Gilbert Public Schools is asking local taxpayers to give them more, more and more money. Because:
It’s for the kids!
The legislature won’t give us all the money we want.
We already spent it all last year.
We know better than you know how to spend your own money.
If you don’t pony up an override and a bond, we’ll just raise your taxes anyway … like we’ve been doing for years.
It must be election season. People are going around wearing ugly cheap tee shirts and knocking on doors to tell Gilbert residents how to vote for the override and bond. Signs are going up and people are spending a lot of time and effort to try and force the Town of Gilbert and the City of Mesa to take down the signs that don’t support the GPS override. The True Believers denigrate anyone who doesn’t
see the world their way agree with every word they say volunteer to raise their own taxes.
Gilbert Public Schools is spending a LOT of money on an all-mail election, figuring that more Yes voters will mail in ballots than would show up at a polling place. GPS also spent a lot of money to have a *consultant* tell them that it’s better to ask for both a bond and an override, since GPS hasn’t been able to get an override passed lately. This time, the Superintendent is going around to special meetings to explain the override and bond in a *neutral* way, but Christina Kishimoto is so arrogant that she spars with citizens who ask inconvenient questions about trivial (to her) matters of technology and taxes and teachers. How dare a parent challenge the
omnivorous omniscient obnoxious Christina Kishimoto! On her own turf!!
All this self-congratulatory override and bond nonsense is intended to hide the fact that Gilbert taxpayers see increases in their taxes, no matter what. That’s because the Governing Board votes for big budgets, the County honchos look at that and then they raise taxes to match the GPS budget. Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp Governing Board know that. They also know it’s not just about this year. The raise in taxes will be for 5 years for override (decreasing the next 2 years) and 20 years for the bond. Plus, there is no guarantee the Governing Board won’t raise rates AGAIN next year. All this while GPS loses students, to the tune of 1,000 or so in the past couple of years.
Here’s how the scam works: if the State of Arizona doesn’t give the school district as much money as the district wants, then the district has the option of raising the extra money by raising the primary tax rate. Part of the problem is that the district creates a budget with built in spending raises before the state creates its own budget. Of course, like any government entity, if they create a budget with a 20% increase, and the state only provides for a 10% increase, the district’s budget has been cut by 10%, and now it’s doom and gloom. In other words, the district creates their budget, finds out how much the state is willing or able to give, then tells the county that their budget number is higher this year. Then the county raises the tax rates to cover the district’s budget. It’s a purposefully complicated process.
Citizens helpfully reviewed their tax records for the years 2011-2015 to confirm the shell game that GPS plays with tax rates. The results:
2011 it was 2.4425/$100;
2012 it jumped to 4.0884/100;
2013 it increased to 4.3953/100;
2014 it increased to 5.2090/100;
2015 it increased to 5.2599/100.
The Pro-Override Forces are circulating information restricted to the *Secondary Property Tax Rates* to
fleece the public show that GPS has lost money and that taxes are going down. Sure they are. <dripping sarcasm> Westie’s birdies helpfully created a graph from statistics on file with the Maricopa County Department of Finance. Whatever tax money GPS lost from overrides winding down, they made up for it in primary tax rate increases, which didn’t require taxpayer approval. Take a look at how the GPS primary tax rates have skyrocketed compared to local school districts since 2011, and this is BEFORE a new override and bond are considered:
If that’s not enough, let’s look at the data from the Arizona Department of Education, which shows EXPENDITURES of $295,484,830 for 2014 compared to $302,559,666 for 2015. That’s a $7 MILLION increase at the same time that the Superintendent and the Governing Board are moaning and groaning because the budget was cut. Right….
Now that the legislature is considering a special session to give public schools more money, why would citizens vote additional taxes on themselves before they know how much more money the State of Arizona will be giving to public schools? The legislature can raise taxes. The school district governing boards have been raising taxes every year. So why not give the Good Old Boys more money to scatter among their friends before the legislature gives them more money to scatter among their friends. With
vendors friends like San Tan Ford and CORE Construction waiting in the wings with their hands out for contracts, how could GOBs resist? The old GOBs couldn’t resist. They also didn’t succeed in getting overrides passed.
One way or another, GPS is gonna get ya (and your money).*
Big Fat Asterisk: Homer Simpson said, “Everyone knows rock n’ roll attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact.” We know from researching on the Internet that “One Way or Another” was a 1978 hit song by Blondie. It took some close reading to unearth that fact. Cue Homer Simpson again: “Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!”
What possibly could go wrong when Gilbert Public Schools lets students upload selfies and anything else they want to the *official* GPS websites? “We’ll monitor it,” said the lady who wears sunglasses on top of her head … at night. We’re not going to speculate what all can go wrong, but we’ll helpfully report things here as they happen. And you know things will happen. It’s like the GPS Top Dogs think no one can see the train wreck that’s coming. Sheeeesh.
Hasn’t the *fabulous* GPS marketing machine ever heard of Snapchat, Vine and Instagram, to name a few potential sources of deep embarrassment for GPS when the kids are
running the asylum managing the district web presence. Comedy Central has a Snapchat roadmap for GPS students … so you know Comedy Central fans will be drawn to inappropriate uploads for a school district, like a moth to a flame. It sure promises to be fun, though! Do you really believe GPS parents will approve of turning over the GPS websites to their kids? Surely you obtained written parental approval in advance, didn’t you, GPS? You know, photos with minors create some serious liabilities when they veer off into (ahem) inappropriateness. No no, GPS, parents are not going to thank you for this.
Seriously, a former congressman with an adult libido hasn’t been able figure out what kinds of digital images are inappropriate for sharing. Why would GPS expect a teenager with a teenage libido to think twice about whether it’s appropriate to share the most snicker-worthy images with friends? Or send worse images to not-friends? Sheeeesh. Older generations had problems with what students were doing behind the bleachers. GPS is inviting something else entirely, and the smartest kids will make sure their pranks won’t be traceable. That’s enough of the dire warnings to people who don’t want to hear them …
Let’s look at some sterling work actually done by GPS students. The presentation below skewers the shoddy *
technology Digital Ninja training* that’s been rammed down the throats offered to GPS students. First, don’t expect the kids to hold back; they’re going to tell it like it is. Second, these kids are ALWAYS being told to check their work; they’re not impressed with adults (some of whom are paid far too much for the shoddy work they do) who can’t be bothered to check their work before foisting it on the kids. Third, these kids have pride; they’ll call out shoddy work by adults who don’t take pride in their own work. Scroll through the images below for a polite slap on the hands by a student who knows a lot more than the adults who were supposed to be teaching *Digital Ninja Training.* Thank you, unnamed student, for being so polite.
