*Academy* Has Become a Four-Letter Word in Gilbert Public Schools

Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto, Ed.D.As the unintended wildfires relating to the decision to give Gilbert Classical Academy a new location at the expense of a neighborhood junior high school were being tamped down, the good people of Gilbert, Arizona were told that there will be two new *academies* in the school district. Mesquite Junior High School will become an academy sharing a facility (with multi-million dollar improvements!) with Gilbert Classical Academy, and Gilbert Junior High School also will become an academy of some sort. So sayeth Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, who apparently didn’t completely communicate all of her plans to the GPS Governing Board beforehand. Once again, GPS is reliving the old Cool Hand Luke aphorism, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Once again, failure to communicate is creating unintended consequences and controversies.

We’ve already shared Christina Kishimoto’s letter – the letter that came out of nowhere stating that Gilbert Junior High School also will become an *academy.* Good people who fought so hard for their schools, Mesquite Junior High School and Gilbert Junior High School, are striving mightily to put lipstick on that pig, but the fact remains: Christina Kishimoto makes plans she doesn’t bother to reveal to her bosses, the elected members of the GPS Governing Board. The community is left wondering who is in charge of Gilbert Public Schools when things like this happen.

For some unfathomable reason, board clerk Jill Humpherys has become the information maven of this latest GPS fiasco. She went to Mesquite Junior High School to lay down the law about the board’s decision to make Mesquite Junior High an academy, with uniforms, capped enrollment and a sports medicine focus.  There was such an uproar from the community that Dan Johnson, the principal of Mesquite Junior High School, sent out a letter to MJHS parents walking back the main contentions. “Never mind,” he says. There won’t be uniforms unless WE want them: “That is not a planned requirement for MJHS…” He went on to say sweet nothings such as the school design won’t be sports medicine; we’ll decide together. No enrollment cap. Collaborate. Yeah, sure. The good people who worked so hard to save their school (and by extension, their neighborhood high school, Mesquite High School, for which MJHS is the only *feeder* school), are not amused. Read on, Dan Johnson: your one-sided *collaboration* on behalf of MJHS already is being dismantled by your BFF, Dan Hood at GCA. (Click here for a larger version of the letter below.)


Remember what Westie told you, Mesquite Junior High School parents: GCA wants the whole enchilada. Apparently word came down from on high (GPS Chief of Staff Alexander Nardone, most likely) telling GCA to cool it. We’re sure Nardone’s words were accompanied by a wink, wink, nod, nod.  “Just get us through until summer,” he must have pleaded. “That’s when the board will do all the dirty deeds we have requested … while no one is watching.”

Nardone’s pleas would have fallen on deaf ears, because these GCA parents, administrators, teachers and students suffer from Special Snowflake Syndrome, and they don’t want to play ball unless they can change the rules in the middle of the game. If that brings to mind Christina Kishimoto’s request that the board suspend a regulation because she already violated the reg, the policy and the law, well … GPS history repeats itself at every opportunity for failure.

Special Snowflake Syndrome is a malady wherein the afflicted will demand special treatment, conduct themselves with a ludicrous, unfounded sense of entitlement, and generally make the lives of everyone around them that much more miserable. This condition, if left untreated, can radically alter the carrier’s demeanor, to include any of the following: a complete devolution to child-like behavior, temper tantrums, and/or fits of narcissistic rage.

GCA parents, administrators, teachers and students will not cool their jets or suddenly become reasonable. It’s not in their DNA. Exhibit number one: GCA principal Dan Hood’s follow-on letter to GCA parents about their victory over Mesquite Junior High. Principal Dan’s communication emphasizes, “We are going to do our very best to make sure we are the same school but with a new address.” Yeppers, they’re going to “preserve The GCA Way.”

To hell with all that touchy-feely collaboration!  Dan Hood and his GCA Snowflake NarcissistsBS  already “discussed uniforms for both academies.” Dan Hood told GCA parents the two schools going to *share* certain appealing activities as long as they can *take advantage of them.* Dan Hood also is telling Mesquite Junior High School that he has decreed they will wear uniforms … so his GCA snowflakes feel better about wearing their silly khakis. [It’s a harder sell every year, isn’t it, Dan Hood? Those ridiculous *uniforms* from the 1990s on today’s nerdy kids. Sheeeesh.]


The reason *academy* is a four-letter word in GPS is because, as Jill Humpherys explained, “The word academy just means a school with less than 1,000 students that has some innovative programming.” If you believe that, Westie has a bridge to sell you.  To understand what is about to happen to Gilbert Public schools, all you have to do is review Christina Kishimoto’s history of *school design.* As Yogi Berra said, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

Watch Christina Kishimoto discuss the four schools she *redesigned* in Hartford.  “First, all of the adults in the building leave.” Christina Kishimoto thinks it’s just *uncomfortable.* Notice that she redesigned a school into “Latino Studies Academy.”  It’s worth spending five minutes of your life to see the truth issue forth from Christina Kishimoto’s mouth. Be very afraid, GPS communities. Especially later in the summer when Christina Kishimoto and Her Three Votes think no one will be watching them as they finish dismantling neighborhood schools by *redesigning* them.

Think about what Christina Kishimoto has already done, for example, giving Gilbert Junior High School a new principal before she entered into any communication with the GJHS community. The “To hell with all that touchy-feely collaboration!” attitude starts at the top.  The reality is all buzzwords and made-up metrics: “Ten per cent improvement” means that what got *measured* improved. How it was *measured* is irrelevant. You must accept this as true because Christina Kishimioto said so.

Jill Humpherys thinks it’s all just great. She self-confessed she “doesn’t do numbers very well.” Who needs numbers when you can just make something up as you pull it out of your nether regions? All you folks who are getting recruited by or are applying to GPS for jobs, pay attention! There’s a reason the *mass exodus* of employees continues.

Introducing the *Spartangs* — GCA Takes Over Mesquite Junior High School

Bringing you up to date on the newest antics of the Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent and her captive Governing Board: Christina Kishimoto obviously had it all worked out to move Gilbert Classical Academy to Mesquite Junior High School to form a School Within a School. The audience was stunned at the swift saber strike that destroyed a neighborhood junior high school for the benefit of ungrateful students at GCA who demanded the entire school be dedicated exclusively to them.

The Governing Board was eerily quiet. President Lily Tram appeared by phone; since she is running again for a seat on the board, there probably was no way she was going to preside over this particular atrocity. There was a truly disgusting maneuver by Jill Humpherys to prevent audience members from speaking about GPS Special Education retribution against defenseless students. We’ll go into great detail on that issue in the future, which included despicable antics on the dais, including Christina Kishimoto’s call for Security when someone yielded their public comment time to persons who turned out to be Ryken’s parents.  Unbelievable.

