Gilbert Public Schools – Misguided and Mismanaged

GPS Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was bound and determined to get some national attention for her current school district. Unfortunately, the national attention has been really bad, downright negative and it looks like it will get uglier as this new school year gets underway.

We noticed that this *national* thingy has been getting more and more repetition in the superintendent’s pronouncements. At first, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto must have figured that Gilbert Classical Academy was her ticket to that national acclaim she so desires. One problem is that GCA became controversial within the community, mostly because GCA costs more per student that what GPS spends for other, less worthy students that attend other district schools. That’s not exactly the best marketing message to be promoting at the same time GPS is trying to convince local taxpayers to approve some hefty *voluntary* taxes on themselves so GPS can continue squandering money  doing the things GPS does in the name of educating students.

Another topic that’s not so good to be discussing right now is how GPS is losing students. We all know that GPS lost 1,000 students last year. We all know that GPS also lost something like $7 Million associated with those students who have taken their money with them when they jumped the GPS ship to go to other districts or charter schools or private schools. It’s far better for GPS sycophants to say GPS lost money because the state took those funds away. But we all know what’s really been happening. Especially in the easternmost areas of the district – look at how schools on the eastern boundary are contracting. This is intriguing since Apache Junction School District is having such serious funding problems. AJ kids don’t seem to be beating down the doors of GPS schools. This is serious – the east boundary area is growing by leaps and bounds, and some of the new neighborhoods actually have charter schools WITHIN the neighborhoods. Those families have already opted out of GPS. Don’t you GPS whiz kids understand that???

On another connected level, here’s where the GCA dots connect to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s national thingy: GCA had long cited a *waiting list* of students who wanted to attend GCA, but couldn’t. At one time, that wait list was supposed to be really, really long. It was so long, some people took low-paying part time jobs with GPS just so they could get the *employee preference* boost on the wait list for their kids. The wait list was so long, GPS finally confessed that GCA was always intended to be a *perk* for employees (and their kids) and it was not intended to become a real public school open to the public. The wait list was one of the reasons Good Old former superintendent Dave Allison decided to shut down Gilbert Junior High School so GCA could have the campus for its own. Oh yeah, they tried for a tax override back then, as well. Good Old Dave Allison was a miserable failure in so many ways.

So here’s where some dots connect: GCA doesn’t have a wait list this year. Parents and students are not pounding on the GCA doors trying to get in to the shining star of the GPS galaxy. We’re even hearing that GCA no longer gives its students free laptop computers … GCA students are now treated like other GPS students and they get a Chromebook. Lots cheaper, isn’t it? But it’s just so ORDINARY. GCA students used to be so very special, you know. Now they’re more like any other kid in the district. Except that GCA kids have to pay if they lose or break their Chromebooks. Other students don’t. But we digress.

So it looks like Christina 3-2 Kishimoto is going to have to do something else to get on the national radar for her reforms in GPS. She just changes her mind so often, it’s hard to keep up. Just a few months ago, she recommended to the board that GPS adopt a new foreign language requirement for graduation. You heard what happened to that proposal: crickets. Kishimoto’s Rubber Stamps are already putting out feelers about closing a school (Lily Tram); building a new school (Jill Humpherys); and AGAIN shutting down Gilbert Junior High School (Charlie Santa Cruz). For the longest time, GPS just tried to ignore charter schools. Now GPS is going on the offensive. Actually, GPS is just being offensive.

It looks like the *famous* GPS marketing machine has decided to attack the public charter schools that compete with GPS for students. Brilliant. At first it was just a link to an article about BASIS Charter Schools. A community member who knows a thing or two about online marketing was aghast: “Aaaaaand a headline about BASIS is on the GPS page. Why??? *facepalm*”  Someone helpfully pointed out that unless there was some context, it didn’t make any sense for GPS to highlight an article about BASIS Charter Schools. So someone, probably Irene Paige-Mahoney-Baloney, *fixed* it:

We found it interesting that this charter has such a large drop off rate and this: “critics say there is a problem with the way political leaders and policymakers view BASIS and compare it to other schools.”

That *fix,* of course, prompted another comment (not by Westie or anyone Westie knows, BTW):

This is what happens at Gilbert Classical as well.

What could go wrong with bashing BASIS Charter Schools? Only about a million things, including that BASIS Chandler parents who happen to live in Gilbert, Arizona probably will vote AGAINST any override and bond requested by a superintendency that is so gauche as to attack BASIS schools for having attrition rates like those at GCA. Sheeeesh.

It’s one thing for Superintendents to attack the State Legislature and the Governor of Arizona in a quest to get more money for school districts to spend like drunken sailors   squander   fill in the blank  . That’s what most people call *biting the hand that feeds you.* It’s incomprehensible that GPS decided to publicly bash BASIS Charter Schools … does the name Craig Barrett ring any bells with the GPS superintendency? How about his big company, Intel, that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto would LOVE-LOVE-LOVE to *partner* with? How about the damage this will do to GPS’s relationship with Barrett Honors College at ASU?

Maybe nothing will come of any of this because GPS doesn’t have a media presence.  Maybe this will blow over. Maybe it won’t.

Gilbert School Board On the Run from Public Eyes

When the going gets tough, the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board runs away, led by Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto. The board is taking their next public meeting 30 miles away from the school district to a private religious university so the public won’t be able to observe this public body in action.

For the past year, the elected officials known as “The New Board” have taken secrecy to astonishing new levels. For example, the trips to and from the campus of Grand Canyon University are themselves violations of Arizona’s Public Meeting Laws, because a quorum of the board will ride in chauffeured luxury at taxpayer expense. You know the catered meals will be lovely, also courtesy of the taxpayers of Gilbert. Guess they never thought of inviting the public to ride along on a GPS school bus so the public could listen to board members discussing district business along the way to Grand Canyon University … the ride during rush hour on Friday will be just lovely, won’t it?

The need for secrecy must be enormous, since the Governing Board will be reviewing *student dater,* according to the announcement of her supremeness, SuperDorK (her Twitter identity). Listen to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto announce the *Board Retreat* at the 7:00 mark below. The announcement continues to the 8:15 mark. Keep the video feed running … you’ll want to hear a taxpaying Gilbert citizen excoriate Christina and the Rubber Stamps for violating Open Meeting Law as they high-tail it out of town for a cozy schmmoooozy session hosted by Brian Mueller, President and CEO of Grand Canyon University. This occurs at the 9:20 mark; it’s just two minutes, but it packs a powerful punch. Daryl Colvin follows those comments with questions and a comment that he will not be riding along in the transportation provided by GPS with other board members — he can spot an unforced error  OML violation when he sees it.

Where did we get the idea that running away to Grand Canyon University violates Arizona’s Open Meeting Law? From the Attorney General’s handbook!

The public body must provide public access to public meetings. See A.R.S. § 38- 431.01(A). This requirement is not met if the public body uses any procedure or device that obstructs or inhibits public attendance at public meetings, such as holding the meeting in a remote location, in a room too small to accommodate the reasonably anticipated number of observers, in a place to which the public does not have access, such as private clubs, or at an unreasonable time. [The excerpt appears on page 7-25 of the .pdf.]

Violating Open Meeting Law is no big deal for Chrstina 3-2 Kishimoto and her rubber stamp board members. They’ve been doing all kinds of things to be able to scheme behind closed doors and out of the public eye. All this subterfuge seems pretty silly if the subject of the board retreat really is just student dater, as SuperDorK claimed at the board meeting on August 25, 2015, which is helpfully preserved on the video archive above.

