Gilbert Classical Academy: National Rating Plummets, So Does Community Support

The Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools has a board meeting tonight, where they will vote on giving into the raucous demands of the unique and exclusive Snowflakes at Gilbert Classical Academy: “We deserve it!” Isn’t it wonderful when Karma steps in and kicks those Snowflakes in the asterisk? The ratings from US News and World Report are out, and the Snowflake School  GCA  experienced a precipitous fall in the *national* ratings. They’re #71. We’re sure they’re bragging now. <snark>

Imagine this…. You drop 61 places in the national rankings, you lose 50% of your enrollment every year and then you ask for a blank check to move into someone else’s school. Nice, GCA. Real Nice. We can’t post anything more on point than the video below, which shows the demands GCA has made. Will the GPS Governing Board continue to give GCA students more resources than any other students in the district?

Imagine more…. $200,000. That is the amount GPS will be spending per kid currently attending GCA if they spend the $8 million on them from the bond. $200,000 per kid. Some kids are more worthy than others? We’ll know after the GPS Governing Board vote tonight.

GPS lost the media this go-round — it’s just a taste of what the future will hold as a result of this catastrophe:

The three options on the table — to close either Gilbert or Mesquite junior highs and repurpose the building for GCA; or to cram GCA into Mesquite, along with a second academy for Mesquite students — aren’t good options. Pretty much everyone agrees on that.

So, how do we solve the problem? By choosing not to solve it. Not on Tuesday, at least.

Citizens are still speaking out. Will the GPS Governing Board listen to them?

Before the vote occurs on April 26th, I ask you to think of one, simple question: will the vote I make benefit the ENTIRE district of 36,000 students, or will only a small handful realize any significant gain?

I am not speaking of the cost. We all know that the GCA move will encompass the greater part of the $8,000,000 that’s been set aside. I am speaking of the students having a direct betterment of their educational goals. Will the majority of the 36,000 realize this move as an asset to them?

If you cannot speak to the larger gain for the district, then you must support a motion to table the GCA move, and truly listen to the community’s ideas. Because unless the movement of GCA is a boon to the district as a whole, it is irresponsible of the board and administration to continue to push the Gilbert Unified School District community to accept it.

The community has come together and is unified in the fact that the data, your data, does not support this closure. It is absolutely wrong to close a junior high in our district at this time. It is morally wrong, it is ethically wrong, and it is substantively wrong. You should absolutely not push this through to meet some unvetted priority list of an immensely unpopular superintendent. The timelines are arbitrary and the vote to close does not have to happen.

The community has spoken, even shouted at you to listen to them. There are hundreds of varied career specialties within the community who have taken the time to comb through and analyze the data and have seen that an eviction notice to one of two west Gilbert junior highs is completely unwarranted. You are elected officials who represent the voters who put you in office. How long will you ignore them? How long will you continue to press forward on a path that the community doesn’t want?

This isn’t about a community not accepting change — you mustn’t be so arrogant. There are more sources of ideas for good direction for the school district than the superintendent and her loaded committees. Committees who were made entirely of individuals who stood to benefit in one way or another from this outlandish plan. This is about a community in an uproar against an educational force that is pushing the wrong thing.

Surely you remember the pushback from an attempted school closure last time? Certainly EJ Anderson and Blake Sacha remember. You have to know you have angered now two communities and hundreds of others who are affected and sympathize with the cause to save a school. Our community needs to come back together.

You threatened a school closure if you didn’t get a bond and override passed and yet here you are, trying to close a school with all that money in your coffers. Go back to the drawing board. There are other unexplored options for GCA that do not involve imperialistic tactics. You have a chance to do this right. I’m sure you don’t want this debacle to be what you’re remembered for.

There is only one way this community outrage goes away and that’s to cast your vote so that no school closes.

Dear Mrs. Humpherys,

I am writing to ask you two pointed questions regarding the upcoming vote to close a Junior High School at the next Board meeting.

I want to know why, as a Governing Board Member, you have not spoken out publicly – not even once – in the last two months to correct the erroneous and deceptive information provided to the public by the Superintendent?