The vote was 4-1. Discussion was simply regurgitation of some talking points and disputed *facts* related to what GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto had already decided to do. You can watch the Livestream video to see the obviously choreographed dance, with board member strings pulled by Christina Kishimoto, who didn’t even attempt to disguise her *coaching* that was needed to get Jill Humpherys through the meeting. Be sure to read some of the almost 800 viewer comments under the video, which has already been viewed close to 2,000 times. The kids from GCA commenting during that board meeting have shown their true faces to the world. A few adults tried to tamp down some of the more egregious comments by crass GCA students; for their efforts, they got called out by other adults and more boorish GCA kids. Sheeeesh.

Gilbert Public Schools decided not to close a school, but what the people who tried to save Mesquite Junior High School are learning is that their neighborhood school has been destroyed anyway. Birdies chirped that Jill Humpherys joined Mesquite Junior High principal Dan Johnson in explaining to parents and staff just what will happen. Mesquite Junior High will become an academy, whatever that means – we all know this is what Christina Kishimoto calls *reform.*  Kishimoto’s letter to the community outlining this *reform* is here (click this link to view).

Be very worried, Mesquite Junior High: GCA kids say, “Screw this. We’ll take over the whole school.” They mean it, and the table has already been set by Christina Kishimoto and her captive board. News flash: you GCA malcontents were never worthy of all the money GPS has poured into indulging your expensive proclivities and you have shown you are not worthy of the millions of dollars Christina Kishimoto is going to lavish on your new campus.

These are some of the scant details that have been revealed thus far:

** Mesquite Junior High School ACADEMY attendance will be capped at ~300-400 students.
** Mesquite Junior High School ACADEMY will specialize in sports medicine.
** Mesquite Junior High School ACADEMY students will be required to wear uniforms. [Bet they’re purple: Spartangs. Bow down before GCA.]
** If a student chooses NOT to attend Mesquite Junior High School ACADEMY, maybe they can be accepted at a regular GPS junior high school; no details are yet available.
** Gilbert Junior High School also will become an ACADEMY; no details are yet available.
** Transportation issues have not been addressed.
** Attendance boundaries for Mesquite Junior High School ACADEMY and the rest of GPS have not been addressed.

Be very worried, Mesquite Junior High teachers and support staff: there never was a promise that your jobs, even if transferred elsewhere in the district, would be safe. Given that there’s a big election on May 17, 2016 about Proposition 123, funding for schools, your jobs were never secure. There’s also the matter of *current year funding* which the educartel says will reduce state money to districts like GPS. As always, GPS employees are the last priority in any GPS budget, despite the lip service of the unscrupulous jerks who set up and pulled off this massive deception on the GPS community.

GPS still has no friggin’ clue why students and families do not choose GPS. They’re having another highly paid consultant do a survey, but apparently, those consultants will call only people whose phone numbers are supplied by GPS, according to the GPS website. Sure, they’ll get reliable data with this approach <sarcasm>.  If GPS doesn’t like the data, they’ll just ignore it or lie about it, like they did with the demographic data.

WestGroup Research of Phoenix has been commissioned by GPS to conduct a telephone survey with current parents of children attending District schools, parents who have recently withdrawn their children from a GPS school, and parents who live in the District but send their children to non-GPS schools.  The purpose of the study is to measure attitudes toward the District and its schools, as well as factors that influence school choice.

Finally, Mesquite Junior High School community, employees and students, did you know that your principal Dan Johnson was in on this from the beginning? He agreed to every bit of this deal that destroys your neighborhood school. He was one of Christina Kishimioto’s first hires back in 2014, and he always will do his master’s bidding. Otherwise, he’ll end up like (_fill in the blank, it’s no secret_) who apparently did not agree to betray his own school. BTW, GCA principal Dan Hood was hired in that same group; his letters to  GCA parents show that he misled them about what he had already agreed to for GCA.

Gilbert Classical Academy students, you should be ashamed. Those comments on the Livestream video absolutely, without a doubt, are proof that your attitude of entitlement is repulsive. Now you have almost everything you wanted, and you’re still unhappy. GCA students who were taught to be unique and exclusive snowflakes have proven that the negative community perceptions about you were right on target and well deserved.

Gilbert Classical Academy: National Rating Plummets, So Does Community Support

The Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools has a board meeting tonight, where they will vote on giving into the raucous demands of the unique and exclusive Snowflakes at Gilbert Classical Academy: “We deserve it!” Isn’t it wonderful when Karma steps in and kicks those Snowflakes in the asterisk? The ratings from US News and World Report are out, and the Snowflake School  GCA  experienced a precipitous fall in the *national* ratings. They’re #71. We’re sure they’re bragging now. <snark>

Imagine this…. You drop 61 places in the national rankings, you lose 50% of your enrollment every year and then you ask for a blank check to move into someone else’s school. Nice, GCA. Real Nice. We can’t post anything more on point than the video below, which shows the demands GCA has made. Will the GPS Governing Board continue to give GCA students more resources than any other students in the district?

Imagine more…. $200,000. That is the amount GPS will be spending per kid currently attending GCA if they spend the $8 million on them from the bond. $200,000 per kid. Some kids are more worthy than others? We’ll know after the GPS Governing Board vote tonight.

GPS lost the media this go-round — it’s just a taste of what the future will hold as a result of this catastrophe:

The three options on the table — to close either Gilbert or Mesquite junior highs and repurpose the building for GCA; or to cram GCA into Mesquite, along with a second academy for Mesquite students — aren’t good options. Pretty much everyone agrees on that.

So, how do we solve the problem? By choosing not to solve it. Not on Tuesday, at least.

Citizens are still speaking out. Will the GPS Governing Board listen to them?

Before the vote occurs on April 26th, I ask you to think of one, simple question: will the vote I make benefit the ENTIRE district of 36,000 students, or will only a small handful realize any significant gain?

I am not speaking of the cost. We all know that the GCA move will encompass the greater part of the $8,000,000 that’s been set aside. I am speaking of the students having a direct betterment of their educational goals. Will the majority of the 36,000 realize this move as an asset to them?

If you cannot speak to the larger gain for the district, then you must support a motion to table the GCA move, and truly listen to the community’s ideas. Because unless the movement of GCA is a boon to the district as a whole, it is irresponsible of the board and administration to continue to push the Gilbert Unified School District community to accept it.

The community has come together and is unified in the fact that the data, your data, does not support this closure. It is absolutely wrong to close a junior high in our district at this time. It is morally wrong, it is ethically wrong, and it is substantively wrong. You should absolutely not push this through to meet some unvetted priority list of an immensely unpopular superintendent. The timelines are arbitrary and the vote to close does not have to happen.

The community has spoken, even shouted at you to listen to them. There are hundreds of varied career specialties within the community who have taken the time to comb through and analyze the data and have seen that an eviction notice to one of two west Gilbert junior highs is completely unwarranted. You are elected officials who represent the voters who put you in office. How long will you ignore them? How long will you continue to press forward on a path that the community doesn’t want?

