Gilbert Public Schools Will Reform With You or Without You

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is a big believer in school reform. She is going to reform GPS, which was already an A rated school district, come hell or high water. She made sure all the members of the Governing Board got some expensive tutoring in school reform. She expects taxpayers to pony up for her spending sprees. And she’s tired of recalcitrant employees not bending to her reforms. 

[Keyboard: So recalcitrant employees: BOHICA!]

“What is school reform?” you ask. Reform means cutting costs, providing the shoddiest product possible, spending more on advertising and PR than quality, looting what you claim is yours and getting out before you get caught holding the bag. Let’s see how the GPS superintendency is doing just that…again.

FIRST: A word from our sponsor: Arizona law. Teachers, do not be bamboozled by HR and Tech Services hounding you for your signed contract they say is due within 15 days. That’s not true. They’ll still hound you, but they’re slime buckets. Read your contract. It says fifteen business days. Here’s why:
A.R.S. 15-538.01. Offer of contract to continuing teacher. Paragraph B. “The teacher’s acceptance of the contract must be indicated within fifteen business days from the date of the teacher’s receipt of the written contract or the offer of a contract is revoked.” Fifteen business days, presuming you actually received your contract on April 20, 2015 (weekend days DO NOT COUNT!) means it is really due on May 11, 2015. However, it might be smarter to send it no later than late in the business day on May 8, 2015. Better safe than sorry. This is not legal advice.
[Keyboard: Lookie here: Westie can spell *advice* properly! Unlike the top dogs of GPS.]

Remember that fancy $1.3 Million dollar software system for human resources and finance? It’s performing about how you would expect it to perform in GPS. Which means, not very well at all. Perhaps it’s because the Technology Department still runs on the Good Old Boy system. Lots of departures meant a big brain drain last year. Did GPS techies do anything to learn what kind of knowledge was departing with some of those long-term employees? Of course not. That might have required something like an actual exit interview. GPS does not like to hear negative things about their GOBs, so exit interviews, if they occur at all, are as ridiculous as the GPS contrived surveys to give cover for what’s already been decided.

GPS didn’t even know what their actual techie jobs were, as opposed to any *official* job descriptions that might have existed. GPS management had zero curiosity about what those techies actually did on a day-to-day basis. Looking at how things are going with Christina Kishimoto’s urgently-needed new million dollar software that suddenly was a funding imperative at the end of 2014, we have to ask: how many techies on staff now actually have real world experience in rolling out new software? It’s not something that conforms to a checklist; it’s full of surprises. Especially on an ancient computer system. Especially in  school district that has no concept of…well, there are just too many things to list here.

GPS wanted those new employment contracts out fast and returned super fast to prevent teachers from getting jobs with other school districts. By hastily implementing a truncated schedule, things were bound to go wrong. They did. GPS had to announce a *revised* schedule of rolling out those contracts because the techies couldn’t meet the original date the GOBs had announced. Even with that recent million dollar expense for new HR and financial software, and running the two software systems in tandem for a while, they just can’t make things work properly.

We thank all our beautiful birdies who keep sending us the GPS emails that are funnier than anything we could make up. Have some chocolate!

It gets funnier: the GOBs sent out a letter explaining why things were so screwed up. Chief Talent OfficerBS Suzanne Zentner’s letter, sent out as an image attached to an email by Chief Techie Steve Smith himself, said a lot of people were working very hard to get things into such a mess. Yeppers, they were actually patting themselves on the back for this.

Dear GPS Staff,
Please be advised that despite vigilant efforts by many people and departments, the deployment of contracts is running slightly behind schedule. Therefore, if you are slated to receive a contract or are in the queue to receive one and have not, please be patient and know we are doing everything within our power and the capacity of our system to deploy them as quickly as possible. *Thanks to everyone* for the understanding and patience you have extended with this process.
Love, Suzanne

Finally, the contracts piddled out over the weekend. That’s when teachers saw, most all of them for the first time, that GPS had instituted some draconian clauses that had never before been inflicted on loyal GPS employees. Then things turned weird. The GOBs were stunned that teachers didn’t immediately sign their contracts. Whooo boy, a lot of those teachers were absolutely livid, and rightly so, and they decided they are not in a hurry to sign those tyrannical contracts. They’re actually considering other alternatives to indentured servitude.

Gilbert Public Schools can’t just let teachers pick up and leave–oh, no, no, no! Good Old Christina 7-0 Kishimoto has staked her reputation (or whatever she has that passes for a reputation) on stopping the largest mass exodus that had ever happened in GPS* before she arrived. At least, that’s what Christina Kishimoto told a judge one day, trying to impress him with her importance.

The panic the GOBs felt was palpable. What to do? Aha, the answer seems to be misdirection and mayhem, coming right up! “Let’s send out notices to tell teachers to sign the d@mn contracts NOW!” they figured. Of course, that will only tax the tech system even more. When that initiative didn’t produce the desired results immediately, GPS started sending out more, more and more notices, pretending that technical difficulties had prevented receipt of those dadgummed contracts from those obstreperous teachers.  His Techiness himself explained in techie jargon:

Teacher contracts were distributed to most district teachers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, and many have already successfully signed contracts using the new system that was developed. However, while the contracts were being distributed, some teachers received notices that the contract still needed to be signed, even if the contract had already been signed. As a result, for a brief period of time this morning, the signing form was taken offline so that we could validate data in the system. It is now back online after confirming that the data is good. If you have already signed your contract (by clicking the submit button on page three), you do not need to do anything else, even if you received an email earlier stating that your contract still needs to be signed. If you have not signed your contract you will receive a reminder email or two before your signing time is up.
Love, Steve

In other words, GPS is going to hound you teachers until you sign those contracts! We’re finally hearing some rationalizations from the Gilbert Education Association, which the GOBs called into action to put those recalcitrant teachers in their places. Sure, everyone believes that the furlough notices are just a formality that’s in all school district contracts in the state… <sarcasm and ridicule, spiced with rolling eyes and face palms>

There’s more to come: GPS is going to experience much the same as the GOBs roll out administrator contracts. Those administrators had become accustomed to being exempted from the battering ram techniques the GOBs used against teachers and support staff in the past. This time, GOBs, be prepared to explain why in the world GEA was involved in *negotiating* contracts for administrators, greatly to the detriment of said administrators who don’t like being treated like the other peons in the district.

*Big Fat Asterisk: Yes, we’ve noticed that the final numbers of departures from last year appear to have been quarantined so the public can’t decide for themselves if the exodus was *mass* or simply *routine.* Why let facts and *dater* get in the way of a good story?

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