More Resignations and Retirements in Gilbert Public Schools

The Great Exodus of 2015 represents quite a learning curve for loyal Gilbert Public Schools employees. Last year, the huge number of resignations and retirements was made out to be the fault of conservative board members. According to local media pundits in 2014:

The perception is out there that teachers and administrators are under attack, and that they better get out now while they can find jobs elsewhere. Staying loyal to Gilbert — even if it is one of the state’s top-ranked school districts — simply isn’t worth the risk. We’re losing hundreds of years of collective experience, all in one fell swoop. And once that kind of knowledge is gone, it’s going to be hard as heck to get it back.

Blame was laid on thick by a group of self-promoting nay-sayers and Gilbert Education Association back in 2014. They loudly proclaimed: “The only staff left are the bitter dregs of a once-excelling school district! All the amazing teachers are gone! Conservatives ruined this district!” The only problem for them was that those occupants of the GPS Clown Car got it wrong.

This year, there’s a huge uptick in GPS employee losses, which has to be embarrassing for Superintendent Kishimoto, who famously claimed she was hired to stop “the mass exodus of employees” that occurred during the 2013-2014 school year.  This year, GPS employees have finally accepted that loyalty, the hallmark of long-term GPS employees, has been a one-way street for years and won’t change with the new administration or the new bought-and-paid for board members.

Today’s headline: Teachers threaten protest at Gilbert school meeting. (We covered that subject already, here and here.)

Turmoil has enveloped GPS for more than a year as employees battle with the school board and now some say the board has gone too far with controversial contract wording. Many plan to protest a recent GPS board decision that some are calling an “imprisonment clause.” The clause would include monetary fines for employees who leave their contracts early.

Let’s look at the numbers, as of the end of May each year:
2015Mayresign-retire

2014Mayresign-retire

At the last board meeting at the end of April 2015, Board President Lily Tram and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto shut down discussions that two board members tried to bring out in public. How? By saying that board members Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith could discuss their concerns about employee contracts during the next policy committee meeting. Guess what happened.

Okay, time’s up. What happened in the illegal Policy Committee meeting* was that there was not a hint of a discussion about GPS employee contracts. Nope, that’s when Superintendent Christina Kishimoto unloaded her super secret plan to require GPS students to take a year of foreign language credits or no graduation for them! What else happened: Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, the highest paid superintendent in the State of Arizona, and her highly paid staff members and the entire school board enjoyed ANOTHER catered lunch at taxpayer expense. It’s like these folks can’t pay for their own meals, but the struggling families in the Gilbert Public Schools district boundaries can cough up more, more and more dollars to feed pigs at the trough.

Christina Kishimoto’s recommendations for her *reforms* have been all over the map. Suddenly the focus is on new graduation requirements for students, adding a year of foreign language study for all students. Who knew Gilbert Public Schools needed these reforms? Certainly not the community. Certainly not the taxpayers. It was only Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her lackeys that believed GPS needed to invest MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in Google Chrome books. They said it was necessary so students could take standardized tests online. <face palm>

Also on Christina Kishimoto’s recommendation, the GPS Governing Board approved a teeny-tiny across-the-board pay raise for all employees, including those carpetbaggers who receive six-figure salaries. Then Good Old Jeff Gadd *discovered* an extra $3.1 MILLION, but he’s saving it to keep taxes down while GPS tries to sell an override and bond to taxpayers. Some employees are more equal than others, as it turns out.

The newest pigs at the trough, those who are getting raises as high as 25% ON TOP OF THE ACROSS-THE-BOARD raises for all employees, mostly are support staffers who work at the White Castle, the GPS district offices. Plus Crystal Korpan, the gal whose short career was a rocket ride through GPS, got paid $720.00 as a consultant after she resigned to go to work in the Queen Creek School District. Crystal Korpan’s departure apparently was not subject to the Imprisonment Clause that now applies to GPS employees who try to leave. Life is sweet for a select few, as it always has been in Gilbert Public Schools.  In our next post, we’ll take a look at who in Gilbert Public Schools is profiting at the expense of taxpayers while Superintendent Christina Kishimoto laughs in the faces of teachers whose pay has been frozen for years. Same old stuff.

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* Big Fat Asterisk: GPS, under Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s *leadership* has been circumventing the law by holding Policy Committee meetings, which have been self-described as a *committee of the whole,* meaning all board members attend the meetings. Last month, the Superintendent and the Board President blatantly told two board members to shut up and sit down, they would get their chance to discuss during the next policy committee meeting. The Powers That Be didn’t want the public to know what they were doing in secret, but they stupidly started referring to conversations and board discussions that occurred during those meetings. Even better, THEY DID SO WHILE THEY WERE SITTING ON THE DAIS DURING REGULAR MEETINGS. We just love it when a cover-up unravels so publicly!

State law requires that meetings of the Governing Board be noticed to the public at least 24 hours in advance. The same time requirement exists for posting the agenda of meetings. Ergo, the May meeting of the Policy Committee was illegal because the requirements were not met. There still isn’t an agenda online for the May meeting. There are no minutes, either, even though State law requires those minutes to be available for public inspection within three days. Yeppers, this is another GPS Clown Car driving over a cliff.

Funny thing, GPS set themselves up for failure by the way they tried to back-date their online agenda for the March 2015 meeting; document properties show the March agenda was created on April 21, 2015!  It’s always the cover-up, as Richard Nixon discovered. 

GPS Employees: Furlough Provisions Are in Your Contracts for a Reason

We’re hearing chirps from all directions that Gilbert Public Schools has already planned furlough days for the 2015-2016 school year, starting with the contract days when teachers usually set up classrooms, go to meetings and get ready to Meet the Parents before school begins. On those days, students are not in school yet. Newly promoted Scalawag Jason Martin, the elementary enforcer, has said if teachers don’t show up to work in their classrooms two weeks before school starts [without pay, before their contracts begin], “The other teachers won’t trust them.”  Don’t believe it? We’ll put the video online.

The furloughs don’t have to be two consecutive weeks; they can be a day here, three days there. Expect GPS to sneak in furloughs on any days (or half days) that students are not in school. The Higley school district has already scheduled some half days as furlough days; more info appears below. Furloughs would further Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto’s schemes for making an override election inevitable by making sure conditions deteriorate before November 3rd. Good old 7-0 Kishimoto seems to favor unarticulated threats, putting the stupid stipend threats Dave Allison made to shame.*

The record of 3-2 votes by the GPS Governing Board illustrates dire straits confronting the district, which have prompted some hinky schemes by the superintendency. A lousy across-the-board pay raise rewards the least deserving employees. A $2,500.00 ransom is held over the head of any employee who resigns without fulfilling a lousy GPS contract, penalizing support staff and loyal teachers (especially bus drivers) far more than the least deserving employees. Since GPS already knows they’ve got problems explaining these things while keeping a straight face, the board and the superintendency say they’ll revisit the offensive language and provisions in the contracts NEXT year. Brilliant. [dripping sarcasm]

The two week furlough that Superintendent 7-0 Kishimoto can enact with no warning and no alternative for employees will cause them to lose money they thought they would earn. Those GPS employment contracts were written by The Trust’s pet lawyers; they’re one-sided and that’s just too bad for folks who actually work for a living. That’s not sarcastic; that’s the real deal and it was quite intentional. Do you doubt for a minute that the GPS superintendency didn’t know Good Old Jeff Gadd would *find* an extra $3.6 Million dollars shortly after the Governing Board approved the awful across-the-board pay raise that shafts the loyal GPS employees and enriches those on the top of the dog pile?

We saw Christina 7-0 Kishimoto say [in public!] that the furlough provision is no biggie; she claimed it was already in GPS contracts. We immediately did a fact-check, but we couldn’t find a furlough provision in GPS employment contracts (and we’ve amassed a pile of them through public records requests). Nope, this is brand new.

Now that the board has given Christina 7-0 Kishimoto the power to furlough employees, you KNOW it will happen. What good is having power if you don’t use it? Of course, we’ll be delighted if 7-0 Kishimoto abandons furloughs now that the nasty scheme has become public knowledge. This group of carpetbaggers in the superintendency should be embarrassed when what they say when they think the microphone is turned off goes viral, or when their false testimony under oath in a secret court hearing becomes public knowledge. Nope, they just don’t care.  [Mental image: Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko in Golden Eye: “Yes. I am invincible!” Ka-BOOM!]