This isn’t about a community not accepting change — you mustn’t be so arrogant. There are more sources of ideas for good direction for the school district than the superintendent and her loaded committees. Committees who were made entirely of individuals who stood to benefit in one way or another from this outlandish plan. This is about a community in an uproar against an educational force that is pushing the wrong thing.

Surely you remember the pushback from an attempted school closure last time? Certainly EJ Anderson and Blake Sacha remember. You have to know you have angered now two communities and hundreds of others who are affected and sympathize with the cause to save a school. Our community needs to come back together.

You threatened a school closure if you didn’t get a bond and override passed and yet here you are, trying to close a school with all that money in your coffers. Go back to the drawing board. There are other unexplored options for GCA that do not involve imperialistic tactics. You have a chance to do this right. I’m sure you don’t want this debacle to be what you’re remembered for.

There is only one way this community outrage goes away and that’s to cast your vote so that no school closes.

Dear Mrs. Humpherys,

I am writing to ask you two pointed questions regarding the upcoming vote to close a Junior High School at the next Board meeting.

I want to know why, as a Governing Board Member, you have not spoken out publicly – not even once – in the last two months to correct the erroneous and deceptive information provided to the public by the Superintendent?

I have seen no updated material from the District, received no emails with corrected information, nor heard comments during official Board meetings that offered up corrected, factual information. As a member of the Surplus Space committee you are already aware of the error of using the SFB capacity numbers that were used to calculate and communicate to the public the current utilization of both Gilbert Junior High School and Mesquite Junior High School. This was done deliberately and intentionally to deceive the public into thinking that the schools are less utilized than they actually are. Also, at the first Community Forum in February, the Superintendent quoted new utilization numbers that were a complete and total fabrication – both schools being less than 50% utilized, when the actual District numbers are 69% and 70%, even based on mid-year attendance.

This deception and lie were meant to mislead the public, and as a Governing Board member, I would have expected you to correct this misinformation. You were made aware of it several months ago. Your lack of response can only mean that you are on board with the lie. Do you not want the public to know the truth? A decision that requires deception to persuade the public is a bad decision, period. A Governing Board member who refuses to correct the missteps of a Superintendent who has clearly lied to the public is unworthy of the public trust. The superintendent works for YOU. The buck stops with the Governing Board. Your silence speaks volumes about your ethics, and your commitment to transparency and truth in GPS.

Why did you vote in February to suspend the Board Regulation JC-R that clearly had been violated? 

You used the justification that “…life isn’t perfect, I’m ready to move forward…” and best of all, “…work to make really good decisions for kids, that will give them good education, THAT WILL GIVE THE COMMUNITY AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK, AND BELIEVE ME, I’M LISTENING…” to suspend a policy that would actually give the community…well, you know…an ACTUAL OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK.

Your justification that the end justifies the means, and that hard work and a difficult decision negate the Board’s obligation to follow its own policies and regulations is again another breach of public trust. If you vote (and you did) to change the rules in the middle of the game to make a decision, then the decision isn’t capable of standing on its own.

How do you reconcile these two actions with the guiding principle of dealing honestly with your fellow men in the Gilbert Unified School District? It’s OK for someone else to tell a lie if you (as a leader) just stay quiet? And the end justifies the means? Is that what GPS under this Board has come to?

Additionally, after hearing the Superintendent’s off-the-cuff estimate of “several hundreds of thousands of dollars” to send out notifications, and Mr. Nardone’s outlandish claim on only being able to handle a small amount of postcards at a time, I can only say, “Seriously?” Several Board members and everyone at the meeting knew that answer was another whopper of a lie. It literally only took seconds of thought to debunk that claim. There are only ~190,000 households in GPS, and this decision only affects half of them at best, call it 100,000 at the very uppermost, likely far, far less. For you to fall in line with the cost estimate of over two dollars per notification is preposterous. I understand that you are obsessed with cost control, and that is good, but there are good expenses and bad expenses. Public notification is an example of a good expense. Catered lunches for District executives and staff that are continually approved by you is an example of a bad expense.

The data do not support closing any Junior High School. That was made evident by the updated demographics study. Instead of overcrowding less than 500 students, you will be overcrowding a thousand or more, while leaving the new GCA campus significantly under capacity. How on earth is that a “good decision?” Even the most pessimistic Trend Capture projections predict growth at Gilbert Junior High School and Mesquite Junior High School in the next five years. And the consultant said the truth was likely in between the Stable and Trend capture rates (@59:25 on 4/12/16 WS), likely adding several hundred students to a campus that will be instantly overcrowded by this decision.

The fact that the Superintendent has to lie and deceive the public in an attempt to sway public opinion further demonstrates that this is a bad decision. Will you be on board with it?

There ARE other options for GCA. How this Board got this far down this specific path is indeed bizarre. There isn’t, and never was, space at a Junior High School for GCA. It was a promise that Mr. Allison should never have made. The data don’t support it.

It’s a matter of public record: Why students leave GCA has nothing to do with their current campus. These new demands are made because GCA knows that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto thinks GCA will be a feather in her cap when she finally gets that national reputation she obsesses over. Maybe now that GCA is not quite as highly ranked, this will fall by the wayside.

Gasp – could it be that GCA is now a FAILING school??? Or is it just falling? It’s certainly not what the citizens of Gilbert, Arizona want.


GPS Community: We’re Trying to Talk to You, Governing Board

Christina KishimotoWestie yields the blog. Will the Governing Board listen?
Dear GPS:
Please tell me we’re all wrong about a few things. That maybe we’re just not hearing you right.
Because, literally none of this makes any sense.

Please tell me you weren’t going to ask the GPS school board to vote on a proposed school closure before you actually have a policy in place to guide that process.
Please tell me I’m reading this wrong.
Voting on something, before developing the policy that regulates that “something.”

Please tell me you weren’t really going to do that. Policy is just about the only tool the community has to hold the district accountable for its actions. Policy is why we questioned you when you asked the governing board to suspend rules that regulated how parents need to be notified of a proposed school closure, after you failed to notify them properly earlier this year.

It didn’t look good when you tried to change the rules midstream. So, tell me you aren’t going to make them up as you go along on this one. Trust me. It won’t look good, again. And, it’s wrong.

Please tell me you’re not considering spending possibly millions of dollars to close one campus, relocate its students and move a specialty school in, as you face the bleak projection of a multi-million-dollar loss due to student turnover next year. Please tell me we’re wrong on that one.

Because, it certainly looks like you’re doing that. Your own budget proposals for the upcoming year assumes a 1,000 to 1,500 student loss. That equates to a more than $5 million deficit, compared to this year, should 1,500 students leave. Given the way you’ve handled this school relocation debacle, it’s not an entirely outlandish projection.

But, it’s more outlandish to spend money when you’re being told, right now, that money might be going out the back door at the same time.

Please tell me you didn’t commission a second demographics report, at a cost of about $15,000, with hopes it would tell you something different than the one you did a year ago. The first report projected growth?—?the second report projects growth. Neither of the reports provide data that supports a school closure, as confirmed by your own demographics contractor. On tape.