Out of the mouths of babes…
GPS should be ashamed for adopting a logo lauding *Technology – Scholarship – Innovation* when their own work product is so shoddy. Students know better. Now you see why Westie believes the Powers That Be are just asking for it when they try to foist their work onto the shoulders of students. Hey GPS, you need to hire the right people and fix the screwed up salary inequities among your pets inhabiting the White Castle. No one else is buying the garbage being passed off as *technology.* Sheeeeesh.
As always, we are truly grateful to our audience for hanging in and hanging out with us.
We saw in the past that opportunistic adults were using Gilbert Public Schools as a cookie jar for themselves and their friends, and we’re seeing much the same now. We’ll have to keep that light shining on wrongdoing by a coterie of self-important educrats who are fleecing the GPS budget in ways that boggle the mind.
The new guys are doing the same old thing, but now it involves a THIRD OF A BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY and it increases no matter what voters say. Significantly, the corruption and mismanagement we have been exposing for three years were never intended to produce any benefit for students. Of course, students didn’t benefit. Neither did employees. Loyal employees are still hoping for unicorns and rainbows and pay equity. The board and the superintendent keep on pretending employees are important, but their spending priorities never put employees at the top of the list.
The secrecy and self serving behavior is more rampant now than ever. Losing the 2012 and 2013 overrides was a high price for GPS students to pay because citizens lost confidence in GPS leadership. Instead of healing, there is a pitched political battle showing how wide the chasm remains with the new breed of carpetbagger administration top dogs demanding more, more and more money for themselves first and their friends second.
Worse, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto is enshrining her skullduggery into GPS history. Any time she is questioned about anything, she blames the Governing Board and recites *the process* that supposedly grants her immunity for things like multitudes of Open Meeting Law violations. An especially abhorrent example of profligate spending is two years of her self congratulatory *convocations* that cost taxpayers plenty for silly things like corsages. Sheeesh.
Let’s keep things happy today – here’s a start of school event that’s fabulous. You’ll enjoy it all the more if you click the Closed Caption icon – that puts the lyrics at the bottom of your screen. Thanks for everything, Birdies!
The Gilbert Public Schools administration and governing board are in a holding pattern as far as doing any real work this year — they’re waiting for the November mail-in election to be over so they can get on with the things Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto already decided to do. First priority: a new campus for Gilbert Classical Academy. Nothing else matters, but they don’t want the public to know just yet.
*it’s not a public meeting* Work Study session on September 8, 2015 was not properly noticed to the public. AGAIN. In spite of the Attorney General monitoring agreement that the board will vote to accept on September 22, 2015 because GPS fails over and over and over again to properly post pubic notices about public meetings attended by members of the governing board. Here’s a hint: the Attorney General dude already said “there was some confusion regarding the online posting of the Board’s notices and agendas for upcoming meetings.” That’s why The Powers That Be have to attend class on complying with Open Meeting Laws. AGAIN. As if that’s going to make a difference. But enough digression.
The Work Study Session focused on two things: the GPS marketing plan and the GPS Legislative Agenda. Boring! But apparently that was the whole point of the meeting: to bore the public to tears so citizens will quit paying attention. The last thing the clowns want is for citizens to actually notice that a lot of Good Old Boys are being paid top dollar to fail at what they’re supposed to be doing. For an example, take a look at the *Good News* marketing fail on the right, where whoever it was doing the job of publicizing the *Good News* didn’t bother to look at what they did. Too bad the fabulous GPS marketing machine failed GPS alumnus Zach Davies.
All you teachers and support staff who still believe in
unicorns and pixie dust promises of pay raises if the override passes aren’t going to like that two more projects are more important than you are. As always, Westie has the proof, right from the horse’s @$$ mouth. GPS helpfully posted the marketing plan that the governing board was studying. Yep, it sure looks like something someone pulled out of their nether regions.
GPS administrators claim they have reduced the marketing machine to one FTE (full time employee) this year. Sure they have <eye roll>. Next year, they’re going to DOUBLE the marketing staff to two FTEs. Here’s the catch: this year, GPS will pay an amount equivalent to two FTEs to give the Official GPS District website a makeover, hiring an interim director in the meantime. Notice that the benefits for two FTEs in 2016 cost almost triple the benefits for one FTE in 2015. Look at the bouncing ball of Capital & Property and Services & Supplies numbers. Do you need any more evidence of GPS smoke and mirrors budgeting? Sheeeeesh.
In another slide, the fabulous marketing machine claims credit for redesigning the GPS logo. Doesn’t the artistry make you want to swoon? They also claim to have completed a whole bunch of videos about GPS elementary schools. Have you seen the magnificent *showcase videos* for the elementary schools? Neither have we. But we clicked on the Ashland Ranch Elementary School link at the *Select a School* button on the GPS district home page. We hope the Ashland Ranch administration gets some vision correction (fancy term for eye glasses) that might help them correct their *Vision* statement [conjugation: get, have got, gotten, right?].
How will we know when students have “got it”?
What are we going to do when students didn’t “get it”?
What are we going to do when students “got it”?
Of course, illiterate writings are par for the course in Gilbert Public Schools, starting with the Superintendent’s illiterate Petition for Injunction Against Harassment and board president Lily Tram’s illiterate email messages. We expect better from the people who are on the front line of educating students, Ashland Ranch. We noticed, however, that Ashland Ranch has a LOT of clubs — you know, the GPS institutionalized system of making teachers work before and after school for no additional compensation, but with a “participation will be noted in your evaluation” cudgel. It’s obvious that principals took lessons from their leader, Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s example of how to win loyalty from
slave laborers GPS employees.