Here’s another scenario GPS board members may not remember: the “Resign or Be Fired” threat GPS administrators use to intimidate employees. Now, some dude or dudette in Human Resources can issue the infamous GPS threat AND CHARGE YOU $2500.00 WHEN YOU RESIGN! If you don’t pay up promptly, GPS can take you to court, where you will pay costs, GPS lawyers’ fees and anything else they can throw in the mix. That provision also is in GPS contracts. Who in the world stays up at night thinking of such heinous stuff?

GPS has used this nastiness in the past, which is how Westie came to know about it. [Thanks, birdies!] It appears this despicable “choice” is still being offered, according to line items showing “job abandonment” in HR reports to the board.

Resign or be fired. Otherwise, we’ll ban you from GPS property. Then, if you try to show up for work, we’ll say you’re trespassing and have you arrested. When you don’t show up for work, we’ll call it “job abandonment.”

You would think that members of the public and members of the governing board would get honest answers from GPS cabinet members and other folks who make presentations. You would be wrong. Take for example, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s assertion that furloughs were in prior GPS contracts. We’ve heard about that comment being made by others in the GPS hierarchy, too. It’s like Adolph Hitler’s propaganda technique about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” That’s straight out of Mein Kampf.

Joseph Goebbels changed The Big Lie slightly, which seems to be the version applicable to the GPS top dogs. Just substitute “Gilbert Public Schools” for the word “English” in the passage below:

The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

Consider how the dynamic duo of Slimebucket Suzanne Zentner and Sleazy Steve Smith tried to dupe teachers about when contracts were required to be turned in to HR. They said 15 days many times. GPS isn’t the only school district trying that stupid trick. It’s like they believe teachers can’t read what’s actually in their contracts, where lying about what the law requires would create a serious problem for the top dogs and their legal lap dogs. When it comes to entities advised by the Arizona School Boards Association, you often see repetition of stupid stuff that would make Joseph Goebbels proud. Those are the folks who regularly make Jill Humpherys swoon in admiration of their audacity. [facepalm]

The Higley school district has their own version of GPS’s Slimebucket Suzanne, who goes by the name Sheila Sorenson, Executive Director of Human Resources. When asked by Higley Board President Venessa Whitener about whether teachers had fifteen days or fifteen business days to return their contracts, Slimebucket Sheila responded emphatically “Fifteen days.” Hey, Slimebucket Sheila: you do know that Ms. Whitener has been a teacher in Arizona for a long time, and she knew the answer before she asked you the question, right? It was incredibly stupid to do what you did on camera … about as stupid as Christina Kishimoto stating in public (recorded on video) that furloughs were not new provisions in GPS contracts.

We hear the Higley Unified School District is furloughing employees on the last day of this school year. You know, making it difficult if not impossible for teachers to efficiently clear out of classrooms, turn in keys and pack materials out of the way of campus custodial workers tasked with summer projects. Higley also approved AND SCHEDULED furlough days for the 2015-2016 school year. The eduspeak arrogance of Higley’s top administrators is on full display at page 27 of this board packet. Surreal, but a  lot like Whack-a-Mole.

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Big Fat Asterisk: Dave Allison famously gave employees a 2% stipend instead of a raise — he conditioned keeping the stipend on voters passing the 2012 override. The override failed. We wonder if the GPS Carpetbagger Administration even knows that bit of history.

The term carpetbagger came to be associated with opportunism and exploitation by outsiders. The term is still used today to refer to an outsider perceived as using manipulation or fraud to obtain an objective.

Gilbert Public Schools *Finds* $3.6 Million; Refuses to Use It for Salaries

GPS employees, don’t you just hate it when people take advantage of your good nature? It seems like that’s what always happens in Gilbert Public Schools when it comes to restoring equity for the loyal employees who stayed with GPS during the Great Recession. GPS board members Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith have attempted time and again to level the salary playing field. They have asked the bought-and-paid-for board members many times to reconsider draconian provisions in GPS 2015-2016 employment contracts, but the good guys are outnumbered. 

A Senior Prank captured the essence of GPS under Superintendent Christina Kishimoto: “For Sale.” The Gilbert High School kids have been coercively persuaded to believe this is due to budget cuts (see photo). The 18 year old prospective voters who happen to be GPS students are ripe for brainwashing, subtle or not, and parents won’t know what has happened in GPS classrooms under the guise of “instruction,” which most people would believe to be academic subjects taught in high school. Nope. These 18 year olds will be programmed and their votes will be orchestrated. How else will GPS get the override the bad guys can’t stop b*tching about? We’re already seeing CORE Construction in action to get the money approved by voters so CORE can get the money from the public purse, also known as the GPS budget.

This is exactly what Superintendent Christina Kishimoto planned from Day One; she calls it “Choice.” Good Old Christina Kishimoto is a One Hit Wonder desperately searching for her first and only success in the name of “School Reform.” This superintendent is going to implement her preconceived notions of reforminess no matter what the actual conditions are (like GPS, formerly an “A” rated district). The sad thing is, the Governing Board knew 7-0 Kishimoto was a miserable failure before they hired her. <Sigh> You would think those who hired Christina Kishimoto would open their eyes to how she *sold* schools in Hartford to various Good Old Boys Back East and recognize what’s coming down the pike for GPS. This superintendent plans to be long gone before the true impact of her *reforms* are felt–just like how it happened in Hartford.

[Keyboard: Hey! First thing the new superintendent did was undo all of former Superintendent Kishimoto’s *reforms*!]
“Board members have asked new Superintendent Narvaez to begin implementing more of the recommendations in her wide-ranging transition report last fall. Narvaez reorganized the school system’s top administrative team after the report — produced by a team of district administrators and outside educational leaders — criticized the central office as “fragmented” and lacking focus.”

Now GPS Chief Finance Officer (for a little while longer) Jeff Gadd is up to his old tricks, this time *finding* $3.6 Million in the current budget…AFTER the board approved the salaries recommended by Superintendent 7-0 Kishimoto. Gadd got all *tricksy* again when he said that money was going to be used for NEXT YEAR budget mitigation strategies. Don’t believe Westie? It’s at 1:20:00 on the Livestream video of the April 28, 2015 board meeting. Gadd called it a “budget balance carry forward.” See the trick? After all that BSBS Good Old Jeff Gadd told the Governing Board about how there wasn’t enough money in the budget to make things right for the Loyal Employees who got shafted once again by the 2015-2016 GPS budget … NOW there’s a few million dollars more for Christina Kishimoto to lavish upon *contributors.*

“Contributors to what?” you ask. We’re seeing dots that beg to be connected in the form of contracts using public funds to achieve goals that only Christina Kishimoto knows about. No sireee, the superintendent doesn’t have to get board approval when she keeps those total amounts low enough to slide under the radar! Otherwise, the cabinet can slip in a bid already accepted by the Mohave Educational Services Cooperative. Problem is that Gadd refused to produce an underlying contract when the board demanded it, which indicates how above-board (or not) GPS’s massive recent spending spree has been.  Westie’s on to this, which might be the tip of the iceberg of unprecedented corruption so many have predicted.  Expect it to take a while to verify all the tips we’ve been getting, but keep on chirping, birdies!

GPS employees, Superintendent 7-0 Kishimoto says this year’s resignations and retirements are just normal, and the district is *in a good place* because they’re not RIFfing you. Doesn’t that make you feel special? Don’t believe Westie? It’s at 1:50:05 on the Livestream video of the April 28, 2015 board meeting. Be aware, if you click the link and listen to your Glorious Leader Christina 7-0 Kishimoto, after a few minutes you’ll also come across discussions and impassioned pleas for the board to reconsider those hostile, demeaning and punitive contracts from the Good Guys.

Just like when she was earlier asked to reconsider her decree about across the board raises, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto refused, saying she wanted to “move forward” with the penalty clause intact. After all, Kishimoto said, this time she had *met with* Diane Drazinski, President of the Gilbert Education Association, for her feedback, so why try to change the contracts now? Then Christina 7-0 Kishimoto told those two disobliging board members she would allow them to talk about the odiferous contracts in the next Policy Committee meeting. Which probably also means “No,” but Superintendent Christina Kishimoto sometimes seems to remember that she works for the board, not vice versa, and she pretends to listen. Following Kishimoto’s “No,” just like Pavlov’s Dogs, board member Jill Humpherys spoke up and said she might want to modify clauses for next year. Then board member Charlie Santa Cruz barked something about “negative business language” in the contracts, but then he obeyed the superintendent. Refusal to reconsider was buried by parliamentary procedure, or something of that sort. This is GPS, so you never really know what happens under Lily Tram’s presidency.