Gilbert’s housing market is noted as “vibrant,” so why contract?

In fact, the most recent report highlights how well Gilbert’s housing market is doing, and emphasizes the need for boundary realignment and instructional space at the junior high and high school levels. In case you missed it, your contractor who handled the report emphasized that the population of school-age children is on the increase in Gilbert. It’s your job to build up schools and communities in a way that attracts students, not runs them off.

The school-age population is increasing.

Perhaps most nauseating, please tell me you aren’t already moving forward with plans to build an auditorium at Gilbert Junior High School. Three sources have confirmed it. You aren’t, right? Because if you are, that would be wildly underhanded. Just crazy deceptive. And, I feel like it might even teeter on the edge of what’s legal, but I’m no attorney. I just know that if you are moving forward with plans to renovate the cafeteria to create more space for an additional music room, outlined on the blueprints that have been created, it means you know the outcome of a vote that hasn’t happened — and that community input, given in heart-wrenching fashion at community forums and through letters written to the board, meant nothing. Tell me you aren’t doing this.


Where the new auditorium is planned for GJHS, according to blueprints.

Please tell me you don’t plan to move ahead with closing a campus without a detailed cost analysis. I mean, how could you? Round numbers mean nothing in this case.

Please tell me you have specific answers to the still unanswered cost questions, including but not limited to:

Do you have answers to any of these things? Please tell me you won’t move forward unless you do. Although, if you do, and you decided not to share it with the public, that’s wrong, too. How can we truly know the whole picture if numbers aren’t attached?

Based on what we’ve seen to date, costs are certainly on an upward sliding scale. First it was $500,00 to close a junior high. Then it went to $1–2 million. And now you’re well on your way to $5 million (with a $5 million projected budget loss) by adding in a new auditorium and all of GCA’s other campus requirements. That’s a $10 million swing, just like that. And, that doesn’t even factor in the loss the district takes every year by educating out-of-district kids at GCA, since the cost to educated GCA students is greater than what the state gives the district in funding. Wow.

Please tell me you’re open to other possibilities. That you understand a school closure doesn’t HAVE to happen — and further, shouldn’t happen, based on the facts.

A “school within a school” is still a viable option, although it appears to have an inflated price tag attached to it. But, who would know without a cost analysis? Tell me you recognize that there is an opportunity to build up the western side of the district while also saving two schools and their communities. Look no further than town leaders who made a conscious decision to rejuvenate downtown Gilbert rather than abandon it.

Imagine this: Drop GCA in at Mesquite High and the students have access to all of the amenities, Mesquite’s enrollment issues are solved, and GCA has prime real estate on the edge of the district. If you don’t want to co-mingle junior high with high school, offer GCA’s junior high space at Mesquite Junior and have the program feed into Mesquite High.

And the possibilities don’t end there. That was just a mash-up of brilliance offered by fellow community members. Boundary adjustments, as the demographics report suggested, would do wonders for enrollment.


Even your contractors say boundaries need to be adjusted for balance.

Please tell me you own a calendar. And if you do, please tell me you actually look at it. Please tell me you understand the timing that comes with enrollment cycles. Tell me you understand that parents and students in sixth grade attended “welcome nights” at Mesquite and Gilbert Junior weeks ago, anticipating that big jump to seventh grade. Tell me you understand that you have injected another dose of crippling uncertainty into two communities that have already told sixth graders to choose their school.

Closing a junior high, ever — but especially this late in the year — with the benign information you have, is wrong. In fact, last time we did this dance, your former superintendent insisted that it was too late in the year to move forward — and that was in January. School’s out in a few weeks.

Junior high generally stinks. Most people can attest to it. Why make that transition harder for your students and your parents, many of whom trusted you a few months ago and supported a heavily-advertised bond and override?

Please tell me you have thoroughly thought through the very real consequences of decreasing instructional space in the district, and what kind of precedent that sets. What will our district do, when in the very near future, it is at capacity — or worse — beyond capacity? I’ll tell you what you won’t be able to do — ask the School Facilities Board, or the public, for cash. Not after you pull something as unjustified as this.

Please tell me you’ve looked at this. All of this. Please tell me you’ve asked these questions, and that you have these answers. Tell me you’ll share those answers. The real answers.

Please tell me you’ll do the right thing. Please tell me you won’t make up the rules as you go along, you haven’t moved forward with plans for an auditorium, you won’t spend unnecessarily, you won’t ignore future growth, you won’t disregard very real traffic and safety concerns, and you won’t make decisions without a detailed cost analysis.

Please tell me you won’t close a school. Please tell me you understand the facts don’t support it. Tell me you understand the community doesn’t support it. Please tell me you recognize that all of this is wrong.

Tell me you heard us.


How Corrupt Can Gilbert Public Schools Be? We’ll Show You.

When Westie wondered if Paul Holland’s presence on the GCA committee was a set-up giving cover for the GPS governing board to close a neighborhood school for the benefit of the unique and exclusive snowflakes that attend Gilbert Classical Academy, we never expected what some very tenacious members of the community turned up against all odds: an email exchange between Paul Holland, HDA Architects, and Alexander Nardone, Gilbert Public Schools Chief of Staff, an exchange that originated with  Mike Pilkington, a Preconstruction Assistant Project Manager at Core Construction, and copied to Todd Steffen, the Director of Preconstruction Services at Core Construction. See how the dots connect? Right back to GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, who is grabbing as much power as she can to shut out the public and the governing board as she dismantles what once was an A-rated school district.

Just so you know: the new auditorium at Gilbert Junior High School will cost $8.2Million to $8.4Million. The email is shown below. There’s not much of anything more to say about how Christina Kishimoto and her equally corrupt minions have been colluding with contractors who will make millions of dollars while she is superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools. After all, voters gave Kishimoto $18.6 Million annually for 5 years as an override, plus a $98 Million bond, and she’s in a hurry to spend it all before she’s out the door!

Please take three minutes to view the Youtube video below the email. Will the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board actually govern? We’ll know on April 26, 2016.




Paul Holland and HDA Architects Sleaze into a Design-Build Contract with GPS

If you thought it was odd that Gilbert Public Schools superintendent Christina Kishimoto put a local architect as a *community member* on the Gilbert Classical Academy Takeover Committee, you’re in good company. We’ve scratched our heads about what nefarious plan was underway since we saw the name of Paul Holland on that GCA committee. Paul Holland is an architect with HDA Architects:

Paul’s specialty is the development and implementation of “prototype” educational facilities. These prototypes utilize a standard floor plan and incorporate customized features for each particular district’s needs.  Paul has completed numerous prototype schools for districts such as Gilbert Public Schools…

Now we learn that there’s an architectural rendering of a planned auditorium for the campus of Gilbert Junior High School. Maybe all that talk about how GCA lusted for Mesquite Junior High School was a feint to throw off the public. Otherwise, Paul Holland and his company, HDA Architects, would not get a contract for a new auditorium at Gilbert Junior High School, because Mesquite Junior High School already has an auditorium. After all, in the past twenty years, HDA Architects has $53,186,508 of experience in Middle and Junior High School Additions and Renovations, out of $1.5 billion worth of educational construction completed and/or in the design or construction phases. More: 85% of the company’s work is in the educational sector. Sleazy, isn’t it? Actually, it’s much worse than that. But we digress.

