Christina Kishimoto’s “School Design” Will Kill GPS Neighborhood Schools

Christina Kishimoto“School Design” is the new mantra of Gilbert Public Schools, and that’s what’s driving Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s determination to close a neighborhood school so she can turn the campus over to Gilbert Classical Academy. When three new elementary school principals were hired at the March 2016 board meeting, they repeated the mantra “School Design” in their effusive thanks for their new jobs. “School Design” is what got Christina Kishimoto fired in Hartford, Connecticut, so of course, that must be exactly what she is doing in Gilbert, Arizona. 

Highly respected educator Diane Ravitch sums up what’s happening in Gilbert Public Schools: “Education is in crisis because of the calculated effort to turn it into a business with a bottom line. Schools are closed and opened as though they were chain stores, not community institutions.  How did Diane Ravitch know that Christina Kishimoto was nominated by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce as *Business Woman of the Year*? [rhetorical question] It’s not like Christina Kishimoto wasn’t fully and personally participating in that business process – look at what Kishimoto had to do to be named an *honoree* after being nominated by her peers (not that Christina Kishimoto thinks anyone is her equal, but we digress):

To be considered for these awards, men and women are nominated by their peers. Once nominated, they must submit a written questionnaire and participate in a personal interview. The questionnaire is reviewed and the nominees are interviewed by a panel of business professionals. This panel submits their recommendation for each award to the Chamber’s Board of Directors for final review and approval.

Yep, Christina Kishimoto is  proud of being a business woman first and last. She is not licensed in the State of Arizona as a school district superintendent because she has never, ever taught in a K-12 classroom. But she sure can tell you that the “educational leaders” she has installed are working on a “School Design” that she approved, most likely with a business point of view! Of course, a fiasco like Kishimoto’s Great Payday Melee would get most business leaders fired, but hey, it’s for the kids, right? Anything goes in GPS while Christina Kishimoto is superintendent, like thousand dollar lunches for board members and favored staff … at just about every meeting, it appears. After all, corporations can buy lunches for employees and give the CEO an unlimited expense account – why can’t GPS do the same? Oooops, there’s this concept called *public funds* that is at stake in GPS, and the rules are different for public entities. That must distress Christina Kishimoto to no end … not that she pays attention to things like *public policy* or cares that her position is endowed with *public trust.*

This is how members of the public see Christina Kishimoto’s latest “School Design” initiative: as a scam. Notice that the superintendent ignited this public storm and disappeared from view. Did you really believe she would ever look at any of the communications being sent by outraged members of the community? Or even just *concerned* members of the community? In a nutshell: “More deception and lies from the administration. And a board that refuses to do their job and act as a check and balance.”  More:

It would be nice to be able to talk about facts but the lack of transparency shown by the district makes it almost impossible not to speculate. If GPS wanted to put rumors to rest then they would have done their due diligence from the beginning. Let’s start here:

**They would have had a committee studying options that was not composed of just those that had something to gain.

**They would have publicized far and wide the very existence of that committee and the meeting times and dates so all of GPS got a say in the matter.

** They would have not tried to suspend their own policy regulation regarding notification of a school closure.

** They would have made public real numbers with real estimates and detail about what each option would cost and had those numbers available at the forums.

I could go on and on and this is just a small portion of what GPS could have done differently so that the public would not be left to speculation. This is a public school district. The public should know what is going on.

Apparently, this chaos in the school district, the biggest employer in the Town of Gilbert, is perfectly fine according to the present Mayor and Hopeful Future Mayor. Westie would like to know how many free meals John Lewis and Jenn Daniels have received from GPS, but we digress. Members of the community are not amused at this laissez-faire attitude from these two Town leaders:

I would think that our town’s elected officials would be bothered by the fact that its district feels the need to downsize. At a time when post-recession growth is so critical, that’s not a metric — I would think — that town officials would like bantered about. If I recall, they did get involved with school board issues a few years ago — even going so far as to come speak at a meeting and writing a letter in the newspaper. But, maybe they want to stay out of it now.

Mayor Lewis and Councilwoman Daniels did weigh in about the schools. Some felt like the Op Ed was chastising the board during a time when there was a fair amount of contention between the board members. Many votes then were 3-2 with Burk, Colvin and Smith on one side of an issue and Humpherys and Tram on the opposite side. Funny, we have the same situation now, except the board majority has completely shifted. There is still no consensus. I would think that Lewis and Daniels set a precedent with this Op Ed and if there were ever a time to speak up about the impact of what is going on within GPS on the Town of Gilbert as a whole, this would be it. Much of what they said is still very relevant today.

The Op-Ed mentioned above is titled *Community Voices: Quality education draws many people to Gilbert.* 

In Gilbert, we are fortunate to have three A-rated public school districts serving our vibrant community, with nineteen charter and three private schools that offer unparalleled education for our youngest residents.

… There are, and always will be, challenges in education. It can be difficult to see through our passion for children and our desire to give them the best chance at a successful future. As we look past the emotion, rhetoric and politics, we will find practical, viable solutions for our students, teachers and staff; solutions that will benefit this community now and well into our bright future.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is hell-bent on establishing her *national reputation* through reforms that no one wants in this formerly A-rated school district. That doesn’t matter much, because Christina Kishimoto has Her Three Votes on the Governing Board who will do whatever she wants.

In the present case, the community has again turned against the administration and is well on the way to turning against the elected officials who parrot what they’re told to say. Remember what happened last time?

The bottom two vote getters so far are Anderson, director of community partnerships at Rio Salado College and mother of five, and Sacha, an SRP engineer and father of two GPS children.

At the next board meeting, they’ll vote, most likely to close a neighborhood school, because that’s what Christina Kishimoto decided to do … probably before she took over the Gilbert Public Schools district.


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