As an alternative to the rejection of reconsideration, the two board members who routinely get outvoted by those who have been bought and paid for asked that the board adopt a policy saying the board won’t enforce those hostile, demeaning and punitive contract provisions. Daryl Colvin asked for a special board meeting to pass that new policy. Julie Smith agreed that the board should waive the offending provision. They *Get It* that the oppressive GPS contracts are a slap-in-the-face insult to Loyal GPS Employees and new hires alike. They also *Get It* that the front-line employees who deal directly with students bear the brunt of the Superintendent’s apparent lack of humanity and the greed of her minions. That doesn’t bode well for students, but did you hear the words “What’s Best for Students” spoken in this meeting? [Westie doesn’t recall it.]

This situation is brought to you by the Gilbert Education Association and servile Don’t-Call-It-a-Union members who worked hand-in-glove with the superintendency (like they always have done). This time, they got a *new* board for GPS. That new board is the reason the GPS employment contracts are so onerous, folks. Employees who applauded like mad for those bought-and-paid-for board members in the past year or so need to get checked for a condition known as recto-cranial inversion. Those folks personify the old saying, “Be careful for what you wish, lest it come true.”

The Great GPS Employee Exodus of 2015 Begins

Now hear this, employees of Gilbert Public Schools: you’re in trouble with the new boss, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. She staked her superintendency on stopping the mass exodus of employees that occurred during the 2013-2014 school year. That’s why she was hired, as she explained to a judge in a secret court hearing. Now you recalcitrant employees are making her look bad … in public!

[Keyboard to Westie: Notice Dr. Kishimoto didn’t explain to the judge that she had been fired by her last school district.]
[Westie to Keyboard: She wasn’t exactly fired. The board voted 7-0 not to renew Christina Kishimoto’s contract.]

At this point during the last school year, the GPS community was anxious and agitated over numbers claimed to be the biggest mass exodus of GPS employees EVER! Actually, it wasn’t the whole community, it was just a self-proclaimed loud-mouthed group of people who were determined to take political pot shots at conservative board members they didn’t like. The hysteria over the loss of Good Old Boys (and other GPS employees, as happens every year) was manufactured of whole cloth.

Superintendent-elect Christina Kishimoto didn’t know anything about Gilbert, Arizona and its school district back then (or now, it seems), but she bought in to this whole manufactured crisis that GPS was losing the best and brightest employees. That’s because the new superintendent had already decided who her newest BFFs were going to be and those were the only people she listened to. OMG, the nay-sayers and Gilbert Education Association proclaimed, the only staff that was left were the bitter dregs of a once-excelling school district! All the amazing teachers were gone! Conservatives were ruining this district! Christina 7-0 Kishimoto guzzled down that Kool-Aid! (You know it was a really exciting time because of al those exclamation points and the descriptor “amazing”!!!!)

Here’s where the Gilbert Public Schools’ mass exodus of employees was at the end of April 2014:

2014resign-retire

A year later, here’s the NEW and IMPROVED employee loss rates for Gilbert Public Schools, featuring a 100% increase in Certified Staff Retirements in April 2015! OMG! In the other categories we measured, the numbers are increasing, but not as dramatically. But it sure looks like Gilbert Public Schools is on the path for ANOTHER biggest mass exodus EVER!  “Woo hooo!” crowed the nay-sayers and GEA!!!!

2015resign-retire

This is just the beginning of the Great GPS Employee Exodus of 2015. We know, because this report of resignations and retirements does not include those that will be revealed when GPS employees refuse to sign the ridiculously draconian employment contracts that GPS thought up under the *leadership* of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Board President Lily Tram. Citizens and taxpayers of The Town of Gilbert should remember that the two remaining conservative board members, Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith, decried the $2,500.00 ransom and ten day furloughs as they voted against those new policies and contract provisions.

The Great Exodus of 2015 represents quite a learning curve for loyal GPS employees. They remember the time that former superintendent Dave Allison gave them a teeny-tiny “stipend” to put more money in their pockets while he ratcheted up the cost of GPS health insurance to employees. Then Good Old Dave threatened to take away that pittance if the current override issue on the ballot didn’t pass, which it didn’t.

Remember those shenanigans? Based on past experience, you know GPS will demand those ransoms and implement that furlough if the 2015 override doesn’t pass. Then the superintendency will say: “Take that, you worthless GPS employees who didn’t get your friends, neighbors and assorted voters to approve the override!” Everything old is new again. Groundhog Day. Some things never change.

This year, GPS employees have finally accepted that loyalty, the hallmark of long-term GPS employees, has been a one-way street for years and won’t change with the new administration. The size of the Great GPS Employee Exodus of 2015 won’t become apparent until after the new contracts are due to Human Resources, where the dynamic duo of Slimebucket Suzanne and Sleazy Steve will still be trying to figure out how to manage the most basic functions of a school district using their new million dollar software. Isn’t it great that the Arizona Department of Education Job Fair was held in Glendale this weekend, before GPS teacher contracts were due back? Hahahaha – while other valley school districts encouraged teachers to bring their resumes and get offered new jobs on the spot, it looks like GPS didn’t even know about the event.

[Keyboard: GPS doesn’t seem to know about most events going on in their own school district, according to the Official GPS Facebook page.]

The only glimpse of the real Gilbert community that the superintendent and her cabinet have had was the election in November 2014, with no override on the ballot. That election cost a cool six figures of profligate spending by special interests, and it featured countless itinerant members of the Arizona Education Association and affiliates going door-to-door to trash what conservative voters and board members were perceived to have done to the district during the previous two years. All this was intended to get two bought-and-paid-for new board members seated on the GPS Governing Board. Well, the GEA and other assorted rabble-rousers succeeded in getting “Let the Idiots Work for Walmart” Jill Humpherys another term on the board; they got Forked Tongue Charlie Santa Cruz seated, too.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has her bought-and-paid-for governing board members doing her dirty work for her. We all were fortunate that a hot mic mishap pulled back some curtains on dastardly GPS plans that were not supposed to be revealed to the public until AFTER the November 2015 override and bond issue appear on a special ballot, paid for by $285,000.00 out of the GPS budget that won’t be spent on student learning. These are the same folks who didn’t realize that spending millions of dollars on Chromebooks in the waning months of the 2014-2015 budget would not reflect the priorities of the taxpayers … not when the purported reason for said purchase was for taking standardized tests. Sheeeeesh.

These new GPS opportunists look a lot like carpetbaggers and scalawags of old.

Gilbert Public Schools Will Reform With You or Without You

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is a big believer in school reform. She is going to reform GPS, which was already an A rated school district, come hell or high water. She made sure all the members of the Governing Board got some expensive tutoring in school reform. She expects taxpayers to pony up for her spending sprees. And she’s tired of recalcitrant employees not bending to her reforms. 

[Keyboard: So recalcitrant employees: BOHICA!]

“What is school reform?” you ask. Reform means cutting costs, providing the shoddiest product possible, spending more on advertising and PR than quality, looting what you claim is yours and getting out before you get caught holding the bag. Let’s see how the GPS superintendency is doing just that…again.

FIRST: A word from our sponsor: Arizona law. Teachers, do not be bamboozled by HR and Tech Services hounding you for your signed contract they say is due within 15 days. That’s not true. They’ll still hound you, but they’re slime buckets. Read your contract. It says fifteen business days. Here’s why:
A.R.S. 15-538.01. Offer of contract to continuing teacher. Paragraph B. “The teacher’s acceptance of the contract must be indicated within fifteen business days from the date of the teacher’s receipt of the written contract or the offer of a contract is revoked.” Fifteen business days, presuming you actually received your contract on April 20, 2015 (weekend days DO NOT COUNT!) means it is really due on May 11, 2015. However, it might be smarter to send it no later than late in the business day on May 8, 2015. Better safe than sorry. This is not legal advice.
[Keyboard: Lookie here: Westie can spell *advice* properly! Unlike the top dogs of GPS.]