The light bulb comes on: Was Paul Holland on the GCA committee just as a member of the community? Answer: This is GPS. Do you doubt for a minute that this was another setup? But if we give Paul Holland the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he was there to get a head start on the design/build contract that Christina Kishimoto always intended to offer to HDA Architects. Paul Holland was just as *genuine* as the superintendent’s *alleged* boyfriend was; we have learned that Charles Stevin Smith, former Executive Director of Technology, was the mastermind for the whole kit and kaboodle. Sleazy Steve Smith even pretended to be *just a GCA parent* when he told the Governing Board to get on with the voting.

Citizens asked for public records indicating what GPS plans to do to accommodate the ever-increasing *needs* that GCA loudmouths are screaming they must have for their snowflakes. Thus far, the reaction from GPS has been something along the lines of “there are no auditorium plans” and “repurposing GJHS would not build a new auditorium.” Sure… that’s exactly why Christina Kishimoto created a *Superintendent’s Committee* to do all the planning for GCA. That keeps everything *off the books* until GPS is ready to start building. We predict that date to be on or about May 1, 2016, after the GPS Governing Board votes on April 26, 2016.  We’re sure there will be a slight delay *to be kind.*

Apparently, Christina Kishimoto never expected ANY information to come to light about this nefarious closing of a neighborhood school for the benefit of GCA. Nope, Christina Kishimoto expected it to be a done deal at the February 23, 2016 board meeting. By then, her plans were so completely off track, students had already registered for next year at the junior high schools being considered for closing, and there was an Arizona statute looming over the shambles of Christina Kishimoto’s great plans for GCA. She had successfully conned Her Three Votes into doing everything else she wanted, so why would Christina Kishimoto doubt for a minute that the GPS Governing Board would just roll over and do her bidding once again? Thank goodness Charlie Santa Cruz saw the light and refused to play the *Suspend the Regulation* game.

Nonetheless, real actual people have seen the plans. The drawing below shows where the auditorium will be located, according to those plans. All that blather about GCA needing more athletic fields was just a ruse, since the new auditorium will take up the space now occupied by one of those fields:


Never mind that the GCA Permanent Facilities Report dated December 1, 2015 shows a lot of blueprints depicting changes that will be made to Gilbert Junior High School. Never mind that GPS demolished the community swimming pool on the Gilbert Junior High School campus last year, GCA will need more parking spaces. Never mind that GPS says there are no plans to build an auditorium for GCA: “No, no, there’s nothing to see here, move along.” From community members:

So when I asked the board specifically not about “capacity” numbers but actual numbers of empty classrooms the information always was there in the GCA report. Even so, GPS said they did not know. Since when is it okay to lie to the public?

Plans show that GCA will have 2 teacher work rooms, teacher lounge, 4 computer classrooms, exercise room, 2 health rooms, choir room, orchestra room, band room, career center room, large elective room, gym, stage and all fields needed. It must be okay for the rest of the GPS kids to be in classrooms with 35+ other kids and/or in portables on the fields.

I call the GCA folks greedy! What person in their right mind says…”I urge the board to look past the number of families impacted” ? GCA wants what they want and they want it NOW!

I have been at this since 2012, along with a lot of the people in my neighborhood. The only people that are probably more tired of all of this than I am are the staff at Gilbert Junior High School. Imagine what going to work every day must be like for them.

Secrecy. Refusing to listen to the community. Balls to the Wall and Damn the Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead to give GCA a new home by closing a neighborhood junior high school in an area projected for growth by the district’s own consultants. It’s part of the dangers of inflexibility and self-importance. *I’m a Lighthouse* illustrates Christina Kishimoto’s arrogance:

This is the transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95.*

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a Collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that’s one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: I’m a lighthouse. Your call.


*Big Fat Asterisk: In the spirit of being *Authentic and Informative,* we have to confess that the transcript is a joke. A famous joke. The *faux* transcript supposedly was released by the Navy Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Boorda. We served with Admiral Boorda. He could always take a joke, or make one. The photo at the top of this post is real: the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy in January 2012.

GPS: If Stupidity Got Us Into This Mess, Then Why Can’t It Get Us Out?*

As the Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools prepares to vote on whether to close a neighborhood junior high school and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy, we know that there is a serious problem with communications from GPS, where Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and members of the GPS Governing Board are talking out of both sides of their mouths. They just won’t be honest with the community, as proven by the double talk about how any student can be accepted into GCA. We all know that’s not true: GCA Principal Dan Hood acknowledged records are scrutinized before students are accepted. Then there’s the inconvenient fact that GCA kicks out any kid who fails a class. 

The truth about the decision to give GCA a new campus was revealed by accident a year ago.  That was when board member Charlie Santa Cruz and Chief of Staff Alexander Nardone patted each other on the back about the deal made behind closed doors to close Gilbert Junior High School. They chortled that the displaced students could go to GCA as their neighborhood school; if families did not choose GCA, well it was their CHOICE.

In a moment of candor, not knowing that their microphones were on or that there was a video recording of their comments, Nardone and Santa Cruz revealed the hoax that was in the works about closing Gilbert Junior High School:

Nardone: It also I think offers the ability to incorporate those neighborhood kids into GCA so you could grow GCA……the neighborhood kids who wanted to stay and participate in GCA would have that option of staying in their neighborhood.
Santa Cruz: And those who chose another school it was because they chose it.

 This was in total contrast to their words spoken in the official board work study session moments before. This is pretty much the same thing that happened with Christina Kishimoto’s reforms that ruined neighborhood schools in Hartford, CT. Destroy the community school and *redesign* it as an academy for 1% of district students who have powerful ties to former district officials and the current mayor of Gilbert.

Who do they think they’re fooling? Now Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Her Three Votes are pretending to evaluate whether to close Gilbert Junior High School or Mesquite Junior High School. That happened because GCA weighed in and said Gilbert Junior High School was not what they wanted. GCA wants more … they want everything on their wish list. Because they deserve it, they say.

The photo below shows members of the Gilbert Junior High School community who called out the double-speak and untruths being bandied about as the board pretended to listen in a public hearing. Let’s revisit what members of the community are saying.


This is not a tough decision. It’s a bad one. Fix the boundaries. Find out why we are losing kids. Do not close a school.

