It’s really crazy when the top administrative officials in a public school district moan and groan about how little money they’re paid. It’s almost as bad as watching the highest paid public school district superintendent in the State of Arizona nickel and dime taxpayers in order to make her personal life more comfortable. To show how bad things have become: When was the last time you heard ANY top level administrator talking about how their decisions and recommendations are based on the best interests of students?
What you usually hear is “We Need More Money.” When asked directly, “How much money is enough?” you hear crickets. We saw a new version of crocodile tears from a parent’s description of a conversation with Dr. Alexander Nardone, the Chief of Staff of Gilbert Public Schools, a dude who rode Christina 7-0 Kishimoto’s skirt tails into the district for a *one year only* position:
I mentioned to Dr. Nardone that some people were upset that the district administrators were also getting that 1.6% increase on top of their high salaries. He then told me that he took a $50K pay cut to come work here with Dr. Kishimoto and that his wife gave up her thriving social work practice to move (and she doesn’t have the licensing to work here). He also said that the money for the 1.6% increase came from the state for inflation funds and they thought it would only be fair to give it to all staff equally instead of picking and choosing who received it. Only Dr. Kishimoto will not receive that increase since she is on a different salary plan with a unique contract. I appreciated that he shared that with me.
You’ve got to wonder why this dude relocated from Connecticut to Arizona for a one-year gig. We’re waiting to see if he actually vacates his one-year position at the end of June 2015, like he is supposed to do. Maybe all that was just a cover story for the public, since there is a lot of complaining about the bloat of administrators making six-figure incomes (courtesy of taxpayers, few of whom make anything near that salary).
Board member Jill Humpherys routinely defends the highest paid public school administration in the State of Arizona. During her speech at the *Listening Tour* of Arizona Superintendent of Education Diane Douglas, Good Old Jill Humpherys stated that GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto was being paid appropriately. The people in the room laughed out loud. The only surprise that day was that Jill Humpherys didn’t start crying … again.
The Gilbert Public Schools superintendency and cabinet are mostly out-of-towners who act like carpetbaggers and the few *home-grown leaders* are simply scalawags who prey on their former peers. We’ve noticed the top dogs in GPS using the term *peers* lately — it seems intended to force you, the hearer of the word, to acknowledge the rarified world inhabited by the speaker of the word. It must really, really pain Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to have to acknowledge that she has *peers,* but that’s a subject for another day.
Let’s talk about something the Book of Ecclesiastes got right: “What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.” We’re seeing plenty in Gilbert Public Schools in the run-up to the November 2015 election about a 10% override and a $98 Million bond. Since GPS CFO Jeff Gadd also fills a one-year only position (not counting all the months he got paid as a consultant before he got himself hired as CFO), he’s one of those carpetbaggers who thinks that because he doesn’t know GPS history, he figures voters are equally
dumb stupid uninformed. That’s not the case, but folks like Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her sidekick Alex Nardone don’t realize it.
At a recent work study session, Good Old Jeff Gadd had a PowerPoint slide showing how the extra $3.6 Million he magically found will be used to suppress the tax rate. It’s a ruse to make voters feel happy about the lower tax rate right before the election, of course. Back in 2012, the Arizona Tax Watchdog described a 40% jump in property taxes in the GPS district:
Various factors have caused the tax rate in the Gilbert Public Schools district to jump 40 percent this year, the highest increase in at least 30 years. Gilbert officials estimated the $2 tax increase per $100 of a home’s assessed value in July, when the governing board adopted the $305.87 million budget for this school year. The new budget includes a 2 percent pay increase for all employees, except the superintendent, for this school year only.
Last year’s tax rate was lower than normal because it was driven down by a significant cash balance in the district’s budget that totaled about $24.6 million. The cash balance drives down the property-tax levy, McCarthy said, adding, “When you do that, the next year’s calculation is predictably higher.”
Jeff Gadd actually said in public, “What we want to do with this new money that we’ve found is use it to reduce the tax rate before the election.” That is done by pretending to give the $3.6 Million back to voters instead of spending it before November 2015. That’s exactly what Budget C was under Dave Allison.
Apparently, Jeff Gadd doesn’t know that the original Good Old Boys already educated Gilbert voters about how a couple of million dollars can reduce the tax rate just before an election. It’s not something that “Robin Hood in Reverse” Dave Allison and his Merry Men intended to teach taxpayers, but people learned anyway. Back in 2013, there was an infamous “Budget C” that would lower the tax rate temporarily, at least until after the election. OMG, what a mutiny erupted from GEA and other Screaming Meemies! They even got an online petition going about Budget C. The 2013 override failed. (So did the 2012 override, but who’s counting?)