Remember that fancy $1.3 Million dollar software system for human resources and finance? It’s performing about how you would expect it to perform in GPS. Which means, not very well at all. Perhaps it’s because the Technology Department still runs on the Good Old Boy system. Lots of departures meant a big brain drain last year. Did GPS techies do anything to learn what kind of knowledge was departing with some of those long-term employees? Of course not. That might have required something like an actual exit interview. GPS does not like to hear negative things about their GOBs, so exit interviews, if they occur at all, are as ridiculous as the GPS contrived surveys to give cover for what’s already been decided.

GPS didn’t even know what their actual techie jobs were, as opposed to any *official* job descriptions that might have existed. GPS management had zero curiosity about what those techies actually did on a day-to-day basis. Looking at how things are going with Christina Kishimoto’s urgently-needed new million dollar software that suddenly was a funding imperative at the end of 2014, we have to ask: how many techies on staff now actually have real world experience in rolling out new software? It’s not something that conforms to a checklist; it’s full of surprises. Especially on an ancient computer system. Especially in  school district that has no concept of…well, there are just too many things to list here.

GPS wanted those new employment contracts out fast and returned super fast to prevent teachers from getting jobs with other school districts. By hastily implementing a truncated schedule, things were bound to go wrong. They did. GPS had to announce a *revised* schedule of rolling out those contracts because the techies couldn’t meet the original date the GOBs had announced. Even with that recent million dollar expense for new HR and financial software, and running the two software systems in tandem for a while, they just can’t make things work properly.

We thank all our beautiful birdies who keep sending us the GPS emails that are funnier than anything we could make up. Have some chocolate!

It gets funnier: the GOBs sent out a letter explaining why things were so screwed up. Chief Talent OfficerBS Suzanne Zentner’s letter, sent out as an image attached to an email by Chief Techie Steve Smith himself, said a lot of people were working very hard to get things into such a mess. Yeppers, they were actually patting themselves on the back for this.

Dear GPS Staff,
Please be advised that despite vigilant efforts by many people and departments, the deployment of contracts is running slightly behind schedule. Therefore, if you are slated to receive a contract or are in the queue to receive one and have not, please be patient and know we are doing everything within our power and the capacity of our system to deploy them as quickly as possible. *Thanks to everyone* for the understanding and patience you have extended with this process.
Love, Suzanne

Finally, the contracts piddled out over the weekend. That’s when teachers saw, most all of them for the first time, that GPS had instituted some draconian clauses that had never before been inflicted on loyal GPS employees. Then things turned weird. The GOBs were stunned that teachers didn’t immediately sign their contracts. Whooo boy, a lot of those teachers were absolutely livid, and rightly so, and they decided they are not in a hurry to sign those tyrannical contracts. They’re actually considering other alternatives to indentured servitude.

Gilbert Public Schools can’t just let teachers pick up and leave–oh, no, no, no! Good Old Christina 7-0 Kishimoto has staked her reputation (or whatever she has that passes for a reputation) on stopping the largest mass exodus that had ever happened in GPS* before she arrived. At least, that’s what Christina Kishimoto told a judge one day, trying to impress him with her importance.

The panic the GOBs felt was palpable. What to do? Aha, the answer seems to be misdirection and mayhem, coming right up! “Let’s send out notices to tell teachers to sign the d@mn contracts NOW!” they figured. Of course, that will only tax the tech system even more. When that initiative didn’t produce the desired results immediately, GPS started sending out more, more and more notices, pretending that technical difficulties had prevented receipt of those dadgummed contracts from those obstreperous teachers.  His Techiness himself explained in techie jargon:

Teacher contracts were distributed to most district teachers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, and many have already successfully signed contracts using the new system that was developed. However, while the contracts were being distributed, some teachers received notices that the contract still needed to be signed, even if the contract had already been signed. As a result, for a brief period of time this morning, the signing form was taken offline so that we could validate data in the system. It is now back online after confirming that the data is good. If you have already signed your contract (by clicking the submit button on page three), you do not need to do anything else, even if you received an email earlier stating that your contract still needs to be signed. If you have not signed your contract you will receive a reminder email or two before your signing time is up.
Love, Steve

In other words, GPS is going to hound you teachers until you sign those contracts! We’re finally hearing some rationalizations from the Gilbert Education Association, which the GOBs called into action to put those recalcitrant teachers in their places. Sure, everyone believes that the furlough notices are just a formality that’s in all school district contracts in the state… <sarcasm and ridicule, spiced with rolling eyes and face palms>

There’s more to come: GPS is going to experience much the same as the GOBs roll out administrator contracts. Those administrators had become accustomed to being exempted from the battering ram techniques the GOBs used against teachers and support staff in the past. This time, GOBs, be prepared to explain why in the world GEA was involved in *negotiating* contracts for administrators, greatly to the detriment of said administrators who don’t like being treated like the other peons in the district.

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*Big Fat Asterisk: Yes, we’ve noticed that the final numbers of departures from last year appear to have been quarantined so the public can’t decide for themselves if the exodus was *mass* or simply *routine.* Why let facts and *dater* get in the way of a good story?

“Hot Mic” Mishap Proves Gilbert Public Schools is Deceiving the Public

Acting Superintendent Alexander Nardone and bought-and-paid-for board member Charlie Santa Cruz were caught on a *hot mic* discussing the true state of plans for the future of Gilbert Public Schools. As Vice President Joe Biden said in a hot mic mishap, “This is a big f***ing deal.”

Their conversation immediately followed a sham of a presentation about what Gilbert Classical Academy (GCA) needs and how the superintendency will evaluate direction from the board and come back with the best option to achieve the board’s goals. The truth is, GPS is going to pretend to study alternatives to repurposing Gilbert Junior High School for the benefit of the 1% of district students attending GCA in order to kick the can down the road for a year.

During the public presentation, Acting Superintendent Alexander Nardone repeated that the administration would need a year to plan appropriate steps to accomplish whatever the board directed the superintendency to do. Here’s what Alexander Nardone said just before his private chat with Charlie Santa Cruz:

Nardone: Really, we are hoping that the discussion tonight will end with a direction for us to say give us further information on this as an option. No decision has been made. No option has been preferred. We’re really looking from direction from the board. [Cue up 43:05 on the Livestream video archive of the work study session on April 14, 2015.]

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 spoke the truth to each other. This was in total contrast to their words spoken moments before in the public portion of the work study. Don’t take Westie’s word for this – listen by clicking here. The audio has been leveled and boosted. There’s still a very brief part near the end that the mike didn’t pick up. The clip is about three minutes, with a file size of about 5-6 MB, in case you want to download it.

If you want to watch the open mic gaffe on the *official* GPS Livestream video, here’s the link. Cue to the 1:27:00 mark. It’s sometimes difficult to follow because of the audio quality, so we helpfully shared a transcript at the bottom of this post.

Please, go ahead and share this evidence of the treachery of the GPS superintendency and one board member.  At the moment, we don’t know for sure that all board members were in on this dishonest manipulation of the tax paying public. But don’t you feel stupid for believing that the GPS superintendency would really be open, honest and transparent about all this?

Another revelation in the hot mic gaffe is what exactly constitutes “choice” in terms of GPS and choices that will be offered to parents and students. This will scare the pants off those GCA parents and teachers who are so intent on keeping GCA students apart from students they say are from the *ghetto.* [You folks didn’t think that was a secret, did you?]

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.

Hey, GCA Principal Dan Hood, we heard you say, “Parents and teachers would rather stay put than share a school.” [At the 01:21:30 mark.] Heaven forbid that those bright shiny uniformed scholars should rub shoulders with any ordinary students who live within the boundaries of this public school! This is sounding more and more like what was going on in Alabama when desegregation was instituted. Yep, DWestie lived through those days and has tales that will stand your hair on end about the disgusting things that went on to keep those uppity black kids in their places and out of all-white public schools back in the day.

This *apartness* is not going to go over well in the Town of Gilbert. But how would the Superintendent and her imported cabinet members know the real Gilbert culture? Parents are already criticizing Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s implementation of regional gifted centers, ALP reform and bussing students that will result in some schools in GPS having only the less affluent (read that properly: “brown”) kids in certain elementary schools. Folks saying these things are people that Christina Kishimoto and her highly paid cabinet members regard as allies.  Don’t get us started on *reforms* for SpEd and ELL. BTW, it’s probably a good thing that many members of the community still recall how to contact the US Justice Department after all those civil rights investigations of GPS in the past. We’re seeing indications of the same old stuff by a new group of Good Old Boys.

