Westie for Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent!

As the GPS Governing Board searches for a new superintendent for the beleaguered school district, Westie steps up to the challenge.  Having read and ruminated on the 8,000 comments made by folks on the official survey, Westie knows how to repair the ruined relationships that led to thousands of student losses over the past few years. Equally as challenging will be restoring trust with GPS employees, especially for those who watched helplessly as GPS Top Dogs graced their favorite sycophants with *sweetheart* promotions and secret bonuses. Someone needs to bring ethics and accountability to this third-of-a-BILLION-dollars a year public entity. That someone is Westie!

Here’s a platform outlining how to clean up what has become a toxic organization, which Westie promises to implement as superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools:

The Top Priority is the Front Line of Education: The mission of the school district is EDUCATING STUDENTS. The top priority, and the rationale for every decision will be how an action contributes to the classroom, the central focus of the district. GPS employees on the front line of education are the teachers and staffers who interact with students. All others play a supporting role, especially those who now view themselves as GPS Top Dogs. Principals will regard teachers and staff in direct contract with students as “The Team I Support,” and provide the support they need. The days of top-down management are over for GPS.

Restore Public Trust through Accountability: GPS will hire an independent Inspector General who will report to the GPS Governing Board, with the mission of detecting and deterring misconduct, fraud, waste and abuse … any abuse of the public trust. The Inspector General will have the power to compel any GPS employee to truthfully and fully answer direct questions relating to matters under investigation, from whatever source complaints or allegations may originate. GPS will no longer hide behind “We don’t accept anonymous complaints.” The Inspector General will act expeditiously and purposefully to provide the board and the public with facts and findings based on unbiased and complete investigation, with recommendations for promoting effectiveness and efficiency in GPS programs.

Comply with All State and Federal Laws: GPS will comply with the letter and the spirit of the law in every way. GPS will no longer reflexively hire a pet lawyer to twist common sense into a pretzel of pretext and pretense in order to mislead the public about administration, management or compliance. For example, there is no question about what approval level Arizona law requires for employee travel: it is a discretionary power reserved to the Governing Board by A.R.S 15-342, para 5 and can be approved only by an official vote, which must occur in a public meeting. Higley School District exemplifies best practices in compliance and travel management; see the Board packet for their August 2, 2017 meeting.

Respect Public Funds: Taxpayers provide public funds for EDUCATING STUDENTS, not for filling the bellies of the governing board, the superintendency or top level administrators. Regardless of the source of the money that flows into the district, every dollar is public money, and it must be conserved for the public purpose for which the district is charged: educating students. Not for catered meals at regular meetings of GPS Top Dogs. Not for staff lunches, whether catered or held at restaurants, that are really just parties on the public dime. Westie will treat every dollar GPS receives as a precious public resource. No more fraud, waste and abuse.

Equity and Equality for ALL Students: Every student will have access to the same educational opportunities as every other student in the district. No more allocating additional dollars for students at select schools. No more starving a school targeted for closing, only to spend millions of dollars rehabbing that campus for a favored academy. No more overfilled classrooms on one side of town while enrollment at a lesser-favored school declines. No more prematurely pushing ELL students out of programs. No more vengeance against Special Education students in order to encourage their parents to take *those losers* out of the district.

Transparent Information, Promptly Available to the Public:

  1. All agendas, minutes and supporting or background information provided to the board will be provided to the public at the same time by posting on the GPS website, which will be redesigned so that a single click allows access to these public records. Citizens will no longer have to click through multiple counter-intuitive menus or navigate to an independent and obtuse website like BoardDocs to to find this public information. A good example is the Higley District website’s Governing Board page.
  2. Complete and serviceable videos of all board meetings will be available on the district website in real time. Videos of all committee meetings with board representation, including *Committee of the Whole* meetings and *Board Retreats* will be included online. No more excuses for technical difficulties: GPS will make real-time back up video recordings and ensure that there are online archives of all such meetings.
  3. Requests for public information will be fulfilled PROMPTLY, as the law requires. The new standard for fulfilling requests will be no more than one week. Requests not fulfilled in one week will be reported to he inspector general, who will determine if there is a reasonable explanation for the delay and escalate responsibility for fulfillment as appropriate. The status of requests for public records will be a monthly agenda item for board meetings.

Competent Administrative Management: All employees will be paid fully for all their work, and they will be paid on time. What a breath of fresh air that will be!

  1. All overtime will be recompensed in the very next pay period. No longer will GPS employees be denied overtime pay because a payroll clerk is on vacation.
  2. Every employee paycheck will show details related to the employee’s complete compensation and deductions, as required by federal law. Anomalies and/or mistakes will be corrected within 24 hours.
  3. GPS employees will no longer be required to *volunteer* their time or jeopardize their employment. Teachers will be paid for all the days they work and will not be expected to work outside of their contractual obligations to *collaborate* or set up classrooms.
  4. All GPS employee contracts will be straightforward with adequate and appropriate salaries and transparent contract addenda describing specific pay for specific additional work. No more secret stipends to give Top Dogs new perks under the table.

The bucks stops here. When Westie is superintendent, there will be no blaming lower-level employees for mistakes or mismanagement. No more witch smelling to cover up incompetent software implementation. No more gifts of public funds. No more hidden bonuses for district staffers who enable incompetency (or worse, sweetheart subordinates). Westie will hire the right people for district positions, first focusing on putting competency into positions within payroll, communications and technology.

Actually, the quickest and easiest strategy for success in GPS is NOT to do what disgraced former superintendent Christina Kishimoto did. There, that’ll fix it!

Westie for GPS Superintendent!

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