I have seen no updated material from the District, received no emails with corrected information, nor heard comments during official Board meetings that offered up corrected, factual information. As a member of the Surplus Space committee you are already aware of the error of using the SFB capacity numbers that were used to calculate and communicate to the public the current utilization of both Gilbert Junior High School and Mesquite Junior High School. This was done deliberately and intentionally to deceive the public into thinking that the schools are less utilized than they actually are. Also, at the first Community Forum in February, the Superintendent quoted new utilization numbers that were a complete and total fabrication – both schools being less than 50% utilized, when the actual District numbers are 69% and 70%, even based on mid-year attendance.

This deception and lie were meant to mislead the public, and as a Governing Board member, I would have expected you to correct this misinformation. You were made aware of it several months ago. Your lack of response can only mean that you are on board with the lie. Do you not want the public to know the truth? A decision that requires deception to persuade the public is a bad decision, period. A Governing Board member who refuses to correct the missteps of a Superintendent who has clearly lied to the public is unworthy of the public trust. The superintendent works for YOU. The buck stops with the Governing Board. Your silence speaks volumes about your ethics, and your commitment to transparency and truth in GPS.

Why did you vote in February to suspend the Board Regulation JC-R that clearly had been violated? 

You used the justification that “…life isn’t perfect, I’m ready to move forward…” and best of all, “…work to make really good decisions for kids, that will give them good education, THAT WILL GIVE THE COMMUNITY AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK, AND BELIEVE ME, I’M LISTENING…” to suspend a policy that would actually give the community…well, you know…an ACTUAL OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK.

Your justification that the end justifies the means, and that hard work and a difficult decision negate the Board’s obligation to follow its own policies and regulations is again another breach of public trust. If you vote (and you did) to change the rules in the middle of the game to make a decision, then the decision isn’t capable of standing on its own.

How do you reconcile these two actions with the guiding principle of dealing honestly with your fellow men in the Gilbert Unified School District? It’s OK for someone else to tell a lie if you (as a leader) just stay quiet? And the end justifies the means? Is that what GPS under this Board has come to?

Additionally, after hearing the Superintendent’s off-the-cuff estimate of “several hundreds of thousands of dollars” to send out notifications, and Mr. Nardone’s outlandish claim on only being able to handle a small amount of postcards at a time, I can only say, “Seriously?” Several Board members and everyone at the meeting knew that answer was another whopper of a lie. It literally only took seconds of thought to debunk that claim. There are only ~190,000 households in GPS, and this decision only affects half of them at best, call it 100,000 at the very uppermost, likely far, far less. For you to fall in line with the cost estimate of over two dollars per notification is preposterous. I understand that you are obsessed with cost control, and that is good, but there are good expenses and bad expenses. Public notification is an example of a good expense. Catered lunches for District executives and staff that are continually approved by you is an example of a bad expense.

The data do not support closing any Junior High School. That was made evident by the updated demographics study. Instead of overcrowding less than 500 students, you will be overcrowding a thousand or more, while leaving the new GCA campus significantly under capacity. How on earth is that a “good decision?” Even the most pessimistic Trend Capture projections predict growth at Gilbert Junior High School and Mesquite Junior High School in the next five years. And the consultant said the truth was likely in between the Stable and Trend capture rates (@59:25 on 4/12/16 WS), likely adding several hundred students to a campus that will be instantly overcrowded by this decision.

The fact that the Superintendent has to lie and deceive the public in an attempt to sway public opinion further demonstrates that this is a bad decision. Will you be on board with it?

There ARE other options for GCA. How this Board got this far down this specific path is indeed bizarre. There isn’t, and never was, space at a Junior High School for GCA. It was a promise that Mr. Allison should never have made. The data don’t support it.

It’s a matter of public record: Why students leave GCA has nothing to do with their current campus. These new demands are made because GCA knows that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto thinks GCA will be a feather in her cap when she finally gets that national reputation she obsesses over. Maybe now that GCA is not quite as highly ranked, this will fall by the wayside.

Gasp – could it be that GCA is now a FAILING school??? Or is it just falling? It’s certainly not what the citizens of Gilbert, Arizona want.


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