This is pretty much the same thing that happened with Christina 7-0 Kishimoto’s reforms that ruined neighborhood schools in Hartford, CT. Be sure to read about Kishimoto’s botched effort to keep discussions about a magnet school under wraps so the public and the press would not know the dirty details. Kishimoto, her staff and her lawyer got caught back then:

It was the intention of the district to hold a private meeting between the Superintendent and families of Classical Magnet School on Monday, Feb. 13, that would not fall under the FOIA’s definition of a public meeting. Upon consultation with our attorney, we have been advised that because the term “School Governance Council” was used to invite parents to the meeting and in communications with the press, the meeting was considered a public meeting. This was our error.

Christina Kishimoto screwed up an earlier “turn around plan” that sounds a lot like what she intends to happen between Gilbert Classical Academy and Gilbert Junior High School. 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. Same old stuff and Alexander Nardone was at Christina Kishimoto’s side for every bit of it:

A powerful example of the clash between reformer rhetoric and parent reality can be found in Hartford. In recent weeks, parents from two community schools protested proposals by Christina Kishimoto, Hartford’s outgoing “reform” superintendent, and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, to hand their schools over to private companies. Neither school community was consulted before the plans were developed.

The board subsequently met in private and emerged with another “turnaround plan,” which offers additional funds to a community school only if it is “redesigned” and offers “choice.” The only way parents will get more resources is to acquiesce to a redesign that will disrupt their school community. That is not school choice — that’s extortion.

This is why Christina Kishimoto was unanimously fired in 2013 (her contract was not renewed, to be precise).  We have yet to learn whether she will succeed in dismantling neighborhood schools in Gilbert, Arizona like she did in Hartford, Connecticut. Does anyone remember why in the world Christina Kishimoto was hired by the GPS Governing Board? Oh yeah … she’s doing exactly what she was hired to do: expand Gilbert Classical Academy come hell or high water. Because that’s the most important thing to do for all the students of Gilbert Public Schools in times of diminishing resources. [rolling eyes]

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Transcript of Livestream audio clip:

1:26:45 CFO Jeff Gadd rejoins, sitting to the right of Dr. Alex Nardone, acting superintendent. Board member Charles Santa Cruz is sitting to the left of Dr. Nardone.

1:27:00 SC: Alex? (Gadd walks away)

AN: Yes.

SC: I’m sorry. I just, uh, uh…

AN: Swivel around. (Nardone swivels to sit face-to-face with Santa Cruz)

1:27:15 – image of board meeting taking five minute break is posted instead of video

SC: If we’re looking at the structure, I wonder if that facility could go up.

AN: Well, um, the facility could go up. Uh, we just, uh, I would say informally (unintelligible) that going up.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: If you go up you can get classroom space. You can get science room space.

SC: And the fields are (unintelligible).

AN It doesn’t get you fields – you’re landlocked over there between the data center…

SC: Yeah.

AN: …and Greenfield Elementary School. Um, and that’s, you know, that’s the issue. It doesn’t give you parking. It doesn’t give you field space. And so if you just needed …

SC: Classroom space (unintelligible)…

AN: A classroom – academically

SC: science room, you could go that way.

AN: we could add two floors if it could structurally handle it.

SC: Yeah.

AN: Or go off to the side and go up a floor or two.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: So I think that’s the issue here.

SC: Yeah. Yeah. Even at an elementary school you’re basically 50 acres net.

AN: Yeah. I think.

SC: Yeah. And I think those facilities are about 50,000 square feet or something like that.

AN: Typically. Yeah. Typically. Your schools tend to be bigger than our schools in Connecticut

SC: Right.

AN: …so (unintelligible) you know, especially with these new schools (unintelligible) built here. But..

SC: But there’s no field space.

AN: There’s no field space.

SC: And there’s no, there’s no (unintelligible)…

AN: Typically you’re talking double digits when you’re talking acreage for a high school. You’re talking 12 acres, 13 acres.

SC: Yeah.

AN: One of our high schools even in Hartford had 27 acres attached to it in the city of Hartford.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: So it’s, you know…

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: …they have track space, field space, football space.

SC: Gilbert Jr. High school’s on 27 acres.

AN: Is it? The junior high?

SC: Yeah.

AN: Mm-hm.

AN: Well if you look at all of the schools for repurposing, Gilbert Jr. High school makes the most sense.

AN: It depends on what the needs are.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: It also I think offers the ability to incorporate those neighborhood kids into GCA so you could grow GCA…

SC: Mm-hm.

AN:…the neighborhood kids who wanted to stay and participate in GCA would have that option of staying in their neighborhood.

SC: And those who chose another school it was because they chose it.

AN: (Unintelligible) because I think you could do both at Gilbert.

SC: Particularly since we demolished the pool.

AN: Yes. And so now we have extra green space and extra parking space there.

SC: Yeah. Yeah.

AN: So of all of the buildings that I looked at, that has the most potential.

SC: That that but that’s got the (unintelligible)… …it has a, a lot of emotionality…

AN: Oh it does.

SC: …attached to it.

AN: It does.

(Unintelligible).

AN: A lot of history.

(Unintelligible).

AN: Yeah. History is recent.

SC: Oh yeah. Wounds. The wounds are very recent.

AN: Yeah.

SC: So going there…

AN: Yeah.

SC: ….would be… (trails off)

SC: Yeah.

AN: I know.

SC: You wanna push it off.

NA: I think we wanna go…

SC: You wanna push It off.

AN: I think we wanna go slow.

SC: Yeah.

AN: And I think that’s, uh…

SC: I’d say take a year.

AN: Yeah.

SC: Go do it in a year.

AN: Yeah.

AN: And I think if we look at next year as, you know, take your time, do a thorough investigation, and I like your idea of meeting with the principals see what they have to say.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: Looking at the potential elementary schools. Building new. It’ll take us a year to do and it may delay a, you know, what Dr. K Already…

SC: See and you won’t get if you if…

Quits at 1:30:00

 

Gilbert Public Schools is Holding Employees Hostage

When Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said she was brought into Gilbert Public Schools to stop the exodus of employees, who would have thought she would fix the problem by holding those employees hostage?

That’s exactly what happened when Christina “7-0″ Kishimoto recommended the GPS Governing Board adopt new, very one-sided contracts that she dreamed up. Board members Julie Smith and Daryl Colvin refused to go along with these charades, but they were outnumbered.  Sigh.

As Superintendent Kishimoto testified in court: “I was brought in to mitigate the very tense situation that led to the largest exodus of staff members ever … in Gilbert’s history.”  That statement may have been just as truthful as so many of her other prevarications were,  but we’re not going to be deterred from the subject of how Gilbert Public Schools is now holding employees hostage.

Obviously, another mass exodus must be made impossible on Christina Kishimoto’s watch. Can’t let anyone get away until we say so, they think. Christina Kishimoto set up the most incredibly one-sided contracts that you could have imagined, and she had the whole package tied up with a bow when she presented her deal to the Governing Board for their approval. Of course, we all know that’s just window dressing since the bought-and-paid for board members will approve anything this superintendent wants. Their only demand, it seems, is that they get to bask in applause from the very teachers and other employees whose necks will be cut by the contracts the board just approved. <What do you think are the odds of that *spontaneous* applause happening now? Snort.>

The hostage situation is this: any employee who leaves GPS after signing a contract for 2015-2016 will pay $2,500 as liquidated damages…unless they quit before they sign a new contract with minimal time to consider said draconian contract. The other alternative is if the Governing Board waives the liquidated damages.  Don’t hold your breath for that, even though Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz said he wasn’t thrilled with the hostage clause, but he sat down and shut up and voted for it anyway. If you employees don’t pay up, GPS will come after you with their lawyers paid by The Trust to collect fees, attorney fees, court costs or *other reasonable expenses* incurred by the District to collect that $2,500.00. Yep, your agreement to pay *liquidated damages* is in the contract itself. Knowing what we know about those lawyers who are paid by The Trust, those *reasonable expenses* can become astronomical, as if $2,500.00 isn’t already astronomical to the loyal employees whose salaries have been frozen for years and years.