As usual with this group of grifters, carpetbaggers and heaven knows what else they are, there’s something else going on. Something they REALLY don’t want the public to know about. First of all, don’t look for Public Notice (that little thingy the law requires) in any of the usual places. It’s not on the GPS home page. It’s not on the GPS Public Meetings page; in fact, the whole web page is blank where meetings should be listed. There’s no public notice on this GPS Public Meetings page, either.

Aha, we found it: hidden away on a *special* webpage that appears to have been constructed to make it look like Christina 3-2 Kishimoto complied with the notice requirement of the Open Meeting Law. There’s only an agenda, but it doesn’t come close to giving the information the Open Meeting Law requires, like a real address of where the meeting will be held. Same old thing with those GPS scofflaws: the only location information is “Grand Canyon University,” which consists of 179 acres on one campus alone. Do you think the Grand Canyon University security guards are going to let some average Gilbert citizens roam around looking for where the school board is meeting? Neither do we.

Oh gee, lookie here: the GPS Governing Board will be discussing a whole lot more than student *dater* on the agenda. The important stuff is exactly what should be discussed in public: the GPS communications and marketing plan, for one thing. Remember how Christina 3-2 Kishimoto tried so hard to keep THAT plan under wraps? She went so far as to obstruct access to the *official minutes* of a meeting behind closed doors that she claimed was NOT a public meeting. Then she filed a civil law suit against the citizens who bird dogged the public records issue. Guess we’re all lucky that the audio of the not-a-public-meeting didn’t get destroyed to keep the secret safe.

There’s more: what the Usual Suspects are REALLY trying to figure out behind closed doors is a discussion of “GCA Facility Options and Timeline.” Guess the hot mic incident between Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz and the dude who has overstayed his welcome, Alex Nardone, didn’t dissuade the Governing Board from carrying on with plans to enshrine GCA as the crown jewel of GPS. Just like Good Old Dave Allison plotted with then-board president E.J. Anderson back in 2013, plans to perhaps close a school and spend millions of dollars creating a campus for those privileged GCA babies should not be revealed until the very last moment the law allows. Heh, as if this group of scoundrels and carpetbaggers EVER deigns to follow any laws…

So, BOHICA everybody! This rogue administration and rubber stamp governing board are going to slam taxpayers for many millions of dollars whether the 2015 override and bond go through or not. Because they can. All they have to do is have three votes to spend unlimited amounts of money, and your taxes will go up. That’s the way the system works. Remember, taxes went up 40% just a few years ago. Give these clowns some more of your money! It’s for the kids!

Gilbert Public Schools’ tax rates increase 40 percent: Gilbert officials estimated the $2 tax increase per $100 of a home’s assessed value in July 2012, when the governing board adopted the $305.87 million budget for this school year. The new budget includes a 2 percent pay increase for all employees, except the superintendent, for this school year only. The main factors used to determine the amount of tax homeowners pay each year are the assessed valuations, qualifying tax rate, student enrollment and the district’s year-end cash balances, according to GPS information.

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Big Fat Asterisk: Okay, so the title of this post is a mash up of two great oldies: Band on the Run and Private Eyes. Can’t forget to mention Beyoncé, the ultimate girlfriend, and the On the Run Tour.

Christina Kishimoto Gets the National Media Attention She Craves

We’ve been talking about how often the *national* thingy has been popping up in Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s pronouncements and writings. It looks like she is getting exactly what she craves: national attention for Gilbert Public Schools. In this case, she should have followed John Oliver’s advice and asked herself, “Will this go well for me?”

Here’s some of the national media coverage that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto finagled:

Arizona school district defends pro-abstinence, anti-abortion stickers in Biology textbooks: A Phoenix-area school district is defending its decision to place pro-abstinence, anti-abortion stickers in its biology textbooks, following complaints from pro-choice parents. Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has argued that removing the information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what was missing. “We can’t just ignore one side over another,” Ms. Mahoney-Paige told the paper. “There were people who thought were weren’t compliance [with the law]. Now, there’s no argument.”

Why there are antiabortion stickers on science books in Arizona: Sex education is not mandatory in Arizona schools, but if it is taught, schools are required to stress abstinence over contraceptive methods. Arizona ranks second in the nation in regard to teen pregnancy, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona.

School District Puts Anti-Abortion Stickers on Textbooks: Arizona’s Gilbert Public School District, which months ago was contemplating redacting mentions of abortion in its biology textbooks, has instead created textbook labels that caution students against having sex or abortions. Irene Mahoney-Paige, the district’s director of communication, told Cosmopolitan.com via email that “stickers were given to the department chairs, some schools have students putting the stickers on while other schools have students turning their books into the bookstore manager who is then putting the stickers on. The stickers are going on the inside of the back cover of all Biology books.” She said, though, that “there is no punishment if students do not use the sticker.”

A call to the school district yielded very little information. Monica Baxley-Ortega, administrative assistant in the school district’s PR office, told Jezebel that she didn’t know if the stickers were real or not, but did say that such a sticker had been discussed during the spring semester and that she guessed that “they just went ahead with it.” She’s promised clearer information on the sticker’s status; Jezebel will update as it becomes available.

Trying to control this bad national press, Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto released a statement that most national media includes in their coverage:

“I worked closely with the Governing Board to provide a solution to last year’s matter regarding the District’s biology books. The board and I have full confidence in our teachers, and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that the stickers on the back cover are the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.”

That’s a problem with that *national attention* thingy that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto craves: Google makes sure the media coverage is forever. Now, that’s pretty darn inconvenient, to say the least. Actually, those old media articles tell us more than GPS ever wanted the public to know.

The issue is no longer just bad national press coverage, now GPS has a problem with violating Arizona’s Open Meeting Law (OML) AGAIN. We’ve been watching closely since this Governing Board did not hold a public meeting to vote, discuss or decide on placing stickers in the back of these books. In fact, local media highlighted that the board never voted on this matter.

Gilbert board on biology textbook redaction: nevermind.  Although it did not take a formal vote, the Gilbert Public Schools governing board on Tuesday decided school staff does not need to edit biology books that mention abortion after all… Kishimoto told the board in a Nov. 18 report that she thought redacting the books would just encourage students to seek the information elsewhere — without guidance from a teacher.

That’s important: the board never voted on this. Never. The Rachel Maddow Blog was quick to point out in national news that the board planned further discussions in November 2014 (after the election that put Silly Jilly and her pal Charlie on the board), as confirmed by the GPS press flack, Irene Paige-Mahoney-Baloney in the national media:

A district spokesperson tells us that Dr. Christina Kishimoto, who is new to the district, believes that the honors biology textbooks already comply with Arizona law about mentions of abortion and that there’s no need to change the books. Kishimoto talked to the board about this yesterday, and now the superintendent does not intend to offer a plan tonight for pulling back information from students. Instead, the board and the superintendent will hold a public discussion about what, exactly, the board wants taken out of the honors biology textbooks.

“Now the board has come back and said, ‘Hey, wait, we want further clarification,’ ” said spokesperson Irene Mahoney-Paige. “We’re back to where we started.” At a minimum, this represents a delay in ripping out pages from the Gilbert textbooks. It’s possible that the outgoing majority on the board will still order the superintendent to formulate a plan for taking out those pages. The board could also decide to agree with the superintendent that the books are OK as is. Or they could ask for more time to decide the matter, effectively running out the clock on their own decision. The new majority takes over the Gilbert school board in January, and at least two of those members say they favor adding information to the books, not taking it away.

Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s statement that was published in many of the media articles seems to confirm that an OML violation occurred if “the Board decided” that these silly stickers were to be placed in the Biology textbooks.

From The Rachel Maddow Blog: …Soon after the Tea Party majority decided to censor the biology books, voters in very conservative Gilbert decided to replace them with a new majority. Shortly afterward, the outgoing board reversed course and decided against going ahead with ripping pages out of biology textbooks. From the beginning, superintendent Christina Kishimoto had warned her bosses on the board that removing information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what they were missing. With the new majority taking over, Kishimoto told us late last year she would have a team of biology teachers go over the books this summer and likely put together two or three pages of information that they would include in an envelope glued to the inside back cover.

What began with national headlines about a school district ready to shred textbooks now ends with an addition the size of a playing card. School officials in Gilbert have confirmed for us that the stickers are going into the textbooks, inside the back cover.

In a written statement, superintendent Kishimoto says she worked closely with the board on the new plan: “The board and I have full confidence in our teachers and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that this is the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.”

Problem is, by law the board can act only through a vote taken in a public meeting. So if something else happened for the board to *decide* how to fix the Biology textbooks, it’s really bad — and maybe that will become national news. So here we are: either “the Board decided” that the stickers were the best course of action in a public meeting (which didn’t happen) or there was an OML violation during which the Governing Board agreed with Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto, as she now claims. This could have happened in one of the many meetings where a quorum of the Governing Board showed up without complying with the law about *Notice to the Public.*

Another way the GPS Governing Board could have “decided” to put stickers in the textbooks was to engage in *serial discussions* to make sure a majority of the board would agree to whatever Christina 3-2 Kishimoto had already decided. Here’s how that might have worked: say Lily Tram called Jill Humpherys and they agreed; one of them called Charlie Santa Cruz and he agreed. There’s your majority of board members agreeing to do what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto already decided they should do. Unfortunately for Christina and the Rubber Stamps, that’s an OML violation.  Oh, snap!

We’ve become accustomed to the arrogance of this new crop of Good Old Boys and their open and obvious disdain for things like laws that other people follow. Once again, we’ve got a GPS board and superintendency who believe they’re above the law, and besides they’re not just ordinary people (like those who obey laws). No sirree, these folks think they’re really, really *special,* and by golly the public should just BOHICA and get it over with.

Gilbert Public Schools and Chromebook – Worst Technology Rollout EVER!

You know it’s bad in Gilbert Public Schools when students are chirping to Westie. Whoever thought this Chromebook initiative would work without having a rollout plan and the fifty thousand known glitches identified and fixed doesn’t know much about kids, mischief making, education  or technology.  Woo hoo! Let’s see what the kids have to say!

First problem: network logins. These Digital Native kids know all about how admin-issued usernames and passwords are standardized in GPS. In the real world, kids  use their admin-assigned logins one time, and then the kids set their own usernames and passwords. For security, you know.  Really tech-savvy kids would use a combination of letters and numbers for their usernames and passwords, more than five characters and other niceties that increase security for the GPS-issued Chromebooks. Those are the kids who are truly *Digital Natives.* Of course, there will be some students whose username is admin and whose password is password. Always happens.

The current situation confronting the serious Digital Native students is that GPS won’t let them set up their own secure usernames and passwords. Nope, if kids try to change their admin-issued login information, the GPS system resets to the default that the techies dreamed up … so that, before the end of the last school year, GPS could spend all that money that they claimed was reserved for technology only. The GPS superintendency needed to get those Chromebooks rolled out to students for their 1:1 technology program so there would be no more old override money left in GPS. Of course, Digital Natives figured out how to use the back door to set up their own secure username and password.  Note to Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto: there’s ALWAYS a back door into the network.

Second problem: GPS issued usernames and passwords using a naming convention that’s the same it has always been. Settle down, GPS clowns, we’re not going to reveal the GPS system hack here. That would be too easy, and besides, the kids already know what to do, whether or not they’re using that knowledge right away. Some of these Digital Natives are patient people, and they’ll wait until they’re truly bored or angry or feeling mischievous and only then will they let loose:

Remote access.
Sharing control of your Chromebook.
Traditional Linux desktop.

Third problem: Chromebooks have webcams and microphones. Kids, cover the webcam at all times: a Post-it works well for this. Remember, Big Brother can listen to anything you say within range of the microphone. Disabling these functions probably would violate the user agreement (scroll down to the bottom of this post to see your user agreement that your parents must sign).

Let’s envision a couple of scenarios that Executive Director of Technology, Sleazy Steve, must have sworn could never happen when GPS gave out thousands of Chromebooks to GPS students.

RealWorld v1:  Jazzy Jared is a real number-oriented kid. He hears numbers, and he memorizes them on the spot. Jazzy Jared has been a GPS student since Kindergarten (he’s in high school now) and he knows a lot of his classmates’ student numbers. Every day, some classmate would forget his lunch card, but the nice Lunch Lady could pay for his lunch by inputting his student number into the system, which the classmate recited out loud while Jazzy Jared was back in the line. Voila. Username and password.

RealWorld v2: Social Suzy has so many BFFs, she’s lost count. When she’s hanging out with all those BFFs, they log in to retrieve an assignment so they can work on it together in their BFF society. Pretty soon, all those BFFs are able log into each other’s GPS accounts, because they just want to get their assignments over and done with so they can get back to hanging out. Everything is fine until one day, one of the BFFs falls out of favor for some teen angst or failing, and the others decide to upload some photos they took in gym class. The photos are not a really big deal, except for the violation of privacy, but the captions the former BFFs affix to said photos are mean. Maybe the captions even cross into the realm of cyberbullying. The GPS login system shows the victim uploaded said photos herself, so she gets victimized twice.

RealWord v3: Brainy Brady wants to fit in with his classmates, so he figures out how to delete files for half the students in his Honors Chemistry class. Then he deletes his own files to cover his tracks. Teacher can’t pin the deed on Brainy Brady or any of his pals who all say they totally finished and earned A++ on those assignments that have disappeared into cyberspace … three days before the end of the term. BTW, Brainy Brady and his pals are Juniors, so their final Honors Chemistry grades have to be A++ or they won’t get the scholarships they were counting on as National Merit Scholar Finalists. What’s a teacher to do?

RealWorld v4: The Language Arts teacher yelled at Defiant Dylan in class today, and a bunch of the other kids in class teased him about it after school. So D.D. fixes them all. Defiant Dylan uploads the same assignment for each of the kids who taunted him. Cheating. Plagiarism. Zeros. Whatever. They had it coming.

RealWorld v5: Serious Serena is a Senior and she suddenly has five guys in her classes emailing her and asking her to Prom. Who will she choose? She finally decides on Gorgeous Garrett, and sends him an email to accept. Garrett says he wouldn’t be caught dead with Serena, and why did she think he asked her to Prom anyway? Serena is totally humiliated, the depths of which only a 17 year old girl can experience.

RealWorld v6: Porn. Tell kids it’s impossible to do something from a GPS Chromebook and guess what happens next…

Parents, remember how GPS said they would hold a Parents University to teach you how to use the Chromebook so you can understand what your child is doing in school? That’s not going to happen any time soon. It’s just a fuzzy plan for some point in the future. In the meantime, when your child is having a meltdown because he needs to print that assignment for tomorrow, and he just realized his Chromebook doesn’t have a print function, well, do the best you can.