The other incredibly boring-by-design presentation was about the GPS Legislative Agenda. Mostly, it apes Arizona School Board Association stuff … like the things Silly Jillie Humpherys parrots on her perpetual campaign Facebook page. Hidden in the bu%# $h!t are a few things that should make believers in unicorns and pixie dust fear for their salaries. That’s right, ASBA and GPS want the option to go to a 200 day school year. Do you believe for a minute that teachers and support staff, those front-line-of-education warriors, will see appropriate raises in their paychecks? No, it will be more and more of the Same Old Stuff: unpaid labor… “to improve student achievement,” which is Silly Jillie’s top priority. What a surprise <facepalm>.
Lookie here: the GPS governing board will get to decide whether or not to hire a paid lobbyist, according to the Legislative Agenda presentation. We all know the board will decide whatever they’re told to decide when they convene a properly noticed business meeting where they can legally vote the way they’re told to vote. Gee, wonder who they have in mind as a lobbyist?
Or could it be Paul Ulan, the guy who has specialized in Yes! Yes! campaigns* across the valley for several years? Ask yourself if any of this Same Old Stuff sounds familiar:
Yes for PV Students spent $82,719.44 of its contributions – there was a surplus of about $5,490 from the previous campaign. Paul Ulan, owner of Phoenix-based Primary Consultants, received $78,555 for consulting fees, signs, photos, design, printing, postage and more. Many of the contributors to Yes for PV Students though Oct. 19 were governing board members, administrators and employees.
There is no conflict of interest in Yes for PV Students receiving money from a group supported by businesses that could potentially benefit from the passing of the ballot measures, Paul Ulan said. “The committee is not the district. That way, there is a buffer between the district” and the construction companies, he said.
Maybe it’s the other guy that GPS has paid so much to represent them to their legislators: Kevin DeMenna. This is the dude who
sets such a fine example earns every penny he has been paid by many school districts. Surely Lily Tram will say again, “Everyone makes mistakes,” as she authorizes Christina 3-2 Kishimoto to pay whatever Kevin DeMenna is worth to GPS. Read the article linked below to get the full story.
A prominent Arizona lobbyist was arrested last year on suspicion of drug possession and driving under the influence after police officers found marijuana, a pipe and 348 pills in his car, half of which were narcotics. DeMenna acknowledged in a recent interview with The Arizona Republic that he had been addicted to prescription drugs — a problem he said he had for years. DeMenna said he took morphine to suppress pain from old rodeo and other sports injuries he sustained in high school and college. He smoked marijuana to stave off nausea brought on by the narcotics, he said.
Let’s close with the most important revelation from the GPS Legislative Agenda: they want the Arizona Legislature to change the name *Override* to *Locally Controlled Funding.* Like that’s going to make a difference when GPS asks citizens to volunteer to pay higher taxes the next time GPS throws money to the winds. Sheeeesh.
*Big Fat Asterisk: Do these folks have any self-awareness? Yes! Yes!
Or is Yes! Yes! just another marketing fail? Go ahead, GPS students, click the Yes! Yes! link and ask your parents to explain.
We promised more information about how Gilbert Public Schools is being monitored by the Arizona Attorney General. This new development came about because Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp Governing Board just can’t bring themselves to follow the law. They seem to believe it’s preferable to ask forgiveness later. Or maybe they’re just stupider than we thought.
Since the AG monitoring is really nothing more than ANOTHER way for GPS to pass along some more money to their favorite lawyers, there’s no reason for the present administration to straighten up and fly right. All this means is that The Trust lawyers make some extra cash by agreeing to look over all agendas for OML violations before they are posted. It’s not like the government is going to stop Christina 3-2 Kishimoto from doing what she always intended to do. By golly, she was right! She got her hands slapped, but only with a wet noodle, which is as effective a deterrent as you would expect. All the while, Lily, Jill and Charlie applauded their superintendent and followed her lead.
Here’s the letter from the Attorney General dude who is in charge of enforcing Arizona’s Open Meeting Law. Notice how the letter opens with findings that board retreats have been conducted in violation of OML since August 2014. Notice the letter is dated August 26, 2015. Notice the board was in the middle of yet another board retreat two days AFTER the date of the letter. See … nothing new under the sun.
The August 28, 2015 GPS board retreat violated OML in the exact same way the board and administration violated OML for the past year: no recording of the meetings, no minutes of the meetings. The only public notice of the meetings were “courtesy notices” accompanied by the administration and board asserting that the retreats were not public meetings because they said so. In the case of the Board on the Run, the administration wouldn’t even tell the public WHERE in the 179 acres of Grand Canyon University the meeting would actually be held. They relented only when their own group of allies started calling the superintendent’s office to ask exactly where the meeting was going to be held, and that was just a couple of hours before the first meeting began.
The Attorney General dude also wrote “there was some confusion regarding the online posting of the Board’s notices and agendas for upcoming meetings.” Yeah, there’s a GPS policy for that, but who is going to make GPS top dogs follow their own policies? Especially policies that are gosh-golly INCONVENIENT and might make the public think they were actually INVITED to those meetings. You saw how effective this hand-slap of a letter was when Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamps went right ahead and did the same thing all over again. It was like a school yard taunt: “Who’s gonna stop us? Nyah, nyah. Nanny nanny boo boo.”
That scenario was very predictable, especially from the gang that gave you “optics” as the reason for listing GPS employee salaries as sort-of #1 on the propaganda GPS issued for the override and bond election:
Things did not bode well when Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz said he wanted to put employee salaries as the first bullet (which was laudable on its own), but Charlie said it was necessary for the *optics* if the override was to get passed. Homer Simpson management.
The illegally convened board retreat at Grand Canyon University showed just how serious Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp governing board are about employee salaries. Yeppers, the *optics* shifted to #3 when it got down to actually ranking with numbers, and two other incredibly important issues rose above staff salary increases. Silly Jilly Humpherys wanted to reorder that list to push employee salaries even lower. It’s mind-boggling that Silly Jilly thinks it’s the right thing to look at district demographics AFTER the district completes their most important goal: giving Gilbert Classical Academy a new campus, no matter the cost, no matter the need, no matter nothing … just get it done because Christina 3-2 Kishimoto said to get it done.
