Dilbert Gilbert Public Schools is at a crossroads right now: decisions made by the newly elected school board will affect GPS in significant and irrevocable ways. An imminent vote giving the final go-ahead for constructing a *new home* for Gilbert Classical Academy is a line in the sand: there will be no second chance once this project goes forward. Taxpayers appealed to the board for responsible stewardship of the public purse: approving this ill-considered *designed on the fly* project without knowing basic details can be expected to result in the multi-million dollar project spiraling out of control. Bottom line: this entire mismanaged mess can be stopped on February 28, 2017. Or not. The choice is yours, new board members.
That’s especially true in the hands of Kishimoto and her acolytes who can’t manage to pay employees, let alone manage a project of this magnitude. None of these concerns seemed to matter in the haste to tie the new board’s hands to decisions made by Kishimoto’s Rubber Stamp Board, especially the acrimonious $100,000 contracting authority that allowed Kishimoto to hire her chosen architects who attended Business Leader Breakfasts hosted by the Gilbert Education Foundation … and who donate money every time Kishimoto wants to party with the folks who obviously adore her. <snort>
Countless residents of the MJHS neighborhood have tried to warn the board that the whole project was based on nothing more than Kishimoto’s buzzwords and made-up metrics. Just before the first decision by the newly installed board was to be made, GPS admins admitted that the data they were using had no basis in reality. Instead of a new campus for 1,500 students, total enrollment will be capped at 1,100, leaving no room for growth for either school. Parents and teachers throughout the district were enraged that Kishimoto thought a cafeteria with a capacity of 300 was plenty for the entire school, whether it was 1,100 or 1,500 … “Let them eat lunch in their classrooms!” she decreed.
Not only was the student enrollment estimate wildly off base, citizens discovered that the entire process of reconfiguring a public school had been mismanaged from the inception. Before superintendent Christina Kishimoto made recommendations to the governing board, she should have (1) read state law about changing a public school configuration and (2) ascertained that the various options were actually feasible. But Kishimoto had a Rubber Stamp Board, so she didn’t do this. As events unfold, it has become clear that this project was doomed from day one due to Kishimoto’s pathetic incompetence.
When questioned about the role of the Arizona School Facilities Board at the February 2017 work study session, various personages assured the GPS governing board that the SFB was a paper tiger, whose role was to bless the project when it was finished. Never mind what state law requires, they assured timid board members, “We know how the system works, you don’t, so sit down and shut up.” Christina Kishimoto has speaking engagements to film as she polishes her national reputation, and apparently she does not intend to be drawn into discussions over trivial things such as details. Someone might hold her feet to the fire with her original cost estimates for the Great GCA Takeover, you know.
We’ve been down this road in Gilbert, Arizona with this GPS superintendent before, and you would think governing board members would demand accountability. You might think wrong, since the agenda for the ominous February 28,2017 board meeting has been *embargoed* or just ignored. We’re sure the GPS administration will somehow manage to comply with the minimum 24 hour public notice requirement in open meeting law. <sarcasm>
The question is, why would new board members buy into this attempt to tamp down public opposition to the three or four blockbuster controversies expected to be on the board meeting agenda? Have they bought into superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s modus operandi of keeping the public in the dark until it’s too late? Maybe someone should tell the GPS governing board that they’re already so late with their paperwork to get on the SFB agenda, this ridiculous project can’t even be considered by the SFB until April 2017. Maybe that’s an indication that the SFB doesn’t consider itself to be irrelevant after all.
Due diligence should have been the very first step for the board’s 2015 priority of “Identify a permanent location for Gilbert Classical Academy and finalize a comprehensive plan to support full implementation of the school design.” Instead, the Rubber Stamp Board panicked and threw a monkey wrench into the works. Thus, the *school within a school concept* that had been hastily proposed as a false flag instead became the new home for GCA. This was supposed to be a fast, cheap and easy solution to a a self-inflicted injury that was turning the community against the school district.
Kishimoto’s staggering incompetence took center stage as the project to merge GCA with Mesquite Junior High School moved forward while she drove the entire project over a cliff. GPS did a survey; parents said they were going to vote with their feet and leave MJHS. Who could blame parents who bailed out of GPS in favor of a more stable educational environment?
Christina Kishimoto made the same errors that halted the closing of GJHS in 2013: she failed to follow the law. The key to stopping former GPS superintendent Dave Allison’s sleazy maneuver in 2012 was parental involvement and a “Never Give Up!” attitude. BTW, Dave Allison announced his retirement
after he screwed up so badly a new GPS governing board had to clean up his GCA mess when it became clear his services would no longer be needed. From a contemporaneous news report about how bad GPS admins screwed up closing Gilbert Junior High School:
Parents discovered that the district did not follow several state laws, including notifying and receiving approval from the state School Facilities Board before deciding to close Gilbert Junior High; properly notifying parents of the time and place of the October meeting when the board first voted on the closure recommendation; and notifying all parents affected by the possible closure.
Members of the community who had opposed and ultimately halted the previous GPS superintendent’s attempt to close Gilbert Junior High School offered a hand to resistance fighters at MJHS. Since the current GPS administration was totally unable to manage their way out of a paper bag, parents made inquiries that should have been made before any school was put on the chopping block for GCA.
MJHS resistance fighters did the due diligence that was never performed by the GPS administration and was never considered or questioned by the Rubber Stamp governing board. When asked if the architectural plans Kishimoto sent out for bidding were compliant with Arizona law, the Arizona School Facilities Board responded:
If Mesquite Junior High were reconfigured from 7-8 to 7-12, its square footage would be pro-rated, and its new capacities would be 385 for 7-8 and 704 for 9-12. The process begins with the District submitting a Governing Board resolution requesting the reconfiguration, per A.R.S. 15-341 G. Then staff analyzes the request and we make a recommendation to our Board. We have not received a District resolution regarding a reconfiguration of Mesquite Junior High. Thank you.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS: you know Christina Kishimoto’s appeal to you will be that you can’t waste all the money she’s already spent on this MJHS/GCA merger. Kishimoto will demand that you approve the construction bid NOW or the project cannot meet the timeline she gave the bidders. Besides, she already has asbestos cleanup set to go … as a project *independent* of the construction bid that has not been approved. Such chutzpah! There will be no time for you to carefully consider if this project is the best use of public funds. There will be no opportunity for you to get answers to why the original construction estimates for the GCA location options were so low compared to the bids we expect you will see on February 28, 2017.
Kishimoto may be railroading you, but you don’t have to comply with her demands. Who’s the boss, anyway? The tarot card you were dealt when you raised your hand and took your oath was NOT auspicious with regard to this GCA project:
Wheel of Fortune Reversed: Bad luck, negative external forces, out of control. Accept responsibility for your current and future situation, and look for ways that you can create more positive outcomes.
This is also not a time to be taking risks as you may not come out a winner. You may need to be more cautious than before, taking more time to assess your options and to select the safest bet.
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