The GPS administration is now doing the same thing as the infamous Budget C: in other words, they learned you don’t raise taxes just before an election if you want an override and bond to pass. Seriously, by sequestering the magically discovered $3.6 Million, saying it’s needed for budget mitigation strategies NEXT YEAR, the tax rate is artificially suppressed for a short time. That, GPS employees, is why you will not see salary equity again this year. GPS, under the *leadership* of Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto and CFO Jeff Gadd, will spend that $3.6 Million as soon as the election is over, which will again raise the tax base. Taxpayers will see a large increase in their property taxes whether or not the override and bond pass.
Don’t believe for a minute all the pablum you’ll be hearing about “It’s only a cup of coffee” and similar spending comparisons. When your tax rates go up, it takes something like the Great Recession to bring any relief. Don’t buy into Jeff Gadd’s arguments that your taxes are going up because the economy is improving and the value of your house is increasing. The best we can all do is hope that Gadd dude rides off into the sunset at the end of June 2015. What are the odds Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto will ask him to stay on as a consultant until after the override election is over?
You do remember that Good Old Dave actually took money out of GPS employees’ pockets following the 2012 override failure, don’t you? There is nothing new under the sun.
Remember the secretive marketing plan that was to showcase Gilbert Public Schools as the *District of Choice* for parents and students in the East Valley? The reason taxpayers came to know about the infamous marketing plan is that we persevered in requesting public records until we finally were granted access to four audio cassette tapes of *minutes* of a Gilbert Public Schools Work Study Session, which we helpfully shared by putting them online. We made public records requests for the actual *Marketing Plan* itself, but so far, all we hear from GPS is crickets.
First, let’s take a look at the current marketing GPS is doing in an online magazine that doesn’t even have its own URL. Heck, the magazine seems to have a history of only two issues, so it must be a great place to advertise [snark]. There are a couple of articles in the May issue that are truly cringe-worthy. First, Jeff Gadd and Jill Humpherys pat themselves on the back for not RIFfing GPS employees, starting on page 4. Second, Irene Paige-Mahoney-Paige has an almost unintelligible editorial in favor of an override on page 46 (lecturing to “one,” as in “an investment in one’s home and community, whether or not one has school aged children”). High school students can’t get away with such terrible writing, but this is supposed to be professional marketing, so it must be okay.
Look at the attractive and effective marketing charter schools are doing with ads in the same magazine. They make GPS’s half-page ad look amateur and unfocused, especially if you look at the ad on the page facing the GPS ad (pages 33-34). Once again, GPS has been outsmarted and outclassed. Which would you choose?
The GPS ad appears below. Keep in mind that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto was threatening parents and legislators about cutting Kindergarten back in February 2015. “The district will need to look at taking drastic measures beyond our proposed cost reduction strategies, which could include reducing the number of employees, including classroom teachers; consolidating and closing schools; or reducing full day Kindergarten to half day.” A *mixed message* is putting it mildly; it’s really just more Tone-Deaf Leadership from the top level of GPS.
You can click the ads to see larger images.
Charter school full page ad, facing the GPS ad:
Now we see some really smart marketing aimed directly at the Achilles Heel of Gilbert Public Schools:
You would think that a marketing plan for a multi-million dollar school district would be slick, full of metrics and details about audience reach per dollar spent. A smart marketer would even be able to measure effectiveness of a professional marketing plan, but we know better than to expect such diligence and efficiency* from the highly paid staff at the GPS White Castle. Here’s the story behind the GPS marketing plan that hasn’t yet seen the light of day:
Kishimoto stated that the marketing plan was being developed “at no cost” by “silent partners who are working with me right now, who are experts.” Kishimoto also said, “We have engaged some of these folks. We are putting a plan together…so the board will be able to see where the funds are going.” It’s alarming to hear that initiatives for spending potentially millions of dollars are being developed in secret by “no cost silent partners.” Their conflicts of interest could be enormous. Are these silent partners consultants who are already “engaged” being paid with public funds? What’s happening behind closed doors?