Here’s the illiterate Student Electronic User Agreement handout for parents: Parent Expectations Digital Ninja . Notice that you parents must sign a PAPER COPY of this agreement before your child will be issued a Chromebook. In case you missed it, GPS once again forms plurals by adding apostrophe + S. Like this: plural’s. Why won’t they learn?

DigitalNinjaMustSign

Parent Guidelines and Procedures:

Your son/daughter will be issued a Chromebook to improve and personalize his/her education this year.  It is essential that the following guidelines be followed to ensure the safe, efficient, and ethical operation of this device. The student will be issued ONE Chromebook, and one* power cord. If the device and/or power cord is lost, or damaged the student will be required to create a Chromebook Service request form. If the Chromebook has been stolen a police report must be filed by the parent/guardian within 24 hours upon discovery of the theft. A copy of the police report needs to be turned in to the school. The student will not be issued another Chromebook until this issue has been resolved.

I will supervise my child’s use of the Chromebook at home.
I will discuss our family’s values and expectations regarding the use of the Internet and email at home and I will supervise my Child’s use of the Internet and email.
I will not attempt to repair the Chromebook, nor will I attempt to clean it with anything other than a soft, dry cloth.
I will report to the school any problems with the Chromebook.
I will not attempt to install or delete any apps from the Chromebook.
I will not allow my child to use the Chromebook around food or drink.
I will make sure my child recharges the Chromebook battery nightly.
I will make sure my child brings the Chromebook to school every day.
I  agree to make sure that the Chromebook is returned to the school when requested at the end of the school year,  or upon my child’s withdrawal from the school.

Extra credit for students who send Westie an edited printout of the above screed! Use a red pen, please.

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*Big Fat Asterisk: why ONE Chromebook and one power cord? Why not ONE Chromebook and ONE power cord, or one Chromebook and ONE POWER CORD? This inconsistency was worthy of a Big FAT Asterisk callout.

Gilbert Public Schools: The Worst Back-to-School Experience EVER!

Gilbert Public Schools gave Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto a pass last year, since it was her first year with the district. She made quite a number of mistakes, but the good people of the Town of Gilbert are compassionate and patient. This year, everyone expected Christina 3-2 Kishimoto to pull up her big girl pants and act like a superintendent. She doesn’t seem to understand that she is NOT one of the heroes in GPS.

We’ll enumerate some of the fiascos that GPS students, parents and employees endured as the school year got off to a remarkably rocky start.  Westie has lots of new birdies this year, and you all know how we love-love-love our birdies. One thing we started doing, since the new school year has been so messed up AGAIN, is we tell new birdies how to get in touch with their board members so that someone might possibly intervene with the incompetent superintendency.

Come on, board members, you know you’re getting more calls and emails than usual. Too bad for you that so many of your complainants are people who used to be on your side. You let them down. As Maya Angelou said, “No one will ever remember everything you said. And no one will remember everything you did. But no one will ever forget how you made them feel.” Christina and the Rubber Stamps* are making people feel really, really bad for having believed what they said, not what they did. But enough of this distraction.

PARENTS: do not let your kids drink the bottled water in the GPS portable classrooms. We’re hearing reports from the four corners of the district that those big bottles of water were stored in hot ovens  portable classrooms all summer … the portable classrooms that had air conditioning turned off not only got more dirty than usual, the water that was sitting around when temperatures soared to 115 degrees (sometimes less, but pretty much every day was in three digit temps) probably tastes dank, and perhaps is not safe from the chemicals in the plastic containers.

Worse, we’ve been told that some of those water bottles were half-empty (or half full, as you wish) while they sat around in the hot ovens  portable classrooms. Those bottles have not been sanitized from the germs and other ickie things that children’s hands tend to cultivate under the best of circumstances. Seriously, the first days of school have been (as usual) heat advisory days, where kids are not supposed to go out for recess (if that still exists) or PE. And in those conditions, you would think GPS would care very much that every child had access to copious amounts of drinking water. But you might be wrong, from what Westie’s birdies are chirping.

We’re hearing lots of circular firing squad type excuses for why GPS doesn’t have fresh water bottles for students who are trying to learn in locations that don’t have water fountains and the like, but they’re just feeble excuses. Here’s something we heard that is so totally ridiculous, you’ve gotta shake your head in disbelief:  apparently, GPS hasn’t paid their water vendor for some of last year’s deliveries. Perhaps the water vendor hasn’t ponied up in pay-to-play. [More on that subject in a future post.]

This is reminiscent of the times that GCA didn’t have fresh water for the kids to drink and had only very hot (no cold or warm) water for hand-washing. You know that was a nasty situation.  Parents were about six minutes from calling in the Maricopa Health Office back then; the next day, drinking water arrived in GCA. Today, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health has big, big warnings on the home page of their website: “Excessive Heat Warning!” and “Stay cool, stay hydrated, stay informed!” You would think that GPS would be concerned about their 37,000 students having water to drink. Again, you might be wrong.

It’s a health violation to NOT have water available in GPS buildings, including portables. And it’s not the responsibility of a teacher or a principal to provide water, it’s the DISTRICT’S responsibility. Don’t accept excuses when you ask questions about whether students have access to drinkable water.

Parents: after you talk to your little darlings about how thirsty they are all day (confirming Westie’s reports), here’s the way you make a report to the County Health Office:
Online complaint form
Complaint Line Phone Number:  (602) 506-6616 

Parents, we know you’re sending in lots of individual bottles of water, but the kids are really, really thirsty in this *excessive heat* at the beginning of the school year. You know that even the most concerned classroom teachers cannot afford to buy water bottles for all their students. How many parents had water bottles on those supply lists for the first day of school? Even when parents send in what should be plenty of water, those water bottles might not make it through the entire day. GPS kids have some really, really long days!  (Tip: send liquid water, not frozen.  The frozen bottles never thaw during the school day–but they do leak, and they are heavy enough to use as a weapon.)

Some days, kids need water for even longer than just the school day. Birdies have been chirping about how awful the bus situation has been.  We heard kids were kicked off buses and told to wait for another, less full bus to come for them. The kids were left out in the heat with no shade, no water, no supervision. “Just wait,” your kids were told. The average unexpected wait was an hour. In those *excessive heat* conditions. That’s the compassion the GPS superintendency has for your kids.

Even though the GPS Governing Board spent $735,000 for new school buses last year, it looks like there were not enough buses for student transportation when the 2015-2016 school year kicked off. Then there was the sweet deal for Gilbert Education Foundation activist, San Tan Ford, in the form of a contract for $240,000 for eight (8) ten-passenger Ford Transit vans. (Or was it a sweetheart deal? The timing alone gives a reasonable person pause.) Then there’s the fact that only Ford dealers responded to the GPS bid … must have been some really, really good reason no other manufacturer’s vans fit the bill, right?

Take a look at the *fact sheet* for the vendor selection process for those Ford vans. San Tan Ford Deal.   Ain’t it Amazing, Gracie, that San Tan Ford just happened to bid something that was about $100 per van under what the other bidders offered? Gracie, wouldn’t you think that the Mohave Cooperative already had a contract that GPS could have piggy-backed onto, as usual when there’s a lot of taxpayer money at stake in GPS? And why in the world would there be only five bidders to sell a school district some vans in a place as big as the Phoenix Valley and its environs in a business that specializes in *regional incentives*? Ewwww….stinky pile.