Just when you think things couldn’t get more surreal when it comes to the GPS governing board, the people who support Silly Jilly and her pals are egging each other on to do more, more and more unpaid work. That’s because the technology that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto bought for the district means the expectations are that teachers will be available to students 24-7. You know it will be more work, UNPAID work, at that. The important phrase in the comment below is last, “even when they [teachers] cannot be in the classroom.” Like because they’re sick. Or they took a personal day off to do something really, really important. Or they’re on jury duty. It’s almost like these board supporters have regressed to second grade, where students believe their teachers don’t have any other life outside of their classroom.
Comment by a board supporter: I am really impressed at how Chromebooks have been so valuable to classrooms when a substitute is needed. In the past few weeks I have seen several cases where the teacher prepared a lesson, sent the instructions and all of the links to students and any person assigned to cover that class can monitor a focused group of students who are moving forward with instruction. Subs don’t have access to our computer drives with the media clips, webquests, literature passages or group-shared documents. Subs usually can’t log into our laptops and project Powerpoints or Smartboard lessons or show a teacher-made demo of the lesson. With the Chromebooks, teachers can monitor the students’ progress in real time and provide feedback using the classroom management software, e-mail and comments directly on uploads of student work. Using Chromebooks has enabled teachers to maintain rigor and clarity in the flow of their lessons even when they cannot be in the classroom.
It gets worse: remember when two new admin positions appeared on the consent agenda for the July 28, 2015 board meeting? Julie Smith asked if new administrators were being added. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto replied the new positions were “only the reorganization we talked about already.” There was a bit of a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, of course, because any reorganization would have been discussed during yet another secret meeting prior to the July board meeting.
The *Proposed Organizational Framework* that will be occurring in GPS this year is shown below on the left, with TWO NEW ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS, marked with a star. You can click the images below for larger, more easy to read versions. Compare the reorganized administration with the *Current Organizational Framework* shown below on the right. Don’t forget that generous pay raises have flown under the radar on the consent agenda, too. That’s because the people who are in these newly reorganized positions and the Chief Talent Staff are doing so much work these days <gag>. Tell me again that teachers are important to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp governing board.
Get your unicorns and pixie dust here, folks, right here in GPS. Things are more screwed up than anyone could have imagined. No amount of money can solve terminal stupidity and rampant lying to the public.
We posted about the Gilbert Public Schools’ Board on the Run a while back. Now we’ll examine some of the information the board reviewed during that schmooozy little getaway hosted by Grand Canyon University, a private religious institution of higher education. We heard that GCU gave GPS the meeting room and catered meals for free. Of course we all believe there was no quid pro quo, don’t we?
There was a perfectly good board room at the corner of Elliott and Gilbert that didn’t get used. Such a waste. Don’t you just love how the Governing Board simply refuses to have an invocation before their regular meetings but chooses to partner and schmooze with two religious universities? There’s some cognitive dissonance in a community with a large LDS population, to be sure. Especially since the multitude of new top dogs in the GPS carpetbagger administration simply don’t understand their community. But by golly, they’re going to reform it all! Enough digression.
First up, there were plenty of reasons the board wanted to meet in secret, 30 miles away from the district they serve.
- The GPS administration presented to the Governing Board just how poorly GPS students are doing on the assessments. Of course they wouldn’t want to present that data here in Gilbert where parents might be interested. The last thing they would have wanted was for that data to be livestreamed for parents to see. The data shows that in many areas students dropped from 70-80% proficiency down to 50-60%. This is AIMS data. An apples to apples comparison. The AIMS was administered but the data wasn’t counted by ADE for school and district scoring since ADE did away with the grade/accountability system for now. The AzMerit scores are expected to be even lower. AzMerit results will not be released for school districts until November 2015 (after the override election).
- The GPS administration presented to the board staff survey results. Overall, teachers show low levels of agreement that morale on the part of teachers is high; less than 1 in 3 agreed with this statement. The survey also shows that about 60% of staff members do NOT feel valued or respected by the current school board. Special Ed staff overall report that the district does not supply them with what they need and that they are generally dissatisfied. Now you know why the last governing board meeting featured a *new* agenda item: board president report, during which President Lily Tram thanked GSP employees. Now you know just how genuine that gimmick was.
Now we all understand Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s desire to present that data at a secret meeting that violated open meeting laws. The GPS Governing Board held this meeting even though they are on “monitoring” by the Arizona Attorney General’s office for continuing open meeting violations. We’ll devote much more time to the Open Meeting Law violations and AG monitoring soon.
Second thing, and here’s another doozy: while the superintendent rattled off the goals for the Governing Board, the board president had nothing to say. Do you need any more proof that this is Christina and the Rubber Stamps than that? [rhetorical question] Once again, Silly Jilly wanted to reorder goals. Apparently, Silly Jilly can’t focus on more than three goals at one time. Silly Jilly said the data dashboard should be #1 (because they were already halfway through it when she had this brilliant idea) then #2 the demographics projects (which would include the beginning steps of maybe starting to kinda prepare to get organized to think about looking at boundaries) and then #3 find a permanent home for GCA. Why would Silly Jilly want those goals to be the top three? What a stunning lack of logic. [facepalm]
We all know that the Governing Board is going to do what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto wants them to do. Pay attention: this list of board goals is numbered, unlike the FAQs that GPS is passing around hoping to get voters to pass the override and bond in the upcoming election. During a recent board meeting,
one board member helpfully pointed out that how the items are listed as bullet points DOES NOT mean the board would be required to spend in that order.
Okay, all you dedicated folks, notice that this list (photo taken at the GPS retreat; Westie did not make this up) actually IS numbered, unlike the bullet points for the override, and salaries are not Number One:
Governing Board Goals 2015-2016
1. Find a place for GCA (project goal)
2. Policy Revision and Alignment with Theory of Action
3. Salary Schedule
4. Demographic Study
5. Data Dashboard for MPE [that’s Managed Performance Empowerment]
Based on the discussions at this secret board meeting, guess where your tax dollars in the forms of Override and Bonds are going to go. They aren’t going to go to the salaries of teachers and staff and end up in the classroom like it says on the district’s FAQ. They are going towards the expansion of a school that maybe 1% of the kids in the district attend.
