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Last week, the Sedona-Oak Creek School District staved off what would have been one of the most unusual hires in the history of the district, had it not been struck down by the Governing Board.

Among the handful of new hires and extra duty contracts that are typically negotiated by administration, then rubber-stamped as consent agenda items by Governing Board was a hire that stood out like a red flag.


SOCSD Superintendent David Lykins attempted to hire the principal of St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Jackie Kirkham, to be a part-time math coach at West Sedona School.

Firstly, let us say that St. Joseph’s Catholic School is a fine local parochial institution that educates many children from Sedona and the Verde Valley. We have covered the school’s construction of a new campus and this weekend, we covered the blessing ceremony conducted at St. Joe’s by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix.

In mathematical parlance, however, Lykins’ attempt to hire Kirkham is the value of √2 — irrational.

Last school year, Lykins’ finance director fabricated  public records to illegally hire a public relations firm specifically to attract students who have left SOCSD to come back from other schools and districts. The finance director has since resigned, but why SOCSD would choose to hire someone who works for one of the local schools to which students and parents flee is beyond illogical — it is hypocritical and amnestic.

Additionally, the district would spend taxpayer money training an educator from another school on the new complicated Eureka Math curriculum. She could leave at a moment’s notice to focus on her own school. Lykins failed to justify to the board making this expenditure instead of training an SOCSD-only math coach who plans to remain with the district without ties to another and they rejected the hire.

Lykins claimed the district tried to hire for the post all summer but found no applicants. It may be that the position, like most in the district, pays too little. If that is case, and Lykins is desperate to hire, perhaps he should return his $18,000 ill-earned bonus back to the district and use those funds to hire a qualified educator to teach our kids.

With four new candidates running for school board, we ask that whichever three get elected take close looks at these types of wholly irresponsible decisions by Lykins. If the new board can’t prevent these inexplicable acts of irresponsible ineptitude and they can’t solve the  biggest problem facing the district, then they delete the unstable variable unbalancing the equation and hire a new superintendent.

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