Board President Tram Falsely Claims GPS Budget has $4.5 Million Deficit

Gilbert Public Schools is playing with fire — fanning the flames of discontent and acrimony among good-hearted voters who gave the school district Million$ and Million$ of dollars to educate children, both at the district level and state level. Voters were sold a bill of goods, empty promises that the new funds from Prop 123 would be used for teacher pay and in the classroom. So what did Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Her Three Votes on the GPS governing board do? Board president Lily Tram made sure the board took those new Million$ and parked them in slush funds!

The GPS administration will dip into those funds whenever they want to, and the GPS governing board will approve whatever the administration spends, probably with the usual 3-2 vote. Bottom line: GPS teachers, your salaries WILL NOT become comparable to what other school districts in the Phoenix valley are paying their teachers.

In fact, as board member Julie Smith pointed out, you can break your contract, pay the GPS hostage fee, and still make more money by teaching in a different school district. Additionally, former GPS teachers who now work in Mesa and Chandler are telling their colleagues who stayed in GPS that these other school districts treat their teachers much, much better than GPS does.

At the June 14, 2016 board meeting, as Westie warned, the board approved every little budget detail that Christina Kishimoto put before them. Also, just as Westie warned, the board had no use for the emails and phone calls and personal visits of district voters who begged board members to defy the superintendent and use the new funds as voters had been told the funds would be used. The board’s response, like Scarlett O’Hara’s flippant disdain before she endured the Civil War,* was this: “Fiddle-dee-dee.”

The board’s flippant disdain was on full display when president Lily Tram excoriated the citizen who not only asked the board to use the new funding as promised, he researched adjacent districts and used actual data to show the board how bad the situation is regarding GPS’s salaries compared to those other districts.  Tram’s public dressing down of Reed Carr, her opponent for a seat on the GPS governing board, is shown below:

Quoting Lily Tram: “There’s other factors in here that you don’t take into account for…There’s just some pieces missing in here…that doesn’t really show the true picture of we really are trying our best here to give what we can to our employees. It’s just we have some restrictions to our funding level that we have.”

President Tram further attempted to debase her opponent Reed Carr’s reputation and his attempt to persuade the board to increase teacher pay and put more money in the classroom. Tram pointed out that other districts probably received more money in Prop 123 funds. What Tram didn’t bother to clarify is that GPS is a district in decline, having lost at least three thousand students in the last few years.

Tram doesn’t want the public to connect the dots about why more than 3,000 students have left GPS, because the greatest part of those losses occurred on her watch, the last two years that she has been president of the GPS governing board. Instead, Tram repeatedly stated that the district had a DEFICIT of $4.5 Million. Many people who watched Tram’s performance were gobsmacked by her theater of the absurd. Board member Julie Smith calls Tram out being dishonest about any *deficit* and for having the wrong priorities.

Board member Julie Smith lobbied long and hard, trying to convince her fellow board members to follow through with what voters were told the Prop 123 Million$ would be used for: at least 50%, if not 75-80% would be spent on teacher pay and in the classroom:

Long story short: Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s budget demands were fulfilled. GPS is pouring Million$ of dollars into slush funds that can be raided by the administration at any time. The elephant in the room was the Million$ being spent on a new home for Gilbert Classical Academy, which was Priority Number One for this school board this past year. Any citizen who tries to find out what’s being done, or what’s being spent on GCA will be treated far worse than Reed Carr was treated by president Tram at the special board meeting where public comment was not allowed.

Tram made sure the usual message to the public,  that they should sit down and shut up, is exactly what happened by refusing to allow public comment on Kishimoto’s budget. Tram was on a mission to get that budget passed. She succeeded. The price Tram pays for her perfidy may be steep. One can only hope. 

*Big Fat Asterisk:
 Growing up in Alabama, Westie didn’t realize until college that most people don’t know about *The War of the Northern Aggression.* As it turns out, everyone else in the country calls that event *The Civil War.* BTW – Scarlett O’Hara is very real to Southern girls.

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