, becoming assistant principal for the next three years.

"I had done everything that I wanted to do, outside of teaching, and I just felt it was a natural progression for me," Scholl said. "I enjoyed it, I really did."

Scholl was the assistant principal at the high school for three years, then had the same role for two years at Heritage Middle School, before returning to CVHS for his final year in that role.

When the position of director of support services opened, Scholl applied. The job oversees all the areas of the school district that support education, such as food services, custodial, human relations, transportation, information technology and the business office.

Scholl says one advantage he has in this role is that he has taught in a classroom, and not all of his peers have. It gives him insight when they are working out budgets to how their decisions will impact students.

"This is my 19th year in the district, I've seen where we've been. I've seen the progress that we made," Scholl said.

He touted his ability to reach out to the community after building ties as member of the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce board and through the Rotary Club, which he said he helped start.

Current CVUSD Superintendent Duane Howard gave Scholl credit for helping the district withstand the financial struggles as the state legislature kept withholding funds that were earmarked for education.

"Chino Valley has weathered the most financial challenging times of Arizona's history," Howard wrote in an email. Howard announced he was retiring in October and that his last day would be June 30. "Not only did Chino Valley survive this time, we were able to balance our budget, give modest raises, and attract quality teachers to our area. And for that John deserves the lion's share of credit."

Peter Atonna, the president of the CVUSD governing board, has said they hope to decide on the next superintendent by the end of January so that person can have about five months to transition into the role. Scholl and CVUSD Assistant Superintendent Cindy Daniels are the only candidates for the job.

Scholl said that he doesn't regret giving up the bigger paychecks for a life educating children. But he worries about what continued cuts to education funds will mean for the future of education. It is one of the challenges that the next superintendent will have to face.

"Anybody can go and make more outside of teaching, than they can as a teacher," he said. "If we cannot attract those high-quality teachers, then it's going to be difficult to educate our kids."

Follow Ken Sain on Twitter at @ksainjr. Reach him at 928-445-3333, Ext. 2021, or 928-420-5341 or email him at ksain@prescottaz.com.

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