More of the Same Old, Same Old from an omnishambles of a school district. There was no discussion of such important matters as:
1. Here are the biggest problems the District has.
2. Here are our biggest opportunities
3. Here are our strengths and weaknesses
4. Here are our areas of concern (charters, home schooling, etc.)
5. Here is where we want to be in 5 years
So there you have it: the GPS Governing Board’s top priorities depend on who you’re talking to and when. The GPS Governing Board’s management philosophy is just as absurd as Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s ridiculous line of sight management.
Last thing: the GPS Governing Board isn’t supposed to take any legal action at these secret meetings, but they selected Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz as the board representative on the GCA Committee. Oh snap! The more things change, the more they stay the same…
GPS Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was bound and determined to get some national attention for her current school district. Unfortunately, the national attention has been really bad, downright negative and it looks like it will get uglier as this new school year gets underway.
We noticed that this *national* thingy has been getting more and more repetition in the superintendent’s pronouncements. At first, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto must have figured that Gilbert Classical Academy was her ticket to that national acclaim she so desires. One problem is that GCA became controversial within the community, mostly because GCA costs more per student that what GPS spends for other, less worthy students that attend other district schools. That’s not exactly the best marketing message to be promoting at the same time GPS is trying to convince local taxpayers to approve some hefty *voluntary* taxes on themselves so GPS can continue
squandering money doing the things GPS does in the name of educating students.
Another topic that’s not so good to be discussing right now is how GPS is losing students. We all know that GPS lost 1,000 students last year. We all know that GPS also lost something like $7 Million associated with those students who have taken their money with them when they jumped the GPS ship to go to other districts or charter schools or private schools. It’s far better for GPS sycophants to say GPS lost money because the state took those funds away. But we all know what’s really been happening. Especially in the easternmost areas of the district – look at how schools on the eastern boundary are contracting. This is intriguing since Apache Junction School District is having such serious funding problems. AJ kids don’t seem to be beating down the doors of GPS schools. This is serious – the east boundary area is growing by leaps and bounds, and some of the new neighborhoods actually have charter schools WITHIN the neighborhoods. Those families have already opted out of GPS. Don’t you GPS whiz kids understand that???
On another connected level, here’s where the GCA dots connect to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s national thingy: GCA had long cited a *waiting list* of students who wanted to attend GCA, but couldn’t. At one time, that wait list was supposed to be really, really long. It was so long, some people took low-paying part time jobs with GPS just so they could get the *employee preference* boost on the wait list for their kids. The wait list was so long, GPS finally confessed that GCA was always intended to be a *perk* for employees (and their kids) and it was not intended to become a real public school open to the public. The wait list was one of the reasons Good Old former superintendent Dave Allison decided to shut down Gilbert Junior High School so GCA could have the campus for its own. Oh yeah, they tried for a tax override back then, as well. Good Old Dave Allison was a miserable failure in so many ways.
So here’s where some dots connect: GCA doesn’t have a wait list this year. Parents and students are not pounding on the GCA doors trying to get in to the shining star of the GPS galaxy. We’re even hearing that GCA no longer gives its students free laptop computers … GCA students are now treated like other GPS students and they get a Chromebook. Lots cheaper, isn’t it? But it’s just so ORDINARY. GCA students used to be so very special, you know. Now they’re more like any other kid in the district. Except that GCA kids have to pay if they lose or break their Chromebooks. Other students don’t. But we digress.
So it looks like Christina 3-2 Kishimoto is going to have to do something else to get on the national radar for her reforms in GPS. She just changes her mind so often, it’s hard to keep up. Just a few months ago, she recommended to the board that GPS adopt a new foreign language requirement for graduation. You heard what happened to that proposal: crickets. Kishimoto’s Rubber Stamps are already putting out feelers about closing a school (Lily Tram); building a new school (Jill Humpherys); and AGAIN shutting down Gilbert Junior High School (Charlie Santa Cruz). For the longest time, GPS just tried to ignore charter schools. Now GPS is going on the offensive. Actually, GPS is just being offensive.
It looks like the *famous* GPS marketing machine has decided to attack the public charter schools that compete with GPS for students. Brilliant. At first it was just a link to an article about BASIS Charter Schools. A community member who knows a thing or two about online marketing was aghast: “Aaaaaand a headline about BASIS is on the GPS page. Why??? *facepalm*” Someone helpfully pointed out that unless there was some context, it didn’t make any sense for GPS to highlight an article about BASIS Charter Schools. So someone, probably Irene Paige-Mahoney-Baloney, *fixed* it:
We found it interesting that this charter has such a large drop off rate and this: “critics say there is a problem with the way political leaders and policymakers view BASIS and compare it to other schools.”
That *fix,* of course, prompted another comment (not by Westie or anyone Westie knows, BTW):
This is what happens at Gilbert Classical as well.
What could go wrong with bashing BASIS Charter Schools? Only about a million things, including that BASIS Chandler parents who happen to live in Gilbert, Arizona probably will vote AGAINST any override and bond requested by a superintendency that is so gauche as to attack BASIS schools for having attrition rates like those at GCA. Sheeeesh.
It’s one thing for Superintendents to attack the State Legislature and the Governor of Arizona in a quest to get more money for school districts to
spend like drunken sailors squander fill in the blank . That’s what most people call *biting the hand that feeds you.* It’s incomprehensible that GPS decided to publicly bash BASIS Charter Schools … does the name Craig Barrett ring any bells with the GPS superintendency? How about his big company, Intel, that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto would LOVE-LOVE-LOVE to *partner* with? How about the damage this will do to GPS’s relationship with Barrett Honors College at ASU?
Maybe nothing will come of any of this because GPS doesn’t have a media presence. Maybe this will blow over. Maybe it won’t.
When the going gets tough, the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board runs away, led by Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto. The board is taking their next public meeting 30 miles away from the school district to a private religious university so the public won’t be able to observe this public body in action.