This entire issue has turned into a circus. My children attended GPS schools and now my grandchildren. I live in the area of Gilbert Junior High School and my neighborhood will be affected by this closure. Gone are the days when my children attended GPS schools and the board/superintendent had integrity. Closing a school has ALWAYS been THE option. Why else wouldn’t the board start budgeting for a permanent location a long time ago when GCA was in the “trial” phase? Because the plan was most likely to always “repurpose” an existing school. The area of Gilbert Junior High School  is saturated with children. “But parents are choosing other schools out of boundary with the open enrollment policy,” they cry in mock alarm. Well, yes. Perhaps they fear their child’s junior high school education will be interrupted because the district can’t get their crap together, so they avoid GPS out the gate. And it doesn’t take long to look at Gilbert Junior High School  and see how the district has neglected it. It’s probably the poorest kept school in the district at the junior high level, which makes one wonder how deep the neglect runs beyond what the eye can see. GPS has no business closing a school. Any school.

I’m an alum of both Gilbert Junior High School and Gilbert High School. The Town of Gilbert continues to grow and needs to keep the schools open to best serve the community. Gilbert was just listed as a best place to live for saving money. The town is included in many lists/ranking showcasing the benefits of living in Gilbert. Closing a school is counterproductive. How can the town pride itself on being a great place to live if they don’t support a solid school system for all students?

I do not agree with the closure of any school. I still cannot believe that this is still even being considered. When you look at all the facts and the issues this would create, it does not make any sense to close any schools. GPS has gone through some rough times the past few years and closing one of these schools is only going to make that worse!!!! I feel that GCA should find their own location and do things the right way. Find another location for GCA that will not displace other children so EVERYONE can be happy!!!!

I care about the kids and teachers not in GCA. I don’t want classes at GCA to be 10 kids to 1 teacher, while public schools become 60 kids to 1 teacher.

GCA students are getting a free ride at our expense. Students at GCA also have a higher number of credits to take in order to graduate: 28 vs. 25. They do not pay for this, the district pays for it.  Plus, 22% of GCA’s population is from outside of district, and our district pays the extra expenses for those students. Anyone in other GPS schools who has had a music/band student the last couple of years who takes an A hour class knows that the $160 class fee was tough to stomach, particularly during the first week of school.

When you take away classes offered that promote a “comprehensive” high school, you lose students to schools that offer them. The teachers were there, they were told that they couldn’t make the classes! Those teachers left! Just like many of the teachers I have spoken to are planning to do. It’s so sad … a once amazing district, sinking into the abyss!

GPS is not treating students equitably, they’re lavishing all kinds of extravagances on GCA and starving the other schools. AP classes and other classes throughout the district are not offered because schools other than GCA do not have staff certified to teach them. AP classes aren’t being offered at Mesquite High School. The exact list is pending, but I know for a fact the ones my student can’t get into. This is not a GCA issue, not a Mesquite High School issue – it’s a district and funding issue. The problem becomes when these classes are offered at GCA, who wants to district to spend money on moving GCA to a new home, when equivalent classes can’t be offered at other schools because of funding. I don’t see how anyone could think that is fair or equitable.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Board and Administration to recommend what is best for the ENTIRE district regardless of what a very small and limited committee recommends.

There has been so much deceit and deceptive practices on the part of the GPS administration, nothing would surprise us at this point. This whole process has been dirty, dating back to 4 years ago when the administration promised to find GCA a new home. It’s a very sad situation and we are the folks in the middle of it all as it directly affects our kids, our teachers and our families. My heart goes out to the next neighborhood GPS decides to go after. Once the smoke clears on this issue, it won’t surprise me one bit when they go after the next target without repercussions. This whole situation is wrong and something needs to be done about it.

No school should close.


* Big Fat Asterisk: Nope, Westie didn’t make this up. Will Rogers did

Gilbert Public Schools: Traffic Safety, PSHAW!

Westie again yields the blog to residents of the Gilbert Junior High School community. The topic is traffic safety, or lack thereof, associated with giving the campus of Gilbert Junior High School to Gilbert Classical Academy, a 7-12 specialty school whose population is very pompous about their privileged place in the hierarchy of the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board and administration. Westie would like to say that parents of GCA students seem to be arrogant, but we defer to the fact that no one can match the arrogance we’ve all experienced from GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.  Click here for Traffic Concerns #1.

First, let’s watch a video that shows exactly what the traffic safety situation is now. A text narrative from the person driving the car appears below the Youtube video:

You cannot appreciate the problem until you actually see it.  I pulled out my phone and recorded on a whim; it was not planned and it showed every single thing I have a problem with regarding safety around here. There was a line of cars behind me trying to get a spot at the curb to pick up their kids. It is insane and the Town and district’s flippant attitude makes me think they did not do a field observation like they said they would. Traffic counts are one thing, but actually witnessing the problems first hand would be another.

Notice the kid who tries to cross as I am going through the intersection. He was not paying attention AT ALL to the crossing guard and decided he wanted to cross even though it wasn’t his turn. What this video failed to show was the car that almost hit me then swerved around me on my right side because I was stopped to let the kid cross in front of the cul de sac.

Over the years we had some tense moments at the 4 way stop sign as many drivers seem to forget or disregard the fact they are supposed to yield to pedestrians in a cross walk at Burk Street and Houston Avenue. In the race to get through the 4 way stop, many drivers don’t even notice pedestrians on the corners attempting to cross the street. The crossing guards that are at the 4 way stop sign at school drop off and pick up times could probably attest to at least one near miss a day. If someone needs to cross outside of the times when there are crossing guards or in the evening or morning when it is dark, they are literally taking their lives into their own hands.

I want to detail a few of the traffic and safety issues I encounter on an almost daily basis. My main concern is that if we already have these issues, what is it going to look like with the increased traffic that a larger school like GCA will bring.

If GCA moves into the Gilbert Junior High School campus it will no longer be a walking school. Its students will have to be bused, driven by parents, or the most concerning to me, drive themselves. Additionally, there will be increased bus and parent traffic because the neighborhood students that were displaced from GJHS will have to go to another school that is not within walking distance. At the same time, Houston Elementary will remain a walking school, so those young children who walk to and from Houston will have to pay the consequences for the havoc that it will wreak on the roadways in this neighborhood.

• Many drivers disregard the posted speed limits, especially on Houston Ave. Almost every single time I drive down Houston I am tailgated by someone who thinks I should be going faster. Yesterday, as I attempted to turn right into my cul de sac I was almost rear ended by a driver who was following too close. I had to come to a complete stop before turning because there were students crossing the small street at the entrance to the cul de sac. There are no crossing guards at these entrances so children must cross on their own and hope that drivers notice them and stop to let them cross.

• The bike lanes on Burk have clearly posted signs forbidding parking or stopping but, because Gilbert Junior High School has very little in the way of a parent drop off lane and that drop off lane gets congested with traffic, cars and buses alike, they stop and let their children out of the car in the bike lane. It creates a very unsafe situation for the students and the other cars on the road.

