GPS: If Stupidity Got Us Into This Mess, Then Why Can’t It Get Us Out?*

As the Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools prepares to vote on whether to close a neighborhood junior high school and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy, we know that there is a serious problem with communications from GPS, where Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and members of the GPS Governing Board are talking out of both sides of their mouths. They just won’t be honest with the community, as proven by the double talk about how any student can be accepted into GCA. We all know that’s not true: GCA Principal Dan Hood acknowledged records are scrutinized before students are accepted. Then there’s the inconvenient fact that GCA kicks out any kid who fails a class. 

The truth about the decision to give GCA a new campus was revealed by accident a year ago.  That was when board member Charlie Santa Cruz and Chief of Staff Alexander Nardone patted each other on the back about the deal made behind closed doors to close Gilbert Junior High School. They chortled that the displaced students could go to GCA as their neighborhood school; if families did not choose GCA, well it was their CHOICE.

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 revealed the hoax that was in the works about closing Gilbert Junior High School:

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.

 This was in total contrast to their words spoken in the official board work study session moments before. This is pretty much the same thing that happened with Christina Kishimoto’s reforms that ruined neighborhood schools in Hartford, CT. 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.

Who do they think they’re fooling? Now Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Her Three Votes are pretending to evaluate whether to close Gilbert Junior High School or Mesquite Junior High School. That happened because GCA weighed in and said Gilbert Junior High School was not what they wanted. GCA wants more … they want everything on their wish list. Because they deserve it, they say.

The photo below shows members of the Gilbert Junior High School community who called out the double-speak and untruths being bandied about as the board pretended to listen in a public hearing. Let’s revisit what members of the community are saying.


This is not a tough decision. It’s a bad one. Fix the boundaries. Find out why we are losing kids. Do not close a school.

This entire issue has turned into a circus. My children attended GPS schools and now my grandchildren. I live in the area of Gilbert Junior High School and my neighborhood will be affected by this closure. Gone are the days when my children attended GPS schools and the board/superintendent had integrity. Closing a school has ALWAYS been THE option. Why else wouldn’t the board start budgeting for a permanent location a long time ago when GCA was in the “trial” phase? Because the plan was most likely to always “repurpose” an existing school. The area of Gilbert Junior High School  is saturated with children. “But parents are choosing other schools out of boundary with the open enrollment policy,” they cry in mock alarm. Well, yes. Perhaps they fear their child’s junior high school education will be interrupted because the district can’t get their crap together, so they avoid GPS out the gate. And it doesn’t take long to look at Gilbert Junior High School  and see how the district has neglected it. It’s probably the poorest kept school in the district at the junior high level, which makes one wonder how deep the neglect runs beyond what the eye can see. GPS has no business closing a school. Any school.

I’m an alum of both Gilbert Junior High School and Gilbert High School. The Town of Gilbert continues to grow and needs to keep the schools open to best serve the community. Gilbert was just listed as a best place to live for saving money. The town is included in many lists/ranking showcasing the benefits of living in Gilbert. Closing a school is counterproductive. How can the town pride itself on being a great place to live if they don’t support a solid school system for all students?

I do not agree with the closure of any school. I still cannot believe that this is still even being considered. When you look at all the facts and the issues this would create, it does not make any sense to close any schools. GPS has gone through some rough times the past few years and closing one of these schools is only going to make that worse!!!! I feel that GCA should find their own location and do things the right way. Find another location for GCA that will not displace other children so EVERYONE can be happy!!!!

I care about the kids and teachers not in GCA. I don’t want classes at GCA to be 10 kids to 1 teacher, while public schools become 60 kids to 1 teacher.

GCA students are getting a free ride at our expense. Students at GCA also have a higher number of credits to take in order to graduate: 28 vs. 25. They do not pay for this, the district pays for it.  Plus, 22% of GCA’s population is from outside of district, and our district pays the extra expenses for those students. Anyone in other GPS schools who has had a music/band student the last couple of years who takes an A hour class knows that the $160 class fee was tough to stomach, particularly during the first week of school.

When you take away classes offered that promote a “comprehensive” high school, you lose students to schools that offer them. The teachers were there, they were told that they couldn’t make the classes! Those teachers left! Just like many of the teachers I have spoken to are planning to do. It’s so sad … a once amazing district, sinking into the abyss!

GPS is not treating students equitably, they’re lavishing all kinds of extravagances on GCA and starving the other schools. AP classes and other classes throughout the district are not offered because schools other than GCA do not have staff certified to teach them. AP classes aren’t being offered at Mesquite High School. The exact list is pending, but I know for a fact the ones my student can’t get into. This is not a GCA issue, not a Mesquite High School issue – it’s a district and funding issue. The problem becomes when these classes are offered at GCA, who wants to district to spend money on moving GCA to a new home, when equivalent classes can’t be offered at other schools because of funding. I don’t see how anyone could think that is fair or equitable.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Board and Administration to recommend what is best for the ENTIRE district regardless of what a very small and limited committee recommends.

There has been so much deceit and deceptive practices on the part of the GPS administration, nothing would surprise us at this point. This whole process has been dirty, dating back to 4 years ago when the administration promised to find GCA a new home. It’s a very sad situation and we are the folks in the middle of it all as it directly affects our kids, our teachers and our families. My heart goes out to the next neighborhood GPS decides to go after. Once the smoke clears on this issue, it won’t surprise me one bit when they go after the next target without repercussions. This whole situation is wrong and something needs to be done about it.

No school should close.


* Big Fat Asterisk: Nope, Westie didn’t make this up. Will Rogers did

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