The Public Meeting about a Permanent Location for Gilbert Classical Academy

The public meeting that wasn’t the *official* public meeting about closing Gilbert Junior High School or Mesquite Junior High School and giving a campus to Gilbert Classical Academy was not exactly what Superintendent Christina Kishimoto expected. Yes, there were impassioned pleas about saving the neighborhood schools and there were impatient demands to hurry up and get this over with so Gilbert Classical Academy can move into their new campus. And it better not be a school within a school, where the kids in uniforms might brush up against those uncouth kids from the neighborhood, as GCA students, teachers and parents insinuated.

Christina Kishimoto and her *cabinet* sat at a table in front of the audience and took notes as speakers beseeched the board to spare their campus or clamored to hurry things along. Where was the board? Sitting IN the audience! Westie kids you not. Who runs this district? It looks more and more like the elected officials have quit trying to pretend they do anything other than what the superintendent demands. She might as well scream, “Sit down and STFU  shut up!”

A parent in attendance summarized the evening:

The administration sat front and center while the school board was scattered in the audience. (Who’s making the decision?) LOTS of misinformation out there. Division went deep and wide. Lots of hurt feelings. Lots of talk of roaches and spiders and ants and mice and mold, showcasing the failure of the school board and administration to do even the most basic of maintenance. Penny wise and pound foolish is a great way to describe this superintendent.

As often happens, the kids stole the show: Kids’ reports included mice sitting on the flag pole in the classroom during the Pledge of Allegiance. Roach infestations, along with ants and spiders. Big spiders. Mold issues that have not been addressed. Floors so decrepit, masking tape defines the places to NOT step because your foot will go through the floor. The portables are falling apart, and students can punch holes in walls that are barely held together. Their chairs break with such regularity, one GCA student said it’s a game to see whose chair will break next.

These are serious claims of inexcusable negligence. It would seem to be a safe prediction that someone (perhaps the eloquent gentleman who walked out in disgust at hearing students describe their physical learning environment) would make a report to state health officials. From an on-the-spot observer:

WHY have GCA parents allowed their kids to “live in squalor” the past seven years, instead of fixing up their home? They’ve acted as a bunch of renters, using and abusing until it’s time to move (or get kicked out), complaining about the mess, without taking time to do anything about it. Will they strip the fixtures when they go? Why didn’t GCA take as much pride in their campus as they do in their academic prowess? If there are mold issues, then fix them. If there are pest issues, take care of them. Equipment should be fixed or replaced as needed. If issues were this serious three years ago (as they said they were) why are they still complaining about the same issues, and why hasn’t the State shut them down for safety reasons?

A bit of history: back in 2013, Interim Superintendent Jack Keegan nixed moving GCA for a good reason: “Part of the reason you’re in this predicament is you created a school at a certain size and no one talked about where it should be going and now you’re faced with an issue that we don’t have a ready-made answer for,” Keegan told the board. People were reporting a feeling of deja vu during the meeting at Gilbert High School, and it turns out there was a good reason. Some of the same people, including Wayne Cottam,  were making the same claims they made years ago:

Wayne Cottam has had children at the school since it opened in 2007. Cottam said he’s tired of what he sees as an imbalance among GPS school facilities. “When will the governing board decide to approach parity in educational facilities? When will it decide a school that emphasizes music will actually have a music room and not a janitor closet?” Cottam said. “When is the district and governing board going to decide kids at GCA deserve something closer to that which every other junior high and high school in the district have?”

What sort of revisionist history is being trumpeted now? Former board member Helen Hollands remembered how GPS calculated the cost per student at GCA compared to GPS comprehensive high schools and junior highs … and the cost was LESS PER STUDENT AT GCA! The reason: GCA was never intended to have the athletics programs that GCA supporters are now demanding as “parity.” Watch the video clip below, cued to when Helen Hollands comments about GCA costs in the public hearing the LAST time GPS tried to take over Gilbert Junior High School and give the campus to GCA. The big difference is the lack of athletic and extracurricular programs that GCA did not have as part of the original school design:

Gilbert Public Schools … the screw-ups never cease to amaze. We’ll continue our coverage of this crazy situation in future posts. Until then, does anyone remember that Deja Vu is the title of a most excellent album by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? Enjoy this song, which seems apropos to the current fracas: Teach Your Children. <Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. Woo hoo!>

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