GPS Perfects the Art of Missing Opportunities to Succeed

It’s back to school time for teachers of Gilbert Public Schools. Students will show up on August 6, 2014. From all indications, the new boss is the same as the old boss.

Some say that Dr. Kishimoto’s priorities are worrisome as she takes the helm of the superintendency. A big gala called the First Annual Convocation dominated the first contract day for teachers. It was pretty much a zeppelin. Of all the things that should concern the new superintendent and the incumbent of the newly-minted position of Chief of Staff in getting a district ready for the first day of school, this was a puzzle.

[Keyboard: We applaud Cheryl Redfield, the star of the show. Bravo, Cheryl Redfield, NBCT and former Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education, who speaks and writes with such eloquence!]
[Westie: Cheryl Redfield embodies all that is great about people who are educators, first, last and foremost.]

We’re quite aware of all the time and effort required to put together such a gala event, and we wonder who had that much time on their hands. But the kicker was, while PTSOs are already starting to beg for donations for classrooms, the GPS district spent time and money on giving employees lemonade and cookies. WORSE: some GPS district employees wore corsages purchased for the occasion. What century are they in? How many school supplies could have been purchased with the money spent on the lavish convocation (presented twice)?

[We’re trying our best to keep Keyboard from ranting about how many glue sticks are being demanded for each elementary student. But parents, if you’re buying pencils, Ticonderoga is really best. Your child’s teacher will really appreciate them. 96 for about $15.00 at Costco.]

The state released school grades based on AIMS scores, but there’s nothing on the GPS district website.  No one from GPS was quoted on any of the mainstream media articles that we have found. The district’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since April. In the absence of public relations strategies, and with the district Community Relations office almost empty, citizens are not hearing much in terms of news, good or otherwise, about Gilbert Public Schools. School websites are seriously out of date, which is a totally clueless management decision, given the accessibility of so many *vendors* who can provide much needed services (more on this subject soon).

[Our hat’s off to whichever GPS employee finally figured out how to clean up the GPS Wikipedia page. The cleanup attempts that angered the Wiki Gods were hilarious! Glad that’s done.]

Here’s a link to the GPS schools and their AIMS scores. In the drop-down box for district, select Gilbert Unified, and you’ll get the individual scores. The azcentral article is below the fill-in form. We’re thrilled that Gilbert Junior High School made such a huge leap in their scores. Go Tigers! GPS was in the top-scoring schools in the state, tied for #10, with the overall score of 149. How are the forces of darkness going to spin that grade? Sure, GPS is disintegrating because of the Governing Board’s focus on putting money in the classroom <snark>.

Two interim superintendents did their best, or so it seemed, to make sure GPS was performing at a low level before the new superintendent arrived. That’s a classic maneuver, especially given the close collaboration between the Interims and the Newly Ascended Superintendent to lower expectations in order to make *gains* under Her Newness seem bigger. We’re seeing the results with the classic senior administrative strategy of making parents feel the pain of budget decisions (i.e., demands for 40 glue sticks per child for elementary schools). We all remember how, during the Allison Ascendency, employees were given temporary salary increases contingent on a tax override being approved in 2012 (it wasn’t). Employees lost their raises (which had been called stipends).

We’ll be compiling some nice historical data of how current members of the board actually voted on budget issues after the 2012 and the 2013 overrides failed. Keep this in mind: the remnants of the Good Old Boy regime are desperate to “Take Back Our Board” so they can raise your taxes like they did in 2012. That’s what you get for not giving the GOBs their overrides in 2012 and 2013. Just like before, the GOBs will raise taxes because they have the authority when they control the Governing Board. They can’t help themselves, or so they would like for you to believe.

From our perspective, what the GOB remnants really can’t stop doing is rewarding their Masters, the dudes who try to stay out of the spotlight (with good reason). Those folks haven’t been receiving quite so much largess in the past two years because a conservative board majority turned off the money spigot. Or at least, turned it to the lowest level possible. Frankly, board members don’t have as much power over GPS spending as most people think. The board approves a budget, but it’s the administration that does the spending. We’re seeing that those GOB admins (and they’re still around, some in the guise of new hires) have a dozen ways to skin the cat of spending BEFORE the board knows what they’re doing.

In spite of all the wailing from the peanut galleries of Good Old Boy acolytes, the majority of the Governing Board has been consistent and committed to their campaign promises, especially in dealing with fiscal concerns. We know you all will be paying close attention in the run-up to the November election, and we’ll do our best to keep providing authentic and informative information so you can tell what’s really going on in GPS. Heaven knows, the people who are being paid big bucks are not filling the void of public relations right now.

Let’s talk about some of the void of information and why GOBs like it just that way. The vacancies in GPS are many, but the executive strategy in filling key positions is mind-blowing. Facing vacancies in key positions across the district, Dr. Christina Kishimoto dipped down to fill new administrator slots she created: Executive Director of Elementary Education and Executive Director of Secondary Education. It’s a mystery to us why Dr. Kishimoto is filling slots that the Chief Academic Officer will supervise, especially considering that it took Dr. Kishimoto two tries to hire an Executive Director of Elementary Education.

It’s tough when you don’t know much about the district of which you are the new leader. It’s even tougher when you rely on Good Old Boys and their allies as you navigate the minefields left by departing GOBs who stayed far too long in their positions. Why in the world is the Newly Ascended Superintendent leaning on *consultants* who don’t know their asterisks from their elbows about Gilbert Public Schools? They must be sweet talking guys to paint a public portrait of the new leadership of GPS as a little girl riding a tricycle.

Dr. Kishimoto still doesn’t have a Chief Financial Officer, having failed to gain the Governing Board’s approval for an East Valley GOB she first picked. There are many important vacancies in Business Services empire, some of which are worrying GPS employees, who fear their pay checks won’t be complete. We’re hearing all kinds of chirps about failing to follow procurement policies and similar stunts. We’re on the case, birdies! Keep chirping and we’ll continue connecting the dots. For example, we’re still watching to see if the Purchasing Manager position gets filled after being eliminated not so long ago in a *sweetheart* deal arranged by Clyde Dangerfield and Jeff Filloon.

So many chirps, so little time! We love you, birdies!


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