For the past year, the elected officials known as “The New Board” have taken secrecy to astonishing new levels. For example, the trips to and from the campus of Grand Canyon University are themselves violations of Arizona’s Public Meeting Laws, because a quorum of the board will ride in chauffeured luxury at taxpayer expense. You know the catered meals will be lovely, also courtesy of the taxpayers of Gilbert. Guess they never thought of inviting the public to ride along on a GPS school bus so the public could listen to board members discussing district business along the way to Grand Canyon University … the ride during rush hour on Friday will be just lovely, won’t it?
The need for secrecy must be enormous, since the Governing Board will be reviewing *student dater,* according to the announcement of her supremeness, SuperDorK (her Twitter identity). Listen to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto announce the *Board Retreat* at the 7:00 mark below. The announcement continues to the 8:15 mark. Keep the video feed running … you’ll want to hear a taxpaying Gilbert citizen excoriate Christina and the Rubber Stamps for violating Open Meeting Law as they high-tail it out of town for a cozy schmmoooozy session hosted by Brian Mueller, President and CEO of Grand Canyon University. This occurs at the 9:20 mark; it’s just two minutes, but it packs a powerful punch. Daryl Colvin follows those comments with questions and a comment that he will not be riding along in the transportation provided by GPS with other board members — he can spot an
unforced error OML violation when he sees it.
Where did we get the idea that running away to Grand Canyon University violates Arizona’s Open Meeting Law? From the Attorney General’s handbook!
The public body must provide public access to public meetings. See A.R.S. § 38- 431.01(A). This requirement is not met if the public body uses any procedure or device that obstructs or inhibits public attendance at public meetings, such as holding the meeting in a remote location, in a room too small to accommodate the reasonably anticipated number of observers, in a place to which the public does not have access, such as private clubs, or at an unreasonable time. [The excerpt appears on page 7-25 of the .pdf.]
Violating Open Meeting Law is no big deal for Chrstina 3-2 Kishimoto and her rubber stamp board members. They’ve been doing all kinds of things to be able to scheme behind closed doors and out of the public eye. All this subterfuge seems pretty silly if the subject of the board retreat really is just student dater, as SuperDorK claimed at the board meeting on August 25, 2015, which is helpfully preserved on the video archive above.
As usual with this group of grifters, carpetbaggers and heaven knows what else they are, there’s something else going on. Something they REALLY don’t want the public to know about. First of all, don’t look for Public Notice (that little thingy the law requires) in any of the usual places. It’s not on the GPS home page. It’s not on the GPS Public Meetings page; in fact, the whole web page is blank where meetings should be listed. There’s no public notice on this GPS Public Meetings page, either.
Aha, we found it: hidden away on a *special* webpage that appears to have been constructed to make it look like Christina 3-2 Kishimoto complied with the notice requirement of the Open Meeting Law. There’s only an agenda, but it doesn’t come close to giving the information the Open Meeting Law requires, like a real address of where the meeting will be held. Same old thing with those GPS scofflaws: the only location information is “Grand Canyon University,” which consists of 179 acres on one campus alone. Do you think the Grand Canyon University security guards are going to let some average Gilbert citizens roam around looking for where the school board is meeting? Neither do we.
Oh gee, lookie here: the GPS Governing Board will be discussing a whole lot more than student *dater* on the agenda. The important stuff is exactly what should be discussed in public: the GPS communications and marketing plan, for one thing. Remember how Christina 3-2 Kishimoto tried so hard to keep THAT plan under wraps? She went so far as to obstruct access to the *official minutes* of a meeting behind closed doors that she claimed was NOT a public meeting. Then she filed a civil law suit against the citizens who bird dogged the public records issue. Guess we’re all lucky that the audio of the not-a-public-meeting didn’t get destroyed to keep the secret safe.
There’s more: what the Usual Suspects are REALLY trying to figure out behind closed doors is a discussion of “GCA Facility Options and Timeline.” Guess the hot mic incident between Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz and the dude who has overstayed his welcome, Alex Nardone, didn’t dissuade the Governing Board from carrying on with plans to enshrine GCA as the crown jewel of GPS. Just like Good Old Dave Allison plotted with then-board president E.J. Anderson back in 2013, plans to perhaps close a school and spend millions of dollars creating a campus for those privileged GCA babies should not be revealed until the very last moment the law allows. Heh, as if this group of scoundrels and carpetbaggers EVER deigns to follow any laws…
So, BOHICA everybody! This rogue administration and rubber stamp governing board are going to slam taxpayers for many millions of dollars whether the 2015 override and bond go through or not. Because they can. All they have to do is have three votes to spend unlimited amounts of money, and your taxes will go up. That’s the way the system works. Remember, taxes went up 40% just a few years ago. Give these clowns some more of your money! It’s for the kids!
Gilbert Public Schools’ tax rates increase 40 percent: Gilbert officials estimated the $2 tax increase per $100 of a home’s assessed value in July 2012, when the governing board adopted the $305.87 million budget for this school year. The new budget includes a 2 percent pay increase for all employees, except the superintendent, for this school year only. The main factors used to determine the amount of tax homeowners pay each year are the assessed valuations, qualifying tax rate, student enrollment and the district’s year-end cash balances, according to GPS information.
Big Fat Asterisk: Okay, so the title of this post is a mash up of two great oldies: Band on the Run and Private Eyes. Can’t forget to mention Beyoncé, the ultimate girlfriend, and the On the Run Tour.
We’ve been talking about how often the *national* thingy has been popping up in Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s pronouncements and writings. It looks like she is getting exactly what she craves: national attention for Gilbert Public Schools. In this case, she should have followed John Oliver’s advice and asked herself, “Will this go well for me?”
Here’s some of the national media coverage that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto finagled:
Arizona school district defends pro-abstinence, anti-abortion stickers in Biology textbooks: A Phoenix-area school district is defending its decision to place pro-abstinence, anti-abortion stickers in its biology textbooks, following complaints from pro-choice parents. Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has argued that removing the information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what was missing. “We can’t just ignore one side over another,” Ms. Mahoney-Paige told the paper. “There were people who thought were weren’t compliance [with the law]. Now, there’s no argument.”
Why there are antiabortion stickers on science books in Arizona: Sex education is not mandatory in Arizona schools, but if it is taught, schools are required to stress abstinence over contraceptive methods. Arizona ranks second in the nation in regard to teen pregnancy, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona.