You want to know what was important for the transportation department on the first day of school? Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s bus load of her pals and Rubber Stamps visiting three schools … on the first day of school. There were some mighty fine dog-and-pony shows for that. How do we know? There are lots of photos of GPS kids all over the Internet, taken by heaven knows who and probably without parental permission. Nevertheless, some kids were more than an hour late getting home from the first day of school. How many kids were late getting to school is a data point that GPS probably has locked up in a vault … good luck finding out!

With all those new folks in the superintendency (and a couple who were never supposed to be around GPS this year), not a single one of them managed to attend the grand Back to School Kick Off at Transportation. Those employees busted their butts to get transportation all shiny and ready for the new school year. They’re short-handed, but they made their goal. No one in the administration bothered to attend the Kick Off. No one in the administration seems to give a $&#@ about those valiant employees who give GPS their all every day … and these are some of the folks who really are in it for the kids.

Yeah, Tom Wohlleber, you already stepped in it with your employees. Bet no one told you. The emperor has no clothes, you know. But don’t feel too bad. There’s a lot that no one is telling Her Highness, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto. Not that she would deign to listen.

Sigh. You could have had Westie for Superintendent. The buses would have run on time.  

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*Big Fat Asterisk: You know how Westie thinks Dave Barry would make a great president. He also thinks up terrific names for rock bands. He is in the Rock Bottom Remainders with some super awesome writers who also make some fine music. We salute Dave Barry with our suggestion for this rock band: Christina and the Rubber Stamps. Sorry, Julie and Daryl, this is another thingy to which you were not invited.

Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s Second Coronation: Corsages, Cookies and Cake

All hail Christina 3-2 Kishimoto! This gal set up her second coronation ceremony with lots of pomp, circumstance and taxpayer money for goodies such as refreshments, programs and … corsages. We well remember the cost of Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s first coronation — taxpayers won’t be amused with this extravaganza coming at the same time Gilbert Public Schools demands for more $$$ in an override and bond issue. It’s all for the kids, right? [sarcasm and ridicule]  

Girlfriend, those dudes in Big Business and Education Mega-Cartels will NEVER take you seriously since you just proved that you’re not up to competing on their playing field. What can we say about that cute little sun dress (someone said it would make you look “more approachable,” right?) topped with a big ole corsage? Consider the setting: the weather was triple digits. Summer in the desert. A CEO wearing a corsage to a business event? Come on, it wasn’t prom. And it wasn’t a wedding. Corsages, cookies and cake. Sheeeeesh.

[Keyboard: Color Guard kids and their teachers were not amused that you folks ignored the talent within your own realm for your coronation ceremony. Guess you didn’t know you have some pretty nifty Color Guards right within GPS schools. We all figure you called on Boy Scouts as Color Guards because of some community or business leader connection ($$$$$) with Her 3-2 Highness. Sheeesh.]

Taxpayers are wondering if the schools will open on time and whether the school buses will run. GPS is still showing more than 20 positions open for teachers, including Math, English, and lots of Special Ed, but that’s a feature, not a bug, right? GPS is showing more than 100 open positions for support staff employment; one posting for bus drivers could cover many open positions, right? So the public doesn’t exactly know just how bad the situation is, and that’s how the top dogs like to keep things: covered up.

A huge problem for GPS right now is that dumb@$$ hostage clause that costs $2,500.00 out of the hide of an employee who doesn’t complete a contract. For the cabinet level administrators, that’s a drop in the bucket. For some support staff, that’s as much as ONE-THIRD of their annual take-home pay from GPS. Yep, birdies have been chirping with lots of examples of how bone-headed Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and her clueless minion Slimebucket Suzanne Zentner are bringing a school district to its knees. Those loyal employees who stayed through the Great Recession are getting fed up. Finally.

Board member Silly Jilly Humpherys is about as clueless as her BFF was when she wore a sundress to headline a business event. Silly Jilly is really, really, really worried about keeping those GPS gifted programs. She must have made some bomb-diggity deal with the devil to be alienating GPS employees and parents on purpose. Here’s what Silly Jilly was spouting on July 1, 2015:

The entire board-superintendent team is committed to competitive salaries for teachers and staff. I have heard board members and the superintendent all agree from the dais. We do have to also consider curriculum, programs, and other essentials as well. To prioritize salaries, other areas that have been cut will need to continue at the current level. That is the reality of AZ education funding.

Get real, Silly Jilly: Arizona is facing a teacher shortage, so those special programs you and your handlers love so much won’t be worth a warm bucket of spit without teachers in the classroom. Some of Silly Jilly’s other BFFs recognize that:

Regardless of the standards, assessment, curriculum or any other factor we might put in place in education, our students will continue to struggle without a high-quality, caring and committed teacher in every classroom in Arizona.”

Teachers in Gilbert Public Schools see jaw-dropping examples of salary inequity among their colleagues, and especially at the top of the food chain, where assistant superintendents are paid the same salaries as the average and median salaries of real superintendents across the nation:

Nationally, superintendent salaries range from $36,000 to $315,000, according to the 2014 AASA Superintendents Salary and Benefits Study. The average superintendent’s salary is $122,000 and the median salary is $113,000.

Things in Gilbert Public Schools are getting worse by the day. There are no positive marketing messages, not even the kind that are free in local media. Especially considering that GPS lost 1,000 students from the previous year’s enrollment, you would think there would be a push to do more than create an amateurish logo: hashtag “I Choose GPS.” Showing just how ridiculous the district minions can be, they’re wearing polo shirts with that logo. (Simpson’s number two: oh, good idea, boss!) Sheeesh.

Let’s explore how GPS compares to Ten Signs Your Child is in a Failing School District:

This list leaves off other important factors- poverty, crime, and how many billionaires you have who are trying to force privatization of education down your throat, but for those who want to make a difference at a local level, these are the danger signs that your district is failing.

1. The large majority of your teachers have less than five years of experience. When you run off your veteran teachers, you not only do not have teachers who can mentor the younger staff members and help them reach their full potential, but you also are increasing the odds that you are going to hire some less gifted teachers just to fill the vacancies.
2. Teachers are overwhelmed with requests for data. Any time teachers are spending more time providing data for the bean counters in administration, it is a good indication that your school has gone astray.
3. Teachers receive no support from administrators on discipline issues. Behavior that would have been met with an instant office referral only a few years ago is allowed to continue in the classroom and creates even more distractions for teachers and students.
4. Professional development is limited to indoctrination and data. An alarming trend the past few years has been the transition of professional development from learning techniques that will help the teacher to improve teaching and classroom management techniques to attempts to forcefully install a culture that would seem more desirable in a business than in an institution of learning.
5. The message is tightly controlled, eliminating constructive criticism. When administrators surround themselves with yes-men and strictly control the message, it makes it much more likely that mistakes are going to be made, at a cost to the children and to the taxpayers.
6. School Board members serve as rubber stamps. When the governing board places blind trust in anyone, it increases the odds that something disastrous will happen. One of the major criticisms lodged against board members is that they “have an agenda,” as if that is something bad.
7. The community is not involved in its schools. In many school districts, the community is kept at arm’s length until it is time to pass another bond issue or tax levy increase. Or the community involvement is restricted to a carefully selected group of business and civic leaders or the spouses of those leaders.
8. The district is top heavy with administrators. Rule of thumb, the more executive directors of anything that you have, the more problems your school district is going to have.
9. An overemphasis has been placed on technology. If your school district is pushing the idea that everything can be learned by consulting Google, then your child is being shortchanged.
10. Not enough emphasis is being placed on civics and citizenship. While it is important that students be ready to work, the idea that they should be doing so during their high school years at the expense of learning about government, history, and the things they need to know to be a full participant in our society is ludicrous.