If you thought the Good Old Boys and their “Gilbert Way” of doing business were bad, you ain’t seen nuthin yet: discussing closing schools, outlining budget framework for future school years and developing potentially multi-million dollar spending plans with “silent partners” while evading public scrutiny.
To give you an idea of what appears to constitute good marketing in this superintendent’s eyes, we helpfully located a copy of an advertising contract that Christina Kishimoto signed while she was in Hartford, Connecticut (apparently, it was one of many). You can see what Hartford got for spending almost $200,000 with an advertising agency:
Here’s another ad Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wangled out of Hartford taxpayers:
Do you wonder why the folks in Hartford got upset about spending so much taxpayer money on these ads? Now Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her bought-and-paid-for board members are asking Gilbert voters to approve a 10% override and a $98 Million bond. Can you trust the
Joker Superintendent who approved this monumental mishmash and total waste of money before she got booted out of a job in Hartford? She’s known as 7-0 Kishimoto for a very good reason!
So which public school district in the East Valley won the Reader’s Choice Award? Higley Unified School District. Gilbert was #3. Wonder why.
*Big Fat Asterisk: When board member Julie Smith called out GPS administrators for mistakes in board packet documents on May 26, 2015, Board Clerk Jill Humpherys immediately swooped in to rescue said mistake-makers by lecturing Julie Smith about asking those embarrassing questions before board meetings. Julie Smith said she had done so; she added that volunteer board members should expect administrators pulling down six-figure salaries to do accurate and efficient work. Alas, this is Gilbert Public Schools, where the Superintendent forms plurals of nouns by adding an apostrophe followed by the letter S. Sesame Street must be so embarrassed for Christina Kishimoto, Ed.D.
The Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools, Christina Kishimoto, described herself as “ridiculous” as she rode into the district. Now we’re finding out that Kishimoto’s management style is equally ridiculous. The past few months have been one surprise after another in terms of what is top priority for a school district facing dwindling funds and a diminished budget. Once again, some pigs are more equal in GPS.
Who knew that the entire annual budget needed a mid-year alteration to buy thousands of Chromebooks? Kishimoto tried to justify the sudden purchase by saying students needed the Chromebooks for taking standardized tests. The tone-deafness of Kishimoto’s administration is astounding, especially with the Great Opt-Out Movement against Common Core Standardized Testing that was gaining speed as Kishimoto’s new priorities were unveiled to a bewildered public. The bought-and-paid-for board members that Kishimoto assiduously shepherded at public events bought this farcical process as part of their new governance training (carried on at fancy hotels with catered meals for board members and their guests, especially the guest named Kishimoto). You would think things couldn’t get worse, but you would be wrong.
Loyal employees watched in disbelief as those bought-and-paid-for board members approved a teeny-tiny across-the-board pay raise for all employees. Those loyal employees knew that the top dogs (also known as GPS Carpetbaggers and Scalawags) would profit most from those raises. Loyal employees also knew that new hires, who are paid significantly more than long-serving employees, got another windfall while the Loyal Ones were told to be satisfied with crumbs from the table full of catered meals that taxpayers now give to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her top dogs and anyone else invited to provide window dressing for the latest and greatest new priority for Gilbert Public Schools.
The ridiculous stage was set for stealth raises for a few support staffers at the Great White Temple of Doom, which were supposed to be approved by the board without question (as always is expected of board members under Christina Kishimoto’s thumb). Fortunately, eagle eyes discovered some interesting anomalies in the Human Resources reports about record-breaking resignations and retirements of GPS support staff. Unfortunately for Christina 7-0 Kishimoto, her clandestine raises are merely a perversion of Line of Sight Management. As practiced in Gilbert Public Schools, employees in the lines of sight of the Superintendent and her top dogs get raises because, gosh darn it, they just work so hard. That retching noise you hear comes from those outside of Kishimoto’s line of sight. And from teachers and aides whose classrooms have more, more and more students each year with no raise for the additional work demanded of these front-line employees. Out of sight, out of mind.
Here’s how the newest GPS scam works, as we discovered in the agenda for the May 26, 2015 board meeting: some support staffers were given raises based on … well, anything that the top dogs wanted. If this brings back memories of the Good Old Boys under former Superintendent Dave Allison, you’re on the right track. When questioned about why some support staffers were receiving raises for whatever reason, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto showed everyone why her last district voted 7-0 to send her packing. Kishimoto first confronted the offending board member for having the audacity to ask such a question in the first place. Then Kishimoto demanded to know names, right then. Sure enough, Julie Smith, who was attending the meeting via phone, faltered under the onslaught of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s in-your-face brushback, as Kishimoto intended.