School District Puts Anti-Abortion Stickers on Textbooks: Arizona’s Gilbert Public School District, which months ago was contemplating redacting mentions of abortion in its biology textbooks, has instead created textbook labels that caution students against having sex or abortions. Irene Mahoney-Paige, the district’s director of communication, told Cosmopolitan.com via email that “stickers were given to the department chairs, some schools have students putting the stickers on while other schools have students turning their books into the bookstore manager who is then putting the stickers on. The stickers are going on the inside of the back cover of all Biology books.” She said, though, that “there is no punishment if students do not use the sticker.”
A call to the school district yielded very little information. Monica Baxley-Ortega, administrative assistant in the school district’s PR office, told Jezebel that she didn’t know if the stickers were real or not, but did say that such a sticker had been discussed during the spring semester and that she guessed that “they just went ahead with it.” She’s promised clearer information on the sticker’s status; Jezebel will update as it becomes available.
Trying to control this bad national press, Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto released a statement that most national media includes in their coverage:
“I worked closely with the Governing Board to provide a solution to last year’s matter regarding the District’s biology books. The board and I have full confidence in our teachers, and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that the stickers on the back cover are the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.”
That’s a problem with that *national attention* thingy that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto craves: Google makes sure the media coverage is forever. Now, that’s pretty darn inconvenient, to say the least. Actually, those old media articles tell us more than GPS ever wanted the public to know.
The issue is no longer just bad national press coverage, now GPS has a problem with violating Arizona’s Open Meeting Law (OML) AGAIN. We’ve been watching closely since this Governing Board did not hold a public meeting to vote, discuss or decide on placing stickers in the back of these books. In fact, local media highlighted that the board never voted on this matter.
Gilbert board on biology textbook redaction: nevermind. Although it did not take a formal vote, the Gilbert Public Schools governing board on Tuesday decided school staff does not need to edit biology books that mention abortion after all… Kishimoto told the board in a Nov. 18 report that she thought redacting the books would just encourage students to seek the information elsewhere — without guidance from a teacher.
That’s important: the board never voted on this. Never. The Rachel Maddow Blog was quick to point out in national news that the board planned further discussions in November 2014 (after the election that put Silly Jilly and her pal Charlie on the board), as confirmed by the GPS press flack, Irene Paige-Mahoney-Baloney in the national media:
A district spokesperson tells us that Dr. Christina Kishimoto, who is new to the district, believes that the honors biology textbooks already comply with Arizona law about mentions of abortion and that there’s no need to change the books. Kishimoto talked to the board about this yesterday, and now the superintendent does not intend to offer a plan tonight for pulling back information from students. Instead, the board and the superintendent will hold a public discussion about what, exactly, the board wants taken out of the honors biology textbooks.
“Now the board has come back and said, ‘Hey, wait, we want further clarification,’ ” said spokesperson Irene Mahoney-Paige. “We’re back to where we started.” At a minimum, this represents a delay in ripping out pages from the Gilbert textbooks. It’s possible that the outgoing majority on the board will still order the superintendent to formulate a plan for taking out those pages. The board could also decide to agree with the superintendent that the books are OK as is. Or they could ask for more time to decide the matter, effectively running out the clock on their own decision. The new majority takes over the Gilbert school board in January, and at least two of those members say they favor adding information to the books, not taking it away.
Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s statement that was published in many of the media articles seems to confirm that an OML violation occurred if “the Board decided” that these silly stickers were to be placed in the Biology textbooks.
From The Rachel Maddow Blog: …Soon after the Tea Party majority decided to censor the biology books, voters in very conservative Gilbert decided to replace them with a new majority. Shortly afterward, the outgoing board reversed course and decided against going ahead with ripping pages out of biology textbooks. From the beginning, superintendent Christina Kishimoto had warned her bosses on the board that removing information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what they were missing. With the new majority taking over, Kishimoto told us late last year she would have a team of biology teachers go over the books this summer and likely put together two or three pages of information that they would include in an envelope glued to the inside back cover.
What began with national headlines about a school district ready to shred textbooks now ends with an addition the size of a playing card. School officials in Gilbert have confirmed for us that the stickers are going into the textbooks, inside the back cover.
In a written statement, superintendent Kishimoto says she worked closely with the board on the new plan: “The board and I have full confidence in our teachers and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that this is the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.”
Problem is, by law the board can act only through a vote taken in a public meeting. So if something else happened for the board to *decide* how to fix the Biology textbooks, it’s really bad — and maybe that will become national news. So here we are: either “the Board decided” that the stickers were the best course of action in a public meeting (which didn’t happen) or there was an OML violation during which the Governing Board agreed with Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto, as she now claims. This could have happened in one of the many meetings where a quorum of the Governing Board showed up without complying with the law about *Notice to the Public.*
Another way the GPS Governing Board could have “decided” to put stickers in the textbooks was to engage in *serial discussions* to make sure a majority of the board would agree to whatever Christina 3-2 Kishimoto had already decided. Here’s how that might have worked: say Lily Tram called Jill Humpherys and they agreed; one of them called Charlie Santa Cruz and he agreed. There’s your majority of board members agreeing to do what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto already decided they should do. Unfortunately for Christina and the Rubber Stamps, that’s an OML violation. Oh, snap!
We’ve become accustomed to the arrogance of this new crop of Good Old Boys and their open and obvious disdain for things like laws that other people follow. Once again, we’ve got a GPS board and superintendency who believe they’re above the law, and besides they’re not just ordinary people (like those who obey laws). No sirree, these folks think they’re really, really *special,* and by golly the public should just BOHICA and get it over with.
You know it’s bad in Gilbert Public Schools when students are chirping to Westie. Whoever thought this Chromebook initiative would work without having a rollout plan and the fifty thousand known glitches identified and fixed doesn’t know much about kids, mischief making, education or technology. Woo hoo! Let’s see what the kids have to say!
First problem: network logins. These Digital Native kids know all about how admin-issued usernames and passwords are standardized in GPS. In the real world, kids use their admin-assigned logins one time, and then the kids set their own usernames and passwords. For security, you know. Really tech-savvy kids would use a combination of letters and numbers for their usernames and passwords, more than five characters and other niceties that increase security for the GPS-issued Chromebooks. Those are the kids who are truly *Digital Natives.* Of course, there will be some students whose username is admin and whose password is password. Always happens.