Extra credit: How is Christina 3-2 Kishimoto like Lurita Doan? Connect the dots cookies.

Homer Simpson’s Principles of Management in Gilbert Public Schools

 It’s really sad when the Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools channels the Homer Simpson philosophy of management:

Homer Simpson: “The three little sentences that will get you through life:
Number one: cover for me.
Number two: oh, good idea, boss!
Number three: it was like that when I got here.”

Homer Simpson’s Words of WisdomBS  were on full display at the July 28, 2015 meeting of the Gilbert Public schools Governing Board. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto lauded the work of her *Talent Management staff,* even though there were at least 20 teaching positions open and more than 90 vacant support staff positions listed on the Human Resources website a week before school doors open.

The big questions this year are the same as previous years: will the schools open on time? Will the school buses have drivers? We know at least one school bus will operate, the school bus Christina 3-2 Kishimoto will commandeer for her *first day of school* ride with her pals from the Gilbert Town Council and the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce.

Those lauded Talent Management folks couldn’t answer some simple questions at that meeting: are GPS open positions properly posted and filled according to employment laws and GPS policies? Fumble, bumble, tumble and trouble … bunch of eduspeak and flash to tap dancing. Homer Simpson would be so proud.

A member of the community had blasted those highly paid, six-figure salaried folks early in the evening, so maybe that Chief Talent Officer was rattled. Is that her permanent state of mind? Rattled? From the looks of the human resources fallout across the district, well, it might be true. But Christina 3-2 Kishimoto is so secure in her three year contract, she doesn’t care.

That citizen who excoriated the GPS administrators at the top of the food chain spoke about the previous GPS board meeting at which two board members in a permanent minority wanted to amend GPS contracts for employees to eliminate the $2,500 hostage clause threatening all GPS employees. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto said that wasn’t possible, so shut up and sit down. Wouldn’t you know that an item on the consent agenda was to amend employment contracts?

In spite of murky language on the agenda, citizens figured out the amendment was for the contracts of four administrators at the top of the food chain, known as *Assistant Superintendents* or something like that, and it was basically a gift of public funds: $800 reimbursement for *executive physicals* each year. You see, even though GPS pays those very special employees six figure salaries, gives them thousands of dollars in transportation allowances, and gives them the entire amount of GPS employees’ annual contributions for health care ($7,091.00, according to their contracts), Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was adamant about giving them $800 more, even when she wouldn’t countenance amending any of the other employment contracts with draconian provisions that offend citizens of The Town of Gilbert, Arizona.

Here’s the bottom line: that $800 pretty much covers the employee deductible that other, lesser paid employees pay out of their pockets each year. Before co-pays. Those top dogs also get incredible amounts of time off, and can sell back leave that they don’t use. Of course, why would they ever take a day off? They can take vacations while taxpayers pick up their tabs at luxury resorts in exotic locales … but we digress. That cute little item was removed from the consent agenda for some public discussion; you could see Christina 3-2 Kishimoto seething and fuming in her chair.

When she had enough, *SuperDrK,* as she has taken to calling herself said, “Enough is enough. I promised that $800 to my top minions and you better approve it or else!” All that was missing was stamping her feet and peeing on the carpet. Somehow, in the real world, you would expect that those four top minions were slouching in their seats, trying to disappear before the anger of ordinary citizens, who didn’t know about this clever tricksy gift of public money to some unworthy educrats, was unleashed. Like we said, Homer Simpson philosophy of management.

Various board members got into extensive discussions about bullet points that GPS will use to persuade the public to support another override and bond issue. That was another cute little item on the consent agenda that got itself removed for public discussion; Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was not amused. Things did not bode well when Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz said he wanted to put employee salaries as the first bullet (which was laudable on its own), but Charlie said it was necessary for the *optics* if the override was to get passed. Homer Simpson management.

Good Old Jill *Let the IdiotsWork at Walmart* Humpherys almost started crying again because she really, really, really wants that money to be channeled into *student achievement* above all else. “If we put the override money into salaries,” she said, “we’ll have to keep the cuts to programs that we’ve already made.” Board member Julie Smith called out Silly Jilly by pointedly explaining that priorities are choices and nothing more. Board members choose to support certain things and choose not to support other things. How hard is that to understand?

Daryl Colvin pointed out that none of this made any difference (after some v-e-r-y lengthy public discussions to edit the bullet points) by saying, “It’s all just a marketing message, and the board and superintendent are going to spend the money the way they want to spend it anyway.” Suddenly Lily Tram got off the fence and decided she could support a bullet point that merged *increase salaries* with *student achievement.* She expected everybody to make nice and sit down and shut up, of course. Lily Tram got a lesson in herding cats: they don’t respond well to commands from on high. Homer Simpson management.

What we got for all that public discussion was another 3-2 vote for the GPS marketing bullet points.* How exciting for the audience! How compelling for voters! But it doesn’t matter, all the kerfuffle was just about optics and marketing. And the fools in the GPS superintendency still wonder why the community doesn’t trust them. They also wonder why voters won’t roll over and give them more tax money to squander. Silly rabbits, most of the people singing your praises are profiting from your largess in dispensing tax dollars … for the kids, indeed. In this case, you might get just what you pay for.

Happy first day of school to all the kiddoes who are still enrolled in Gilbert Public Schools! GPS lost 1,000 students last year, and most likely will fight tooth and nail until they finally are forced to give up the numbers for this year. Oh yeah, those student attendance numbers were *troublesome* to the auditors in the past. Once again, GPS: 100 years of tradition unhampered by progress.

Homer Simpson: “Bart, with $10,000, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like … love!”

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Big Fat Asterisk: What is it with GPS educrats and little things like grammar and spelling? The reason so much time at this board meeting was consumed with editing bullet points is because the original bullet points, or FAQs or whatever you call them, were illiterate. Even Friends of KishimotoBS said that. Even now, the link on the “District Homepage” [scroll down a long, long way] is to FAQ’s – apostrophes are not the way to make a word plural. Sheeesh. Here’s what  is shown online, doubled down on stupidity ignorance:

 Election Fact Sheets
 **Coming Soon**

Election FAQ Sheets 
Override and Bond FAQ’s (English) – pdf
UPDATE: We looked again on Friday, August 7, 2015, three days after this post was published. The offending apostrophe was gone. Good job! This time, please learn something from your (repeated) mistakes.

Gilbert Public Schools: Weasel Words about your Tax Dollars

“Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals. Except the weasel.”  Homer Simpson

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Remember the *secret* marketing plan that Gilbert Public Schools didn’t want to cough up as a public record? Someone at the White Castle must have reconsidered, because GPS had a coughing fit recently and spewed out a couple of the public records we requested. Here is the marketing plan. Warning: Keyboard says your head might hurt from banging it on your desk, or face palming in disbelief as you read. It’s really that silly of a *plan.* Sigh.

Let’s start with “Guiding Principles.” In a nutshell, GPS will show that students are the first priority, while showcasing accomplishments and outstanding programs as GPS communicates to the community what is happening in these public schools. Goals include providing stakeholders with information and ensuring that communication is a two-way street. All this will happen to “Brand GPS as the school of first choice for parents and a national leader in education” as shown on page 1 of the formerly secret plan.