• When traffic backs up at the four way stop sign, drivers on Houston like to create their own right hand turn lane. The street is just wide enough so that they can squeeze in next to the cars that are already waiting at the stop sign. I have seen drivers fly into that space with their tires inches from the curb where a group of students are standing waiting to cross. I have seen two cars jockeying for position to turn right when really only one should be there. I have also almost been t-boned turning left into my cul de sac from Houston because a courteous driver gave me a break to turn in, but an unsafe driver decided to make a turn lane where there wasn’t one and I could not see them and they could not see me and we came mere inches from colliding.

• Many parents, to avoid having to deal with the four way stop and school zones will use the cul de sacs as their own pick up and drop off points. Because they are in a hurry they often pull in at speeds that are not reasonable, whip around the cul de sac and come to a screeching halt at the stop sign. Their kids jump out and they go on their way, often not even noticing or stopping for the walkers who are trying to cross the roads at the end of the cul de sacs.

I understand that the Town of Gilbert does not have a vote and that they do not control what the GPS Governing Board decides. The Town of Gilbert, however, has responsibility over the streets, roadways and safety of our neighborhoods. To my knowledge, GPS has not requested or performed on its own a traffic study that will look at the impact of their decision on the neighborhood residents and their safety.

I know the decision has not been made to close Gilbert Junior High School, but it is, in many people’s minds, the most viable option. Waiting until after the decision is made to even study or address these concerns would be irresponsible, as the safety issues a move like this would create should be factored into any decision. The negative impact on the safety of the children and residents of this area cannot be understated — the potential decision to repurpose Gilbert Junior High School as Gilbert Classical Academy is far more dangerous than town or district officials will admit.

Hey, Governing Board: the community does not support closing a school. Any school. Your own data shows growth, not decline. 


Christina Kishimoto’s “School Design” Will Kill GPS Neighborhood Schools

Christina Kishimoto“School Design” is the new mantra of Gilbert Public Schools, and that’s what’s driving Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s determination to close a neighborhood school so she can turn the campus over to Gilbert Classical Academy. When three new elementary school principals were hired at the March 2016 board meeting, they repeated the mantra “School Design” in their effusive thanks for their new jobs. “School Design” is what got Christina Kishimoto fired in Hartford, Connecticut, so of course, that must be exactly what she is doing in Gilbert, Arizona. 

Highly respected educator Diane Ravitch sums up what’s happening in Gilbert Public Schools: “Education is in crisis because of the calculated effort to turn it into a business with a bottom line. Schools are closed and opened as though they were chain stores, not community institutions.  How did Diane Ravitch know that Christina Kishimoto was nominated by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce as *Business Woman of the Year*? [rhetorical question] It’s not like Christina Kishimoto wasn’t fully and personally participating in that business process – look at what Kishimoto had to do to be named an *honoree* after being nominated by her peers (not that Christina Kishimoto thinks anyone is her equal, but we digress):

To be considered for these awards, men and women are nominated by their peers. Once nominated, they must submit a written questionnaire and participate in a personal interview. The questionnaire is reviewed and the nominees are interviewed by a panel of business professionals. This panel submits their recommendation for each award to the Chamber’s Board of Directors for final review and approval.

Yep, Christina Kishimoto is  proud of being a business woman first and last. She is not licensed in the State of Arizona as a school district superintendent because she has never, ever taught in a K-12 classroom. But she sure can tell you that the “educational leaders” she has installed are working on a “School Design” that she approved, most likely with a business point of view! Of course, a fiasco like Kishimoto’s Great Payday Melee would get most business leaders fired, but hey, it’s for the kids, right? Anything goes in GPS while Christina Kishimoto is superintendent, like thousand dollar lunches for board members and favored staff … at just about every meeting, it appears. After all, corporations can buy lunches for employees and give the CEO an unlimited expense account – why can’t GPS do the same? Oooops, there’s this concept called *public funds* that is at stake in GPS, and the rules are different for public entities. That must distress Christina Kishimoto to no end … not that she pays attention to things like *public policy* or cares that her position is endowed with *public trust.*

This is how members of the public see Christina Kishimoto’s latest “School Design” initiative: as a scam. Notice that the superintendent ignited this public storm and disappeared from view. Did you really believe she would ever look at any of the communications being sent by outraged members of the community? Or even just *concerned* members of the community? In a nutshell: “More deception and lies from the administration. And a board that refuses to do their job and act as a check and balance.”  More:

It would be nice to be able to talk about facts but the lack of transparency shown by the district makes it almost impossible not to speculate. If GPS wanted to put rumors to rest then they would have done their due diligence from the beginning. Let’s start here:

**They would have had a committee studying options that was not composed of just those that had something to gain.

**They would have publicized far and wide the very existence of that committee and the meeting times and dates so all of GPS got a say in the matter.

** They would have not tried to suspend their own policy regulation regarding notification of a school closure.

** They would have made public real numbers with real estimates and detail about what each option would cost and had those numbers available at the forums.

I could go on and on and this is just a small portion of what GPS could have done differently so that the public would not be left to speculation. This is a public school district. The public should know what is going on.

Apparently, this chaos in the school district, the biggest employer in the Town of Gilbert, is perfectly fine according to the present Mayor and Hopeful Future Mayor. Westie would like to know how many free meals John Lewis and Jenn Daniels have received from GPS, but we digress. Members of the community are not amused at this laissez-faire attitude from these two Town leaders:

I would think that our town’s elected officials would be bothered by the fact that its district feels the need to downsize. At a time when post-recession growth is so critical, that’s not a metric — I would think — that town officials would like bantered about. If I recall, they did get involved with school board issues a few years ago — even going so far as to come speak at a meeting and writing a letter in the newspaper. But, maybe they want to stay out of it now.

Mayor Lewis and Councilwoman Daniels did weigh in about the schools. Some felt like the Op Ed was chastising the board during a time when there was a fair amount of contention between the board members. Many votes then were 3-2 with Burk, Colvin and Smith on one side of an issue and Humpherys and Tram on the opposite side. Funny, we have the same situation now, except the board majority has completely shifted. There is still no consensus. I would think that Lewis and Daniels set a precedent with this Op Ed and if there were ever a time to speak up about the impact of what is going on within GPS on the Town of Gilbert as a whole, this would be it. Much of what they said is still very relevant today.

The Op-Ed mentioned above is titled *Community Voices: Quality education draws many people to Gilbert.* 

In Gilbert, we are fortunate to have three A-rated public school districts serving our vibrant community, with nineteen charter and three private schools that offer unparalleled education for our youngest residents.

… There are, and always will be, challenges in education. It can be difficult to see through our passion for children and our desire to give them the best chance at a successful future. As we look past the emotion, rhetoric and politics, we will find practical, viable solutions for our students, teachers and staff; solutions that will benefit this community now and well into our bright future.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is hell-bent on establishing her *national reputation* through reforms that no one wants in this formerly A-rated school district. That doesn’t matter much, because Christina Kishimoto has Her Three Votes on the Governing Board who will do whatever she wants.