The current situation confronting the serious Digital Native students is that GPS won’t let them set up their own secure usernames and passwords. Nope, if kids try to change their admin-issued login information, the GPS system resets to the default that the techies dreamed up … so that, before the end of the last school year, GPS could spend all that money that they claimed was reserved for technology only. The GPS superintendency needed to get those Chromebooks rolled out to students for their 1:1 technology program so there would be no more old override money left in GPS. Of course, Digital Natives figured out how to use the back door to set up their own secure username and password. Note to Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto: there’s ALWAYS a back door into the network.
Second problem: GPS issued usernames and passwords using a naming convention that’s the same it has always been. Settle down, GPS clowns, we’re not going to reveal the GPS system hack here. That would be too easy, and besides, the kids already know what to do, whether or not they’re using that knowledge right away. Some of these Digital Natives are patient people, and they’ll wait until they’re truly bored or angry or feeling mischievous and only then will they let loose:
Third problem: Chromebooks have webcams and microphones. Kids, cover the webcam at all times: a Post-it works well for this. Remember, Big Brother can listen to anything you say within range of the microphone. Disabling these functions probably would violate the user agreement (scroll down to the bottom of this post to see your user agreement that your parents must sign).
Let’s envision a couple of scenarios that Executive Director of Technology, Sleazy Steve, must have sworn could never happen when GPS gave out thousands of Chromebooks to GPS students.
RealWorld v1: Jazzy Jared is a real number-oriented kid. He hears numbers, and he memorizes them on the spot. Jazzy Jared has been a GPS student since Kindergarten (he’s in high school now) and he knows a lot of his classmates’ student numbers. Every day, some classmate would forget his lunch card, but the nice Lunch Lady could pay for his lunch by inputting his student number into the system, which the classmate recited out loud while Jazzy Jared was back in the line. Voila. Username and password.
RealWorld v2: Social Suzy has so many BFFs, she’s lost count. When she’s hanging out with all those BFFs, they log in to retrieve an assignment so they can work on it together in their BFF society. Pretty soon, all those BFFs are able log into each other’s GPS accounts, because they just want to get their assignments over and done with so they can get back to hanging out. Everything is fine until one day, one of the BFFs falls out of favor for some teen angst or failing, and the others decide to upload some photos they took in gym class. The photos are not a really big deal, except for the violation of privacy, but the captions the former BFFs affix to said photos are mean. Maybe the captions even cross into the realm of cyberbullying. The GPS login system shows the victim uploaded said photos herself, so she gets victimized twice.
RealWord v3: Brainy Brady wants to fit in with his classmates, so he figures out how to delete files for half the students in his Honors Chemistry class. Then he deletes his own files to cover his tracks. Teacher can’t pin the deed on Brainy Brady or any of his pals who all say they totally finished and earned A++ on those assignments that have disappeared into cyberspace … three days before the end of the term. BTW, Brainy Brady and his pals are Juniors, so their final Honors Chemistry grades have to be A++ or they won’t get the scholarships they were counting on as National Merit Scholar Finalists. What’s a teacher to do?
RealWorld v4: The Language Arts teacher yelled at Defiant Dylan in class today, and a bunch of the other kids in class teased him about it after school. So D.D. fixes them all. Defiant Dylan uploads the same assignment for each of the kids who taunted him. Cheating. Plagiarism. Zeros. Whatever. They had it coming.
RealWorld v5: Serious Serena is a Senior and she suddenly has five guys in her classes emailing her and asking her to Prom. Who will she choose? She finally decides on Gorgeous Garrett, and sends him an email to accept. Garrett says he wouldn’t be caught dead with Serena, and why did she think he asked her to Prom anyway? Serena is totally humiliated, the depths of which only a 17 year old girl can experience.
RealWorld v6: Porn. Tell kids it’s impossible to do something from a GPS Chromebook and guess what happens next…
Parents, remember how GPS said they would hold a Parents University to teach you how to use the Chromebook so you can understand what your child is doing in school? That’s not going to happen any time soon. It’s just a fuzzy plan for some point in the future. In the meantime, when your child is having a meltdown because he needs to print that assignment for tomorrow, and he just realized his Chromebook doesn’t have a print function, well, do the best you can.
Here’s the illiterate Student Electronic User Agreement handout for parents: Parent Expectations Digital Ninja . Notice that you parents must sign a PAPER COPY of this agreement before your child will be issued a Chromebook. In case you missed it, GPS once again forms plurals by adding apostrophe + S. Like this: plural’s. Why won’t they learn?
Parent Guidelines and Procedures:
Your son/daughter will be issued a Chromebook to improve and personalize his/her education this year. It is essential that the following guidelines be followed to ensure the safe, efficient, and ethical operation of this device. The student will be issued ONE Chromebook, and one* power cord. If the device and/or power cord is lost, or damaged the student will be required to create a Chromebook Service request form. If the Chromebook has been stolen a police report must be filed by the parent/guardian within 24 hours upon discovery of the theft. A copy of the police report needs to be turned in to the school. The student will not be issued another Chromebook until this issue has been resolved.
I will supervise my child’s use of the Chromebook at home.
I will discuss our family’s values and expectations regarding the use of the Internet and email at home and I will supervise my Child’s use of the Internet and email.
I will not attempt to repair the Chromebook, nor will I attempt to clean it with anything other than a soft, dry cloth.
I will report to the school any problems with the Chromebook.
I will not attempt to install or delete any apps from the Chromebook.
I will not allow my child to use the Chromebook around food or drink.
I will make sure my child recharges the Chromebook battery nightly.
I will make sure my child brings the Chromebook to school every day.
I agree to make sure that the Chromebook is returned to the school when requested at the end of the school year, or upon my child’s withdrawal from the school.
Extra credit for students who send Westie an edited printout of the above screed! Use a red pen, please.
*Big Fat Asterisk: why ONE Chromebook and one power cord? Why not ONE Chromebook and ONE power cord, or one Chromebook and ONE POWER CORD? This inconsistency was worthy of a Big FAT Asterisk callout.