Did we just pick up on a Freudian slip? We’ve heard about that “national” stuff in other venues, such as Dr. Christina 3-2* Kishimoto’s illicit (meaning an event with all the Governing Board members which was not noticed to the public, thus violating state law) State of the Schools speech before her new-found Town Council and Chamber of Commerce pals in February of this year. Local media covered the speech at the time. It was imminently forgettable, EXCEPT for that “national” thingy she talked about.

Aha – now we know what Good Old 3-2 Christina Kishimoto is really planning. She is going to use Gilbert Public Schools as her vehicle for creating a national reputation for herself. Silly rabbit, all she needs to know is what Google has to say about her national reputation. Bottom line: it ain’t pretty.

It’s surprising that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto thinks the nation is going to laud her dismantling of an A-rated public school district as she pursues amorphous *reforms* she is keeping secret from the Gilbert community. Apparently, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto has two sets of plans. One is a lavish spending spree that will commence immediately should voters agree to the tax override and a bond issue for the district. The other is the draconian retribution she will unveil should voters tell her “No more money” in November’s special election that is costing something like seven teachers’ salaries. There is nothing new under the sun in GPS. <sigh>

Some members of the Governing Board have rubber stamps shoved way up their darkest recesses as they parrot Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s refusal to assure employees that salary equity is a top priority should the override and bond be approved. Look at Jill Humpherys, who still is running for a seat on the board, because that must have been the highlight of her life back when people applauded just because she showed up. Here are her weasel words as she attempts to assure GPS employees:

Jill Humpherys for Gilbert School Board: The entire board-superintendent team is committed to competitive salaries for teachers and staff. I have heard board members and the superintendent all agree from the dais. We do have to also consider curriculum, programs, and other essentials as well. To prioritize salaries, other areas that have been cut will need to continue at the current level. (July 1, 2015)

Notice that no one in the Halls of Power is talking about students being the top priority. No sirrreee, they just say “More money!” GPS put out some “Facts Concerning” the override and bond … what an embarrassment! Once again, students are more articulate than the highly paid Top Dogs in the district offices. Students also know about grammar and punctuation, which GPS Top Dogs have proven repeatedly to be beyond their capabilities. You can review those POS statements below.

The GPS Superintendent and Governing Board are using weasel words to avoid a true picture of what they will do if taxpayers give them more money. Here are some inconsistencies, somewhat akin to poker tells, revealing that taxpayers and GPS employees cannot trust their vaunted GPS leadership on those “Facts Concerning” statements:

No mention on students as the top priority for anything. “Remain competitive” followed by a bunch of things GPS will do to “ensure” college and career ready graduates, as if only high school matters.

GPS employees, this is the GPS BOHICA statement: “…offering wages that are competitive within the middle to upper third of comparable salaries.” That Gadd dude (is he gone yet?) already announced that’s exactly where GPS is already in comparison to other school districts, “middle to upper third.” If you believe you’ll get salary equity, you might as well expect a unicorn, as well.

“Continue to provide students with access to visual and performing arts, athletics … within a reasonable fee structure.” In other words, these resources will be cut if the override doesn’t pass and GPS will continue demanding exorbitant fees from parents for “extra curricular” activities.

Notice the first paragraph specifies funding “existing programs.” That’s another tell that cuts will be brutal to inflict maximum pain on parents as their kids are denied educational services that the community has come to expect.

Taxpayers, expect your taxes to go up next year whether or not the override passes. That’s because that Gadd dude manipulated the tax structure with the $3.6 Million that he refused to put toward employee raises. He was quite blatant about that. What he didn’t explain is the effect on taxes when GPS spends that $3.6 Million some time after November.

One of our defects as a nation is a tendency to use what have been called ‘weasel words.’ When a weasel sucks eggs the meat is sucked out of the egg. If you use a ‘weasel word’ after another there is nothing left of the other.” Theodore Roosevelt

GPS Facts about the 2015 Override Election and GPS  Facts about the 2015 Bond Election (click to enlarge):

Facts2015Override   Facts2015Bond

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* Big Fat Asterisk:
Perhaps it’s old news to call the GPS Superintendent “Christina 7-0 Kishimoto,” which reflected the unanimous vote by the Hartford School District to send her packing (which is what led Kishimoto to Gilbert, Arizona). Christina Kishimoto was hired by a split vote of the GPS Governing Board; pretty much everything else Kishimoto has tried to push through has been on a 3-2 vote, as well. “Christina 3-2 Kishimoto” is more appropriate today. We all know that 3-2 votes swing both ways.

Crocodile Tears from Top Dogs Gilbert Public Schools

It’s really crazy when the top administrative officials in a public school district moan and groan about how little money they’re paid. It’s almost as bad as watching the highest paid public school district superintendent in the State of Arizona nickel and dime taxpayers in order to make her personal life more comfortable. To show how bad things have become: When was the last time you heard ANY top level administrator talking about how their decisions and recommendations are based on the best interests of students?

What you usually hear is “We Need More Money.” When asked directly, “How much money is enough?” you hear crickets. We saw a new version of crocodile tears from a parent’s description of a conversation with Dr. Alexander Nardone, the Chief of Staff of Gilbert Public Schools, a dude who rode Christina 7-0 Kishimoto’s skirt tails into the district for a *one year only* position:

I mentioned to Dr. Nardone that some people were upset that the district administrators were also getting that 1.6% increase on top of their high salaries. He then told me that he took a $50K pay cut to come work here with Dr. Kishimoto and that his wife gave up her thriving social work practice to move (and she doesn’t have the licensing to work here). He also said that the money for the 1.6% increase came from the state for inflation funds and they thought it would only be fair to give it to all staff equally instead of picking and choosing who received it. Only Dr. Kishimoto will not receive that increase since she is on a different salary plan with a unique contract. I appreciated that he shared that with me.

You’ve got to wonder why this dude relocated from Connecticut to Arizona for a one-year gig. We’re waiting to see if he actually vacates his one-year position at the end of June 2015, like he is supposed to do. Maybe all that was just a cover story for the public, since there is a lot of complaining about the bloat of administrators making six-figure incomes (courtesy of taxpayers, few of whom make anything near that salary).

Board member Jill Humpherys routinely defends the highest paid public school administration in the State of Arizona.  During her speech at the *Listening Tour* of Arizona Superintendent of Education Diane Douglas, Good Old Jill Humpherys stated that GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto was being paid appropriately. The people in the room laughed out loud. The only surprise that day was that Jill Humpherys didn’t start crying … again.

The Gilbert Public Schools superintendency and cabinet are mostly out-of-towners who act like carpetbaggers and the few *home-grown leaders* are simply scalawags who prey on their former peers. We’ve noticed the top dogs in GPS using the term *peers* lately — it seems intended to force you, the hearer of the word, to acknowledge the rarified world inhabited by the speaker of the word. It must really, really pain Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to have to acknowledge that she has *peers,* but that’s a subject for another day.

Let’s talk about something the Book of Ecclesiastes got right: “What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.” We’re seeing plenty in Gilbert Public Schools in the run-up to the November 2015 election about a 10% override and a $98 Million bond. Since GPS CFO Jeff Gadd also fills a one-year only position (not counting all the months he got paid as a consultant before he got himself hired as CFO), he’s one of those carpetbaggers who thinks that because he doesn’t know GPS history, he figures voters are equally dumb  stupid  uninformed. That’s not the case, but folks like Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her sidekick Alex Nardone don’t realize it.

