Gilbert Public Schools – New Year 2016 Brings the Same Old Stuff

There’s nothing new under the sun in GPS, not with the new crop of Good Old Boys, who run things pretty much the same as the GOBs did under Dave Allison. The difference today is the scalawags and carpetbaggers in what’s called “The GPS Cabinet.” Westie predicts more investigations for wrongdoing, past and present. For taxpayers, that will be the least of your worries as Christina 3-2 Kishimoto goes on a spending spree the likes of which you’ve never seen in Gilbert, Arizona … with more 3-2 votes, of course.

Looking back to the end of 2014, we saw what was coming down the pike with this group of eduspeak spewing pretenders; it’s the same stuff we see now. Take a look at our end-of-2014 headlines, which are equally apropos today:

Gilbert Police Department Investigation Report: Theft – Embezzlement – Felony
Another Contracting Fiasco in the Making for Gilbert Public Schools?
Anonymous Gilbert Public Schools Teacher Warns of Further Turmoil

Good Time Charlie Santa Cruz recently asked if it was safe to say that GPS was no longer under investigation by the Attorney General. Udall Shumway lawyer Denise Lowell-Britt claimed the answer was “Yes,” but she also said she wasn’t the board’s lawyer for the Attorney General investigations in the first place. Hold your noses: the stench from Open Meeting Law violations looks to continue until (1) there’s a bigger price to pay than a slap on the hand or (2) Lily Tram isn’t president of the governing board any more.

We have high hopes for Gilbert’s own Warren Petersen and his proposals for legislation that will prevent errant, no-good bums  public  officers from cashing in on bonuses, severance pay, annuities, pensions and other benefits. Westie applauds this:

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is considering a criminal investigation of Valley Metro’s handling of tax dollars after three Phoenix City Council members requested a formal inquiry… Board members have said they were unaware of Banta’s questionable expenses, which were uncovered by The Republic after obtaining his Valley Metro expense accounts through a public records request.

“While this has received a lot of attention, this is certainly not the first case of this happening in the state of Arizona,” Petersen said. “Clearly there is neither sufficient deterrent nor oversight in place to prevent such malfeasance.” He said the measure would do more than empower public agencies to deny pensions and other payouts. It also would permit any taxpayer to ask a court to intercede.

Comparing GPS management to recent revelations about the Phoenix Valley public transportation system, we find lots of similarities that will become more apparent in 2016. Look at the annual budget of the agency compared to GPS: the same. Annual audits by Heinfeld Meech since 2011 say, “Nothing to see here, move along:” the same. Tales of lavish meals, compared to all those GPS catered meals scarfed down by six-figure earning GPS Top Dogs who can well afford to buy their own: the same. Taking $300 MILLION annually and spending it with little to no oversight by the boards put in place to monitor them: the same.

We we are left to wonder… where oh where is the oversight? We have two boards that are supposed to be overseeing this agency, which spends $300 million operating the Valley’s public transportation system and billions more expanding light rail. We have annual audits that cost us tens of thousands of dollars and always give the joint a clean bill of financial health…board members again called for a full audit of the agency. Which presumably will look different from all the other audits of the agency – the ones that assured us there was nothing to see here. Except, of course, for the inconvenient and highly embarrassing fact that there is.

How was all this wrongdoing uncovered? Public records requests. No wonder GPS slow-walks Westie’s requests for public records! That’s when GPS actually deigns to turn over requested public records; Westie has often been denied and shunted aside. When Westie does receive public records, it’s usually after waiting a long, long time, and then there are lots of redactions, and it’s not just student names. It’s the entire text of emails, for example. Sigh. Mike McClellan is treated much, much better by GPS, but we digress.

Public records reveal some surprising facts: do you have any idea of how much GPS pays former employees after they leave GPS? For example, GPS just couldn’t quit Good Old Jim Rice and Crystal Korpan after they bid GPS sayonara. We expect to have more news for you in 2016 about the gravy train that’s still chugging along for GOBs and acolytes. We’ve seen that there has been virtually no oversight by the one person whose job it is to comb through GPS expenses: Silly Jilly Humpherys. We don’t think Silly Jilly has ever questioned anything Christina 3-2 Kishimoto has done. Sigh.

Then there’s Gilbert Classical Academy, where GPS is plowing the lower forty again. There are big boo-hoos for the GCA  students who suddenly claim they don’t have sufficient athletic fields or performance venues, so they’re going to take over a junior high school to get them, unless GCA gets a brand new campus. The original school design for GCA was, “We’re the nerd school; we focus on academics. We don’t need no stinking athletic fields (but we would like a swimming pool)!” The 2016 GPS press release ought to read:

Due to the economic downturn, construction companies like CORE and its subcontractors have suffered.  GPS wants to help them because we get rebates from them and they are the largest investors in passing education funding ballot measures across the Valley and State. In exchange for their ongoing support, and no thanks to the previous tightwad majority, it’s long overdue that GPS sends work to our favorite donors, the construction companies (we’re taking care of you separately, San Tan Ford). Therefore, we really don’t care much how we have to spend or where GCA goes, as long as it generates as much money as possible for our override supporters. We have to get them more work now the bond and the override passed. Thanks for your understanding.

No one is forgetting that GCA’s cost per student in 2009 was $1,459 higher than at comprehensive schools in the district.  The cost of $1,459 DID NOT INCLUDE LAPTOP COMPUTERS or the tech support for the laptops issued to all GCA students. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto hopes you believe that the whole 2015 Chromebook initiative will make the disparity in per student costs go away. It won’t. Here’s another biggie: there are few Special Education students at GCA – just 0.5% of the population. Gilbert Junior High School, on the other hand, has 18% Special Ed students. But don’t worry, gifted parents, we hear there are plans in the works to give your high schoolers their own gifted high school! After GCA gets a new campus, of course. SpEd parents: GPS would prefer that you move outside GPS boundaries and take your future Taco Bell employees with you. Don’t get Westie started on the mess that is GPS boundaries!

The decision to shower virtually unlimited funds on GCA will be made in January 2016 — notice that GCA will see that taxpayer treasure trove long, long before GPS employees see any extra pennies in their paychecks. From the viewpoint of an average citizen or GPS employee, there has been a tremendous increase in district administrative positions across the board, which is exactly what Christina Kishimoto did in Hartford. The increases in pay for support staff in the White Castle are staggering (making more than most teachers), while other long-term employees were railroaded to other jobs not in the White Castle.

Another new year. More of the same old stuff … from people who think they’re above laws and common sense while spending your tax dollars. Say it all together: “It’s for the kids.” Sure it is.

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