How GPS *Leadership* Created a Great Divide in the Gilbert Community

The push for a new tax override and bond issue for Gilbert Public Schools is going into overdrive in the Town of Gilbert. It’s more of the same old stuff.

Here’s a blast from the past by Good Old Mike McClellan, the self-appointed spokesman for GPS (since the folks who are being paid to do that public relations stuff can’t manage their way out of a paper bag). This appeared in the Arizona Republic on March 10, 2000 — the similarities to today are notable, but the differences are intriguing:

As a parent and a taxpayer in Gilbert, I am pleased with the Gilbert School Board’s decision to ask for a 4 percent override election (although I would be happy to vote for a 10 percent override, which most of the surrounding East Valley school districts are asking).

After a decade of underfunding by the Symington administration and the state Legislature, our schools have fallen dangerously behind. Gilbert is a fine school district with wonderful teachers, support staff, and administrators. If it continues to fall behind, however, I fear the district will not be competitive with our neighboring districts in attracting the best teachers for our children.

Our teachers also deserve adequate compensation for the jobs they perform so well. To attract and retain the best educators, I urge my fellow citizens of Gilbert to vote for the override.

And I also urge them to consider the major opponent of the override – the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce. While I understand its desire to keep property tax sufficiently low to attract new business, I am outraged by the short-sightedness of its conflicting messages. On the one hand, businesses throughout the country decry the lack of an educated employee pool from which to select. On the other hand, the Gilbert chamber thinks that quality education can be done on the cheap.

I am stunned that at this time of economic boom, Sandy Ramsey, the chairman of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, has the gall to write, “Increasing property taxes at this time is an ill-advised, short-term solution.” Ms. Ramsey, if not now, when? Of course, Ms. Ramsey also writes, “The chamber would like to commit our resources and support to affect (sic) change at the state level. It is time the education community and the business community stand united to ensure a quality work force for our future.”

I would like to know where both the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and the state Chamber of Commerce have been over the last decade. Certainly a business-friendly bunch like our state legislators might have been more willing to adequately fund our state’s public education with some pressure from the state’s business interests. I don’t remember, though, reading of any pressure put on the state by the Chambers of Commerce to increase funding.

I have lived in Gilbert for over 10 years now, and my family and I have intentionally shopped at Gilbert businesses over those years, even if the prices were higher. I can safely say, though, that I will not shop in Gilbert until after the results of the override election. And I would urge other Gilbert residents to do the same.

By golly, Mike would GLADLY pay a whole lot more taxes for schools. Hey, that’s what some of the supporters of the present override are spouting!

A post included in the Higley and Gilbert pamphlets, suggests “a 50 percent tax increase,” adding, “I’ll pay whatever they ask for, no questions asked! That’s the way government works.” Another reads, “We have a district administration and hundreds of others administrative positions that need to be supported … It’s NOT all about the classroom.”

More important is the division in the community that comes through loud and clear in the voter information pamphlets. This is a direct result of Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s “leadership” since she arrived on the scene in Gilbert, Arizona.

The accusations of irregularities in school-election pamphlets appear to be firsts for the county, according to the county attorney’s office. But they illuminate the community friction the districts have attracted in recent school elections as well as the county’s lack of oversight in verifying the legitimacy of voter-submitted statements.

Some people ask why Westie calls her *Christina 3-2 Kishimoto.* An important aspect of school district leadership is bringing constituents together for the good of the students. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto chose her acolytes carefully, probably even before she arrived on the scene, and her choices were calculated to divide the community. You saw the results of her calculation last year in the run-up to the school board election, when Silly Jilly Humpherys won standing ovations for just showing up at events. Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz cruised in using his close ties to all the old Good Old Boys that bailed out of GPS when their shenanigans became public knowledge. The Gilbert Education Association put hundreds of boots on the ground and attracted tens of thousands of dollars for political action committees that had one purpose: elect Silly Jilly and Good Old Charlie. They succeeded. Now GPS students will pay the piper as the Rubber Stamp Governing Board writes Christina 3-2 Kishimoto a blank check.

The important thing about 3-2 votes on the GPS Governing Board is that other school district superintendents, Kishimoto’s *peers,* watch and laugh at what’s happening in Gilbert Public Schools. We’ve already figured out that a national reputation is what this superintendent craves, and by golly, she doesn’t care how she gets it. Each 3-2 vote, which occurred with the 2014 school board as well as the 2015 school board, is a black eye for Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s reputation. We can’t wait to see what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto has in mind after the election in November 2015, whether she succeeds in getting more taxes for the district or not. Where can we buy popcorn futures?

Other education professionals look at GPS and wonder why in the world a wealthy school district would hire someone who had been fired from her previous job. Some people have opined that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was everyone’s second choice, which is fairly reasonable assumption under the circumstances. Others say it was spite and malice and the result of a board that was generally divided 3-2 on just about everything. Whatever the reason, we take comfort in knowing that superintendents all over the country recognize what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto brings to her job: not much.

Too many superintendents adopt the patronizing stance of board-savvy manipulator, undermining the board-superintendent relationship and diminishing the board’s potential. Too many board members, and too many administrators, assume that board members must be tutored by administrators or consultants who used to be administrators—“professionals” who “know best” what board members should do, and sometimes what board members should think. In fact, the superintendent has an inherent conflict of interest if she tries to interpret for board members what they should or should not think or do as board members.

Christina 3-2 Kishimoto: not ready for the big leagues. Students in Gilbert Public Schools: paying the price for her incompetence.


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