That ransom amount, $2,500.00, is the same for support staff members, teachers, administrators and the top dogs who make six-figure incomes. For Christina Kishimoto’s hand-picked inner circle of educrats marauding as assistant superintendents and executive directors and such, that’s pocket change. Of course, for a support staffer or a young teacher (or the loyal teachers who stayed around waiting for salary equity that will never happen), $2,500.00 can be an impossible burden. That’s the whole point.

If Superintendent Christina Kishimoto had her way, we expect she would bring back debtor prisons. We feel for those of you employees who won’t have $2,500.00 in cash laying around any time in the next twenty years because you’re paid less than the idiots that work for Walmart, according to board member Jill Humpherys. Many support staffers work for wages that are below poverty level, but your superintendent believes you should be punished if you DARE try to leave without her dispensation. Heaven only knows what it would take for Her Newness to agree to let you leave the district. Worse, we all know from experience that this Governing Board will approve whatever this superintendent puts in front of their faces, just like they approved these contracts with the hostage provisions. You have to wonder, who are the real idiots in this situation?

Teachers, your contracts will be issued on April 15, 2015 and you will have 15 business days to decide if you are willing to accept this one-sided contract. Yes, we heard that some principals have been saying that teachers must return contracts in shorter periods. The 15 business days is in the contract itself, but we figure that like most everything else in that one-sided contract, if your principal doesn’t want you to have the contractual amount of time, that’s too bad for you. Of course, the top dogs *contractually* have a whole lot more time to consider their proffered contracts and try to get new jobs in other districts if they can. That’s the way this group rolls. <Disgusting, isn’t it?>

We know that in the past, GPS issued teacher contracts in May;  those signed contracts were due to Human Resources before the last day of the school year. That’s not good enough for Superintendent Christina “7-0″ Kishimoto. No sireee, she is bound and determined to force you to choose between a possible teaching job in another district BEFORE those other districts start interviews. It’s also before GPS releases vacancy announcements so you can consider applying for a different position internally (don’t hold your breath for those announcements this year). It’s also before GPS announces news of Reductions in Force, layoffs, pink slips and all that jazz. It’s also before GPS tells individual teachers that they will be placed in a new assignment whether they like it or not. By the time the top dogs share any news, it’s too late for everyone else. You either didn’t sign your contract or you did. Either way, if you weren’t at the table during those budget discussions, you’re on the menu, as board member Daryl Colvin cogently explained to the public.

Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith also voted against across-the-board raises Superintendent Christina Kishimoto proposed that benefit the top dogs disproportionately (but those are not as much as the automatic annual pay hike that she negotiated for herself):

Administrative: $145,362
Certified: $1,779,205
Support: $541,288
Total: $2,465,855

This new group of top dogs has super-secret plans, but you aren’t going to be told what’s in store for you and your career until they get darn well ready to tell you what you are going to do, where you are going to do it and reveal all those other pesky details that might disrupt your life. You don’t get any choices about anything after you sign that contract. Your contracted amount of base pay can be reduced on a whim. Should you have the effrontery to try to resign when you discover that your new working conditions will be intolerable, you’d better be ready to pony up $2,500.00 in cold, hard cash. Immediately. That’s a month’s pay (at least) for most teachers.

Did you notice that GPS reserves the right to furlough all you employees for up to ten days? You won’t be allowed to use your personal time off, vacation days, sick leave or whatever you have on the books. GPS can do this without warning, and with the reputation these top dogs have earned, you know they’ll do it. They can furlough individual employees, classes of employees, or the whole gang … except, we’re sure they’ll NEVER furlough those extremely valuable six-figure income folks for ten days.

Gilbert Education Association obviously thinks this hostage contract is just fine for the chain gang of loyal GPS employees. Lookie here at what GEA helped get approved:

Administrator Contract 2015-2016
Cabinet Level Admin Contract 2015-2016
Support Services Contract 2015-2016

Gilbert Public Schools Violates Laws … Again! On Purpose!

The new boss, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, is the same as the old boss – listening to the same old pet lawyer from The Trust, who is not an employment lawyer, which is part of their problem. Gilbert Public Schools will wind up in the same old legal mess, go to court again, and  probably find themselves with another litigation loss. It’s really tough when a public body and a public agency can’t figure out how to follow the law themselves and they have to get [cough] *legal advice* to royally screw things up.

Same Old Stuff: Superintendent Kishimoto must have been absolutely certain that she could bully an employee into resigning under duress by sending a letter with a list of baseless allegations, but without any supporting details. Once again, a brave employee is saying, “Prove it.” Once again, GPS won’t be able to do so. Once again, Christina Kishimoto is in “my way or the highway” mode, as if that’s scary to anyone. Once again, there’s a holiday: “Holidays Are Coming, So Gilbert Public Schools Will Be Firing Someone!” Once again, Christina Kishimoto doesn’t know Arizona statutes, and she’ll be bit in the butt.*

This time, Superintendent Kishimoto ran afoul of Open Meeting Laws dealing with employment matters. Ah, gee, her pet lawyer must not have explained about that pesky requirement of giving employees notice if they are going to have their employment discussed behind closed doors in an executive session. Plus there’s precedent about giving someone that kind of notice with specificity and with enough time to make an informed decision before an executive session occurs.

Of course, there’s plenty of evidence about the times when GPS has indeed done what the law requires. Sigh. It must be easier for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her bought-and-paid-for board members to play the dumb@$$ card this time and say they didn’t know what the law requires. That defense won’t fly this time, certainly not with students who staged a sit in for their coach. Go Team Rutt! We want to hear you ROAR!

Do you think this whole hot mess is related to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s recommendation to the GPS Governing Board that they pay up and get back on The Trust’s pre-paid legal plan? Her 7-0 Majesty explained something about having legal issues in the pipeline. Bet this is one of them! By the time of the March 31, 2015 board meeting, our gal Christina Kishimoto found out she had stepped in a heaping pile of Community Spirit of the Football Persuasion. That’s a special kind of spirit, as most long-term residents of the south and southwest know from birth.

The conduct that violated the open meeting law:

Coach and teacher Tim Rutt was sent a letter on March 27, 2015, wherein Superintendent Kishimoto informed of her intent to recommend non-renewal of his employment contract with Gilbert Public School District. I will not belabor all the improper and ethically problematic occurrences leading up to this letter, but will only alert that the firing of this beloved Coach and the “non-renewal” of his teaching contract have been so rife with issues and misconduct on the part of the Gilbert School District that it will be the subject of further litigation and has already been a popular story on the news.

With that information as a background, hundreds of students signed a Petition asking for renewal of Tim Rutt and numerous parents, teachers, other staff, and students all attended the Governing Board Meeting held on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Gilbert School District’s Administrative Offices to show their support for Tim Rutt. The Board had set this hearing at a time when the agenda was quite full. At the hearing, after making the standing room only crowd of people wait through numerous other business items, the Superintendent and President called for an Executive Session pursuant to A.R.S. 38-431 prior to discussing the next agenda items: i.e., Coach Rutt. The Board asserted its acknowledgment of the numerous students there who were being kept up late and stated that the Executive Session would last ten minutes at most.

The Executive Session lasted for well over ten minutes and in fact closer to thirty minutes, and when the Board members finally returned they were all carrying a piece of paper (clearly written and distributed during executive session by the attorney for the District, Denise Lowell-Britt): two of the members later read directly from this sheet of paper regarding not renewing Mr. Rutt’s employment, and a Board member has thereafter asserted his belief that the Executive Session was in fact a statutory violation. The Board member’s comments are attached hereto, and in combination with the numerous witnesses who would be willing to attest to the facts as laid out in this letter, the comments establish that the Executive Session was held for purposes of addressing Coach Rutt’s employment even though he was never provided any 24 hour Notice of any Executive Session as the statute clearly dictates.

Furthermore, no count of the parents, staff, and students present and prepared to speak at the hearing could be made as the room was completely full and there were people left standing outside as well, but many of the parents wanted to speak and were forbidden from doing so by the Board, in particular the President and Superintendent made it clear that only Todd Nolan, Coach Rutt, and one parent were allowed to speak for 3 minutes each. When objection was made, the Board ignored it. This was in no manner a reasonable time limit or limit on who could be heard as the room was overflowing with supporters for Mr. Rutt who were not allowed to be heard, while at the same time another agenda item, regarding the budget, included every speaker at the meeting who wanted to be heard on that subject, and did not exclude any of those who wanted to speak (many more than the three people allowed to talk for Tim Rutt).