The reason for the pay raises, which apparently caught the board by surprise, as Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto explained, was because these employees were doing more work. So they needed to be paid more. “How dare you question me?” was unspoken, but given the ferocity of the brushback, it was not necessary to say those words out loud.
Viewers watching the Livestream video understood what was going on, even when there was no live-action video, just more PowerPoint slides. Here’s why: see the dude watching his laptop at right? No one was manning the video camera beside him. Maybe Tech Services folks were instructed to get weird instead of wired. Even Kishimoto’s so-called *supporters* in the audience complained. There’s trouble in River City when the superintendent loses the loud-mouth gang! Okay, enough digression.
The real situation in Gilbert Public Schools is that employees on the front lines of education, in the classroom, are doing more, more and more every day with no additional remuneration. They’re not in the Superintendent’s line of sight, so no pay increases for them! (Actually, Christina Kishimoto is famous for not acknowledging the existence of anyone on a school campus below the rank of principal, but that’s a story for another day.)
It’s amazing that the new Powers That Be in Gilbert Public Schools don’t seem to understand the concept called “proactive.” If current management were proactive, the need for giving pay raises to support staffers at the district offices would have been discussed in advance, maybe with one of those dog-and-pony PowerPoint presentations and a big hoopla to explain the need for this select group of employees to be paid more money, right now. That’s not what happened. Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto thought she could just do what she wanted, secure in the knowledge that the current board clerk can’t manage to find her way out of a paper bag. That’s probably why Kishimoto’s response to being challenged by the most diminutive [in height, not in courage or tenacity] board member was so aggressive. The nice people of Gilbert, Arizona generally don’t expect East Coast urban aggressiveness in response to reasonable questions asked by persons who have a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.
Here are some of the support staff raise recipients, graced by Christina Kishimoto’s *line of sight* mismanagement:
Albert Duchover, Energy Plant Supervisor C-7 $45,385.00 to Energy Plant Supervisor D-7 $53,360.00
Darlene Jones, Procurement Technician 21-4 $14.46 to Procurement Specialist 23-4 $15.36
Tina LePage, Executive Coordinator to School Board 26-6 $17.81 to Website Multimedia Communication Supervisor C-2 $19.36
Phyllis Lopat, Accounting Specialist full time 22-5 $15.36 to Accounting Specialist full time 22-7 $16.55
Paulina Norkiewicz, Administrative Secretary 17-5 $13.32 to Executive Assistant 26-9 $18.89
Laura Sup, Benefits Supervisor A-1 $16.49 to Benefits Supervisor A-11 $20.82
Tracy Taylor, Administrative Assistant 22-1 $13.88 to Account Specialist $14.96
Why is it important to call out GPS mismanagement when we see it? Because teachers receive $14.00 per hour when they are required to take on excess assignments, according to the GPS Employee Handbook (see page 39). The obsequious Gilbert Education Association President agrees to all of these inequities, you know.
The other reason to call out GPS mismanagement: support staffers who received lovely raises “because they work so hard” generally are eligible for overtime pay and comp time at one and a half times their hourly pay rates. Teachers don’t receive overtime or comp time. This is just one more blatant example of the outrageous pay inequities in Gilbert Public Schools. This inequality exists because no one challenges the superintendent who presides over this omnishambles of a school district.
Remember this when it’s time to vote on giving these GPS clowns more tax money in the form of a 10% override and a $98 Million bond.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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 Gove
rning 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.
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.
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.”
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:
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!!!!
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 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.
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.
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.
*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?
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]
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)
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.
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…
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.
AN: Or go off to the side and go up a floor or two.
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
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.
AN: One of our high schools even in Hartford had 27 acres attached to it in the city of Hartford.
AN: So it’s, you know…
AN: …they have track space, field space, football space.
SC: Gilbert Jr. High school’s on 27 acres.
AN: Is it? The junior high?
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.
AN: It also I think offers the ability to incorporate those neighborhood kids into GCA so you could grow GCA…
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.
AN: A lot of history.
AN: Yeah. History is recent.
SC: Oh yeah. Wounds. The wounds are very recent.
SC: So going there…
SC: ….would be… (trails off)
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.
AN: And I think that’s, uh…
SC: I’d say take a year.
SC: Go do it in a year.
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.
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
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):
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.