More Accolades for Gilbert Public Schools District Staff

Man, oh man — when the going gets tough, the tough give each other awards. Especially educrats. Using eduspeak to camouflage the origins of their conveniently timed awards.

Today’s post features GPS super star Andrew Szczepaniak, who got an award … wait for it… from the organization of which he himself is president of the state chapter! Hurrah!

Director of Professional Development Andrew Szczpaniak was recently presented the Excellence in Professional Learning Practice – District Level award by Learning Forward. This award is the highest honor presented to an individual for implementation of professional learning.

Being intrigued and irrepressible, Westie went looking at super star Andrew’s organization. Let’s put it this way, it has a very narrow focus, mission, or whatever. Learning Forward is an organization of “learning educators” which appears to be a bunch of people just like Andrew! It’s international: we counted four affiliates in Canada, but we noticed that all fifty states are not represented in this organization. We also figured out that you can nominate yourself for an award!

Excellence in Professional Learning Practice honors two individuals (one district-level and one school-level) for their implementation and portrayal of Learning Forward’s purpose, definition, and standards for professional learning.

Winners receive a complimentary comprehensive membership, a $250 credit to the bookstore, and the opportunity to contribute to the JSD or present their story during the conference. All recipients receive a commemorative plaque and press release, and are honored during the general session and profiled in the JSD and website.

It looks like Andrew gets to toot his horn at another conference! As GPS toots, Andrew is “very experienced  in presenting at conferences.” We noticed Andrew’s proclivity* to toot his own horn at Gilbert Public Schools governing board meetings, as well.

Back in December, before good old Dave Allison announced his retirement as Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools, we wrote about the proclivity* of East Valley school districts to give superintendents fancy-sounding awards just after they screwed up royally:

We can’t wait to see what award Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Dave Allison gets. Since it’s December, and Allison has already been denied his performance pay by the governing board, failed a referendum on his leadership abilities when the 2012 tax override was voted down by Gilbert taxpayers, Dr. Allison must be about ready to get some really big, fancy-worded award from his peers for being downright awesome.

We updated that post to admit we got it wrong: The award went to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Clyde Dangerfield, Esq., who got TWO Certificates of Achievement for financial reporting at the December 4, 2012 governing board meeting.

We were remiss also in neglecting to post about Higley School District Superintendent Denise Birdwell’s December award. This one was a real doozy of a present from her own  (or is that “owned”?) board members. We highlight below the rush to get this done before the new board members were seated. We just couldn’t help but note how sweetly Kim gushes about her pal Denise, and how she does this without spilling any secrets from the super-secret executive session!

Higley superintendent gets A+ from school board
The evaluation was conducted, as usual, in a closed-door, executive session before the board voted Tuesday, and the report was not released. But while it was kept secret, the evaluation was a solid A+, according to board member Kim Anderson. “We concluded that Dr.Birdwell is an exemplary superintendent, and she is doing an excellent job,” Anderson said.

…Birdwell’s evaluation was based on several criteria, including leadership and district culture, and organizational management. “As the governing board, each of us looked at all of those areas, and we discussed how it’s been going,” Anderson said.

There’s much more information, but it was not reported in the media. From Jake Hoffman, one of the board-members-in-waiting, who won election by challenging the cozy infrastructure between Superintendent Birdwell and the outgoing board:

On December 4, 2012, the current Higley governing board approved a 5% performance bonus (approx. $7,350) -AND- a 5% salary increase (approx. $7,350) that adds to Birdwell’s base pay moving forward. This was approved by the governing board on the same night that the Superintendent stated that up to 40 teachers, larger class sizes and an unknown number of district programs are on the chopping block because the district cannot not afford them due to the use of general fund monies being used to pay the hefty new lease payments for the two new middle schools. Seems like it might not be “all about the children” after all.

This latest pay raise gives Higley Superintendent Birdwell a base salary only $800 less than Gilbert’s Dave Allison. This is particularly interesting since the Higley school district is only 1/4 the size of Gilbert Public Schools from both a student population and number of schools standpoint.

This latest pay raise is the second 5% salary increase Higley’s Superintendent Birdwell has received from the governing board this year. They approved her last raise in June of 2012. That’s a $14,000 base salary increase in the past 6 months. I wonder if Higley teachers received a 5% performance bonus and 10% raise this year. [Short answer from Westie: “N0.”]

In closing, we sadly note that good old Dave was awarded his bonus in December 2012. Sigh.


*Big Fat Asterisk: The word of the day is proclivity! (Especially: a strong inherent inclination toward something objectionable.) You’ll have to figure out on your own which definition of “toot” we used above.

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