In the present case, the community has again turned against the administration and is well on the way to turning against the elected officials who parrot what they’re told to say. Remember what happened last time?

The bottom two vote getters so far are Anderson, director of community partnerships at Rio Salado College and mother of five, and Sacha, an SRP engineer and father of two GPS children.

At the next board meeting, they’ll vote, most likely to close a neighborhood school, because that’s what Christina Kishimoto decided to do … probably before she took over the Gilbert Public Schools district.


Gilbert Public Schools: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics*

Gilbert Public Schools held a work study session so a hired demographer could come explain to the board exactly what we believe he had been paid to say: “Give a junior high school to Gilbert Classical Academy, because…” He got stuck on the “because” part of that sentence, apparently because what he had been paid to say didn’t match the data he presented. Meet Rick Brammer, co-founder of Applied Economics, who was paid $15,000.00 by GPS for a demographic report in April 2015. We don’t know why or how much he was paid to do the same report again in 2016, but it’s not difficult to figure out what he was paid to say.

Watch as Governing Board member Daryl Colvin calls out GPS student losses for what they are, a self-fulfilling prophesy. That’s exactly what has been happening in GPS with the nasty attitude from the top toward Gilbert Junior High School. Starve the school for resources, scare families away by trying to close the school and then try it again a few years later. Keep Gilbert Junior High School employees on pins and needles awaiting their fate: will they have a job at all if Superintendent Christina Kishimoto succeeds in closing the school this time? Rick Brammer, the demographer dude, was rendered speechless by the level-headed common sense of Daryl Colvin’s remarks:

GPS lost 900 students this year, but GPS does not know why. Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her gang of over-paid chief officers pulling down six-figure paychecks don’t really want to know why GPS lost 900 students last year. Their hair is on fire to reform the district, so who cares about students? They must believe “If we build it, they will come.” Gilbert locals know better than that, but Christina Kishimoto and her band of carpetbaggers and scalawags don’t know about the failure of Gilbert’s Big League Dreams adventure. Of course, Big League Dreams also is losing money at a fast clip in Redding, California. Sorry, we wandered away from the point, which is that Gilbert Public Schools is losing money, too, but the administration is clueless. Maybe they figure the public will approve another tax override and bond, since the present situation is being managed so well. <snark>

With absolutely no data, because there isn’t any data about why students leave GPS, Rick Brammer blamed the loss of 900 GPS students on charter schools. Brilliant, dude! That must have been part of what he was paid to say this time. It’s been well known for a long, long time that GPS doesn’t do anything like exit surveys–well, genuine exit surveys–to determine why parents take their children out of GPS schools. Or why parents don’t enroll their children in GPS schools to begin with. Nope, GPS just says, “Charters” like it’s a dirty word and that’s the end of it.

Basically, Rick Brammer says in a couple of different ways, there’s no rhyme or reason for why GPS loses students. He gets all wonky about trend capture versus stable capture before he gets to what he was told to say, “Current and future enrollment by school shows trends that may require modification of attendance areas as the school-age population continues to shift eastward.” The slides show a mixed bag of data:

** Since 2009/10 enrollment has declined by about 2,700 students (1.2% annually), with a loss of about 900 students this year alone.
** Out of District enrollment declined by 708 students (5,357 to 4,649), while the loss from within the District was somewhat less than projected.
** Greatest external losses from the Higley and Queen Creek areas.
** No clear pattern to gains and losses in the western part of the District.
** Addition of nearly 10,000 households over the next 10 years.

Don’t take Westie’s word for it, watch for yourself:

Hey, Rick Brammer and Applied Economics: we’d be a lot more impressed with your work if you hadn’t neglected to change the metadata of your Powerpoint presentation from the “Balsz School District” title. Also, we noticed you covered up the area on the map of the construction going on within the Mesquite-Gilbert Junior High School boundaries. See slide #12 of the new demographic study. Cheap trick, huh? Then there’s the fact that you covered up the most important data of the entire presentation, the projections of school age population and enrollment. See slide #14 of the new demographic study.  Then your Powerpoint slide show didn’t function correctly … those projections just stayed hidden during your presentation, didn’t they? Sheeesh. And you’re supposed to be data nerds … we figure you probably kept the data hidden because it didn’t say what you had been paid to say. Bazinga!

Hey, board members who are going to vote on closing a neighborhood junior high school and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy: the numbers you have been given suck, but it’s worse that you don’t know why those numbers suck. For one thing, losses on the east side of the district were most likely influenced by the new schools opening in the area, not all of which were charter schools. You know, there are other school districts like Higley, Queen Creek and Chandler. Yes, Chandler School District goes way east to Sossaman Road, with shiny new schools on the east side. All of those areas are growing. But GPS is dwindling. BTW,  we noticed the presentation did NOT use the 100 day Average Daily Membership … you know, the numbers that would show just how many students GPS actually lost between semesters this year. Nope, Rick Brammer and Applied Economics used the 40 day ADM and we’re *sure* there was a statistically valid reason. <more snark>

What GPS doesn’t want to accept is that those other school districts are enticing a lot of GPS students, just as the many nearby charter schools are doing, and it’s not just on the east side of the district. Nope, the western area that was covered up on Slide #12 has some serious construction happening now, and more coming in the near future. Chandler School District knows it, and has been sending around some seriously attractive marketing communications to those residents. And gee, for an area GPS derides as *declining,* Legacy Traditional School sees a bright future there. This time, the charter school is going for the whole enchilada, K-12. And GPS sits holding its    (fill in the blank, more than one word if you want)   .

Some direct quotes from Rick Brammer, the high-paid demographic consultant from Applied Economics…

“I’ve seen districts try to do the same thing [as Legacy charters] and it HASN’T helped…”

“There’s no ‘always works’ kind of thing that I’m aware of.”

“I think it’s very interesting that some do, and some don’t [succeed]”.

“But you have to try.” However, he further stated that it’s hit or miss, and even schools with high satisfaction ratings will lose to charters.

The best example of “pocketed success” he gave was the Kyrene Spanish immersion school where 2/3 of the students were from out-of-district. It also happens to be located 2 miles from the town of Guadalupe.  But at least they knew their market and played to it. GPS is just grasping at straws, and doesn’t have a plan that would lead to success. GPS admins and board members have been too busy being hyper-focused on one single issue for the last almost six years: Gilbert Classical Academy. GPS is pushing students and families out of the district. On purpose.

If the GPS Governing Board votes to close a neighborhood junior high school, it won’t be based on data. It will be based on what Christina Kishimoto wants, so she can burnish her national reputation. Somehow, we don’t think Christina Kishimoto will have a new school named after her, like Chandler Superintendent Camille Casteel has.

*Big Fat Asterisk:
No, we did not make this up: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Sign the petition: No School Should Close – Keep Gilbert Jr High School and Mesquite Jr High School Open


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