The conduct of the Board was so egregious and clearly predetermined against Mr. Rutt that one teacher, who was at the meeting to speak on the budget, specifically stated that he did not know Coach Rutt and was not there for that purpose, but since it was so clear that the Board was railroading Mr. Rutt, he determined that his three minutes of time should be spent reminding the Board and Dr. Kishimoto in particular about what their job was and that they were clearly acting inappropriately regarding Coach Rutt including but not limited to holding an improper Executive Session.

The Board secretary had also informed parents who presented their requests to speak while the Board was on break for Executive Session, that the requests had to be made before the meeting so they could not be heard, regardless of the fact that the room was so full that many of the parents did not know where to find the tiny slips of paper that count as requests to speak, as the card table they were on near one of the doors was blocked by the standing room only crowd and no announcement was made regarding the necessity for a slip of paper to be turned in to the secretary prior to the Board commencing business.

I apologize for being verbose, but this is not a simple matter. The blatant workplace violations and issues with the Gilbert School District’s handling of this matter have been shocking. To top it off, at the one meeting where Mr. Rutt was allegedly to be heard and his employment truly considered by the Board, instead the Governing Board for the District made a mockery of the system and most importantly, the Open Public Meeting Laws by meeting in private and then having a prewritten and predetermined plan for non-renewal prior to any actual discussion at the Public Meeting.

Please investigate this matter and I am sure you will recognize the blatant violations that occurred. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Cari McConeghy Nolan
Attorney and Concerned Parent

You know we’ll have more … a LOT more. Woo hoo for Team Rutt!

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Big Fat Asterisk: Keyboard’s young ears are sensitive, so the only balls we’ll talk about are footballs.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto Rams Her *Vision* Down GPS Throats

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto isn’t listening to any of the voices urging the district to fix salary inequality first. Nah, that would involve actual WORK or something. It’s much easier to keep loyal employees where they are [downtrodden] with an across-the-board increase for ALL GPS employees, so that the newest hires [those at the top] rake in the most dollars. Say it all together: It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

We’ve seen other GPS administrations laugh in the faces of loyal employees, so this is nothing new.  So much for all you folks who expected respect and integrity from those bought-and-paid-for board members! Actually, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is also laughing in the face of any board member who challenges anything the superintendent has decided will be done. When Julie Smith proposed leaving an unfilled top administration position open … unfilled … Kishimoto unloaded; you can watch as she spits those proverbial nails while Board President Lily Tram nods in agreement:

We read the agenda for the March 31, 2015 meeting of the Governing Board. It’s not an easy slog, but it’s a roadmap showing just what the GPS board has been doing at those non-noticed get-togethers they’ve been having lately. Little things like the Arizona Open Meeting Law don’t mean a thing to the Connecticut Yankee now pulling the strings in Lily Tram’s court. Notice the use of the phrase “process.” That’s the dead give-away that what was planned in back rooms out of public view is now going to be voted on by the Governing Board. In other words, “It’s all over.”

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto believes an across-the-board pay increase will make GPS more competitive. Right…..Sheesh! Watch this *leader* describe her philosophy as she tells board members to “Stuff It!” after they dared suggest fixing salary inequity before considering across-the-board raises. Watch Lily Tram nod in agreement … to keep herself from falling asleep, it seems:

Here are the salary increase numbers from the agenda; this is just the beginning of the atrocities that will be enacted by Gilbert Public Schools in the name of *putting the needs of students first.*

The District Budget Planning process has reserved the annual state provided inflation factor for salary and benefit increases.  The inflation factor of 1.6% (approximately $2.5M) is distributed to all staff as follows:

Administrative: $145,362
Certified:  $1,779,205
Support: $541,288
Total: $2,465,855

Keep in mind that any extra budget funds, especially if used first for select support staffers, would go a long way in fixing the inequality of pay for loyal employees whose salaries have been frozen for years. The number of administrative employees, while too large for the size of the school district, is small compared to the number of support staff employees. The top dogs in GPS have been with the district for less than a year, and they’re getting a lot more in their paychecks than ANY other district employees.

You all remember that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto will get her 2% raise no matter what … it’s in her contract. Fixing the salary inequity just isn’t a pressing concern to Kishimoto, especially since all those loyal employees have been working for five years with their pay frozen. Except for new hires, who are paid at much higher rates in order to “attract the best.” And selected bus drivers and their trainers who are paid more money than loyal bus drivers. And, of course, all those new administrative employees who are paid handsomely AND have $7,000.00 extra in their pockets because GPS pays for healthcare for them and their families.  And automobile allowances. And extra days off. And more, more and more. It’s good to be at the top: Administrative Salary Schedule 2015-2016

We suspect some GPS employees got raises in January when the State of Arizona raised the minimum wage to $8.05. That means if those employees work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year (including the breaks when GPS is closed for business) their full-time income comes to $16,744.00. We all know that GPS configures many support staff jobs so they aren’t full time. It’s a feature, not a bug. The highly-paid dudes and dudettes in Human Resources make sure to keep those hours low, to avoid paying for healthcare for one reason. Here’s the classified staff pay scale showing just how poorly paid the GPS support staff is: Support Staff Salary Schedule 2015-2016.

Listen to Good Old Board Member Jill Humpherys when she fails to filter her mental dialogue as she compares the school district’s pay scale for classified staff to Walmart. Jill Humpherys seems to have discovered that some district employees work for less than Walmart’s recently raised minimum wage of $10.00 an hour. OMG – Walmart might start competing with GPS for the lowest-paid positions!

Jill Humpherys solves the problem by saying, “We want to keep the best. We don’t want some idiot being in our classified staff and doing the job; I mean, let them go to work for Walmart.” Watch Board Member Charlie Santa Cruz’s face as Jill Humpherys speaks – priceless!

To complete the triumvirate of pay scales, here’s the Certified Salary Schedule 2015-2016. We salute you teachers who spoke the truth to power about that Stepless Salary Schedule. You succeeded in getting that can kicked down the road for at least another year. Not that the pay scale will become any fairer, the top dogs just will *incentivize* you folks to be the ones who leave the district next year. If you don’t believe us, look at what Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is doing to Coach Rutt.

We’ve been wondering if Superintendent Kishimoto would ever be able to ditch her training wheels and act like a real superintendent. It doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon. Instead, the wheels are coming off the GPS bus on Kishimoto’s watch and all the inhabitants of the GPS echo chamber won’t be able to stop staring in fascination. How do we know this? Well, we see that Christina Kishimoto really is as illiterate as her writings have shown. Document showing Kishimoto flunked apostrophes and asterisks is here.  Document showing Kishimoto makes words plural by adding an apostrophe plus an “s” is here.

Here’s the illiterate Legal Fees Memo from Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to the Governing Board. The referenced memo incorrectly gives legal “advise” costs to GPS over the past six months or so. Hahahahaha … We have to laugh all the more because it’s about a matter that GPS spent tax dollars unnecessarily to have someone tell us we couldn’t have that information about GPS legal fees.  Christina Kishimoto wouldn’t know real legal ADVICE (as opposed to legal advise in the memo) if it bit her in the asterisk!

Sigh, you could have elected Westie as Superintendent. One parent has already connected the dots:

It’s time for all of us to send a BIG, LOUD message to the Board. We want THEM to take charge of our district!! THEY make decisions, Dr. Kishimoto carries them out. We want our Board to ask questions and demand answers BEFORE they vote for another of Dr. Kishimoto’s proposals or her budget. (We don’t appreciate having magnet schools and Chrome Books forced on us, especially by a politician-turned-educator who has never taught a day in her life.) We want our Board, who we VOTED for, to determine what’s best for our district. We want our Board to stand up for us!

Our Board has a chance to do exactly that next Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Dr. Kishimoto’s budget proposal includes a 1.6% across the board pay increase for all staff. The community does not want pay raises for new people who were hired in at higher salary levels than our long-term, dedicated staff. We also do not want another raise for the tech people who just received a large pay increase because their salaries “weren’t competitive with other districts,” according to Dr. Kishimoto. (Hello!! And our teacher salaries are?!? Why were techies a higher priority?) We expect our Board to reward the long-term staff members who have stayed through years of turmoil and pay freezes! They are the ones who made Gilbert Public Schools a once-great district and WE WANT THEM TO STAY!