At a recent  work study session, Good Old Jeff Gadd had a PowerPoint slide showing how the extra $3.6 Million he magically found will be used to suppress the tax rate. It’s a ruse to make voters feel happy about the lower tax rate right before the election, of course. Back in 2012, the Arizona Tax Watchdog described a 40% jump in property taxes in the GPS district:

Various factors have caused the tax rate in the Gilbert Public Schools district to jump 40 percent this year, the highest increase in at least 30 years. Gilbert officials estimated the $2 tax increase per $100 of a home’s assessed value in July, when the governing board adopted the $305.87 million budget for this school year. The new budget includes a 2 percent pay increase for all employees, except the superintendent, for this school year only.

Last year’s tax rate was lower than normal because it was driven down by a significant cash balance in the district’s budget that totaled about $24.6 million. The cash balance drives down the property-tax levy, McCarthy said, adding, “When you do that, the next year’s calculation is predictably higher.”

Jeff Gadd actually said in public, “What we want to do with this new money that we’ve found is use it to reduce the tax rate before the election.” That is done by pretending to give the $3.6 Million back to voters instead of spending it before November 2015. That’s exactly what Budget C was under Dave Allison.

Apparently, Jeff Gadd doesn’t know that the original Good Old Boys already educated Gilbert voters about how a couple of million dollars can reduce the tax rate just before an election. It’s not something that “Robin Hood in Reverse” Dave Allison and his Merry Men intended to teach taxpayers, but people learned anyway. Back in 2013, there was an infamous “Budget C” that would lower the tax rate temporarily, at least until after the election. OMG, what a mutiny erupted from GEA and other Screaming Meemies! They even got an online petition going about Budget C. The 2013 override failed. (So did the 2012 override, but who’s counting?)

The GPS administration is now doing the same thing as the infamous Budget C: in other words, they learned you don’t raise taxes just before an election if you want an override and bond to pass. Seriously, by sequestering the magically discovered $3.6 Million, saying it’s needed for budget mitigation strategies NEXT YEAR, the tax rate is artificially suppressed for a short time. That, GPS employees, is why you will not see salary equity again this year. GPS, under the *leadership* of Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto and CFO Jeff Gadd, will spend that $3.6 Million as soon as the election is over, which will again raise the tax base. Taxpayers will see a large increase in their property taxes whether or not the override and bond pass.

Don’t believe for a minute all the pablum you’ll be hearing about “It’s only a cup of coffee” and similar spending comparisons. When your tax rates go up, it takes something like the Great Recession to bring any relief. Don’t buy into Jeff Gadd’s arguments that your taxes are going up because the economy is improving and the value of your house is increasing. The best we can all do is hope that Gadd dude rides off into the sunset at the end of June 2015. What are the odds Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto will ask him to stay on as a consultant until after the override election is over?

You do remember that Good Old Dave actually took money out of GPS employees’ pockets following the 2012 override failure, don’t you? There is nothing new under the sun.

Why Would Parents or Students Choose Gilbert Public Schools?

Remember the secretive marketing plan that was to showcase Gilbert Public Schools as the *District of Choice* for parents and students in the East Valley? The reason taxpayers came to know about the infamous marketing plan is that we persevered in requesting public records until we finally were granted access to four audio cassette tapes of *minutes* of a Gilbert Public Schools Work Study Session, which we helpfully shared by putting them online. We made public records requests for the actual *Marketing Plan* itself, but so far, all we hear from GPS is crickets.

First, let’s take a look at the current marketing GPS is doing in an online magazine that doesn’t even have its own URL. Heck, the magazine seems to have a history of only two issues, so it must be a great place to advertise [snark]. There are a couple of articles in the May issue that are truly cringe-worthy. First, Jeff Gadd and Jill Humpherys pat themselves on the back for not RIFfing GPS employees, starting on page 4. Second, Irene Paige-Mahoney-Paige has an almost unintelligible editorial in favor of an override on page 46 (lecturing to “one,” as in “an investment in one’s home and community, whether or not one has school aged children”). High school students can’t get away with such terrible writing, but this is supposed to be professional marketing, so it must be okay.

Look at the attractive and effective marketing charter schools are doing with ads in the same magazine. They make GPS’s half-page ad look amateur and unfocused, especially if you look at the ad on the page facing the GPS ad (pages 33-34). Once again, GPS has been outsmarted and outclassed. Which would you choose?

The GPS ad appears below. Keep in mind that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto was threatening parents and legislators about cutting Kindergarten back in February 2015. “The district will need to look at taking drastic measures beyond our proposed cost reduction strategies, which could include reducing the number of employees, including classroom teachers; consolidating and closing schools; or reducing full day Kindergarten to half day.” A *mixed message* is putting it mildly; it’s really just more Tone-Deaf Leadership from the top level of GPS.

You can click the ads to see larger images.

GPShalfpagead2015

Charter school full page ad, facing the GPS ad:   

Charterfullpagead2015

Now we see some really smart marketing aimed directly at the Achilles Heel of Gilbert Public Schools:

Charterhalfpagead2015

You would think that a marketing plan for a multi-million dollar school district would be slick, full of metrics and details about audience reach per dollar spent. A smart marketer would even be able to measure effectiveness of a professional marketing plan, but we know better than to expect such diligence and efficiency* from the highly paid staff at the GPS White Castle. Here’s the story behind the GPS marketing plan that hasn’t yet seen the light of day:

Kishimoto stated that the marketing plan was being developed “at no cost” by “silent partners who are working with me right now, who are experts.” Kishimoto also said, “We have engaged some of these folks. We are putting a plan together…so the board will be able to see where the funds are going.” It’s alarming to hear that initiatives for spending potentially millions of dollars are being developed in secret by “no cost silent partners.” Their conflicts of interest could be enormous. Are these silent partners consultants who are already “engaged” being paid with public funds? What’s happening behind closed doors?

If you thought the Good Old Boys and their “Gilbert Way” of doing business were bad, you ain’t seen nuthin yet: discussing closing schools, outlining budget framework for future school years and developing potentially multi-million dollar spending plans with “silent partners” while evading public scrutiny.

To give you an idea of what appears to constitute good marketing in this superintendent’s eyes, we helpfully located a copy of an advertising contract that Christina Kishimoto signed while she was in Hartford, Connecticut (apparently, it was one of many). You can see what Hartford got for spending almost $200,000 with an advertising agency:

Here’s another ad Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wangled out of Hartford taxpayers:

Do you wonder why the folks in Hartford got upset about spending so much taxpayer money on these ads? Now Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her bought-and-paid-for board members are asking Gilbert voters to approve a 10% override and a $98 Million bond. Can you trust the Joker Superintendent who approved this monumental mishmash and total waste of money before she got booted out of a job in Hartford? She’s known as 7-0 Kishimoto for a very good reason!

So which public school district in the East Valley won the Reader’s Choice Award? Higley Unified School District. Gilbert was #3. Wonder why.

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*Big Fat Asterisk: When board member Julie Smith called out GPS administrators for mistakes in board packet documents on May 26, 2015, Board Clerk Jill Humpherys immediately swooped in to rescue said mistake-makers by lecturing Julie Smith about asking those embarrassing questions before board meetings. Julie Smith said she had done so; she added that volunteer board members should expect administrators pulling down six-figure salaries to do accurate and efficient work. Alas, this is Gilbert Public Schools, where the Superintendent forms plurals of nouns by adding an apostrophe followed by the letter S. Sesame Street must be so embarrassed for Christina Kishimoto, Ed.D.

[Keyboard: My Sesame Street favorites are Letter B and L Toreador and Katy Perry!]


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