(P.S. I don’t work for GPS. I will not financially benefit from staff pay raises in any way. I am a parent who is sick of seeing our experienced staff leave our district!)

Gilbert Public Schools Must Fix Salary Inequality First!

As Gilbert Public Schools considers a budget for the 2015-2016 school year, we’re seeing more of the same old stuff: Superintendent Christina Kishimoto recommends an across-the-board salary increase for all employees. Problem is, the amount will be miniscule for most of the support staff while the top dogs grab the lion’s share of the salary *bucket* for themselves.

The Good Old Boys couldn’t have done it any better. Oh wait … that’s exactly what the GOBs did in the past. Reward themselves first. Make excuses. Rinse and repeat.

It looks like GPS employees are in for a classic misdirection deception with a bucket of public funds known as “inflation funds” in the GPS budget matrix. This money is coming from settling a lawsuit. All public school districts knew it was in the pipeline when they first developed budget recommendations. The big question was how much taxpayer money would be in the bucket. As the State of Arizona budget was pushed through the legislature, school districts were complaining mightily that they needed more, more and more money.

GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto joined other superintendents across the state in lobbing hand grenades as part of a funding attack against the legislature. Great way to win friends and influence very important people, Kishi. [Her tone deafness is amazing!]

Kishimoto notes that the district is already facing an $8 million budget deficit, and that the school board is working on ways to insulate classrooms from the cuts. She doesn’t tell parents that the district is facing that deficit because voters refused to approve a budget override. Lawmakers had little to do with that. Furthermore, if the district can handle $8 million in cuts without teacher layoffs and closed schools, how does an extra $2 million force such nuclear options? She doesn’t explain.

With that grenade launched, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto targeted the GPS Governing Board. During a monthly work-study session [she swears it’s not a *real* board meeting] Kishimoto told board members what they were going to vote on at the next *official* meeting on March 31, 2015. Things did not go exactly the way Superintendent wanted them to go. It seems that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has already decided what GPS will do in regard to employee salaries and contracts, and she expected board members to fall in line immediately, no questions asked.

Fortunately for students, parents and GPS employees, two board members questioned the Supreme Leader Superintendent’s recommendations, and did so in nice ways. Personally, Westie believes the time is long past for being nice about basic salary inequities in Gilbert Public Schools and superintendents slapping the faces of loyal employees every year during the budget process.

Board Member Daryl Colvin (summary): “Correct the pay inequity we all know about between our new hires and our loyal employees who have been with us for years. Do that first before we do any across-the-board salary changes.”

Then comes the weaseling and misdirection. CFO Jeff Gadd wrings his hands about the puny 1.6% number. Not that he tells anyone what the *bucket* is that contains 1.6% for GPS. No siree, he wants you to just wring your hands, too.

CFO Jeff Gadd: “The inflation factor at 1.6% gives us relatively small amount of money to work with and if we were to give employees just a minimal raise without that consideration it will take all the 1.6. If we were to do some consideration of what you talked about, I suspicion (sic) we would have almost no salary increase money left for any other employees.”

Now that the CFO has teed up the ball, the big misdirection can begin with Superintendent Kishimoto’s edu-jargon making the false choice case that would result in no raises at all for the loyal support staff employees. Never mind that no one has been talking about the fact that 1.6% of $9.00 per hour is something like fifteen cents an hour. Whoop de doo!

On the other hand, 1.6% of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s $200,000 salary* is a pretty big chunk of change. Her newly hired top dogs that work in the Great White Temple of Doom are enjoying salaries at the six-figure level as well. An across-the-board salary increase is really nice for those at the top, but it sucks for those who are trying to put food on the table for their families on budgets below poverty level. Cue the crocodile tears and misdirection.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto: “I’d like to just reemphasize that my recommendation still stands at doing an across-the-board increase because we are limited in the dollars that we have to allocate and we have a number of staff members, particularly our non-certified staff, who have had no increase in several years and so we do want to correct some of our inequities as you phrased it, the work with the stepless salary schedule is looking at how do we do that over the course of the next two years or more years because I don’t think we can do that correction immediately in terms of salaries.

Perhaps Superintendent Christina Kishimoto just misunderstood what these two board members want in the next budget. Board member Julie Smith seemed to accept that possibility, however remote, and try again to make the case that the board should remedy salary inequities first. Here’s Julie Smith making a strong case for fixing salary inequities as the top priority for the GPS budget for 2015-2016. As she explains how the inequities came into existence, Julie Smith asserts, “Loyal employees who have been through thick and thin” with the district deserve better than the salary inequity that now exists. She urges board members to address those inequities before “rewarding those at the top,” none of whom have been with GPS for very long.

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto will have none of that *equity* talk on her watch! No siree, in response she instead makes fallacious arguments about the funds deficit that GPS is facing, asserting that salaries cannot be remedied by cutting administrative costs. Kishimoto also attempts to drive a wedge between employee groups, saying that support staff hasn’t had raises, either.

Kishimoto refuses to address current salary inequities, saying to do so would “differentiate” among employees. That’s exactly what board members Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith have proposed: bring loyal employees’ salaries up to the level of new hires BEFORE giving across-the-board raises that perpetuate existing inequities.

Sheeesh, things are worse than ever in Gilbert Public Schools! Superintendent Kishimoto and her top dogs don’t seem to understand that as the largest employer in the Town of Gilbert, what GPS does in treating employees badly has a HUGE detrimental effect on public perception and the reputation of the district. It’s almost as if the Town of Gilbert is a company town in all the worst ways that old concept worked.

Contrast Kishimoto’s intransigence and her inability to comprehend board members’ concerns for salary equity for loyal employees with Mesa’s Superintendent, whose actions and words speak volumes to his employees: 

On the surface, it’s hard to find a more respected leader in Arizona public education than Mesa Public Schools Superintendent Michael Cowan. During a time of complaints that administrations are overpaid, overstaffed and overrated, Cowan seems to buck the assumptions.  In the past three years, while other administrators were eligible for annual salary raises between 1 and 3 percent, Cowan declined the boosts in pay for himself.

As the leader of the state’s largest district of 64,000 students, Cowan’s $180,000 base annual salary is less than superintendents of some smaller districts [that would be GPS, you know]. “How can I take a raise when our teachers have been through so much?” Cowan told the Arizona Republic last summer, adding that he is committed to the Mesa community where he was hired as a teacher and grew up professionally.”

Here’s what GPS stakeholders had to say about Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her top dogs during that news cycle:

We have a superintendent who is a politician-turned-educator. Just read her strategic plan. She has brought her Hartford CT plan to GPS and is implementing it whether it’s what we need/want or not. She has no idea what made GPS great in the past, nor does she seem to care. Her focus is clearly not on retaining our great staff members. Time to put pressure on our GPS board to run the show, instead of letting this superintendent continue to run off our great people.

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Seems ironic that we hired a new, expensive superintendent (“expert”) who is not an educator and was never a teacher to come in and run off our great teachers by showing them such disrespect … then have her tell us that her strategic plan values our staff. NEWS FLASH … what parents value the most is our teachers and staff!!!! We want admin to give them reasons to stay! Or at least act like they care. GPS families are loyal to GPS because of our great staff!! It’s insane to chase away our experienced people (by changing the promises you made to them when you hired them!) then turn around and tell us your “great” ideas for improving our district. Fed up with this new admin already. Hope our GPS board realizes that THEY are in charge and stop this insanity! (I’d like to think future override funds or inflation $ would go to our staff, but don’t trust this admin. They’d probably buy more Chromebooks instead.)

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I do NOT trust this administration or her cabinet. They do NOT have the district’s best interests in mind – or they would have better communication with parents and staff. They take any feedback and use it to ‘troubleshoot’ any arguments, NOT to actually listen to the input and make adjustments.

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Coming next: more edu-jargon explaining why Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wants across-the-board pay increases of 1.6% for all GPS employees. Right from the horse’s … mouth.

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Big Fat Asterisk: $200,000 is just Christina Kishimoto’s base salary. She really is paid far more than that. KishimotoContract.


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